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November 2001

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Whither OS/2?

An editorial view from Mark Dodel, editor of the VOICE Newsletter.

At Warpstock in Toronto this past month Stan Sidlov added a a session for the last day called "Whither Warpstock?". Someone misspelled this as "Wither Warpstock?" on the room sign. There is a big difference in the meaning in those two terms. From my American Heritage Dictionary (for OS/2 of course :-), Wither means "To dry up or shrivel from or as if from loss of moisture." while Whither is defined as "To what place, result, or condition". Since Warpstock will continue in one form or another into at least the next year, the correct term is "Whither Warpstock?".

As OS/2 users, the question we have asked for years is where is OS/2 going? The word from IBM has been ambiguous at times, but their strategy has always been more toward the "wither" definition then to "whither". At Warpstock, IBM has given us the clearest roadmap to date for the end of OS/2. Oliver Mark, of IBM Global Services Central Region, gave the presentation on "Convenience Pac 2 ", and laid out what IBM has planned for OS/2 for 2002 and beyond. It wasn't a pretty sight, but no one was attacking the messenger. I think the crowd appreciated Oliver's candor. It should also be noted here that no one from IBM US attended Warpstock 2001. There were several presenters from IBM Europe including Oliver Mark.Brad Barclay was there from IBM's Toronto Labs giving a presentation on his Java based Palm compatible synchronization application, ManplatoSync.

IBM has been telling us for years that they wanted to end support for OS/2. It was still difficult to see the words "final fixes for OS/2" on the screen. We were told that after 2002, there would be no more "free" updates to OS/2. They would only work on contracted development after that. I clarified that this "contracted development" did NOT include Software Choice, and he agreed that it didn't. If you buy a 2 year Software Choice subscription today, then unless IBM changes its mind, you will only receive about 15 months of updates.

Oliver made it clear that the plan could change, but as of now there will be no new features added after the release of MCP2 sometime before the end of the year. Just some updates, the only ones that looked even remotely enduser oriented were for the IBM branded browser, a new release of TCP/IP (4.3.3) and updates for Java 1.3(possibly a 1.4 version, or 1.4 features added to 1.3).

Device Driver enhancement and defect support will continue through 2004. Fee based transition services and product enhancement services as well as warranty defect support and software stack support will be available through 2006.

OK, that's the bad news. It certainly shouldn't shock anyone that has followed IBM's strategy of the moment over the years. IBM recommends complete platform transition before 2007. What that new platform will be is still a mystery. Today it's Linux, a year ago it was Java, and a couple years ago IBM was the super NT salesman. All these options are half-baked in my opinion. The best option for me is sticking with OS/2.

But it wasn't all bad news. Some of the other highlights of Oliver's presentation included word that Lotus will release a 1.7 version of Smartsuite for OS/2 in October 2001, and as of now a final 1.8 release later in 2002. DVD/UDF 2.0 and several new USB drivers will be included as well as the latest version of the IBM browser (probably based on 1.0 of Mozilla) and the latest Flash 4. According to Achim Hasenmueller of Innotek, Flash 5 will be released in November 2001, but may not be free. No one, including IBM stepped forward to fund development, so there will be a charge, at minimum for all commercial licenses. In my opinion I'd readily pay to support this project and would like to see everyone pay at least something to make Innotek's continued development a reality.

Included in MCP2 will also be updated Ensoniq and Yamaha audio drivers, something called Speedstep, and both UHCI and OHCI USB support. New USB drivers for USB-Ethernet and USB-SCSI as well as support for the USB L240 will be added. The latest kernel fixes that have been appearing regularly on IBM's testcase will also be included. These include: Alt-F2 on boot including VDDs and EXEs being displayed; Alt-F4 on boot single stepping through all DDs and EXEs; ALT-F5 which will be a combination of Alt-F1 and Alt-F2 on boot. An interesting new feature is that BEGINLIBPATH has been modified to reload a DLL if it is already loaded and is present in the added directory. TRAP messages will give a more coherent module name, and process dumps are 40% or more faster. Also the new CLOCK01.SYS will be included which allows for a new CONFIG.SYS variable; CLOCKSCALE=x which is supposed to speed up some applications like Netscape and Java which benefit from a faster system clock tick.

MCP2 will be released in 9 NLVs (Brazilian Portuguese, Chinese -- Simplified, Chinese -- Traditional (Taiwan), English, French, German, Italian, Japanese, and Spanish) and will be tested on 15 OEM desktops(primarily Dell and Compaq). IBM itself has committed to supporting OS/2 on the x series of small to medium servers, the A4x desktop series and the T2x mobile series (AKA laptops).

There will never be an IA64 version of OS/2, but the 32 bit emulation mode of these processors will be supported. Oliver pointed out that the AMD 64 bit CPU gives even better performance in their testing, then the Intel. IPv6 will not be supported either, but there is a 9 year phase in of that standard during which 100% compatibility with the current IPv4 standard has to be preserved.

I believe that Serenity will continue to develop their branded version of OS/2 for several years to come. That is something we can no longer expect from IBM. The time has come to stop expecting IBM to care anymore or do anything. We need to become even more self-developing then we already are. If we want DVD multimedia support the OS/2 community is going to have to fund it ourselves. The same goes for any other new features. Over all I feel that my decision to purchase three eComStation licenses was a good one. The question will remain "Can Serenity keep us reasonably current as IBM completely disengages support?". How do you feel about all this? Are more people going to flee OS/2? If so where do you go? For me, there is no other viable alternative. Microsoft is morally bankrupt, so even if their latest and greatest windoze actually worked, I wouldn't use it. Linux and the other *NIXs are just still too server oriented and still too complicated to manage as a desktop. Write me at and let me know.

For more on the happenings at Warpstock 2001, see my article Warpstock 2001 - an OS/2 Odyssey.

VOICE Newsletter Update: We are also planning on adding a new page to the VOICE Newsletter to allow small Freeware and OS/2 User advertisements. This has been delayed a bit do to our involvement with Warpstock. Hopefully we can have something together for December. But we need your help. If anyone is interested in this concept please send me an email at

This would allow developers of freeware apps to advertise their products by having a free banner ad on this page. Also OS/2-eCS users and OS/2 user groups could place text ads seeking other OS/2-eCS users in their geographical area to start/promote a user group or maybe just find someone to help them with a support problem or have coffee with.

We are also revising our sponsorship levels to make it more affordable to sponsor VOICE, and have banner ads on some pages of the Newsletter for shareware and commercial OS/2 developers. You can view the status of that on our Sponsorship page -

We are always interested in your thoughts and views on subjects related to OS/2, and would like to see opinion/editorial pieces as well as hardware/software reviews and HowTo articles. If you can help by writing an article please contact me at The Guidelines for Article Submissions to the VOICE Newsletter page has been updated with the addition of some ideas for articles. Please take a look and see if you can help us with an article for an upcoming issue. Some folks find they enjoy telling about their OS/2 experiences. :-)

VOICE Server Update: Our SysAdmin has updated our mail server to Weasel 1.23. This has improved the throughput on our VOICE News List posts, but there is still a problem with occasional hangs. This is still being worked on. The VOICE News list is now up to 780+ subscribers.

The Warp Doctor site: Have an idea for Warp Doctor? You can send your comments directly to the Warp Doctor web guy Jeremy at or better yet attend one of our Warp Doctor Team meetings, weekly on IRC.

Please note that since September 2, the team now meets every Sunday at 2PM EDT (18:00 GMT), on IRC in the #warpdoctor channel on the WEBBnet IRC network. For more information on attending online Warp Doctor IRC meetings please see the VOICE Meeting Information page -

VOICE Online Update: This month we have general member meetings on November 5 and 19 at 8PM EST (01:00 GMT). Everyone interested in OS/2 or eComstation is invited to attend either or both of these sessions. For more information on attending online VOICE IRC meetings please see the VOICE Meeting Information page -

If you have an idea for a Speakup event, please submit it to, and we will try to schedule something. As always, please be sure to check out the updated VOICE Future events Calendar in this newsletter or on the VOICE website at for more details on future VOICE events.

This month's issue we start with an article on Using Watcom C/C++ 11.0c on OS/2 by one of the OpenWatcom Development team, Michal Necasek.

After that Timothy Sipples, another OS/2 stalwart, gives us an Choosing the Best Adobe Acrobat PDF Reader.

Next follows Michal Necasek with the fourth part of his OS/2 History Lesson: OS/2 2.0, which deals of course with version 2.0.

As noted above in our editorial, we cover some of the highlights from this past month's Toronto Warpstock event in Warpstock 2001 - An OS/2 Odyssey.

Herwig Bauernfeind again has some useful hints in the third part of Manual Installation of Win32-applications using Odin. In this installment Herwig looks at how to get everything in the right place.

In the last article of this month, Eric Baerwald returns with Partitioning harddrives under OS/2 - Part 2. this month Eric has tips on how to best partition your drives.

Finally we have the VOICE Newsletter OS/2 Tips page and the Letters, Addenda, Errata page. If you have any OS/2 or eCS tips you've uncovered, please send them to If you have any comments or suggestions about the newsletter or articles in it, please send them to

That's it for this month. In December we have the fourth part of Herwig Bauernfeind's series on installing Win32 applications with a focus on the registry. Michal Necasek will return with an article on OS/2 2.1 in his series on OS/2 History. Jeremy Workman has an article on using OS/2's Audio Editor and we have an Interview with Serenity Systems Bob StJohn by Jason Stefanovich. Some more articles are in the works, e.g. a detailed review of Xact 7.x by Stefan A. Deutscher and a review of Artem Wireless LAN-card by Karlheinz Schmidthaus, and hopefully a review of the Cisco/Xircom wireless networking card by Mark Dodel. The date of publishing hasn't been determined yet.

Mark Dodel and Christian Hennecke
VOICE Newsletter editors

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