Virtual OS/2 International Consumer Education

October 1998

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Interview with an OS/2 User

Our next interview is with Curtis Maurand. He is the system administrator for Business Center 314 Main St., Biddedord, ME 04005 (207)283-3627. He is also the system administrator for WordWrap Service Corp's internet services division. (WordWrap Service Corp. 56 Thadeus St., So. Portland, ME 04106 (207)767-4000 x27).

VOICE> What kind of business are you involved in?
Curtis> I work for an internet service provider/computer builder ( business center) and a network VAR (WordWrap Service Corp.)

VOICE >Can you please describe your current use of OS/2 in your workplace? What kind of hardware and software are you using for OS/2? Approximately how many pc's are running OS/2 at your site?

Curtis> These are loaded questions given IBM's current non support for the platform. I use OS/2 for DNS, FTP, e-mail and simple web services (those not requiring specialized database access.) I also use it as my primary desktop operating system. I find its a better Windows client than Windows and a better Unix client than Windows. I use IBM Works for most of my basic database, WordProcessing and spreadsheets. If I need more advanced spreadsheet capabilities, I use Quattro Pro 5.0 for Windows 3.1. It has more than enough functionality for my requirements. I run BIND 8.1.1.c for DNS, the stock FTP server for FTP and the Lotus Domino Go Webserver for webservice. I use PERL for my CGI scripting and log analysis. I also use perl on my OS/2 system to parse the WebService logs on my Windows NT webserver that is hosting some 50 domains. I've been using Hethmon Brothers inet.mail for the domain. I've been especially impressed with inet.mail for its stability and speed. It gets the job done, it doesn't complain and I never hear from it. I have to keep reminding myself to dump the logs once in a while. :-)

There is only 1 PC at my office running OS/2. It is Pentium 166 with 64MB of RAM and roughly 4 GB of harddrive space It has on Maxtor 1.9 GB drive and a Seagate 2.5 GB drive. It has a single 3COM 3C905TX NIC. It has a Jumbo 250 tape drive that doesn't get enough use. :-) I built the machine myself. I also have a machine at my home running OS/2 as a management machine and developmental box.

VOICE >How did you decide to use OS/2? What features were considered important for this project(s)? What previous experience was there with OS/2 and other operating systems?

Curtis> I had heard about OS/2 from the systems manager at the University of Southern Maine. I saw it on his desktop and I was curious. That was when I bought "OS/2 for Windows" That was version 2.1. There was no "Red Spine" at the time. As soon as I started to use the desktop on that old 386 w/8MB of RAM I was hooked. I like the ability to pre-emptively multi-task multiple applications whether they are OS/2, DOS or Windows. I really liked the idea of multi-threaded applications. I had only experience in the Windows and IBM MVS worlds. The college use MVS and I did some programming in REXX and I liked the idea of transferring what I had learned of REXX to my home machine.

VOICE >What other operating systems if any were under consideration or are used for your business? If you use OS/2 in conjunction with other OSes in any form of a network, how well does OS/2 work with these other systems?

Curtis> We use Windows NT, Windows 9x and Linux. I am slowly trying to migrate much of my NT infrastructure to Linux, especially e-mail. I am running into the inability of Windows NT to scale to much of a load. I've been running a popular NT base e-mail system called NTMail ( with 2500 users, I've run into problems with memory leaks in its smtp daemon. I've found after about 3 days NTMail's smtp daemon will be using 17 MB of RAM and the server will reqire a reboot of the server to clear it. I've never had problems like this on OS/2 or Linux with production software.

I also use OS/2 to perform most of my network management. It has been unparalleled for managing my Linux servers. I also do most of my NT management on it aside from user management. The built in telnet client puts its Windows counterpart to shame.

VOICE >Do you foresee continued/increasing use of OS/2 in this fashion?

Curtis> No. OS/2 as we know it is in decline. I don't see IBM supporting the platform much past the year 2,000. At that point, they may sell it, but I feel that they will keep it around until most shops are over they Y2K problems and then they will begin to move their customer's to other platforms such as Windows NT or their new JavaOS. The latter will keep them from selling it to someone who could market the product effectively. Its a shame really since OS/2 is clearly a superior choice to most other platforms.

VOICE >Are there any changes that you would like to see to OS/2 that would facilitate your continued use or expanded use of OS/2?

Curtis> Support from IBM. Third party support for OS/2 has been great, but it won't last long without support from IBM. I'd also like the ability to manage NT servers in a NT domain (Aurora supports NT server management if they are part of a Aurora domain.). Better application support from IBM. Most native applications that I have seen from IBM and Lotus have been ports of Windows products. I'd rather see products written to strengths rather than it commonality with Windows. Applications need to exploit the System Object Model and therefore clearly show how OS/2 is a superior OS. I'd like to see OS/2 be able to spawn child processes faster. Currently when I run a CGI process or perform some things like DNS lookups they are slow. I'd like to see the 32 bit IP stack released for the client without having to buy the DDNS and DHCP server. I'd also like to see better support for BSD sockets. There are perl modules for database support that don't compile due to missing functionality in the sockets library (namely DBD cross platform database access.). I'd also like to see SMP support in the client.

VOICE >How have IBM's statements that they are targeting the medium to large business sector affected your work or your decision to continue using OS/2 for this/these task(s)?

Curtis> It hasn't much other than the statements are a key indicator that they are getting ready to abandon the product. I'll use it as long as it is viable. I still think it is superior to Microsoft solutions since it is hetergeneous. It is built to more open standards rather than locking me into a Microsoft solution.

VOICE >If IBM licensed another company to sell the OS/2 client to home/SOHO users, would it affect your usage of OS/2 (would you use more OS/2 clients for your work, etc)? If this company could add features, what features would you like to see added?

Curtis> I'm not so sure that IBM will do this since the company that takes it over would probably show just how bad a job that IBM has done with the product. I'm really upset with IBM over this. I'd really like to see it happen, though. I'd use OS/2 more instead of my current consideration of moving to another platform such as Linux or Windows NT.

If they could add features, I'd like them to see an install routine that is pretty mindless with unparalleled hardware detection (its really not bad now). The new entity would have to remove some of the geekyness from the system. The end user shouldn't have to worry too much about their hardware to make installation possible. Network installation on Warp 4 is better than it has been in previous versions, but is still somewhat difficult if one doesn't know what one is doing.

VOICE >Would you be interested in a refreshed version of OS/2 Warp 4.0, that is a new install package that included all fixes and new enhancements as well as new harware support since the original release?

Curtis> Yes. I'd buy it in a minute.

VOICE >Has your business been contacted by IBM about the potential use of Work Space on Demand? Do you see any use for that product in your business?

Curtis> No, we have not been contacted. We are primarily an ISP so Work Space on Demand really wouldn't be useful to me.

VOICE >Do you know of any other sites using OS/2 in your industry?

Curtis> I think there are a couple in Australia. but in this area, I've seen OS/2 used as a router but not as a server. Its too bad really. Its clearly superior to other more propietary solutions.

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