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September 1999

Preparing for and installing OS/2
on an IBM Aptiva

By John Twelker twelker@ibm.net

DISCLAIMER: I don't know everything about anything. If you know something I don't and would care to share it, I'd appreciate it very much!

WHY DID YOU BUY AN APTIVA? IBM Aptiva's have a lot of the features that people want, including:

Some upper end models of Aptiva also provide a feature called Standby/WakeUp on Demand and its supporting software, Ring Central. Pressing the crescent moon on the Aptiva keyboard or pressing the main ON/OFF button for less than 4 seconds or clicking Start/Shutdown/Standby signals the computer to go on Standby mode which spins down the HDD and suspends the monitor (under OS/2, it's somewhat unpredictable: sometimes it spins down the HDD, minimizes fan operation, and suspends the monitor ... and sometimes it just spins down the HDD, letting the monitor suspend itself at the preset time). Pressing the main ON/OFF button wakes everything up again. This feature, at least under Win98, enables your computer to function as a full-time answering service, waking up from Standby to take voice mail or a fax, then going back to sleep when finished. So far, I haven't gotten OS/2 and FaxWorks to behave the same way. Anyway, I think Win98's Standby/WakeUp on Demand is a really cool feature which I opted to keep when customizing the Aptiva for OS/2, even though it makes the job more challenging and introduces the possibility of a really serious user error. More about that later on.

Whatever your reasons for buying an Aptiva, you're probably becoming increasingly aware of the inherent limitations of Win98 and have heard about OS/2's speed, power, stability and multitasking abilities. Maybe you're interested in installing OS/2 alongside Win98 so you can have the best of both worlds. This article will help you prepare your hardware for OS/2 and successfully install OS/2 on your Aptiva. By the way, despite what you may have heard, Aptiva's are OS/2 installation friendly and will support multiple operating systems using IBM's Boot Manager or PowerQuest's Boot Magic (Note: having used both, I prefer Boot Manager).

OS/2 COMPATIBILITY AND OPTIMIZATION: Unfortunately, very few computers these days are OS/2 optimized or even OS/2 compatible for that matter. My old Gateway P-90 accepted OS/2 just fine but I had to replace both the Windows Modem Emulator ("WinModem" for short) and the sound card. After that, the machine ran fine with OS/2 and still does. I've also tried installing OS/2 on several newer computers. One computer's BIOS encouragingly offers an "Optimize for OS/2" option but I couldn't see that it helped at all. I tried installing OS/2 several times and the computer rarely could read Installation Disk 0 and even when it did, the installations were marked by numerous, usually fatal errors. Another computer required "Disable Hardware Detection" to install OS/2 and even then the installation was frustrating and challenging. The last one I tried choked at the very start and I never could get OS/2 installed. Of these, my old Gateway P-90 and the new 2158-500 Aptiva were the easiest machines on which to install OS/2. Nevertheless, while OS/2 installation is easy on an Aptiva, you still have to replace the modem and sound card and download the GRADD or Sci-Tech video display drivers. (Download GRADD drivers from http://www.service5.boulder.ibm.com/pspfixpk.nsf/3f5d9c073e8a66718625662800691e9b/703cb9d8f1316185852567c90059df20?OpenDocument and Sci-Tech drivers from http://www.scitechsoft.com/. Also, some Aptiva models are challenging in the area of USB and adding a second hard disk drive. More about that later.

IBM has a list of Aptiva models which are compatible with OS/2. Check out http://service.software.ibm.com/os2ddpak/html/sys_apt.htm. Regretfully, my Aptiva 2158-500 isn't on that list!

STANDBY/WAKEUP ON DEMAND ... DECIDE WHICH WAY TO GO NOW: Not everyone needs Standby/WakeUp on Demand. If you don't mind losing that feature, then all you need to do to prepare your hardware for OS/2 is:

If you make sure both your internal modem and sound card choices offer OS/2 drivers, you're in great shape and you'll have both online capability and sound speaker system under both operating systems. But remember, you will probably lose the Standby/WakeUp on Demand feature.

On the other hand, if you want to keep Standby/WakeUp on Demand, you'll have to:

FINDING AN ACPI COMPLIANT, FULL DUPLEX AND OS/2 FRIENDLY PCI SOUND CARD: From my point of view, you can't go wrong with these first three choices. They use the excellent Crystal Audio Processors and OS/2 drivers are downloadable from http://www.cirrus.com/drivers/audiodrv/os2.html or http://www.tabi.org/timur/crystalos2.html.

Since you're adding a new sound card, you won't have to worry about removing old OS/2 sound card drivers. Just go to OS/2 System/System Setup/Install-Remove/MultiMedia Install Application. Point this utility to the drive:\dirname where you've unzipped these Crystal sound files. You'll see two features highlighted: CRYSTAL AUDIO PCI and IBM OPL3 FM MIDI SYNC. Just hit "Install" and soon you'll be enjoying system sounds and CD speaker sounds. However, be aware that Fixpak 10 or 11 may have broken the driver installation! If you get the Sys 3175 error message when you try to install the Crystal drivers, try this workaround:

If you're a fan of Aureal or ESS chipsets, you have two options available that I know of.

However, FixPak10 or FixPak11 seems to have broken the ESS driver installation for the DCS card. I tried all three drivers (O2ens114-115-117) and never could get them to install on my Aptiva under OS/2 (FP11). Each time I got Sys Error 3175. By the way, FixPak11 also broke the installer for FaxWorks upgrade version on CD but KellerGroup (http://www.kellergroup.com) has a modified installer file available.

NOTE: I have reservations about recommending the following sound cards and I list them for your information only.

SOUND CARD INSTALLATION: Before we go any further, here's some important things to remember about installing a new sound card.

EXTERNAL MODEM HOOKUP: Just plug in the AC adapter and phone lines, turn it on and enjoy! However, Murphy's Law seems to go hand in hand with computers ... so, do something, anything to help you remember to TURN OFF THE EXTERNAL MODEM EACH TIME YOU BOOT WIN98. If you forget, you run the risk of having to jump through the fiery hoops for an hour or so ... unless for some reason, Win98 fails to see your modem, which in my experience is about 50% of the time which may account for why it's called "Plug And Pray" :-) . Anyway, if it does see your modem, you'll have to:

VIDEO DISPLAY ADAPTERS: The Aptiva's video display adapter may also cause you concern as you install OS/2. Depending on the model or current specification, it may or may not support OS/2 (ATI RAGE PRO TURBO AGP does NOT) but thanks to the generic GRADD drivers included with OS/2 Warp 4.0, you can install OS/2 with VGA (but don't expect WIN/OS2 to work and don't try it), then apply FP6 or later, then IBM's new GRADD drivers or SciTech drivers which are based on the IBM GRADD080 drivers. On reboot, go to OS/2 System\System Setup\System and set the resolution you want. Now it'll work just fine on both OS/2 and WIN/OS2.

My Aptiva 2158-500 has an ATI RAGE PRO TURBO AGP display adapter. I've tried GRADD070, NEWGRADD and the GRADD080 "ATI" drivers all with 75hz maximum refresh rate and they work with both OS/2 and WIN/OS2; however, my monitor (a Sylvania F-90 19" screen) flickers even with the 256 color setting. I like the SciTech 85hz OS/2 beta drivers much better. They're based on IBM's GRADD080 drivers; I think the extra cost is well worth it. Download a demo version from http://www.scitechsoft.com/down_sdd_os2.html.

HDD CONSIDERATIONS: Next, some Aptivas come equipped with the Quantum Bigfoot HDD which makes adding a secondary HDD impossible. If you need a second HDD and your Aptiva has one of these slow monsters, you'll have to replace it in order to use the second bay, which effectively means you'll have to buy TWO new HDDs :-( . Check http://www.pricescan.com for the best prices. Be aware there are two versions, OEM and Full Retail ... and the best buys are usually OEM which won't have a manual or instructions for installing. If you opt for the excellent IBM DESKSTAR 14.4GB 7200RPM 14GXP, you can download ibm-dm.exe (IBM Disk Manager with Manual) from http://www.storage.ibm.com/techsup/hddtech/welcome.htm . The other popular HDDs also have Disk Manager utilities on their websites.

USB DEVICES: There are several available motherboard chipsets: Intel, VIA, ALi, Opti, SIS, and CMD. If your Aptiva has an Intel chipset, you should have no problem with the OS/2 USB BASIC or device specific drivers. However, if your Aptiva is equipped with an ALi chipset supplied with AMD processors (i.e. K6-2), it cannot support the OS/2 USB drivers since the ALi chips support only the older OCHI USB Host Controllers rather than the newer UCHI USB Host Controllers. While you can install the drivers OK under OS/2, they won't load and all you'll get is an error message. Therefore, if you plan on adding a USB device someday:

One source for a USB PCI Input/Output Card card with OS/2 compatible chip is http://www.jameco.com/Products/USB/default.html . This card has two USB Ports, uses the VIA VT83C572 controller, and includes a User Manual. Order Part No. 155299 PCI USB Card SRP $39.95 Current (September 1999) Sale Price is $34.95. Call Jameco directly at 1-800-831-4242 between 8:00am and 5:00pm PST and mention VIP#WWW and request the Internet Special Price. So far however, I haven't been able to get any USB device to work (I've tried the 3COM USR 56k Fax/Data/Voice Modem and Agfa e-Photo). OS/2 loads all the USB basic and com device drivers without error messages and the Hardware Manager reports them loaded ... but the USB device can't find the Com Port. I'm still looking for the solution.

If you'd like to complain to IBM about Aptiva with the older OCHI USB Host Controllers that can't use OS/2 USB drivers, copy the Defect Report form from ftp://ftp.software.ibm.com/ps/defect_submission/ and e-mail your completed report to ssmc@us.ibm.com .

A FINAL WORD ABOUT HARDWARE: The new ACPI (Advanced Configuration and Power Interface) utilizes a very interesting and somewhat creative approach in my opinion: Shared/Conflicting IRQs. IRQ 4 shares the ACPI IRQ Holder for PCI IRQ Steering and the Rockwell PCI Modem Enumerator and Rockwell HCF 56K Speakerphone PCI Modem. IRQ 5 shares the ACPI IRQ Holder for PCI IRQ Steering and the ESS Solo-1 PCI AudioDrive. IRQ 10 shares the ACPI IRQ Holder for PCI IRQ Steering and the ALi PCI to USB Open Host Controller. Now remember my disclaimer ("I don't know everything about anything") but what this "shared/conflicting IRQ" stuff means to me is there exists a very close relationship between sound card, WinModem and Ring Central. If you change anything in the system, you run the risk of disabling the feature for which it was all designed (i.e. Ring Central/WakeUp on Demand). When I replaced the WinModem with a Sportster 56K Internal Voice FaxModem, it worked under OS/2 fine and Win98 recognized it and loaded the drivers ... but Win98 wouldn't go into Standby nor would it WakeUp on Demand when the phone rang. When I replaced the WinModem with a 3COM USR External Voice Fax Modem USB #5605, it worked immediately under OS/2 and Win98 recognized it and loaded the drivers ... and Win98 went into Standby just fine but wouldn't WakeUp on Demand when the phone rang. The only way for Ring Central and WakeUp on Demand to work was to use the provided Windows Modem Emulator and to make sure Win98 doesn't find out about the external modem. Disabling the onboard sound chip in exchange for a PCI Sound Card doesn't seem as critical but make sure your sound card supports ACPI 1.0.

INSTALLING OS/2 ON AN APTIVA: Now, if you're still with me after all that and would still like to install OS/2 alongside Win98 on your Aptiva, then here's what you've have to do. Use Power Quest's Partition Magic 4.0 or similar utility and RESIZE the single partition. I recommend that you NOT use PM 4.0 to create a new HPFS partition or OS/2's FDisk may report "partition corrupted" when it tries to install OS/2. So, play it safe and let PM 4.0 resize the single partition, then start the OS/2 Installation Setup and let OS/2 FDisk create and format the new 350MB-500MB HPFS partition. Later on, after OS/2 is installed, you can use PM 4.0 to create new HPFS partitions for programs and data under OS/2 and FAT32 partitions for programs and data under Win98. Also consider creating a FAT partition for downloads and data which you would like to access from both OS/2 and Win98. Also, be sure you get the latest HDD drivers for >8.4GB HDDs and modify Installation Disk 1 according to Readme file. Finally, after using both PowerQuest's flashy Boot Magic and IBM's old but reliable Boot Manager, I prefer the latter. I think it's more reliable and less susceptible to the neurotic impulses of Win98.

THAT'S ALL FOLKS! If this all seems a little complicated ... well, you're right ... it is. It would be a lot easier if I had reformatted my HDD, installed a new external modem and new PCI Sound Card and then just installed OS/2!!! But then, what would I do when my grandson comes over and wants to play Myst or Riven?

John Twelker is retired and living on Maui. He's Co-Developer of RaceManPro Windsurfing Race Management Program and one of the Maui Reps for Naish Sails Hawaii. After 14 years of using Microsoft Products, he happily became an OS/2 user ... "while we still have a choice!"

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