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May 2004

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You get what you pay for

An editorial view from Christian Hennecke, Editor in Chief of the VOICE Newsletter.

The idea is not a new one. And the situation has been the same for years: there are wishes for many different applications and few developers to realize them. Moreover, the developers have to work on them in their spare-time -- something many cannot justify for different reasons and to different extents. As a result, many projects advance only very slowly, not at all, die, or aren't even started. And those which are being worked upon, are not necessarily the ones that users want, as developers are very much like everybody else and like to spend their spare-time on things which they are interested in.

Telling developers that their work is a "waste of resources" and they had better work on project X instead does not help; it will only make them get mad at you and maybe even abandon their current work. What is needed is a way to motivate more people to do development work and to justify working on the OS/2 projects that users want.

The idea is not a new one. OS/2 users have long gotten used to vote with their wallets and invest money to ensure ongoing development of the commercial software and shareware they want, to put their money where their mouth is. So why not do the same for new software?

Netlabs has started hiring developers. There is already a first result: a port of the Samba client as a NetDrive plug-in. Just a few days ago, Netlabs announced the next project of this kind to create Firewire support for OS/2. This is done in cooperation with the German OS/2 user group of Dresden, who provide funding, are going to take the task of writing the documentation and also use the project to learn something about writing device drivers themselves. Everything is going to be free and open-sourced, of course. "Netlabs is the place where projects go before they die"? No, this looks like a potential success story to me.

One might argue that it might result in a situation where other developers will stop writing software for free. Well, some might do so. But if we want to prolong OS/2's life further, we simply cannot continue to sit and wait for the right goodies to fall out of the sky and into our laps. Furthermore, the Open Source approach will guarantee that if a maintainer quits, somebody else will at least be able to continue, and others will be able to learn.

The idea is not a new one. Actually, the basic idea is as old as late 1998, and resulted in e.g., Lynn H. Maxson's ill-fated Warpicity Proposal back in June 1999, and later was part of the initial WarpDoctor discussion. Both times, realization failed because of all-talk-no-action discussions and lack of suitable informational and financial platforms.
Things have changed. Netlabs could provide now what was missing then: CVS services, easy to administer project web pages, coordination of development, knowledge resources, handling the financial side of the hiring. In turn, VOICE -- ideally teaming with other user groups -- could provide kind of a communication interface between users and developers to find out what users are interested in and whether implementation is possible. Once that has been clarified, VOICE could provide funding for the projects its members want.

VOICE is a member-directed organization. That does not only mean that our members have their say if they dislike something. That also means that our members have to raise their voices and tell the board what they want their money to be used for. To be able to put your money, they need to know where your mouth is!

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 have an idea for an article, why not write one. It's one of the best ways, short of programming native OS/2 applications, that you can help the OS/2 Community. And anyone can do it. Few of our writers are professionals. They are just OS/2 users trying to help other OS/2 users. Please send me your ideas or better yet a draft of an article to Please note our guidelines for submissions to the VOICE Newsletter. There you will find suggestions for topics, hints on content, structure and formatting, as well as the legal stuff.

VOICE Online Update: This month the general member meetings are scheduled on Saturdays May 1 and 15 at 3PM EDT (20:00 GMT). Everyone interested in OS/2 or eComStation is invited to attend either or both of these sessions in #VOICE on the Webbnet IRC network. 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 our first article focuses on data security. Robert Henschel introduces a way to have OS/2 handle encryption transparently without the need for much user interaction. Read more in AEFS - an encrypting file system for OS/2 and eComStation.

We continue with our article series about using MySQL. Wolfgang Draxler shows that it doesn't always have to be PHP and that REXX gets along with this database quite well. Read more in In close collaboration: MySQL and OS/2. Part three deals with the INSERT and SELECT commands.

Over the years home networks have become very popular, and we have covered different parts of that matter. A versatile home network by Chris Clayton deals with the subject in-depth, and even power-users will probably find it an interesting read.

Speaking of networks, Walter Metcalf is back with the final part of his series on remote printing: Remote printing - part 3: The HP 300x - a smart print server.

StarOffice for OS/2 didn't come with any database, but could handle MySQL databases with the help of a special Java driver. The question of how to get this to work would definitely get an entry in a potential FAQ. So Wolfgang Draxler explains how to setup Access to MySQL databases from StarOffice via JDBC.

Finally, we have our OS/2 Tips and Letters, Addenda, Errata pages. 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

Upcoming articles include more in the series on DrDialog by Thomas Klein, and on MySQL and OS/2 by Wolfgang Draxler.

That's it for this month.

Christian Hennecke, Mark Dodel, Marckus Kraft and Jason R. Stefanovich
VOICE Newsletter editors

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