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December 2000

Letters, Addendum, Errata

If you have any comments regarding articles or tips in this or any previous issue of the VOICE Newsletter, please send them to editor@os2voice.org. We are always interested in what our readers have to say.

October 27, 2000 - Here's a letter from Jason R Stefanovich on the The Power of "Thank you":
Freeware, Opensource and Shareware (FOS) are important to OS/2 users. This is more true now than ever because many ISV's and software houses consider the OS/2 market too small to develop commercial applications for. FOS software occupies critical spaces in the OS/2 software inventory and without it OS/2 would be a much less usable OS. As a user, think about the programs that you use. What percentage of them are FOS? On my desktop the percentage of FOS software is roughly 90% and I suspect that this typical of most OS/2 desktops.

The typical FOS author works on their software in their personal time at home. There are several motivating factors for the FOS author. Often a FOS program is initially written to meet a need of the author's. Sometimes the author wishes to gain personal glory or recognition for his work. More rarely, the author expects direct compensation for their work. Regardless of the motivation, in many ways being a FOS author is a "labor of love". This is even true for Shareware authors. Many times the money they receive from registrations is of negligible compensation for the amount of time and money spent building a program. This tends to make recognition the most important factor for many FOS authors.

Authors want to know that people are using their programs and appreciate the work that went into them. In some cases the belief or hope that people are using an author's software is the only reason that a project may be continued. Unfortunately it is very hard or impossible to measure the number of people using a piece of FOS software without user feedback. This is because there is often no set distribution control for this software. People get FOS software from archive sites, personal homepages and friends. Think back again to the percentage of FOS software on your desktop, now think about how many of those authors you have written and said "Thank you" to. For many users the number of "Thank you" notes would be surprisingly small.

I have talked to several OS authors who have either stopped development of software or have seriously considered it just because of the lack of feedback. The amount of "abandon-ware" one can find on Hobbes or LEO is an illustration of this. This is a major problem for the user and the author. Why should the author spend their valuable time developing software that *nobody* is using? Where would the user be without the software the author developed? There is a simple way to resolve this conflict and help ensure continued development of quality FOS software for OS/2. What's more, the resolution is so simple that anyone can do it.

The next time you use a piece of FOS software, ask yourself if you've ever said "Thank you" to the author. If it's freeware or opensource, write a letter to the author expressing your appreciation. If it's Shareware, register it. I propose that all users do this once or twice a week. You'll be pleasantly surprised by the power of "Thank you".

October 30, 2000 - Here's a letter from Louis Ohland regarding Mark Dodel's article on IBM Wireless LAN Kit:
In this you imply that NT is supported. OK, what are the drivers?

I run NT 4 on an IBM 9595 using the ISA/MCA Wireless card. Still futzing with it under OS/2 Warp 3 (not connect...) but I want to run a ISA/MCA under NT to link to my cable modem, then to an OS/2 system (presently transmorgifying from a DX2-66 to a Pentium 60 complex) that will be tricked out with MACPA and the PCMCIA adapter...

Author's Response:
No I didn't, though I agree I should have worded it better. I was just citing the networking environments that would work with the wireless kit according to IBM's now defunct Wireless LAN product page. Only drivers I know of are for OS/2(2.1 and Warp), Microsoft Windows 3.1 with DOS (5.0 or higher) and Novell NetWare (3.11 or higher), which I list on the next line.

The latest drivers can be obtained at http://www.networking.ibm.com/prodguide/wireless.html#lan IBM has moved them since I wrote the article.

As an aside I just found out that Netlabs is writing drivers for the WaveLAN (Orinoco) wireless cards, which are 802.11. I may opt to upgrade to that now that I've had a taste of wireless with the IBM stuff.

Regarding Warp 3 - pick up a cheap copy of Warp 4 off of eBay. Trying to get Networking going on base Warp 3 will drive you nuts. Or better yet spring for a copy of eComStation and get Warp with all the latest fixes and full networking.

November 17, 2000 - Here's a letter from Timothy F. Sipples of IBM, regarding Dan Casey's article last month on eComStation (eCS) First Look: The Preview Edition:
Dear Editor:

In the November, 2000 issue of the VOICE online newsletter, published at:


there's a statement that IBM will no longer sell OS/2 Warp Version 4 after January 31, 2001.

As far as I know, that's incorrect. Indeed, Version 4 will reach its published "end of service life" on that date, meaning that IBM will no longer offer customer service and support for that version (at least at the *standard* published prices). (IBM reserves the right to extend that service date into the future -- not an unusual happening.) And the author correctly states that service and support will continue to be available for the OS/2 Warp Convenience Pack version (which for simplicity I will refer to as OS/2 Warp Version 4.5).

But reaching end of *service* life does not mean end of *sale*. OS/2 Warp 4 (and the Software Choice subscriptions to go with that software) will continue to be available from IBM and resellers. Just don't call IBM for help on the older Version 4 if you have a standard telephone support contract with IBM (for example). The IBM Support Center will expect you to be running Version 4.5 after that date before providing technical support. Version 4.5 (the Convenience Pack) is available as part of Software Choice subscription.

This policy is in keeping with longstanding IBM practice of providing up front, published end of service dates; of supporting customers even on backlevel versions of IBM software; and in providing a smooth upgrade path to a newer, supported version of our software when possible.

All that said, Serenity's eComStation should prove to be an excellent product and an excellent value for the money. As the author points out, eComStation includes features collected from multiple sources that are not found in the new Version 4.5 package from IBM. (I wish the author spent more time discussing IBM Desktop On-Call, for example, which is a terrific piece of software included at no extra charge with eComStation.)

Timothy F. Sipples
IBM Business Connect Software
Chicago, Illinois

Editor's response:

Bob St. John had previously clarified that as well, saying that according to his contacts at IBM, Warp 4 would be sold "As IS", without any support after the January 31st date. Dan Casey has already added this to his update article for December, Corrections, Clarifications and new Information, re: Software Choice, Warp 4 and eCS., along with a clarification of the requirements for the SWC subscription/MCP.


November 17, 2000 - Here's a letter from Joerg Sievers regarding our editorial article last month on Spirits Up?:
From the editorial:
Don't they deserve to get something in return? If you look at the whole package the pricing seems
quite fair, though it definitely is a major investment for a home user.
In my opinion they do! Personally I am going to subscribe to Software Choice at the end of the month, since I don't need eComStation (if I would start using OS/2, I would buy eCS and the Protection Kit).

Those who never want to pay anything don't know how much work and spare time commercial and shareware developers put into their projects.

Although I freely renounce all registration fees for Tyra/2 and donate them, every key that is ordered drives me on, since I know that the package really meets with approval and deserves to be further developed.

This effect should also be passed on to Serenity System and the IBM developers and everyone who wants to use OS/2 ought to decide for one of the two options.


November 21, 2000 - A number of people are still uncomfortable with the idea of LVM (Logical Volume Manager) that has been incorporated into the new eComStation/Merlin Convenience Pak client. In response to Michal Necasek's article, A Short Introduction to LVM and JFS , here are some more questions on LVM from Basil Fermie, and answers from Michal Necasek:
Thanks to Michal Necasek for the Short Introduction to LVM and JFS. I thought it answered more questions about JFS than LVM, and since the latter is a non-avoidable feature of the exciting new eComStation, I would like to know more about LVM. Unfortunately the references given would only help those who happen to have a copy of WSeB or who have shelled out for a very comprehensive IBM Redbook on the subject, so some questions are perhaps in order here.

Michal's Reply:

I shelled out $0.00 for the Redbook :-) There's actually a link in the article to the IBM Redbook site where you can download it for free - though you have to register with them first.

1. Doesn't LVM promote a server-centric vision of the world? It may well be appropriate for an AIX system or even for WSeB, but it seems to cut across sound principles for the organization of the resources of a machine that is primarily a thick client. By this I mean that the desire or need to tack on yet another physical partition, possibly even on yet another physical DASD, to the resource identified by a particular drive letter, is very understandable on a server with a growing client base.

Michal's Reply:

That isn't the only feature of LVM. The other major feature (and the one people will use much more often IMO) is the ability to assign drive letters at will. I found that feature extremely useful even on my home machine with just two IDE harddrives because I was juggling the HDs around a bit. It saved me some reformats.

BTW fat clients need to grow too :-)

But the need of the standalone or thick client machine may be significantly otherwise, and this may have been overlooked by IBM in its apparent desire to strip clients of their own persistent storage capacity and to make them more and more dependent on the network (read "servers") for storage resources. This thinking is deeply embodied in WSeB as a server OS, so it is no surprise to find LVM there; and the corresponding WSoD thin client of course leaves all file and partition management over to the server of the moment, and requires no specific capability of its own.

The thick client (in eCS jargon, the "Mobile Client") needs its own file system and partition management resource, the latter previously being provided by FDISK. And the fundamental organizational slogan for a client's hard drive is "Divide and Conquer". Separation by function is the key to long-term hard disk health and user sanity. A bootable partition for the OS; an apps installation partition, holding the working copies of all your apps; an apps-and-drivers archive partition, with an quasi-mirror of the directory tree on the installation partition, to hold zips of various versions etc; a data-file partition, self-explanatory; a maintenance partition; and a scratch partition for administrative messing around on, which can double-up as a common partition for file interchange between different operating systems - that's an ideal layout for a thick client. And it needs to be repeated for each OS on your system... The client problem is not the server problem, i.e. to group partitions under a common drive letter, but to ensure that they stay watertightly separate. And I think IBM may have forgotten this in pushing LVM so extensively.

Michal's Reply:

Huh? Nothing prevents you from using the exact same volume layout with LVM.

2. Does LVM allow grouping of partitions defined under different file systems into the same "Logical Volume" (I use quotes because this term really is (oxy?)moronic)

Michal's Reply:

Yes, the terms IBM uses are a bit dumb.

- e.g. could you have an HPFS partition and a FAT32 partition in the same LV? Another way of looking at this would be, how does the responsibility of providing file system services get divided between LVM and the partition's native file system?

Michal's Reply:

The answer is no. The logical organization (which I probably failed to explain properly in my article) is:

LVM - managed volumes (corresponding 1:1 or 1:N to partitions)
Partitions (as defined by the standard partition tables)
Physical storage

Does that make sense? To a filesystem, a volume is what partition was before. A volume can be formatted with only one filesystem.

In terms of OS/2 modules, it's like this:

IBM1S506.ADD (or Dani's driver or SCSI drivers)

Note that this is unchanged from previous OS/2 releases. Only OS2DASD.DMD is different.

3. Not too far off this is, how is caching accomplished - does LVM operate its own file-system-insensitive cache, and disable the native file system cache, or does it rely on the partition's file system cache?

Michal's Reply:

Neither. LVM is not a filesystem and has no caching. The filesystem living atop LVM is responsible for caching, as it always was. LVM basically only maps partitions to volumes.

4. While LVM enables partition-spanning for volumes, does it enable it for files too? Can a file start on P5, grab a few clusters on P1 and P6, and end on P4 - all in the same LV?

Michal's Reply:

Yes. It wouldn't be terribly useful otherwise :-) The filesystem doesn't 'know' (and maybe can't even find out) whether the LVM volume it's in is spanning several partitions/HDDs or not. LVM is transparent to filesystems. Of course, if you take the HD with half a volume out, expect trouble :-)

5. Partly depending on the previous answer, does LVM maintain metaFATs or similar to help locate files amongst partitions, or does a request to LVM for a file result in passing the buck to the partitions in one or other sequence (the JFS situation is fairly clear)?

Michal's Reply:

LVM maintains very little data. Basically if a filesystem wants to read/write a sector, LVM knows where to find it. LVM knows nothing about files. IFSs in turn know nothing about where the data they manage is physically stored.

The only extra feature of LVM is bad block management but I admit I don't know how exactly that works. I don't have any :-) And I'm sure this only applies to LVM volumes.

6. With respect to the frequent need of the fat client to accomodate more than one operating system, at least until a few more Odin releases have come our way: is LVM for Other Operating Systems on the board, or is an LVM LV solely an AIX/OS2/eCS concept?

Michal's Reply:

LVM is AIX/OS2/eCS only - for now at least. That doesn't mean however that you can't have multiple OSes installed when LVM is around. I myself have DOS (PC DOS 2K), Win95 (OSR2), Warp 4, WSeB and Warp 3 on my harddrives. Only WSeB can take advantage of LVM but it coexists peacefully with the others. It is recommended to do all partition/volume management from a LVM-enabled OS however.

7. How tightly is LVM coupled into the eCS kernel - is it as loose as an IFS, IOW is third-party development likely to be feasible?

Michal's Reply:

LVM isn't in the kernel at all AFAIK. It's in OS2DASD.DMD but it might be in OS2BOOT, OS2LDR or similar as well. The OS2DASD source is on the DDK but I'm afraid there's still just the old Warp 4 version.

Depending on what you mean by 3rd-party development... it is possible to incorporate LVM support into 3rd-party utilities - DFSee is one example.

With answers to all these questions I think a lot of uncertainty about LVM would be cleared away...

Michal's Reply:

Sooo, did this help? A bit at least?


Basil Fernie

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