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Leung ©April 2001
Before we go on, let's get one thing straight. I'm not here to advocate either
Convenience Pack or eComStation. I know you readers are intelligent enough to decide
for yourselves. (I personally will be getting both). This is just to describe my
experience with the Convenience Pack (CP).
IBM isn't really targeting the home user (officially), mostly the business user,
so probably that's why the cost of a Software Choice subscription can be a bit of
a turn off for the average home user. Up here in Canada, it costs $350CDN for a
single user 2 year subscription direct from IBM. That converts to about $230US,
though I've heard of some places offering it for $200US. From what I gather, the
regular Software Choice is for small business, with up to 10-pack licenses. Large
corporations have an equivalent service called Passport Advantage.
I know it gave me pause at first, but then I thought about it some more. Having
started with an OEM copy of Warp 3, I later upgraded to Warp 4 for $170. But up
until now, all fixes (40 or so for Warp 3 and 15 for Warp 4) had been free (more
than I can say for Windows). Including SW Choice now, I'll have spent a total of
about $520 over a period of 7 years. Not too shabby, as over the same period, I'd
have gone through Win95a, Win95b, Win98, WinME and soon WinXP. I'm not sure about
WinXP yet, but the rest of the line were essentially bug fixes and minor enhancements
of the level that we've been receiving with the free Fixpacks. Plus, when was the
last time you got to hear from the developers of your OS in person on Usenet? If
you be polite and air your problems, they'll actually respond.
My first test system:
There is nothing super impressive here, but it's a good, solid system that serves
If upgrading, I recommend you read the README.TXT on the Warp 4.51 CD!
You might be okay skipping this, but certain cases (e.g. Thinkpad users like me)
with specific problems are described. And always backup before you start! Err...no,
not in this case. I actually have to use WinNT at work. While it was fast and stable
at first, it has since degraded to the point where I have to do a reboot at least
once a day. I was actually hoping for an excuse to re-install... ;-)
This computer supports bootable CD, so I shoved in the Installation CD and re-started
the machine. This automatically booted and convert all my existing partions to "compatibility
volumes". The process didn't take more than a couple of minutes, and reported
back that "VCU has created 4 LVM compatibility volumes". At this point,
you are instructed to reboot the machine to recognize the new volumes during system
install. I have to admit, volume conversion got me a little nervous at this point
(I didn't fully read the README, but it sure sounded dangerous to me :),
but I charged on.
It boots up again with the familiar blue OS/2 Warp startup screen. You are instructed
to swap out the Installation CD and put in the Warp CD. Everything is the same up
to this point, but next I was presented with a new screen that tells me what is
about to occur.
I then get the following warning that certain components in my existing installation
are no longer supported, so won't be migrated to my new desktop.
Okay, that doesn't sound too nice, but I go on. While it's installing, I actually
read the notes that flash by. It says it's got UDF for data storage and retrieval.
Anyone have some sort of writable DVD going with OS/2 yet? It also says that it
"Includes a stronger level of encryption". Encryption? What encryption??
The process was actually fairly quick, maybe 4-5 minutes later, it's rebooting
yet again. This time, it boots into the familiar VGA screen for setup of printers,
video, software components, etc. I poke around to see what's new. Hey what's this?
New stuff under fonts! Unicode fonts, Japanese, Simplified and Traditional Chinese,
Korean, Arabic legacy, Greek legacy and Thai. That was about it, though I note that
some stuff has been removed, like the BonusPak option is no longer there, OpenDoc
and VoiceType are other casualties. The Video setting defaults to MGA GRADD, so
I point it to the native Matrox driver that's listed.
The Network settings page is revised too. Gone are Mobile Office and Remote Access.
Instead a simpler dialog page with just
I had applied the TCP/IP 4.3 from my SW Choice CD, but it detected that my File
and Print Sharing and TCP/IP were not up to date. Anyways, there wasn't much to
fiddle with. I went with whatever default settings it had and pressed "Next".
(Hey, I'm thinking like Joe Dummy Average, okay?). I do get a warning that it's
going to fiddle with my Netbios setup a bit. I'm not sure what it does, but I give
it the okay anyways.
Finally, I'm done fooling around and I let it to go off and do its job. Ooops!
One glitch, even though the native Matrox drivers were listed, it doesn't seem to
know where they are. So I have to press "Cancel", and it appeared to default
to MGA GRADD.
Next is something new, I get a screen with a side-by-side comparison of old and
new CONFIG.SYS so I can edit as necessary. (If you read the README,
it will note that certain settings are not migrated over, such as the "SET
PROMPT=..." and the "MAXWAIT=..." statements. Strangely
enough, it managed to keep all my "SET SCUSEPRETTYCLOCK=..."
and "SET SCFINDUTILITY=..." statements. I'm not sure what they
were thinking about when they came up with the migration process. That's not the
only problem...more on that later...
It also re-orders the CONFIG.SYS a bit, so if you had any comments in
there, they may not be where you expect them to be. Additional lines are added for
I2O drivers, UDF (for DVD), LVM, JFS and what appears to be an Adaptec RAID or SCSI
driver. If you're not using any of these, you can probably comment them out at this
point (I did it later, to make sure I have a working setup to play with first).
It would seem that the CP was really made for WSeB, but quickly hacked up for the
Warp 4 client.
And then you're asked to do the same thing with old and new AUTOEXEC.BAT
before it goes off to finish installing all the Networking stuff. I notice that
whoever did the install gave it a nice 3D pointer that changes shade at each stage...
Yeah, okay, it takes a while for some reason (come on, how big is the base install?),
but at least it doesn't really require intervention. Finally, it's done and restarts.
As soon as it finishes booting, it pops up a box to install Java 1.3. Be warned
that Java 1.3 is still in development and may not work with all your older Java
apps yet, so the installer retains the Java 1.1.8 JVM as the default JVM. Instructions
are included on how to switch the default JVM to 1.3, if for some reason you want
Under Fonts, if you chose to install any of the Asian fonts, they now come in
proportional and monospaced in addition to the "original" Times Roman
Once I figured that out, it was a simple matter to use the "Selective Install"
to add the PCMCIA drivers. Users will be glad to hear that the list of supported
machines has been updated from that ancient list on the default Warp 4 install.
No more guesswork!
The Convenience Pack really is convenient for getting your OS/2 system up to
date, but probably more so if you are installing on a clean machine. The price may
be a bit steep for some, but if you do a careful comparison to Microsoft products
and consider what you've received and paid during the past years since Warp 4 came
out, it's not too bad.
If you have the time, a clean re-install of the Convenience Pack might be your
best bet to avoid any problems. However, you might then have to fight with installing
some of the "unsupported" features such as VoiceType or IBM Works. If
that's a priority for you, or if you are like me, and don't have spare time or a
spare system, the upgrade process works easily as well, with only very minor issues
to deal with.
Referenced web sites:
IBM Software Choice Catalog: http://service.boulder.ibm.com/asd-bin/doc/en_us/catalog.htm