Virtual OS/2 International Consumer Education

December 1998

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View From the End (User)

What's in a Client

By: Don K. Eitner (

November, 1998...

The final question that comes to mind is "Just what is meant by a Warp 5 client?" This will be the topic of my next View From the End (User) article in December, 1998.

December, 1998...

Quite a few people have asked just what is meant by a "client" operating system, and in relation to the forthcoming IBM Warp Server for e-Business (beta codename: Aurora) the question of a Warp 5.0 client has become the focus of many OS/2 user groups and many potential OS/2 users.

Did I say potential OS/2 users? Oh yes, I've been asked many times in IRC (Internet Relay Chat) whether there would be another OS/2 release. The people asking are almost always Win95 or Win98 users who have grown tired of Microsoft's repeated broken promises and laughable upgrade cycle (ie. paying $100 to have 3,000 existing Win95 bugs fixed). The problem is that many of said users are stuck on the idea that new shrink-wrapped software is the sole measure of a program's usefulness. While growing tired of exactly that mentality, it's all they're willing to consider.

So will there be a new OS/2 release other than Warp Server for e-Business? The 21Warp campaign hopes so, and apparently part of IBM hopes so, as well. Indelible Blue had a survey on their website asking what price point people would be willing to pay for a Warp 5.0 client operating system, etc. The survey was said to have been brought to them by a group of IBM employees who were, essentially, looking for support in their own efforts to make that release.

What's in a client? Well this is the easy part of the overall question. The client (also called workstation) version of OS/2 Warp is that which has historically been sold on the retail market. OS/2 Warp 3.0 and OS/2 Warp 4.0 were client versions, while OS/2 Warp Server 3.0 and OS/2 Warp Server 4.0 (and now Warp Server for e-Business) have been the print/file/application servers for use in networks. The client version can be used on a standalone PC or as a workstation on the network which is being controlled by the server.

An OS/2 Warp 5.0 client, then, would be the standalone or workstation version of the operating system which would include end-user tools and applications without any (or with very limited) network control capability. OS/2 Warp Server has also historically been marked by a more powerful HPFS driver (HPFS386) which allows for disk cache sizes above 2 megabytes, as well as symmetric multi-processing (SMP) capabilities to make use of more than 1 CPU in a single system.

Obviously people have different tastes and requirements, and so the outcry for an OS/2 Warp 5.0 client release has been mixed. Some want the SMP support built into the client, as SMP capable systems are becoming not only affordable but standard (any Pentium II system should be capable of running with 2 CPUs, for instance). Others wish HPFS386 or the new (in Aurora) JFS, which is a journalled file system that maintains a log of all disk activity--in the event of a system crash, the log is simply played back and the disk is back up and running in a relatively short time. JFS also increases the maximum size of a single file from 2 gigabytes to, I believe, 2 terabytes while also increasing the maximum partition size from 64 gigabytes to 2 terabytes. This allows for a single file to fill the entire disk partition.

Many OS/2 users have agreed that out-of-the-box year 2000 compliance is a major issue for any forthcoming OS/2 Warp client release. Warp Server for e-Business will have it (along with support for the new Euro currency standard), and so it is widely felt that a Warp 5.0 client should have this as well.

Now what will most likely not be in an OS/2 Warp 5.0 client, if indeed we ever see one? The Indelible-Blue survey mentioned a likelihood that we would not see an Application Sampler CD nor a BonusPak CD. So out go such applications as IBM Works, HyperAccess Lite, and FaxWorks Lite. I believe the survey also mentioned no VoiceType Dictation and Navigation. In essence, I think we can expect to see a 1 CD install for the base operating system and possibly (but not guaranteed) another CD for the Device Driver Pak, though with that now being available on IBM's website, they're probably not going to pay for all those CDs to be pressed, labeled, and shipped. And yet most of the price ranges the survey suggested were in the range of two to three times the cost of Warp 4.0 (which I could have bought for $120 in late 1997). IBM taketh away (marketshare) and then IBM raiseth the price which taketh away still more marketshare.

Here's one guarantee I will make -- if the cost of a 1 CD OS/2 Warp 5.0 client exceeds $200, I won't be buying it. I'll continue to use my purchased-used copy of OS/2 Warp 4.0 as long as I realistically can, but IBM has all the power to drive me away from OS/2 by hiking the price up to the point where it simply becomes ridiculous to even consider it. I can buy an entire PC for under $1,200, why would I spend another 1/4 of that just on a stripped-down operating system?

IBM needs to wake up and pull its collective head from Microsoft's nether regions.

Websites mentioned:


IBM Warp Server for e-Business (Aurora):

Indelible Blue:

About The Author

Don Eitner has been an OS/2 user since 1995 and has maintained The 13th Floor website since 1996. There he keeps an ongoing list of as many currently available native OS/2 applications as he can find ( which was awarded 3 A ratings, including an A+, from SCOUG ( He has been writing monthly articles for the VOICE Newsletter since June, 1997 and was elected as Secretary on the Board of Directors of VOICE in April, 1998.

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