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May 2002

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Oh how I long for the perfect printer driver.

An editorial view from Mark Dodel.

Any one who follows the eComStation discussion list or some of the OS/2 Usenet groups may have seen me ranting about the lack of OS/2 and eCS support for currently available printers the past month or so. Yes there is always the OMNI driver that will give you basic text and graphic support of most common brands like HP, Epson and Canon; and there are the EPOMNI drivers from IBM Japan that give some very nice support for many Epson models; but it is getting tougher to find these printer models available in stores and many are only available as refurbished models on the internet.

OS/2 is not considered a platform for high quality graphics creation, so no one seems to be interested in providing driver support equal to what one finds on windows or the Mac. Yes there have been several graphics packages written for OS/2, at least one of which never quite made it to official release (anyone try the MGI Photosuite demo on the Warp 4 bonus apps CD?), and others that were never updated much beyond their initial release.

I've purchased quite a few of those graphic apps for OS/2 even though I rarely do anything with images other then display and convert them. I bought Colorworks 2 (great hard covered manual, lousy, lying developer who treated their customers like dirt, promising a 3.0 version in the OS/2 groups, but all the time only developing a windoze version), Embellish (very useful graphic app that always does what little I need), Truespectra Photographics Pro (never quite got the hang of the interface of this one), those apps from MD&I (I never figured out how to install these), and of course PMView. I mostly just use PMView. I have done my best to support their developers while they were still around, but I'm not expecting much more in that area then we currently enjoy. IBM destroyed the market for all things OS/2, so there isn't much anyone can do to reverse that. Changing the name and getting as far away from Armonk is the best we can hope for at this point. Which is why I am rooting for Serenity. But I digress into whining as usual.

I'm not asking to do professional image creation/manipulation under OS/2 or eComStation. I just want some decent printer support so I can print out my digital photos under eCS. Though a full function photo processing app (viewer, print multiple photos, correct red eye and crop/resize) would get my money lickety split. Unlike other folks I won't use windoze unless I'm desperate (had to boot to NT to print out my taxes this year, and had to re-install NT yet again because something was screwed up even though I never use it), and the windoze clone Linux doesn't hold any appeal either at this point as it's still too complicated to do things I can easily do under eCS-OS/2. People can downplay the need for quality printer support all you like, but if all we can do is print text and some basic graphics then for sure there will be no point to continuing to support OS/2 and IBM will win. And I'm not going without a fight. ;-)

So even if its just a marketing gimmick, I want to be able to say that OS/2-eCS has the ability to set the print output resolution to 2880 DPI. That will be one less reason for the OS/2 haters to point to for why no one should bother to try eCS or continue to use OS/2.

Besides this issue of new printer support is not an impossible dream. It is going to happen, at least from what I hear. There should be at least one more new OS/2 driver for the Epsons (we were told this at Warpstock last year) and I'd like it to at least list currently available models, and to support them reasonably close to the level of the windows/Mac drivers.

Anyway, to that end I sent out an email survey, asking people about their requirements and interest in getting better support for at least one currently available Epson model, the Stylus Photo 820, and any other models they would be interested in as well. To date I've only received twenty responses, so maybe I'm completely out of touch on this issue and no one really cares about excellent photo quality printing under OS/2 and eComStation. Anyway if you are interested, I'm still taking responses for another month or so before I send a summary off on the data I have collected.

You can take the survey here. (Please note that if you are using Mozilla for OS/2 (aka Warpzilla) or the IBM Web Browser or Netscape 6 or any of the Mozilla versions, this link will appear as one paragraph due to to a bug in the Mozilla code. anywhere you see a "--" in the body of the email, that is a new question and should have a carriage return and linefeed). It is by email only, so if you are reading this offline, you can view the questions here and send your responses to If you are interested in a model other then the Photo 820, please let me know that as well. Even though the survey is slanted toward the 820 model (that is the one I purchased ;-), I will include information on any other currently available Epson models as well.

My interest in the Epson 820 model is more personal as I recently purchased one after reading on Usenet that it in fact worked well with the EPOMNI3 driver, using the Photo 1270 model as the selected printer to install. With that setup, the maximum selectable resolution is 1440 DPI (using "Advanced Photo" mode and selecting "Premium Glossy Film" as the paper type) and the head cleaning and alignment utilities don't work. At the urging of some respondents, I have also tried the EPOMNI4 driver, selecting the 880 model during the driver install, and that works as well with the ability to use 2880 DPI. To be honest, I can't tell the difference in the actual photos I have printed out using the two. The image quality is very good. I don't have windows here, but printing on the Mac, the quality is equal, except the color definition is a bit better on the Mac.

BTW, I am not associated with those who will be delivering the driver, I'm just trying to find out what if any interest there is in them to try to justify providing full featured driver as opposed to just basic support as you get for HP and Cannon in the OMNI driver. The information I get will go to the folks who will decide what will be done. If no one other then myself cares, then you can't expect much more then basic level of feature/functionality support.

People complain that hardware support is not up-to-date, but we have Scitech to handle just about any display card; eCS and SWC subscribers have access to USB drivers for at least standard USB devices; they also have access to some wireless and now Gigabit ethernet card drivers; and there is talk of a universal sound driver for OS/2.

With Odin and VPC/2 we will be able to run most win32 software, unless they require some bizarre driver. So if we can get some good printer drivers for decent quality printer models you can actually buy somewhere, and maybe someone to write drivers for some those damn USB cameras and scanners, then we should be in decent shape for a while, even if IBM closes the door completely. All in all, I'm still positive about things, but then I never cared what everyone else did. I just wanted enough support to keep doing what I want, the way I want to do it.

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. Its delayed as our webmaster has just relocated and isn't as yet back up to full speed yet. If you are interested, please contact us at

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

Our translation team is in need of backup. We are currently working with the absolute minimum number of contributors. If one of them should not be available at times or permanently this can only be made up for with additional work of the other members. Because of this it can be anticipated that we may only be able to translate selected articles in the future, if the number of regularly helping hands does not increase. To be able to help you don't have to be a very good translator or HTML programmer. If you have profound knowledge of English or German spelling and grammar, you can also help with editing the articles. Some hints on translation activities are also available in the FAQ.

Warp Doctor: Have an idea for Warp Doctor? You can send your comments directly to the Warp Doctor web guy Jeremy at 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 -

VOICE Online Update: This month the general member meetings are scheduled on May 6 and 20 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 -

If you have an idea for a Speakup event, please submit it to, 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 for more details on future VOICE events.

This month Walter Metcalf is back this month with the second part of his review of CDS's newest version of BackAgain/2000 Server Edition version 3.0.

Why do I continue to use OS/2?. In this editorial, Don Eitner tells us why he continues to use his favorite operating system. You most likely will recognize some of your own reasons here as well, if not feel free to write to us and tell us why you continue to use OS/2 or eComStation.

Next, Zsolt Kadar tells us how to Build your own version of OS/2 with UpdCD. This is a really useful app for those of us with CD recorders. Now we can keep our Warp4, eCS and MCP installation CDs up to date.

In his job, Vaughn Bender has to support a school full of email users, all of whom run windows, but he wants to run OS/2. He tells how he solved his delemma by running Pegasus email client running under ODIN. Thanks to Odin, he can do his job, support his users and use his choice of platform.

Eric Baerwaldt gives us his houghts on the marketing and future of eComStation on eComStation in his editorial, A chance for eComStation or The OS/2 community needs a jolt.

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 If you have any comments or suggestions about the newsletter or articles in it, please send them to

That's it for this month. In June we will have a review of VirtualPC for OS/2 by Mike Snyder, a review of the Microtek Scanmaker 35t by Manfred Agne and an article on recording LPs with playrec and copywave by Georg Neckel. We will also have a report from on the Warp Community Update Workshop, held at IBM Germany, in Munich this past February. 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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