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We scan the Web, Usenet and the OS/2 mailing lists looking for these gems. Have you run across an interesting bit of information about OS/2 or eComStation recently? Please share it with all our readers. Send your tips to tips@os2voice.org. If you are interested in joining a particular OS/2 mailing list, check out the VOICE Mailing List page for subscribing instructions for a large variety of existing lists - http://www.os2voice.org/mailinglists.html.

These tips are from OS/2-eComStation users and in some cases can not be verified by myself. Please heed this as a warning that if you are not sure about something, don't do it.
This month's fascinating tidbits
Date Description OS version Experience level
August 3, 2005 Causes For Some LVM Error Messages eCS Advanced
August 8, 2005 Thunderbird Says There Is No Space... Both Beginner
August 11, 2005 Convert "LF" To "CR-LF" Pair In Text ...Again Both General
August 13, 2005 Emtec FTP "problem" Solved Both General
August 17, 2005 Enable RSS Support In Firefox Both Beginner
August 24, 2005 "Missing" Error Messages At Boot-Time Both General
August 27, 2005 Using The Generalised Bitmap Module In Mesa-2 Both General
September 2, 2005 Reporting Problems To IBM OS/2 General
September 3, 2005 New apmbios.sys Driver Fixes Problems Both General
October 8, 2005 Increase Keyboard Repeat Rate Both Beginner+
October 30, 2005 EPM Syntax Highlighting Both Intermediate
December 4, 2005 eCS 1.2R and MP3s eCS Intermediate
December 12, 2005 eCS On A !HOT! Computer (eCS) Advanced?
December 14, 2005 Firefox: Reducing CPU Load Both General
December 15, 2005 Firefox: Quick way to open tabs Both General

Causes For Some LVM Error Messages
August 3, 2005 - eCS - Advanced

Probably, this tip applies to OS/2 Warp 4 as well; at least when updated to version 4.52 with Convenience Pack 2, or in other ways. We cite it as peculiar to eCS only because that's the original context.

Error messages produced by the LVM (Logical Volume Manager) often are less than helpful. They may say something happened - but not say why.

Jan van Wijk, writing in eCS-Technical@yahoogroups.com, reported his observations on error messages arising from LVM. He provided some of the missing why. Therein the perceptive reader/LVM-user may spot some "missing link" in his/her own knowledge, leading to a work-around in a particular case. We hope so.

Jan wrote:

Over the last couple of days I have investigated the causes for some annoying LVM.EXE error messages; and [also have] found one more cause for the message... OS/2 cannot operate your harddisk ...that you may get during eCS 1.2 install.

  1. Possible cause for the LVM.EXE error abort message:

    Cannot get data from LVM Engine.
    Press any key when ready . . .

    There may be more causes, but one of them is a physical disk that can not be opened at all for reading the MBR. Instead of giving an error and further ignoring this disk, LVM.EXE aborts completely and issues the message shown above.

    There is at least one known cause for an unaccessible disk like this, the dummy disk created by USBMSD.ADD (or CWUSBMSD.ADD) device driver using the /FIXED_DISKS:1 switch in CONFIG.SYS. These disks will be reported with a size of 0 and geometry 0,0,0 when no matching USB disk is present.

    Dummy disks resulting from a switch /REMOVABLES:2 on the other hand, are reported with a typical size of 96 MiB (geometry 512,12,32).

    These do not cause an abort in LVM.EXE but [instead] an error popup:

    Partition tables on disk xx may be corrupt

    This can be ignored, and LVM can be used normally on the other disks.

    The LVMGUI program, as well as the eComStation Maintenance LVM program (aka miniLVM) do not abort under these circumstances.

  2. Possible cause for the LVM.EXE error abort message:

    Cannot open the LVM engine. Press any key when ready . . .

    This happens when a disk is locked, most often because another LVM or DFSee program is active at the same time.
    In this case LVM.EXE aborts, and you need to exit the conflicting other application to resolve the problem.

  3. Possible cause for the eCS 1.2 installer error:

    OS/2 cannot operate your harddisk ...

    There are several causes for this message, most of them have to do with assigning [an] incorrect driveletter to the partition being booted.

    One reason this may happen during installation: The user has disks that are already LVM-aware, and has a partition with the assigned drive-letter Z:

    This conflicts with the eCS installer needing that letter for its RAM drive. There is no other error message indicating the source of the problem.

    eCS 1.0 install has the same problem, but the error reporting is better in the sense that it ends with an error message stating it is unable to create RAMDRIVE Z:.

  4. Possible cause for LVM.EXE not showing all partitions:

    As discovered very recently, there are situations where LVM.EXE does not show all partitions present on a disk, for example leaving out all the logical partitions ...

    One cause for this is the presence of a deleted partition in the MBR partition-table, where the system-type has been reset to 0x00 to indicate a free table-slot but where the size and position values are left intact.

    It seems that the LVM-engine may consider such partition-table entries invalid if the values overlap with other partitions still present on the same disk.

    In this case the partitions listed after this deleted one will not be seen by the LVM.EXE program, and the reported freespace on the disk will be too large.

    Deleted partitions like this may result from deleting partitions with disk-management tools like PartionMagic, DFSee and others.

    DFSee, starting with version 7.10 will avoid this problem by erasing all fields for a partition being deleted. It will also issue a warning if such deleted partitions are detected on a disk ...

Thunderbird Says There Is No Space...
August 8, 2005 - Both - Beginner

Mark Dodel had a problem (rare thing, that!):

Running Thunderbird version 1.0.2 (20050322) for a couple months now. All of a sudden today when it retrieved mail it said that it was unable to write to the drive either because it is out of space or lacks write permission.

Unable to write the email to the mailbox. Make sure the file system allows you write privileges, and you have enough disk space to copy the mailbox.

And what it retrieves from the mail server is blank. The volume has 3.5 GB free on it.

Anyone have ideas on what could be causing this? Only thing new I have installed lately is Paul Smedley's Tame/SANE package with his latest USBCalls but I don't see how that could cause any problem.

Michael G. Slack had the answer, 'quick as a wink':

If Thunderbird works the same as the suite, you may want to 'compress' the folders. I had a similar experience with the suite in that it said I was out of space, but I had 4.5G free on the drive. Checked the folder files and found out I had an inbox at around 500M, junk (empty) at around 500M, trash (empty) at around 500M and so on. Compressing the folders seemed to take care of the issue.

Mark tried it:

Amazing, this fixed the problem! My Junk and trash folders were empty; my Inbox only has 203 posts.
What is wrong with Thunderbird that it can't do self cleaning to prevent this nonsense?

YKE wonders: "If Thunderbird works the same as the suite..." why not instruct the program when to compact?
In Mozilla, we set Edit > Preferences > Offline & Disk Space > Compact folders when... to 2000KB.
That's low enough to force fairly regular compaction. Or is something "wrong with Thunderbird"?

Convert "LF" To "CR-LF" Pair In Text ...Again
August 11, 2005 - Both - General

Bob Plyler (ex-IBMer) wrote us directly, in response to OS/2 Tips "Mar 13, 2005 - Convert "LF" To "CR-LF" Pair In Text Files:

OS/2 comes with two utilities (unix2os2 and os22unix) in the /mptn/bin subdirectories that do this. They both take input from STDIN and output to STDOUT.

So, to sort a unix file using OS/2 utilities,

[...]unix2os2 <infile | sort | more

But Mark Dodel was doubtful:

Bob, are you sure this is part of a standard OS/2 install? Looking at my eComStation 1.2 volume I don't see either of these. A Google search shows these as part of the OS/2 NFS client, which is not part of the normal install, at least not here.

...and YKE just has to add:

Both are in my (installed) Warp 4.51 G:\MPTN\BIN\ —and— G:\TCPIP\install\ directories
...but not in my (installed) Warp 4.52 directories.

I've not looked into the Warp 4.52 (MCP-2) CD.

... and Bob shot back:

I suspect they are part of the NFS client. They would be useful for NFS mounted drives.

Sorry for any confusion.

We aren't confused. But you, Dear Reader, could be. Seems some have it (YKE), and some don't (Mark).

Emtec FTP "problem" Solved
August 13, 2005 - Both - General

John Varela, writing in comp.os.os2.apps, fixed a problem and corrected a mistaken impression:

Circumstantial evidence suggests that the problem [What problem? -yke] with EmTec FTP lies in the speed of the connection. I suspect a race condition in which the server's response sometimes comes back faster than EmTec FTP can deal with it.

John's impression got corrected, though:

A lurker who doesn't post to the c.o.o groups because of the nutcases emailed me the following:

I am familiar with the problem you describe.
I solved it by replacing SOCKETSK.SYS and AFINETK.SYS with SOCKETS.SYS and AFINET.SYS in CONFIG.SYS.


I did as he suggested and the problem went away. It had nothing to do with EmTec.

... And we tell the world: EmTec's off the hook. We wonder if they knew they were on it? -yke

Enable RSS Support In Firefox
August 17, 2005 - Both - Beginner

Two skill levels here - Intermediate first; Beginner at the end:

Jeroen Besse wrote in eComStation@yahoogroups.com:

The RSS support, also in Firefox, isn't very clearly documented. [Here's] a quick how-to.

  1. Get the URL for the RSS feed.
    Go to http://ewiki.ecomstation.nl/NewsPortalRSS and from that page,
    copy the link for the RSS feed (http://www.ecomstation.com/ecomstation.rss).

  2. Use the RSS feed in Firefox.
    From the menu, select Bookmarks, then Manage Bookmarks....
    From the new window's menu, select File, then New Live Bookmark...
    Fill in a suitable name (like eComstation News).
    At Feed Location, fill in the URL for the RSS feed that you copied in step 1.
    If you want, you can add a description.
    Then, click OK.

    Now, in the bookmarks folder list, a new folder is created.
    You might want to move it to a suitable place. Bookmarks Toolbar Folder is a nice one. :-)
    Finally, close the Bookmarks Manager window.

    Now, in the Bookmarks Toolbar, there should be a new entry, with the name you chose.
    Click on it, and the latest news items should appear.
    This list should be getting updated automatically.

Joachim Benjamins had another way:

I can shorten that explanation:

When you visit http://www.ecomstation.com with FireFox you will see in the lower right corner of the browser a Live Bookmark icon.
Click it and confirm subscribe to eComStation Newsfeed - that's all.

"Missing" Error Messages At Boot-Time
August 24, 2005 - Both - General

In comp.os.os2.misc "nobody" complained:

I updated my CPU from an XP1800+ to an XP2600+. On bootup, I'm getting a "SYS2068" error, telling me three error messages were missed (booting continues fine).

How do I find out what the error messages are? Help 2068 says to correct the errors, but I can't without knowing what they are!

Trevor Hemsley had both the cause and a (partial) cure:

It just means that too many messages were issued during boot to be buffered by the kernel.

You need to turn off verbose (/V) on some of your basedev lines to reduce the clutter. If you're using Dani's driver with /V then /VL may help as it has the same info in less space so you still see everything you might need.

Using The Generalised Bitmap Module In Mesa-2
August 27, 2005 - Both - General

In de.comp.os.os2.apps, Frank Wochatz wrote that Mesa 2 can optionally use the Generalised Bitmap Module (GBM) package for graphics import. He has tried the new version that supports PNG and now PNGs can also be imported. To enable this, you have to copy the following files to the Mesa 2 directory:


That's it!

Reporting Problems To IBM
September 2, 2005 - OS/2 - General

No, no, no... Don't laugh. Support is still available until the end of 2006 - remember?. It's just, well, how to get it??

"stevew" in SciTech Software has a clue. Several in fact, which he posted on scitech.snap.graphics.os2:

Here's a tip direct from IBM: If you are trying to get a PMR opened for OS/2 then it might help it get routed to the right place quicker if you reference Rodney Almodovar's name. Rodney is the one who routes all the OS/2 PMRs to get handled by the right people, so he will be the first OS/2 person to see it anyway.

But if the report is made to an unaware person at IBM first, then it might take a slight bit longer to get routed to Rodney.

You don't know how to contact IBM? "stevew" tells us that, too:

...If you are unsure of how to obtain IBM support contacts for OS/2, we suggest that you call 1-800-IBM-SERV (1-800-426-7378) for IBM Solutions Management in the United States, or your IBM country support in other countries.

YKE adds: for support of eCS platforms, Serenity Systems still are the Nice People to contact.

New apmbios.sys Driver Fixes Problems
September 3, 2005 - Both - General

Christian Hennecke (our very own Editor-in-Chief) advises us:

Yesterday [Heh! 4-5+ months ago, now. -yke], Veit Kannegieser released a apmbios.sys driver that fixes a BIOS bug of the GigaByte K8-NSC939 board.

Christian's experience with the driver:

If you try to turn off this board via APM without the driver, the system crashes with a TRAP D screen.
My stone old Super Socket 7 board Tyan Trinity S1598 showed the same problem, so I gave the driver a try.

Finally, I'm able to turn off my machine via APM!

So, it's highly likely that the driver may work with other boards where the problem occurs. If it doesn't, one should drop Veit a note.

YKE adds: It seems to be available at http://kannegieser.net/~veit/programm/ as the archive apmbios.arj and at Hobbes.

Increase Keyboard Repeat Rate
October 8, 2005 - Both - Beginner+

Andreas Schnellbacher sent this one directly. An oldie but still a goodie, Andreas says it's been quite helpful to him "since some years":

You have already set the repeat rate via the WPS' keyboard object to maximum? There exists a tool that can increase it further.

Get fm2utils.zip from Hobbes and unzip it, maybe to f:\apps\fm2utils. Create a program object in your (XWP) startup folder:

Path and filename: f:\apps\fm2utils\typerate.exe
Parameter : 0 600
WorkDir : <not required>

The first parameter is the repeat rate [characters/second -yke]. The second is the initial delay in ms before the repetition starts. Setting 0 (fastest) as the repeat rate speeds it by 50-100%, compared to the WPS' object maximum!

[YKE adds: A parameter field of "0 0" sets the keyboard to its fastest response.]

On most systems this will take only effect after the WPS is loaded, so better use an XWorkplace/eWorkplace startup folder or delay the execution, maybe with a REXX SysSleep call.

Executing Typerate effects all processes immediately, even those, that are already running. Therefore you can check your favorite parameters for Typerate immediately: Just execute it again.

Thank you Andreas!

EPM Syntax Highlighting
October 30, 2005 - Both - Intermediate

Alex Taylor sent this item directly to us, saying I've been meaning to send this on for ages. Hope it's not too long.

EPM (the Enhanced Editor) is a very flexible and powerful editor, but reconfiguring it is a pain if you don't know the right incantations. However, you don't need to recompile the macros just to do simple stuff like enabling syntax highlighting. There's a feature called 'REXX Profile' which lets you create a REXX script to run every time a window is opened. You can put all kinds of stuff in this script.

To enable source code syntax highlighting (e.g., for C, HTML, REXX, Java, etc.), first enable the REXX profile in the Settings notebook (Options > Preferences > Settings, page 'Misc', third checkbox down). Then just create a REXX script called PROFILE.ERX in the directory \OS2\APPS (or wherever your %EPMPATH% variable points to) which contains code like this:

/* PROFILE.ERX - EPM REXX Profile */

/* Activate keyword syntax highlighting for selected file types */
'extract /filename'
DO i = 1 TO filename.0

 fullname = TRANSLATE( FILESPEC("NAME", filename.i ))
 lastdot = LASTPOS(".", fullname )
 IF lastdot > 0 THEN ext = SUBSTR( fullname, lastdot )
 ELSE ext = ""

 WHEN ext == ".CMD" | ext == ".ERX" | ext == "VRX" THEN 'toggle_parse 1 epmkwds.cmd' /* REXX */
 WHEN ext == ".HTM" | ext == ".HTML" THEN 'toggle_parse 1 epmkwds.htm' /* HTML */
 WHEN ext == ".C" | ext == ".H" THEN 'toggle_parse 1 epmkwds.c' /* C */
 WHEN ext == ".CPP" | ext == ".HPP" | ext == "CC" THEN 'toggle_parse 1 epmkwds.c' /* C++ */
 WHEN ext == ".JAV" | ext == ".JAVA" THEN 'toggle_parse 1 epmkwds.jav' /* Java */
 WHEN ext == ".RC" | ext == ".DLG" THEN 'toggle_parse 1 epmkwds.rc' /* Resource code */
 WHEN ext == ".IPF" THEN 'toggle_parse 1 epmkwds.ipf' /* IPF */
 WHEN ext == ".E" THEN 'toggle_parse 1 epmkwds.e' /* E */
 WHEN ext == ".PL" | ext == ".PRL" THEN 'toggle_parse 1 epmkwds.pl' /* Perl */
 WHEN ext == ".SCR" THEN 'toggle_parse 1 epmkwds.scr' /* BookMaster */
 WHEN ext == ".TEX" THEN 'toggle_parse 1 epmkwds.tex' /* TeX */
 WHEN ext == ".MAK" | LEFT( fullname, 8 ) == "MAKEFILE" THEN 'toggle_parse 1 epmkwds.mak' /* NMake */

There are ways to write more intelligent REXX code, of course, but this keeps things simple. Performance could be an issue if the code gets too large and complicated — remember, this gets called every time a new EPM window is opened.

The main disadvantage of using PROFILE.ERX like this is that it only works when you open a file in a new EPM window. So the syntax highlighting won't get enabled if you open ('add') a file into an already-open EPM window.

As an aside: if you find (as I do) that EPM's source code auto-completion 'feature' is really obnoxious, you can add the line 'expand off' (quotes included) to the top or bottom of this script, and it won't bother you again.

So sayeth Alex. YKE sayeth in turn: Thank you, Alex!

eCS 1.2R and MP3s
December 4, 2005 - eCS - Intermediate

Ben Dragon complained in ecomstation.support.install:

After installing 1.2R I find that there is no support to play MP3s.
I was under the impression that the MMAUDIOPAK came preinstalled with 1.2R.

I looked in the MMOS2/DLL directory and I find DLLs for FLAC and OGG, (MMIO*.dll), but not for MP3.
I attempted to install the MMAUDIOPAK, but the installer will not recognize the control.scr as being valid.
I've re-installed 1.2r a few times all with no variance.

Any ideas?

Gregg Young had a few:

This is how I got it installed:

Get the modified scripts from the Yahoo eCS group (see below) then use minstall from the command line in the directory the control.scr for the mp3 codex is located in. Use the /* switch (see below). Make sure the directories don't have any spaces.

Apparently there is a licensing/cost issue with including it.


MINSTALL - Multimedia Installer (CLI/CID) - by Kiewitz
 MINSTALL [/C:filename] [/F:filename] [/L:filename]
 MINSTALL [/C2:filename] [/F:filename] [/L:filename]
 MINSTALL [/R:filename] [/L:filename]



Generates a CID response file for the specified package depending on your selections


Generates a CID response file for the specified package depending on your selections without also doing installation


Selects a specific control.scr. Will only use the pathname that got specified


Generates any logging to the specified file. Default logging goes to "MMBASE"\INSTALL\minstall.log


Executes installation in CID mode using a response file


Stays in CLI mode and does not give control to MINSTALL/PM,even if no other switches are given.

eCS On A !HOT! Computer
December 12, 2005 - (eCS) - Advanced?

Paul Lazaga, emailing to BayWarp fellow-members, told us:

I just attempted an eCS Demo load on an AMD Dual Opteron/dual core, 4GB, Nvidia FX6600 computer.

YKE thinks it didn't work so well, ...as Jose R. Rodriguez replied so very quickly:

This chipset causes problems even on Linux distributions; it is usually "alleviated" by replacing:




and deleting the file <root>:\os2\svgadata.pmi (all following instructions in the SNAP *.pdf file).

I had a similar experience with a Dell laptop in the past...and some Win-centric video chipsets in my server. The usual button combination ([Alt + F1] after white box appears on the upper left) applies to select a command line and edit the CONFIG.SYS with Tedit.

N.B.: "BayWarp" is The San Francisco Bay Area OS/2 User Group at http://www.baywarp.org/.

Firefox: Reducing CPU Load
December 14, 2005 - Both - General

Our own Christian Hennecke, VNL's beloved Editor-in-Chief, found this one in netscape.public.mozilla.os2.

Therein "Wolfi" was very unhappy over the latest build of Firefox:

This build [] seems to work for me, somewhat, but apparently the times now are finally over, that one can use a CPU dwarf - like an AMD K6-2/500 with some 760MB RAM - and expect to be able to nicely surf the net. Without a 16-core, 24GHz CPU and 3TB RAM, this basic task does not seem to be doable anymore with FF.
Without disabling the throbber in <profile>\chrome\userChrome.css with:

 * Eliminate the throbber and its annoying movement:
 * #throbber-box {
 * display: none !important;
 * }

... it's absolutely unbearable.

The system load jumps to 99%, causing data transfer through my dial-up connection to die off. But those tab throbbers aren't that much better, when a few of them are spinning. Only problem: I haven't found a way yet to disable those as well.

And FF in general seems to put quite some higher load on the CPU when (re)loading a page, compared to Moz/SM.

With 2 open tabs in a brand new profile, each loading a message from http://www.heise.de/newsticker/, it takes here around 3.5+s, to switch from one tab to the other. After both tabs finished loading, it's still around 2.5s. This just is unacceptable.

It's also weird, that it takes around 2.5-3s to redraw the FF window, compared to SM's browser or mail window, which reappear almost instantaneous, when I switch between XWP's virtual desktops and each one of them is using its own VD. It's just so frustrating.

With admirable brevity, Peter Weilbacher suggested a way to handle the main throbber:

Didn't you find out that you can just drag it away from the menu/toolbar (try right click -> Customize), just like all the other buttons? One of the good features of Firefox.

Equally brief, Christian adds:

Worked fine here. :-)

[Heh! The preamble to the Tip *is* a bit lengthy. We left it as- was, since in its own way it has educational value. -yke]

Firefox: Quick way to open tabs
December 15, 2005 - Both - General

Ken Laurie sends this quickie:

I use tabbed browsing under Firefox a great deal. My usual method of opening a tab was to RMB click and then click on Open the link in new tab.
A quicker way of doing this is hold the [Ctrl] key and click the LMB on the link and the link will open in a new tab.     N.B.: I have only tried this under Firefox 1.5.

YKE says "Thank you very much, Ken".

Formatting: Christian Hennecke
Editing: James C. Gorman