Confusing Desktop messages

Question: After the computer fires up and the desktop is on the screen, I get two messages. Both in boxes. The first message box has far.exe in the top right-hand corner with a circle and red X beneath and states: “Could not find ‘far.exe’ (or one of its components). Make sure path and filename are correct and that all required libraries are available.”

After I click OK, the second box appears. In its top right hand is the Windows logo and “Desktop.” Beneath is a yellow triangle with an ! mark. Message reads: “Could not load or run ‘far.exe’ specified in the WIN.INI file. Make sure the file exists on your computer or remove the reference to it in the WIN.INI file.”

We have been using Windows 95 for some time now and this appeared for the first time after getting the computer back from the doctor who replaced the sound card and had to start up from MS-DOS 6. I loaded everything else back on — which I have done before. Any idea what this is? — G.K.

Answer: I’m not too sure what far.exe is.

Jeremy Schmuland, a technical support analyst at CompuSmart’s west-end store, suggests: “It may be a utility that the ‘doctor’ used when he was testing the system and didn’t quite remove properly,”

It doesn’t really matter what it is, because you’ve provided all the information I need to find a solution. Far.exe seems to be an older, 16-bit program that has been deleted. How do I know this? Because the error message you mention tells us that it is listed in the win.ini file. Win.ini is an initialize file that lists 16-bit programs that typically start when Windows 95 boots. It’s a leftover from the Windows 3.1 days and it still exists so you can continue to run older programs under Windows 95.

The new 32-bit applications are referenced in the Windows registry, which is a whole new mysterious entity floating around backstage behind the pretty graphical makeup.

The solution is to find the win.ini file and open it up with a text editor. The key here is to use an ascii-based editor like Notepad. Definitely don’t use Microsoft Word, unless you know how to save in text-only format.

The last thing you want is for the program to save your win.ini file with all kinds of word processing format codes.

Before you proceed, be sure to make a copy of the file. If something goes wrong you can always replace the original version.

Now go ahead and open up win.ini. You’ll find it in your c:windows directory. In Notepad, click on the Search menu and then Find and type in far.exe.

Remove any lines that contain the reference and re-save the file. Now restart Windows 95. You should have no further problems.