VOICE Newsletter 04/2002 - The Future of OS/2 - A Human Perspective
Virtual OS/2 International Consumer Education
VOICE Home Page: http://www.os2voice.org
April 2002

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The Future of OS/2 - A Human Perspective

An editorial view from Jason R Stefanovich.

Since the days of version 3 of OS/2 the questions have been asked countless times. Will there be another version? Is this the end of the road? Two versions later ( Merlin & e-Business ) this question is still at the forefront of OS/2 user's minds. Although some view Serenity System's eComStation as the answer to their questions, most still see it as a temporary (although promising ) reprieve.

Serenity System's venture into the OS market is a great boon to the enthusiastic and optimistic SOHO users who, through all the turmoil, have been saying "OS/2 will survive on it's technical merits alone". Although OS/2 has been granted a stay on it's death sentence, there is still another potential catastrophe waiting in the mist. It is the gradual aging of the OS/2 user base. Most OS/2 users are middle aged male professionals. There are some notable exceptions: Esther Schindler, Ulrich Moeller, Daniela Engert, myself and a couple dozen others fall outside this category. The lack of women in the OS/2 community can be explained, it is a problem throughout the computer industry. The lack of younger users is a different situation entirely. No product, regardless of how good it is, can survive over the long term without the ability to attract a new generation of consumers. It's well known that IBM has no interest in solving this issue, so the responsibility lies on the shoulders of current OS/2 users. The question is: "How do we attract the next generation of possible OS/2 users?"

The answer is more complex than just bringing our friends and children to user meetings. We have to attract those young people that we've never met, the ones we've never thought of as possible OS/2 users. How we do this is by appealing to what they want and what they need. First we have to realize that these young people are the first generation that has been around computers all their lives. They don't view computers as just a tools, but as a part of every day life. Therefore they want an OS that they can use for just about any need they can conceive of. Any experienced OS/2 user can speak to those needs that it satisfies: Multiple environments, a rich GUI, reliability and connectivity. What is less easy to speak about is what OS/2 doesn't do: Run Win32 apps, support the latest technologies and play games. As with most situations, strength can be channeled to overcome weakness. We, the OS/2 users, have a wealth of technical knowledge. We can use this strength to overcome OS/2's weaknesses. Project ODIN is making inroads to solving the Win32 situation, but is still in need of talented programmers. I encourage anyone with some spare time and advanced programming knowledge to contribute to this open source project at http://odin.netlabs.org/odin/.

Approaching new technologies can be attacked from a different angle. First we have to acknowledge that Windows and Linux drive the new technologies market. They have the power to bring this new software out before we even know what it is. With Windows software we can do little, most of it is commercial and proprietary. We can't even get a peek at the source code and our pleas to the developers often go unanswered. Linux software is different and it offers an opportunity to maintain the well known reliability of OS/2 while providing access to the newest technologies. Many Linux developers have two things we lack, youth and idealism. They also have something in common with us, an appreciation for quality. Because of this, Linux software provides an unparalleled opportunity. Young Linux users want access to the newest technologies and their idealism makes nearly all Linux software open-source. Almost anyone would agree that porting a program from another environment is easier than writing a new program from scratch. Because of OS/2's support for the X-Windows environment ( Project EverBlue: http://everblue.netlabs.org ) it's even more easy than usual. All it takes is for some knowledgeable OS/2 user to take up these projects. Finally there is the lack of games. Sad as many of us may see it, games drive much of the PC market, and subsequently the OS market. The Odin Project and porting of software both help in alleviating this problem for OS/2, but this is one area where original development is truly needed. Great games bring users in great numbers, this is one of the truths of the computer world.

Every OS/2 user can help in this effort. Can't program? Design a program. Can't design? Help someone with the artwork. Artistically challenged? Help organize the effort. Lack organization? Help test. Don't have the time to test? Send a couple bucks to help the developers out.

Last, but not least, let everybody know about your enthusiasm for OS/2. Wear OS/2 shirts. Drink your coffee out of an OS/2 mug. When someone at the office brings up the issue of "Another program crashing", tell them about your success with OS/2. Invite your young coworkers to your local user group meetings.

In these ways we can work towards providing what the young computer users of today want and help ensure our continued enjoyment of the most flexible PC environment ever developed.

VOICE Newsletter Update: The planned page for free small advertisements by freeware authors and OS/2 users is going to become part of the VOICE home page soon. If you are interested, please contact us at ads@os2voice.org.

We are always interested in your thoughts and views on subjects related to OS/2, and would like to see opinion/editorial pieces as well as hardware/software reviews and HowTo articles. If you can help by writing an article please contact me at editor@os2voice.org.

Warp Doctor: Have an idea for Warp Doctor? You can send your comments directly to the Warp Doctor web guy Jeremy at rs@fyrelizard.com or better yet attend one of our Warp Doctor Team meetings, weekly on IRC.

Everyone's help is required to keep this project going. Please note that the meeting time has changed. The team will now meet every Sunday at 3PM EST (19:00 GMT), on IRC in the #warpdoctor channel on the WEBBnet IRC network. For more information on attending online IRC meetings please see the VOICE Meeting Information page - http://www.os2voice.org/meetinginfo.html.

VOICE Online Update: This month the general member meetings are a week later then usual due to the Easter holiday with meetings scheduled on April 8 and 22 at 8PM EST (00:00 GMT). Everyone interested in OS/2 or eComstation is invited to attend either or both of these sessions. For more information on attending online VOICE IRC meetings please see the VOICE Meeting Information page - http://www.os2voice.org/meetinginfo.html.

If you have an idea for a Speakup event, please submit it to liaison@os2voice.org, and we will try to schedule something. As always, please be sure to check out the updated VOICE Future events Calendar in this newsletter or on the VOICE website at http://www.os2voice.org/calendar.html for more details on future VOICE events.

This month we start with some great advise from Thomas Klein on Finding drivers and information. When you get hardware and aren't sure what you have, Thomas gives some pointers on how to be a detective and find the identity and hopefully locate a driver.

In HOBLink X11 on the local network, Jeremy Workman tells us why he really likes using HOBLink X11 to run Linux apps on his OS/2 desktop.

Some new keyboards have extra keys which are not supported under base OS/2. Niels Jensen tells us how he is Making all those extra keys work under OS/2!.

Walter Metcalf is back this month with a review of CDS's newest version of BackAgain/2000 Server Edition version 3.0. This is a two part article, with the followup scheduled for the May issue.

Eric Baerwaldt return's with The SCSI Workshop - Part 2: Practise. In this issue he talks about using SCSI in some older machines. Next month in part 3, he'll talk about configuration of SCSI in newer machines.

And Frank Berke has another installment on OS/2 software with At a Glance - new and updated software, Part 2, where he looks at some of the new and interesting applications available for OS/2.

Our last feature article is an editorial by Don Eitner, which is not directly related to OS/2, but is certainly related to the problems we all face trying to run our preferred platform. Don gives us his take on the microsoft monopoly in Walk softly and carry a big wallet.

Finally we have the VOICE Newsletter OS/2 Tips page and the Letters, Addenda, Errata page. If you have any OS/2 or eCS tips you've uncovered, please send them to tips@os2voice.org. If you have any comments or suggestions about the newsletter or articles in it, please send them to editor@os2voice.org.

That's it for this month. In May we are going to have part 3 of Eric Baerwaldt's SCSI Workshop series, and the second part of Walter Metcalf's review of the new version 3.0 of CDS's BackAgain/2000. Also in May we will have an article on installing Windows Pegasus 4.01 email client through ODIN by Vaughn Bender. For the near future we also await an article from Christian Hennecke on how to use the IBM firewall, which is included in TCP/IP 4.1 and later, with dynamic IPs.

Mark Dodel and Christian Hennecke
VOICE Newsletter editors

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