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November 2000

Installing and Running OS/2 on a Macintosh

By: Chris Backas ©November 2000

Virtual PC: http://www.connectix.com/products/vpc3.html

 On my recent trip to Warpstock, I finally got a chance to put faces to some names I've seen around the community over the years. I also got a chance to talk to some great people from Serenity Systems, meet Kendall Bennett of SciTech fame, and was introduced to a really nice Java RAD tool called Simplicity for Java. As with most places I go, I had my Apple iBook in tow - a fact which garnered more attention than I expected. No, it wasn't just because I had a blue and white laptop, most people seemed fascinated that I had OS/2 running on the screen! (One person even thought that I must have replaced the innards of the machine with PC Hardware) Because of all the interest there seems to be in doing this (my WarpCast post generated over 5 dozen responses!) I decided to write this step-by-step guide to installing OS/2 on a Macintosh.

1. The first step is to buy the required software. This is not a magical process. To run OS/2 you will need to buy VirtualPC from Connectix. All versions of VirtualPC (or VPC for short) are the same program, the only difference is the OS that they come with a license for. So, unless you wish to buy a Windows license, I recommend buying VirtualPC for PC-DOS. There are many retailers on the Internet who carry it. The DOS version is around $75, or $50 if you already own a prior version.

2. Install VirtualPC as you normally would, then make sure to get the latest update: http://www.connectix.com/downloadcenter/ from Connectix.

3. Now, start VirtualPC while holding down the Command Button (the one that either has an Apple symbol on it, or that four-cornered loopy thing). This will get you to the VPC Configurations Window. Select any configuration (you probably only have one at this point), and press the "Duplicate Button". Highlight the new configuration, and press "Rename". Call it "OS/2". You should now have a screen like the one below. Select the OS/2 Configuration and click "Make Active" (if it isn't already active), then click Done. After a moment you will receive an error regarding your C drive. This is fine, click the button to edit the Preferences and proceed to the next step.

4. Virtual PC uses large files on your Macintosh's Hard drive as the Hard Drive for the emulated OS. It does not require partitioning of your Mac (in fact, the partitioning scheme on Macs is totally different than on PCs, it's much more flexible) The first step is to click on the "C Drive" setting. Now make sure to click the "Hard Drive Image" radio button, then press the "New Hard Drive Image" button. Select any location on your Mac you wish for your new HD File, and designate a size for it. Be sure to check the "Zero Drive" checkbox. OS/2 FDisk doesn't like it if you don't. Click the OK button when you're done, and wait a few minutes. Your HD is now created.

Virtual PC can mount HD images as drives on your Mac's Desktop when you double click them. The problem with this is that it only understands the FAT file format (and only simple partitioning schemes for that matter) For this reason, I recommend creating a D drive that's only FAT. (See screen shot below for this and the following settings.) This will allow you to have a drive that you can use as a shared area between the MacOS and OS/2 - and plays an important part during the install process. Again, zero the drive when you create it, the drive's size can be very small though. On my iBook it's only 20MB.

Leave the CD-ROM set to "Standard". The alternate is only used for SCO Unix.

Make sure the Floppy is set to "Booting Allowed", otherwise we won't get very far into installation.

Leave Shared Folders set to "Not Installed" - this feature only works in Win98.

Set the video to "4Mb, Adjust Video"

The Sound Card should be enabled.

The mouse setting is where you define which key is the modifier for Right-Clicking. I highly recommend using Control-Click - Shift Click doesn't work very well in OS/2, and Control-Click has another advantage. Multi-button mice on the Mac send Right-Click to MacOS as Control-Click. Therefore, by keeping this setting here, if you have a multi-button mouse the right click will work exactly like you expect.

The Keyboard setting lets you assign some buttons to act as the Windows Keys. I don't use this feature, but you can if you'd like.

I don't have any Serial Ports on my Macs, so I leave the COM port settings turned off, and have no idea if they work or not. If you have a need for them, you can give it a shot though. Let me know if it works!

Set Networking to "Enabled (Shared IP)"

I've never tried printing before, but VPC will emulate either an Epson EQL2500 printer or a generic Postscript on LPT1. I think it should be possible to setup the plain Postscript under OS/2 - I've just never tried. In any case, VPC would map this to your default MacOS printer.

VPC's USB support is emulated as an OHCI controller. OS/2 doesn't support this, so leave this turned off. Don't worry, you will still be able to use USB mice - VPC will take care of it and OS/2 will think it's PS/2.

The PC Memory Setting cannot be modified here. See the next step.

The Processor setting allows you to turn MMX on or off. Connectix says that having MMX on will slow down the emulator. I've never seen a difference, and just leave it on.

Now that you've got all these settings done, click "Ok". In a moment you should get a new screen with a message like "Missing Operating System". At this point press Command-Q and select "Quit"

5. Make sure Virtual PC isn't running at all. If you quit from the above step, you've already done this. Now, find the Virtual PC program file on your HD, right click (or Control-Click) on it, then select "Get Info->Memory" You should see a screen like the one below. Set the numbers to the values that I have, and close the dialog.

The MacOS has a primitive method for giving memory to applications, as illustrated here. Virtual PC will use a variable amount of RAM for its own internal caches (such as, a CPU instruction cache) based on the Preferred Size you allocate. The remainder will be used as virtual RAM for the OS. Unfortunately, there's no effective way to calculate what the remainder will be, and OS/2 REALLY dislikes certain odd sizes. The number in the screen shot below will give OS/2 roughly 64MB (I think it's really 63), but requires 81MB of RAM from your Mac. You will need a lot of physical RAM in your Mac for this to be reasonable. You *can* use less, but the performance of OS/2 will suffer a lot. It's your call, but remember that using un-verified sizes can make virtualized OS/2 highly unstable. If you have the RAM to spare, use my setting.

6. We're now ready to begin installing OS/2. This part is a little tricky though. If you have a floppy drive on your Mac, consider yourself lucky and proceed to the next step. VPC does not support booting off CDs, but that really doesn't matter much since you can't use WSeB, and Warp 4 doesn't have a bootable CD. I should have copies of the OS/2 Install Disk Images on my website by the time you read this, but here's how to make them yourself.

The goal is to get images into Uncompressed Apple Image Format. This is the only way I've found to do this without having a floppy drive on a Mac. (It requires a Linux machine with a floppy drive). First, from OS/2 make all 3 install disks if you don't already have them. Then, take them to you friendly neighborhood Linux machine, and do the following to each:

  1. Insert the disk into the floppy drive and do NOT mount it.
  2. Issue this command: dd if=/dev/fd0 of=/<somepath>/os2diskx.img bs=1440k (obviously, replace the path and the x with something meaningful)
  3. Remove the disk

Now, move the three image files to your Mac (over the network most likely). This next step requires a Apple DiskCopy. Using disk copy, have it mount the image as a drive on your desktop, Then go back to DiskCopy and Select "Create Image from Disk" *NOT* from Folder. You must create the image without compression - you might need to edit DiskCopy's preferences to do this. Make sure it's set to make a 1.4 Read/Write image. Do this for all three disks, and you're done.

7. Now we're ready to begin the installation. If you have a floppy drive, insert the OS/2 Installation disk and start VPC. If you made the images, first start VPC. You'll get the "Missing Operating System" message again - ignore it. Find your OS/2 Installation disk image file, and drag it onto the part of the VPC window designated as the Floppy Drive (on the bottom of the window, towards the left). Select "Restart PC" from the Menu, and it should boot the fake floppy. If it 'throws' the image back at you instead of mounting it, there's something wrong with your disk image.

You should have the OS/2 Warp 4 CD in the drive at this point, and proceed normally with installation. To switch floppies, eject them first by clicking the Floppy's button on the bottom of the window, and insert the next one. (Either by dragging in the next image, or inserting the next disk)

Here's some notes you might need to know to install properly:

8. After OS/2 is installed and you're at the desktop, edit your config.sys. Find the line
BASEDEV=IBM1S506.ADD and change it to read:
BASEDEV=IBM1S506.ADD /A:0 /!BM /A:1 /!BM
This change makes sure that Busmastering is disabled. We're about to apply a fixpack, and the default setting for busmastering changes afterwards. The busmaster feature causes a lot of trouble under the emulator, and aside from that, it wouldn't really improve performance anyway. Remember all disk I/O is emulated, so your bottleneck is the translation between OS/2's request and where the data lives on the Mac.

9. Now we need to install a fixpack. Since you don't yet have Netscape in OS/2, I recommend shutting down OS/2, and Quiting VPC. (Do not tell it to save) Now mount the Shared FAT drive by double clicking it, and download or copy all the files you'll need to install the fixpack onto this disk. Please note that VPC must be closed and NOT in a saved-state in order to mount a disk as Read/Write. When you've copied everything you'll need to apply the fixpack (fixpack disks, and any utilities you usually use for installing a FP) to your shared disk, unmount it from the Mac and restart VPC.

Alternatively you can use OS/2's command line FTP if you chose not to make a shared disk. Emulated OS/2 is very flakey without any fixpacks though, so I don't recommend this method.

After OS/2 boots, install the Fixpack as you normally would. You can install Netscape for OS/2 using the same method as you used to get the Fixpack files, or download it at the same time as the fixpack files if your shared disk has enough space.

There are several reasons that you need to install a fixpack. First, it improves the stability a lot (and of course fixes many OS/2 bugs) But most importantly, it allows you to run SciTech display doctor. SciTech is the only driver that works well enough under VPC to give you full color. The normal S3 driver works alright, but causes a Trap whenever you close any program. (That's a bad thing.)

10. Install SciTech Display Doctor. If you've installed OS/2 Netscape, you can do this without shutting down and mounting the shared disk now. Several of the modes (including the default) have some graphic corruption problem. None of them cause crashes that I've found though. You'll have to experiment to find which ones work best. 800x600x65536 works very well. Note that the refresh rate is meaningless in this environment, so set it as low as possible.

You will notice a large black 'tumor' underneath the screen image. Unfortunately, this is a side effect of something that SciTech does and I've not found a solution to it. This 'tumor' prevents you from entering full screen mode unless your Mac's resolution is large enough to hold the entire thing. In other words, OS/2 at 800x600 on an iBook should be able to fit fullscreen, but due to this tumor, it won't be able to. If someone can find a way around this, I'd love to know.

And, that's it! You should be able to install any software you want. I've got VisualAge C++ v4, and Object Desktop v2.0 installed, among other things. Here is a screenshot of the final result, (Tumor not edited out).


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