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October 2000

Peace, Love and OS/2

By Mark Dodel ©October 2000

Warpstock, Inc.:http://www.warpstock.org

Things have been good this past month for the OS/2 Community. We have a new drop of Netscape Communicator, with a lot of bugs fixed (though some are still unhappy), a new Device Driver Update (D0002); Warpzilla and Odin continue to make great progress, and we have the version 1 Flash plugin and the eminent Gold release of eComStation.

Warpstock in the US is now over, and it was a success. I know of only one person who left unhappy, and his problem was strictly a clash of personalities which had nothing to do with the event itself. People seemed to enjoy themselves, and were surprisingly upbeat and interested in anything new that was being offered or discussed. I for one enjoyed the entire show, and the weekend passed all too soon. Next year I want to see three days of Peace, Love and OS/2. :-) There really was just too much to cram into two days. The biggest highlight for me was meeting some of the great people I have only known as email addresses/IRC nicknames over the years. Daniela Engert is as attractive as she is talented. Ulrich Möller looks like a young rock star, instead of the Lawyer/WPS programmer he is. I now know who Swordedge and Koolade are and even got to meet Jim Gorman who has been a great help to me with editing the newsletter. Shortly Warpstock Europe will be here, and it's already a great success based on pre-registrations and presentation commitments.

At Warpstock in Philly, people seemed captivated by almost all the speakers at the sessions I attended, and the order of the day seemed that all sessions went past their allotted hour and 15 minute time slot. I'll try to recap some of what I remember. I didn't make any notes this year, since I was running around most of the time helping with the hotel setup and the audio-visual equipment support. I also was dragging my laptop with wireless LAN connection to the internet to several sessions, so people on IRC could ask questions of the presenters. So if I have anything wrong, I blame it on fading grey matter and too much to take in.

The VOICE Booth was manned by Dan Casey, Abel McClendon and myself. Though I wasn't around much, since I was doing other things for Warpstock as well. Our "My Choice!" stickers seemed to be popular. We gave out strips of the misaligned ones for free (at least one of the four was properly aligned). The correctly aligned labels were given to anyone that joined or renewed their membership at Warpstock. If there is still an interest in these stickers, we'll consider mailing them out as people renew/join VOICE. Though you can use them as you please, they are meant to replace those "Designed for Windows" case/keyboard stickers that are stuck to almost any hardware you buy today. Our are approximately the same size as the microsoft ones. We'll even consider translating them to German or another language if there is interest as well.

The first session I attended was for Zipstream Secure version 2, demoed by Bruce Leiwant of Carbon Based Software. What a neat product. It's an installable file system that can provide on the fly compression/decompression and encryption. With drives now running into the 10's of Gigabytes, I never thought I would need something like this, but the ability to compress selected directory trees appeals to me, especially in regard to my email, which now runs into several hundred megabytes. I ended up buyng a license based on the demo.

Next I attended the Round Table discussion on "OS/2 Where we want to go today". The panel was realistic, but upbeat. Irv Spalten of IBM was there, "not representing IBM", as well as Larry Finkelstein of IBMFORUM, Dan Casey of VOICE, Serenity's Bob St. John and Adrian Gschwend of OS/2 Netlabs.

I then attended the NetOp's Remote Control Demo session, given by Doug Taylor of CrossTec Corporation. CrossTec's OS/2 version of their remote support/training application NetOp, is about to have an update with new features bringing it up to, or beyond their current "windows" version.

Warpzilla User Session - Henry Sobotka gave a detailed history of the Mozilla/Warpzilla project, up to the point IBM became involved. Then Mike Kaply and Jeff Kobal covered IBM's part. One interesting item Mike Kaply covered in his Warpstock presentation was that Warpzilla has been fine tuned to handle nested/complex tables. He did a demo of a test page which looked downright scary, which was rendered in a matter of seconds. I forget how many minutes he said COMM 4.61 took to do the same thing.

Mike did mention that they will continue to fix bugs for COMM 4.61, but that IBM would be concentrating development on their own branded version of the Warpzilla browser.

At the Mobile Managed Client session Kim Cheung waved the final release candidate CD in the air announcing it had gone gold. and yes it was a gold CD disk. :-) They installed it and gave a demonstration. I can't wait to get my copies. One thing Kim warned, was that eCS is based on the Convenience Pack, which in turn is based on Warp Server eBusiness. FDISK and/or Partition Magic will no longer be an option once eCS is installed, since it uses LVM (Logical Volume Manager) used on WSeB. This is actually a good thing, because of all the benefits it gives OS/2 users, but you can't go back.

Saturday night was the VOICE sponsored Social event at Old Original Bookbinders. We had originally planned on a banquet room, but the menu would have been limited to 2 entrees, and they needed exact counts a few days prior to the event. This just wasn't working out. Stan Sidlov saved the day by negotiating a great deal with the restaurant. For the same price as we would pay for the banquet meal, Stan got us a limited menu which included everything but alcoholic drinks. We had to sit in the main restaurant dining room, but we were all grouped in proximity, so it was close to the same atmosphere as having our own room. No entertainment this year, since we didn't have our own room, but the food was very good. And the socializing was the focal point of the whole evening. It was great. VOICE is taking any and all feedback, so when we make plans for next years Saturday Night Social we'll try our best to make it another top-notch event.

Early on Sunday I attended Kendall Bennett's Open Source Compiler for OS/2 session. This is exciting news for OS/2, especially in light of IBM's abandoning all further development of development tools for the OS/2 platform. They expect the first general release to be in about 6 months, but a lot depends on how much support they get from the programming community. Several folks have already stepped forward to help with the OS/2 version. If you can help check out their website at http://www.openwatcom.org/

It was a standing room only crowd in the Odin demonstration. I didn't have an exact count but there were over 200 people at Warpstock and just about everyone was in the room, even a number of exhibitors. The session was scheduled just before lunch, so it could go overtime for anyone interested, without impacting other sessions. Well, it went the entire hour past the scheduled end time and few people left before the end.

Achim Hasenmüller and Patrick Haller gave the history of Odin, then a brief but really interesting "How's it work" talk. Though it's a part-time, volunteer project, they estimated that the team has invested about $2.9 million in time into it over the past several years and they are looking for support, specifically from any companies that want a specific win32 app to run on OS/2. They stated that Notes 5 is almost 100% at this point. Then they blew the crowd away by demoing different apps including Notes 5, Netscape 4.7, Word Pro, and of course m$ Word. There was a problem with the game demo machine, but they were out of time by the time they got to that point. They received a large round of applause at the end, and the audience asked a lot of questions during the session. When they mentioned the members of the Team, Daniela Engert who was in the audience got a a spontaneous (and well deserved) round of applause. :-)

Netlabs had a booth in the exhibit hall, which was crowded with people almost constantly. There the game machine (Lent to them by VOICE's Dan Casey) worked well and they projected several win32 games onto a large screen in the booth.

I caught the last few minutes of Ayodele Anise's presentation on "OS/2 Roadmap to the Application Framework for e-business". I'm sorry I missed most of this. Mr. Anise is Services Manager for the IBM e-business Operating System Services Rapid Deployment Team. At the end he was speaking on what improvements/development IBM has planned for OS/2. Basically it is only items that are funded by large customers. I missed a lot of it, but he did say that there was an emphasis to get as many USB device drivers out the door as possible. Unfortunately that didn't include support for anything other then Intel/VIA's UCHI chipsets, so unless some customer funds it, or they have some spare funds to budget for it after they finish all the other USB device drivers. What there are besides the existing Keyboard/Mouse/Modem/Audio/Printer/Zip Drive/SuperDisk/Floppy we currently have is beyond me, but then again I don't own any USB devices. I doubt they are considering any drivers for TWAIN devices like scanners or cameras since these seem to be device specific, but I didn't get the opportunity to ask.

One of the last sessions I managed to attend was Ulrich Möller's "XWorkplace : Extending the Workplace Shell". This guy is good. He makes it sound like anyone can do this. A couple of interesting points I picked up was that he doubted very much that the WPS could ever be ported to another platform since it relies heavily on the PM Shell. After Ulrich mentioned he'd like to re-write WarpCenter due to all the problems encountered because of it, it was mentioned by Kim Cheung of Serenity, who happened to be in the audience, that the IBMer who owns the WarpCenter code has cleaned it up considerably. No idea if this new version of WarpCenter will be released in a fixpack or as part of the Convenience Pack or eComStation. Also Kim stated that responsibility, as well as the code for the WPS itself, is now with IBM India.

I did manage to pick up one tidbit of OS/2 interest just by socializing with some people in the know, that IBM has a budget line item next year for development of an OS/2 DVD media player. Yes, if all goes well we will have the ability to play DVD movies on OS/2. Now if only we can sneak in support for Quicktime and some updating of MMOS2, we'd be in great shape.

Many well known OS/2 notables were in the Exhibit Hall, including the developers of Deskman/2, Devtech; the guys from Sundial Systems; BMT Micro was taking orders and had several show specials; Indelible Blue's Buck Bohac and Katy Ansardi were at the Serenity booth; John Urbaniak and Gwen Veneskey of Aviar with a new Plus Pak II for their great kids game Kidstuff for OS/2; and Data Representations was back with their excellent Java development tools, Simplicity and Simplicity Pro. There was also a new face in the crowd, Starfire Technologies. I wanted to find out about their product "Titan", but unfortunately couldn't make it to their demo session.

Besides the "OS/2 Roadmap to the Application Framework for e-business" session, I also missed Irv Spalten's session on the OS/2 Fixpack Process, almost all the programming sessions, and a bunch of other sessions I really wanted to see. Yes, next year I want 3 days of Peace, Love and OS/2. And next year I plan to attend Warpstock Europe. I can't wait to hear what will come out of Warpstock Europe this year.

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