The Need For Speed- by Jon Cochran

Warp 4 Perspectives

Well, after a few months, I think I've kicked OS/2 Warp 4 around to have a good idea of its faults and strengths. So this month I'd like to put forward some tuning tips, and just generally share my opinions on Warp 4.

By now, you would think IBM would have followed Microsoft's lead and made the Warp 4 installation a bit friendlier. Granted, including the boot discs in the box is a bit nicer than making them yourself (which was the procedure in the past). But I'm sure most users would prefer just inserting the new CD, clicking the CD object, finding SETUP.EXE, and going from there. Or perhaps I'm just being picky. At least the installation procedure itself worked flawlessly for me.

After the installation, looking at the config.sys file (isn't it time config.sys was put out to pasture?) you'll find the usual defaults -- which don't lend themselves to great performance. The first thing to do is to change your swap file size, which is probably set like this:

SWAPPATH =C:\OS2\SYSTEM 2048 4096
This default setting (or something similar, depending on your system) leaves a 2MB swap file, which is way too small for general use. Try changing it to:
SWAPPATH =C:\OS2\SYSTEM 2048 20480
Which will create a 20MB swapfile (good for 16MB and 24MB systems). For a 32MB system, you could create a smaller swapfile, but as a general rule, bigger is better.

Second, the number of threads in the system is set to 1024. Unless IBM has changed something in the internal workings of OS/2, each thread takes a bit of memory (If I remember correctly, 256 threads occupy 1MB of memory), even if it's not in use. Setting the number of threads back down to 256 should save you some valuable RAM. (editor's note : users of VoiceType should leave the threads setting high since VT uses a lot of threads.)

Finally, my biggest complaint about the Warp 4 installation was the number of lines inserted into the config.sys for networking. Even if you're just using dialup TCP/IP, you will find a plethora of drivers for LAN networking installed. Many readers have been asking exactly which of these lines can be axed so I've done some digging and come up with the following.

If you want to save some memory, the lines that can be safely removed from the config.sys without interfering with dialup networking are:

REM DEVICE=C:\IBMCOM\LANMSGDD.OS2 /I:C:\IBMCOM /S
REM RUN=C:\OS2\SMSTART.EXE
REM CALL=C:\IBMCOM\PROTOCOL\NETBIND.EXE
REM RUN=C:\IBMCOM\LANMSGEX.EXE
REM CALL=C:\OS2\CMD.EXE /Q /C C:\MPTN\BIN\MPTSTART.CMD >NUL
REM DEVICE=C:\IBMCOM\MACS\NULLNDIS.OS2
In my opinion, a lot of these little "fixes" shouldn't have to be made at all. It's really time IBM got it together and looked at the little things that make installation programs work well. After all, do you think that people who install Warp 4 and notice its initially sluggish performance will attribute it to a config.sys in need of editing, or attribute it to the operating system itself?

Despite all the installation quirks, if you're still considering the move to Warp 4, I recommend you do it. It's a bit more resource hungry than Warp 3 was, but the stability has been greatly improved. And it comes with a ton of new features making it well worth the money you'll spend for it.

Special Note For Aptiva Owners

If you own an IBM Aptiva and were considering installing Warp over the preloaded Warp 4, be careful. I know of 2 cases of Warp 4 being installed over the preloaded Warp: one worked out OK but the other left the system a mess. And before you install at all, be sure to make your MWave driver disks in advance (they're located on the device driver CD). I know they should be on the main CD (IBM hardware and software should work well together, right?), but IBM didn't think that far ahead.
Jon Cochran is a full time student at Rider University majoring in History/Secondary Education. He hopes (or at least his parents do) to graduate soon.

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