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April 2000

View From the End (User)

By: Don Eitner (freiheit@tstonramp.com) The 13th Floor - http://www.tstonramp.com/~freiheit/

"The Operating System/2 Version is 4.50"

Something odd has occurred in the OS/2 world in the past two months. I'm not talking about IBM's release of a Netscape Communicator 4.61 refresh nor the Java 1.1.8 refresh, though I very well could discuss those and ponder their significance for the "dead" OS/2 market. I'm also not talking about IBM's recent release of USB printer support for OS/2 which seems to simply provide access to USB ports for all printers which already have OS/2 drivers that use serial and parallel ports to connect to PCs. This, too, has some interesting ramifications for the "dead" OS/2 market where IBM insists that OS/2 is only useful as a server operating system rather than a client/workstation OS.

No, friends, I am speaking this month of the release of fixpack 13 for OS/2 Warp 4.0 which, to my surprise, appears to have merged the foundations of OS/2 Warp 4 and Warp Server for eBusiness (WSeB, aka Warp Server 4.5). Indeed, after installing fixpack 13 I ran the VER command at the OS/2 command prompt and was greeted with the words "The Operating System/2 Version is 4.50". Considering this to be an unusual move for IBM, as they rarely make any modification to the version number through fixpacks, I jumped onto IRC and performed a /version command on myself. Using GammaTech's IRC client and the DMI script I have always gotten the response that my OS/2 version is 2.40 (which matched the VER command's results at the command prompt) but on this day it declared 2.45.

The only other visible cue to the version upgrade is a small block of text overlaying the OS/2 boot logo's bottom left corner which states that this is now revision 14.040_W4. There used to be no text on this bootup screen.

So what's different about OS/2 Warp 4.5? Well for one thing, if you go to the OS/2 command prompt and type FORMAT /? it will give some information about formatting your hard drive using the JFS file system which was introduced with Warp Server for eBusiness last year. However I have been unsuccessful in actually performing a JFS format of my drive and believe this to be largely due to a lack of any JFS.IFS file system driver. Users running in a networked environment with a WSeB server might be able to perform a JFS format on their workstation machines now but the rest of us still must do without. There also is no updated information in the system help files regarding the JFS parameters which have been added to the format.com utility.

Many users have complained of crashes and other odd behavior after applying fixpack 13. A quick check at VOICE's own WarpDoctor site confirms a few of these problems but indicates they occur only when certain other products or services are installed. I have none of those problems as I have none of those optional products installed. For me, fixpack 13 has been a pleasure to install and to run. No crashes, no hangs, and it seems that IBM has made a change so that I could permanently delete my system template objects (well, most of them anyway). This is something I complained about a few months back, but after applying fixpack 13 I dragged my templates folder to the shredder and upon rebooting my system the templates folder, for the first time since I originally installed Warp 4, had not been rebuilt. However my Multimedia Templates folder was rebuilt, but this is only about one-fourth of all the templates I used to be forced to keep on my desktop. I would, however, like to be able to get rid of them at some point in the near future (fp14?).

Did they release the new multi-processing kernel? Well I can't say for sure as I haven't got access to a multi-processing PC, but the file date on my OS2KRNL file is March 31, 2000 and its revision (determined by the bldlevel command) is 14.40, which almost relates to the "revision 14.040" notice given during system bootup.

Whether installing fixpack 13 is a joyous event for you or not, it does seem just slightly odd that IBM has released four major updates for OS/2 within the past two months. Are they leading up to the long-overdue Warp 4 client refresh which would lay down all of these updates in a single install? I for one fervently hope so, but I've come to not expect much from IBM in the convenience category. Only time will tell.

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