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Our Future

by Mark Dodel, © April 2006

Mark Dodel is the founding editor of the VOICE Newsletter and is the current moderator of the VOICE News mailing list http://www.os2voice.org. Mark is a past president of Warpstock, the annual OS/2-eComStation user conference in North America and continues as an advisor to the board of directors of Warpstock, Inc. He has worked for many years as a computer comsultant for clinical hospital systems development.

It appears that the article A new Future for eComStation by Jeroen Besse last month has stirred up the psycho-trolls on Usenet. Jeroen discussed Adrian Gschwend's Warpstock Europe presentation on Project Voyager. If you follow the comp.os.os2 groups at all, you probably have noticed the pattern of these FUDsters, who come out of the woodwork whenever there is anything good happening. They make sure that their twisted opinions are out there to deflate any potential good news and drive away existing and potential OS/2 users. It all smacks of the Microsoft-paid troll Steve Barkto from the Canopus Forum days. The current crop of trolls last swarmed when eComStation 1.2 MR was released and also when there was talk about the development of eComStation 2.0. Now they are focused on attacking Netlabs' proposal for a new open sourced replacement for our favorite operating system.

Their attacks are cloaked in the usual FUD tactics. They brand it a scheme and attack the fact that Voyager will use a base operating system other then the existing 32 bit OS/2. They claim that because of this project that other OS/2 projects will be abandoned and that this one has little or no hope of coming to fruition. They declare that even if it does succeed that it will be decades before it will do so. They hope their lies can kill or at least delay it. As with other good news about OS/2 and eComStation, they are very afraid and have to knock it down with lies and innuendo. These are the same mental deficients who asserted that eComStation 1.0 would never succeed and there would never be a new version (we have already had 1.1, 1.2, the recent release of eCS 1.2 Media Refresh, and now the early beta of 2.0) and that IBM would release new versions of OS/2 (of course, IBM has instead announced the end of life for OS/2 as of the end of 2006). I would definitely trust Netlabs over these whackos any day.

These attacks are just meant to denigrate Netlabs, the main center for OS/2 development that is left other than the few individual developers who plug away when they have time. Netlabs' FTP site is the one place I check regularly besides Hobbes for updates to existing important projects for the OS/2 community. These trolls now use this future project to attack eComStation, saying bizarre things like how those of us who paid for eComStation are not supporting OS/2 and we are somehow cheated because this future replacement isn't based on OS/2. It is true that these trolls are lacking in intelligence and just enjoy attacking the truly useful because they themselves are truly useless, but how they can stand looking at themselves in the mirror after spewing this garbage is beyond me. But the Internet has no real controls, so the descendants of Steven Barkto continue to spread their FUD, labeling it as their opinions, to try to destroy what is left of our user and developer community.

The fact is IBM made its decision to abandon OS/2 way back in 1996, albeit they refused to tell anyone but their largest customers. Ten years later they have finally given up on trying to suffocate their progeny with neglect and have decided to strangle it outright. The damn thing just works no matter what they do and people just continue to use it. But we have to face reality. As of the end of this year there will be no more support from IBM, although from what I have been told IBM no longer has had anyone working full time on OS/2 support anymore since the beginning of this year. People who bought the last subscriptions for Passport Advantage (which is what the trolls kept touting) have truly wasted their money as anything released for OS/2 by IBM at this point will almost certainly be a mistake. My eComStation continues to run today on even my newest hardware (thanks to Serenity and Mensys releasing the 1.2 Media Refresh) and will for the near future, but it is the more distant future we need to begin to look at.

OS/2 maintenance and support from IBM is a dead end. From IBM there will be no 64 bit version of OS/2, no ACPI (the current replacement for APM), no EFI (the future replacement for ACPI which completely replaces the system BIOS and is currently used in the just released Apple Intel-based Macs), or any other new OS/2 hardware support coming from IBM. The OS/2 and eComStation users and developers have realized this and have been working on finding an alternative to allow them to continue to use OS/2 as their platform of choice into the foreseeable future. There is the OSFree project, which runs in spurts, but has been rather inactive for a while now. Some are running the existing OS/2-eCS under a virtualization application on a different platform. Serenity has funded development of the ACPI driver (available on the eComStation BetaZone) which has allowed eComStation to be installed in some of the newest systems including some dual-core machines that wouldn't work without it, but it still has a way to go. eComStation 2.0 will have better ACPI support, bootable JFS and more improvements. So we are not yet dead in the water. But we have to begin looking at the future, and it is Voyager which gives us a road to travel.

Whether Netlabs can find enough people interested in developing a new open source replacement for OS/2 to make this a reality is a challenge that needs to be addressed, but I am cheered that someone is looking beyond tomorrow. The proposal to use an existing kernel as the base (possibly Linux, BSD, or as suggested recently on Usenet by Serenity System's Bob St. John, Darwin, the open source code line from Mac OS X) and using hardware support that is already developed and continued to be developed, but with the WPS and hopefully PM and the OS/2 API on top, would be a great solution allowing us to use the latest generation of hardware and more importantly future generations of hardware. And using an open source base opens the project to more developers. Those who continue to develop for OS/2-eCS, those who may have once developed for OS/2 but moved on to Linux or Mac or, heaven forbid, Windows, and maybe even some who never heard of OS/2 but are interested in something new and exciting. Something new like Voyager may be just the ticket to get some of our best people back into the fold. Just think if we can get a few of the people to help out who use to develop OS/2 and have moved to Linux. And it would be wonderful to have creative talent back like Chris Wohlgemuth, Ulrich Möller and others who left our shrinking community for more inspiring work elsewhere.

Today and tomorrow we still have support with eComStation. However if we want to remain with what we have grown accustomed, our future lies with Voyager. So ignore the trolls and support Netlabs. If you know a developer, tell them about the project and help get them interested. If you can, donate to Netlabs so they can fund this project as well as the many other OS/2 related projects that we need to continue to use our favorite platform.

Formatting: Christian Hennecke
Editing: James Moe

Article A new Future for eComStation: http://www.os2voice.org/VNL/past_issues/VNL0206H/feature_1.html
netlabs.org: http://www.netlabs.org
Information about Steve Barkto: http://lists.essential.org/1998/am-info/msg01529.html
Hobbes: http://hobbes.nmsu.edu
ACPI: http://www.acpi.info
EFI: http://www.intel.com/technology/efi
OSFree: http://groups.yahoo.com/group/osfree
OpenDarwin: http://www.opendarwin.org
Donate to netlabs.org: http://shop.mensys.nl/cgi-bin/db2www/mns_art2.d2w/report?artname=NETLABS