OS/2 eZine - http://www.os2ezine.com
December 16, 2002
David Hart has a Computer Science degree and been working with computers for 20 years. He has almost always had a multi-boot system which allowed him to try out many different Operating System environments with OS/2, and now eCS, always out performing the rest. David runs PlanetECS, a website that hosts a hardware compatibility list for OS/2 and eCS. David is a software developer at the Boeing Company's 717 plant in Long Beach, California.

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SciTech SNAP Graphics for OS/2 and Linux

Virtual PC for OS/2

I have been using OS/2 since version 3.0 was released and I've always been impressed by the way that OS/2 performed. I always liked to compare different operating systems on how they perform and at one time had a machine that had 9 bootable operating systems. Over the years, I have recovered from many a meltdown with one of my OS's from my poor schizophrenic PC.

More recently, I've been enjoying my collection of operating systems in a whole new way by running them concurrently, networking them together, and all surfing the net with my cable modem. My eComStation is truly "The Universal Client" that can run just about anything - the only limitation being physical memory, and disk space. It's not my intent to market anything I discuss here. I get nothing out of it except a very cool PC to use (when I can get my kids off it.)

What's on it?

My PC has eCS 1.0, and Virtual PC 5.1, a 3Com 3C905C-TXM Ethernet Card, and a D-Link 604 router. I'm also running an IPS web server, the standard OS/2 telnet service and other goodies, but those items listed play a key role in my configuration.

What Guest Operation Systems I've Run

I have run OS/2 3.0, eCS 1.0, Windows XP, Windows NT 4, Windows 98, Windows 95, Linux Mandrake 6.0, and a Windows 2000 laptop plugged into my router.

Other Advantages of running Virtual Machines

Each guest operating system resides in a large file called a virtual hard disk. These can be copied anywhere you have room, making backups of virtual machines easy and fast. So, when I let Windows 98 run Windows Update to do its thing, resulting in the virtual machine being inoperable, its no big deal, just copy the good virtual hard disk image back and in a few minutes things are working as they did before the adventure.

What Networking I have working

I've been able to get eCS File and Print Client to talk to all Windows clients with the NETBIOS/NETBEUI protocol. File sharing works, and printing over a network printer works, in fact better than I got the Virtual PC Additions to work, with better performance. By configuring a network printer, I can use my printer from both host and guest at the same time without locking the printer port when a guest OS is running.

Why do this?

Some might ask why? Well, there are several reasons. One big reason is what PC's come loaded with these days, Windows XP. Microsoft has added a new feature called compatibility. A user may have Windows tell an application what it wants to hear: I'm Windows 95 or 98. Even with the compatibility feature added, some of my kids games don't run in Windows XP and since I don't throw perfectly good software away, I was a little ticked off. I am able to run these games on eComStation with a Windows 98 guest OS and they run just fine, even with the sound on (Connectix says sound sometimes locks up the machine, and that may be true, but my machine runs just fine with the sound turned on for Virtual PC.)

I use my Windows NT guest session to do virtual Office since the Virtual Private Networking software the company I work for uses makes Windows XP a bit unstable and I usually had to reboot after I disconnected. Also, Microsoft has disabled some things in Windows XP Home because they want you to spend and extra $100 (US) to get XP Professional. With the ability to connect the guest NT session to the eCS host, it's like running Windows program directly in eCS. The Windows NT 4 guest is very fast. For OS/2 guests I could not find a network driver that worked with the emulation Virtual PC uses so that is useless, although I wanted to try networking things together. I intend to try SAMBA networking and a web server with Linux, but haven't had the time yet.

Choosing a Virtual PC Networking modes.

Virtual PC provides two ways to network, Shared Networking and Virtual Switch modes. With Shared Networking, the guest OS is set to DHCP and Virtual PC assigns a dynamic IP address and all networking is shared through the host's connection. This is fine for web browsing, downloading, and e-mail, but not if you want to run a web server or other server type functionality where you might use a static IP address. Virtual Switch mode allows you to run web servers, and a server guest OS. A guest OS can be assigned a static IP address. This method is best used if you have a router so that you can share your ISP connection with all your guests and host machines. This is the method I use. Each guest OS is assigned a static IP address, and I've gone in and set each Virtual Machine host list to each static IP address.

I've also noticed that the File and Print Client seems to require a way to resolve the Netbios name to an IP address and the times I had the the guest set to DHCP the Peer to Peer networking stopped working. Without a way to register a machine name to a dynamic IP address, I decided to specify static IP addresses. Maybe this is why the have shared folders as a Virtual PC "Addition".

Linux Mandrake 6.0 Guest

For Linux, use linuxconf to set networking settings. I've gotten Web Browsing and e-mail to work. Hope to get SAMBA to work to use File and Print sharing with eCS and guest OS's.

Windows 98 Networking

Peer networking works easily but since you probably won't have a domain controller (network authentication server) you can create local machine accounts with the same password on each host. When you log in, any network connections will be restored.

Windows 98 playing SimCity 3000 - With Sound

I'm not really into games, but there are a few I do like. SimCity 3000 you would think uses lots of cpu clicks. These games run just fine, much better than you'd expect. Virtual PC defaults to having the sound on guest OS's disabled because it can lock up your system, but I've been running with it on and it doesn't crash on me on version 5.1.

Windows NT using Textpad Editor - Editing file on eComStation

Here, I'm using Textpad, a text editor for programming, editing a file on the eCS host machine. Everything is integrated on the eCS desktop. I can edit files on the IPS web server through the NT guest. It's as if it's all the same machine.

Windows NT 4 Browsing OS/2 eZine

Any Limitations?

Yes. Virtual PC emulates most PC hardware devices, but some are not supported (yet?).

On my machine, I have a CD ROM and CD RW, but only the first drive is recognized. I'm not sure about SCSI device support since I have none. I would guess that only the devices seen on the above picture would be the most you could get. USB devices aren't currently supported. I wouldn't be surprised if some of these limitations would be addressed in the not too distant future.

It would be nice if there were a feature to add new devices to a PC's settings, like VM Ware, the product that supports all PC operating systems except OS/2.

Is it worth it?

Absolutely! It just amazes me how OS/2 - eCS can do all this and still be very stable. I'm also surprised at how well Innotek has supported Virtual PC, and the big improvements with their two updates since their release last year.

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