OS/2 eZine - http://www.os2ezine.com
October 16, 2002
Isaac Leung got a degree in Engineering Physics and then Electrical Engineering after which he promptly got a job as a product engineer at a company which makes high speed datacom chips. He is old enough to have cut his computer teeth on Commodore 64's and first played with OS/2 1.3 EE while at a summer job with IBM. The first PC he ever owned came with Windows 95, but he soon slapped on OS/2 Warp 3 and has been Warping ever since. In his spare time, he plots to take over the world.

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CommuniGate Pro - Advanced Messaging NOW for OS/2

Running X applications in 3 easy steps...

Why X? Why not? It means that most Linux/UNIX applications are a mere re-compile away (with the help of the emx libraries) from running native on OS/2! Not only can we run OS/2, DOS, Win3.1 and some Win9x stuff (via Odin), we also get access to just about anything Linux might have. Who's got the widest application base now, eh? :-)

So, you've always wanted to get access to some X applications (come on, I know you do), but XFree86/2 was always too painful to get setup. So what to do? Well, here's the easy way out. If you already own PMX, eXceed or HOBLink X11and don't want to mess with XFree86/2, then this is for you. The instructions here are taken from a page on HOBLink's web site, so I take no credit for it! I'm just distilling it down for you, minus the HOBLink specific instructions (which are basically installing HOBX11 and enabling the loopback interface). You want the short 3 step summary?

  • Download the XFree86/2 Libraries WarpIn package and install it.
  • Download the GNOME Libraries WarpIn package and install it.
  • Make sure you have loopback interface enabled on your TCP/IP configuration and that you have an X-server.
You're done! The rest is the long explanation, if you want to read it.

What do I need?

  1. You need to have emxrt.dll installed. This is useful for many things besides running XFree86/2, and all of you probably already have this. It's free.
  2. You need to get WarpIn. This is an installer which will make your life much easier. Most of you probably already have WarpIn. And of course, this is also free.
  3. Get the XFree86/2 Libraries. This is not XFree86/2! Just the libraries you'll need to run X applications under some other X-Window server. It's a WarpIn package, so just double-click on it and go. This is also, of course, free.
  4. Finally, although not required, it is recommended that you get the GNOME Libraries. Don't worry, also a free WarpIn package.
  5. Lastly, you'll need some X server software. PMX (from IBM) and Hummingbird's eXceed are now extinct. (Although if you're persistent enough, and have the money, Hummingbird will still sell you the last OS/2 version I think.) If you can grab an old copy, these will do just fine. Otherwise, your other options are XFree86/2 (which is free) and HOBLink X11, which was relatively inexpensive for personal use I think (but it's now $235US at HOB) or comes free with eComStation.

Getting set up

Okay, this is easy, really. I'm just using a lot of words to be clear, but if I were to show you, it would be quicker.
  1. Enable the "Loopback interface" for your network. Many of you probably already have this enabled. But if you don't, go to your TCP/IP configuration, and at the "Network" tab, you'll see "Loopback interface". Enable it. Check that the IP address is

    TCPIP Loopback Config

    If you want the whole explanation, go hit HOB's. The short of it is that X-Windows is designed for network use. So if you want to use it on your own computer, just tell it that it's okay to ask yourself for network information.

  2. Remember that emxrt.zip you downloaded? Unzip it and place the DLL's in some directory that is in your LIBPATH. Like, C:\OS2\DLL for example.
  3. Install WarpIn. Just run the executable and click through the buttons.
  4. Double-click on the WarpIn file you downloaded for the XFree86 Libraries (Xlib-3-3-6.wpi). Click through the buttons of the install wizard. I highly recommend that you put XFree86 directory on the root of some drive. e.g. C:\XFree86 or E:\XFree86, etc.
  5. Double-click on the WarpIn file for the GNOME libraries(GnomeLibs-1-2-8.wpi). I recommend you install this in your XFree86 directory. A lot of applications expect that XFree86/2 is the only X server for OS/2, so it specifically looks for this directory. Very unfortunate, but we have to live with it. (That's why this article is necessary).

That's it. Pat yourself on the back and grab yourself a nice cup of your favourite beverage. Thanks to some kind soul who put together those WarpIn packages, you are done without reading a single README! Well, except for this page. Now all you have to do is find some X applications for OS/2. Here's a list of X11 apps for OS/2. It's not complete, but it will get you started. Later, we'll have a look at LyX and GIMP.

University of Duesseldorf FTP Site for X WarpIn Packages
HOBLink and GIMP on OS/2
XFree86 Home Page
XFree86 for OS/2 Home Page
X11 Applications for OS/2
GIMP/2 WarpIn Package

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