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July 2004

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When will we get ACPI support?

An editorial view from Mark Dodel, Founding Editor of the VOICE Newsletter.

We use OS/2 or eComStation because it works the way we want it to, not the way some megalomaniac in Redmond demands we work. That requires some thought and effort on our part since as a rule we don't like others doing our thinking for us. Unfortunately, that means we are not always in step with the latest gizmo which requires users to use the latest monstrosity, do-it-all from Microsoft. Configuring hardware used to require some thought in allocating resources like IRQs and base memory addresses, but you could modify these using DIP switches or jumpers on the card or perhaps by changing settings in the system BIOS.

With the advent of plug and play (PnP, also sarcastically called "plug and pray"), and now ACPI (Advanced Configuration and Power Interface, see for more information) we no longer have the luxury (or, depending on your hardware acumen, a disaster in the making) to easily change the assigned resources which a new or existing piece of hardware uses. With PnP you might be able to get a change by moving a card to a different PCI slot, but usually it requires the driver be PnP-aware and if you are lucky, you can modify the resources with some CONFIG.SYS line parameters. With ACPI we see the operating system more deeply rooted into orchestrating the assignment of these resources. For Windows users it's magic, unless it is fouled up, in which case it's a nightmare. For OS/2 users it usually either just works or it doesn't.

With my laptop I had a problem where the built-in network and the sound chipsets both insisted on using the same IRQ. This caused problems with getting the sound driver (in my case the UNIAUD driver) to work properly. I have seen posts in Usenet that there have been some beginning efforts to address ACPI support under OS/2, to help us work out these conflicts, but to my knowledge there is nothing that is openly available so far. In fact, the things I have read tend to make me think that there is no co-ordinated effort in this regard. That is not a good state of affairs for those of us who want to continue to use eComStation or OS/2 on current and future hardware.

For my own problem I found a solution using a special driver found on Hobbes. SPCIIRQ ( allows you to change a device's assigned IRQ (assuming the device allows more then one). It took a bit of time to comprehend how to do this but eventually I figured it out and now my system happily plays sound, using IRQ5 instead of IRQ10 which the Realtek RTL8100BL network chipset insists on using. I owe a great deal of thanks to Veit Kannegieser for developing this driver. But we need more work in this area or OS/2 and eComStation will be relegated to running only on systems that will qualify as ancient relics. If VOICE had more paying members, and a much larger treasury, this would be a great area to invest in for future development. But at least for now I don't see that being feasible. If you haven't already done so join VOICE so such projects can be considered in the future.

As to alternatives, Netlabs ( has its hands full with all kinds of projects, but I don't see this one listed on their site. They rely mainly on the generosity of freeware developers to contribute their time and talent. But you don't have to be a programmer to help them. They can use help with their website with things like HTML, translation, project coordination, and editing of articles and documentation. If you can help them in these areas contact Adrian Gschwend (removing the DESPAM first of course). Or perhaps you have some spare cash you can donate to help them continue their important work. If so, surf on over to Mensys and make a contribution

With the Serenity Virtual Station ( virtual machine, we will be able to run OS/2 and eCS on top of other platforms (besides OS/2-eCS, this is supported under Linux, FreeBSD, and Windows) since the virtualized hardware seen by OS/2 will be fixed and supported. But for me, my absolute preference is to use that tool to run other platforms when I have to, under an OS/2-eCS host, not the other way around.

So will we be able to use our operating sysem of choice in the future? It is getting more and more difficult, but it is not yet impossible. Hopefully someone pulls another miracle out of the hat and develops a utility to allow us to fully or at least almost fully manage resources under ACPI. As always we will all have to wait and see.

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 July 3 and 17 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 Thomas Klein reports problems which he has experienced with Norman Virus Control's update mechanism and Norman's support and provides a number of work-arounds in NUTS: Norman Update TroubleShooting.

We finish 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 six deals with accessing MySQL from REXX.

Despite the entertainment industries' efforts, peer-to-peer file sharing (P2P) is still popular. Moreover, not everything that is shared is also illegal. Bittorrent is a P2P client with a strongly growing user base and is employed by an increasing number of large sites and vendors to distribute their perfectly legal but large files. Read more about its capabilities and the setup in Alex Taylor's Bittorrent on OS/2.

When it comes to backups and videos, it is easy to hit the magical file size limit of 2 GB nowadays. Ines Schmitt reports on the available options for saving such files to DVD. Learn more in DVD writing with files larger than 2 GB.

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.

That's it for this month.

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

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