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By: Mark Dodel (firstname.lastname@example.org)
There was a time when this was a complete gamble. Even IBM Thinkpads are somewhat
questionable since IBM is making some of their lower end models as windows only.
But where can you find out what brands/models are good to run OS/2 on? There use
to be a site dedicated to information about running OS/2 on IBM Thinkpads called
"The Unofficial Warped Thinkpad Page". Unfortunately the site maintainer
decided to move on to other things and the person that took over the site had no
interest in OS/2, so it has stagnated. It is now "The Unofficial Thinkpad Page"
If you are considering an IBM ThinkPad then check the IBM ThinkPad Device Driver
Here there are individual pages for each model with drivers listed by device type
and operating system supported. If you want to make certain that OS/2 will be supported
on a model you are considering, and you can't find one preloaded, then make sure
you check this site. A source for older, refurbished ThinkPads is http://refurbishedpcs.financing.ibm.com,
where you can pick up a 486 or Pentium unit for as little as $500US. Refurbished
Thinkpads and other brands can be found elsewhere on the net as well (ie. http://www.surplusdirect.com
is one source)
Like PC's in general, it is very difficult if not nearly impossible to purchase
a laptop computer without paying for some flavor of windows. Indelible Blue - http://www.indelible-blue.com will install
OS/2(and OS/2 applications) on some models for additional cost, but you are still
paying the microsoft tax since the microsoft lackeys, ah computer manufacturers
will only load windows at the factory. There are persistent rumours that some manufacturers
will sell a pc, even a laptop without an OS or with Linux, but these are few and
far between. I did find a laptop with Linux installed at Onsale.com - http://www.onsale.com/category/inv/00050606/01835695.htm,
but this doesn't tell me about OS/2 compatibility and it no longer appears to be
there when I try it. Has anyone actually seen a desktop or laptop from a major
vendor with Linux preloaded? Or is this just a ploy to help microsoft claim that
they have competition?
In my case I had some requirements for my notebook computer. I wanted at least
a Pentium class cpu, preferably an AMD K6-2, a decent size harddrive (>2Gig)
and a big screen, preferably 14.1' but a 12-13" would do fine. I also wanted
a track-point, rather then a touch pad for pointing purposes. Those requirements
eliminated a lot. But since my CPU requirements were modest, an older unit would
be acceptable, assuming it came with a good size screen.
So where to find what I want and be reasonably assured that it would work with
OS/2? Well there is a place on the web that can help. The NoteBook/2 site - http://www.os2ss.com/users/DrMartinus/Notebook.htm
The Notebook/2 site allows you to browse laptop models by manufacturer and lists
what if any success there is with installing OS/2 on them. The site relies entirely
on OS/2 users to submit their experiences with installing/running OS/2 on their
own laptop computers. So all information is anecdotal. But the site lists drivers
for models where they exist, and some folks have there email addresses posted with
their information so you can ask additional questions if needed. The site itself
is crowded, and takes some getting used to, as well as a frames-capable browser
to navigate it. They have
The primary concerns with installing OS/2 are the Graphics Display driver, the
Sound chipset and the PCMCIA drivers. All three of these areas are covered on the
NoteBook/2 site. For each listed laptop model, there is an entry for the video driver
support, audio driver support, PCMCIA support, and CDROM support. There are links
to a device driver repository with links to the actual drivers. If you have a laptop
with OS/2 installed or one which you couldn't successfully install OS/2 on, please
help other OS/2 users by entering your information into Dr. Martinus's data entry
form page. There is also a form for entering information on PCMCIA cards as well.
There are also Installation Guides for PCMCIA, Sound, Video and Infrared support.
these seem to mostly be focused on ThinkPad units, but the information can be useful
for non-IBM models as well. If you prefer a laptop with OS/2 pre-loaded, there is
also a small list of dealers that will sell you one.
Another concern as I recently discovered is USB support. IBM wrote USB drivers,
but only for the protocol supported by Intel and VIA chipsets. So if you have plans
to hook up a USB device to your laptop, make sure that it has a supported chipset.
Finally for more support there are a couple of mailing lists you can subscribe
to at the NoteBook/2 site. There is both a discussion list and an announcement list.
Both are very low volume.
After researching what was documented on the NoteBook/2 site, I found a Toshiba
2545CDXT laptop on http://www.surplusauction.com.
This unit had a good user rating from Yi-Hua Edward Yang on the NoteBook/2 site.
This laptop met all of my requirements, so I bid on it and ended up getting one
for about $1400US. It has an AMD 333 K-2, 64Meg RAM, 14.1" TFT display, S3
virge MX video with 2Meg RAM, a 4.1 Gig hard drive, 24X CDROM, floppy disk drive
and a built in Lucent win-modem.
In a future article I will outline my experiences installing Warp4 and Warp Server
e-business on this laptop, with emphasis on the PCMCIA devices and install.