[U Always Need More RAM: Lifetime Warranty - Low Prices - Name Brand Chips (click here) ]

Getting Updated, Staying Updated- by Nenad Milenkovic


Disclaimer: I am not an IBM employee, and if I was, be assured that I would not be after this article is published.

Do you know why IBM added voice recognition to Warp 4? Well, IBM is a big company and employees were having difficulty finding PC's in their offices with OS/2 installed on them. Now they just call out, and any Warp 4 computers in the area answer back! Considering IBM's upcoming marketing and advertising campaign, they must realize this is what their customers will need too. And, true to the new company religion, they have given them what they want. Rumor is that the next version will even come with rotating light included.

OK, enough dark sarcasm. I love my operating system. I love its features, user interface, consistency, object model and scripting language. But as you all know, unrequited love can be a real nightmare. Being forced to pay for support, to crawl around FTP sites (does ftp2.service4.second-floor.third-rock-to-the-left.boulder-dash.ibm.com sound familiar?) and find out which files are real and which they've just forgot to delete, to find news and updates for many components packed together in a way almost as good as shareware distributors pack their archives makes that nightmare a lasting experience.

The intent of this article is to help you stay updated and show you how to grab all the free software IBM recently released for OS/2 through their distributed web space. This article covers only Warp 4 because I am not as backward supportive as IBM is.

FixPak 1

FixPak is (finally) released. You can get it from:

ftp://ftp.software.ibm.com/ps/products/os2/fixes/v4warp/english-us/xr_m001/

You will find nine files there, grab them all. You will also need LOADDSKF.EXE (there is a copy in the \DISKIMGS directory on the Warp 4 CD-ROM), and the following:

ftp://service.boulder.ibm.com/ps/products/os2/fixes/wkickr/wkickr.zip

This FixPak changes several files and contains many bug fixes, but is not (another) "quiet upgrade" from previous version to Warp 4.1, as some enthusiasts claimed. It contains only fixes for the base OS/2 (including multimedia and VoiceType), but NOT for OpenDoc, Java, networking, the TCP/IP stack, BonusPak, Notes Mail, drivers, the WarpCenter, TME management software... (ever wondered which of IBM's products had the most names?). It does not contain the new, fully 32-bit HPFS, or even the new 32-bit CHKDSK some people have rumored (quoted from one closed APAR: "It [a fix for a 'minor chkdsk problem'] should also be present in the new version of Chkdsk shipping June '97.").

It does not support VFAT (no need to mention FAT32). There is no new web browser, no new telnet or FTP client/server, no better TrueType support, no free personal web server. It is not an upgrade: it is a bug fix for a few dozen existing DLL's and EXE's in the base operating system though.

And it's not easy to install either -- there is no installation program or anything like that. As in preceding FixPaks, you will have to make diskettes (yes, you read that right: nine for the FixPak, two more for... just a second while I consult the literature... Corrective Service Facility Diskettes). There is a 35K README file you should read carefully.

There's also an option to install FixPak 1 directly from the WWW. I would like to see this as an option for smaller updates, but not for a 15MB FixPak! Still, if you are on a high-bandwidth connection to Internet or if you don't need to use your computer and phone line for a while, you can try it from:

http://ps.boulder.ibm.com/softupd.html

Be aware: as in all previous fixes, there is a chance that you will not be able to restart OS/2 after applying this FixPak.

IBM's official position concerning FixPaks is: don't fix what's not broken. My position about FixPak 1 is: you have been warned. You will need to install this FixPak, however, if you want to use Word Pro and Freelance 96 for OS/2.

Java 1.0.2

Java 1.0.2 has finally been released, adding increased performance, more security (how convenient of them, thank you folks!) and bug-fixes. IBM has also announced that Java 1.1 will be available by the end of March (so expect it somewhere around May/June).

There are no significant problems with this new Java, there is even an installation program. It did break my NetREXX installation (see below), but since NetREXX it is made for developers, this shouldn't be a big problem for most people.

You can get Java 1.0.2 from:

http://www.software.ibm.com/os/warp/java/java102.htm

OpenDoc v1.1

Next, OpenDoc v1.1 is available. Officials have said it is performance- and feature-improved. If true, this will be a good thing for OpenDoc, which previously displayed its logo every time a component was used and unloaded itself from memory completely when components were not in use.

IBM is not currently as enthusiastic about OpenDoc as they are about Java (although the two don't exclude each other!), but they will continue to enhance it. Because of this, OpenDoc is more attractive for developers that need its many modern features in large networks than for rest of us. The main reason: there are no third-party components to use. To really get all the benefits of component-ware, you need lots of "parts" so you can build your documents.

(Disclaimer: a new word processor from Sundial Systems and new image editing software from TrueSpectra were announced recently, and they should be built as OpenDoc components -- so stay tuned.)

However, considering Apple's newest announcement that they will (almost) stop further development of OpenDoc after MacOS 8, I wouldn't bet on IBM's support either. We'll also have to wait to see if they will make any efforts to integrate it with JavaBeans as they planned.

You can get OpenDoc v1.1 from:

http://www.software.ibm.com/ad/opendoc/

You will also find OpenDoc for Windows NT/95 at that site. For other IBM NT software you can check out at http://www.software.ibm.com/nt/. Before you ask: no, there is no http://www.software.ibm.com/os2/. This is probably a symptom of IBM's plans to grab 20% of NT's market in the next two years.

OpenDoc Web Pak

The OpenDoc Web Pak is also available for free download. It is an example of what OpenDoc should be. Download it to see the potential of this superb technology and you will probably start lamenting the lack of support for it, like I do. Embedding HTML pages in every document is quite a nice feature. If Lotus had seen this before, they might not have needed to create their limited HTTP and HTML support from scratch for Word Pro.

OpenDoc Web Pak consists of 4 components:

Warning: the Web Pak is designed for OpenDoc v1.0, and it seems that it does not work with OpenDoc v1.1. The available version is from around October '96. Support for OpenDoc v1.1 has been announced but there have been no updates since.

You can get the OpenDoc Web Pak from:

http://www.software.hosting.ibm.com/clubopendoc/partpaks/webpak.html

Lotus SmartSuite 96

If you bought a computer from IBM and got Lotus SmartSuite 96 for Windows with it, you can get the halfway native OS/2 version of the SmartSuite for free -- plus media, shipping and handling fees of course.

Find the little yellow booklet, fill in the form in it and send it off to Lotus. You will also be able to get SmartSuite 97 for OS/2 free, when (and if) it becomes available. (Lotus has announced it for 97-Q4, so expect it sometime in 98-Q1.)

SmartSuite 97 is an excellent suite, with superb user interface, especially if you have 3 arms, since you can't (easily) change and assign hot-keys and must use the mouse for most tasks. If you are tired of waiting check out new StarOffice v4.0, especially if you are used to MS Office.

You can find more informations about SmartSuite 96 for OS/2 at:

http://www.lotus.com/smartsuite/

and Star Division's StarOffice v4.0 at:

http://www.stardivision.com/

although the useful info can only be found at their German page at:

http://www.stardivision.de/ (But it's in German, of course.)

NetREXX v1.0

NetREXX is a third derivative of REXX designed by the creator of original REXX - Mike Cowlishaw. IBM maintains two versions of the BASIC programming language (VisualAge for Basic and LotusScript) and REXX users didn't want to let them to catch up, so besides classic REXX and Object REXX (both included in Warp 4) we now have this third incarnation.

Let me tell you, this time they have really done it right! NetREXX has some very nice additions to the language; it is object-oriented (but not compatible with OREXX or even classic REXX, for that matter) and what it produces is plain (almost) readable Java source code! You can compile that source with a Java compiler (included with OS/2 v4 and recently updated -- see above) and you'll get Java byte-code executables that will run on any platform that supports a JVM (Java virtual machine) -- which means practically everywhere.

NetREXX is free and is available from:

http://www2.hursley.ibm.com/netREXX/

TCP/IP

Updates for the OS/2 TCP/IP stack are not included in FixPak 1, so if you need them (only people who access the Internet do) you're on your own. A good place to look is:

ftp://service.boulder.ibm.com/ps/products/tcpip/fixes/v4.0os2/latest/

but you'll only find four files there:

telfiles.exe - replaces some files for telnet component (client and server)
ftpfiles.exe - same for FTP component
lprfiles.exe - same for lpd (TCP/IP printing) component
dhcpczip.exe - new DHCP client

If you need these, get them, but most people don't.

There is also a file named STACK40.ZIP at Peter Norloff's OS/2 Shareware BBS (you can reach it by telneting to bbs.os2bbs.com), or at:

http://www.os2bbs.com/

The file is in "File area 29 - fixes and patches from IBM". There is no note about the source, but the ZIP file contains two self-expandable bookmanager archives which implies that they came from IBM. (Norloff's BBS is a reliable source, so I wouldn't worry.) Some 'core' TCP/IP files (like TCP32DLL.DLL and SO32DLL.DLL) are included, so it is obvious that they fix some TCP/IP stack issues.

HyperAccess

If you use Hilgraeve's HyperACCESS Lite communications program that comes with OS/2, you can check:

http://www.Hilgraeve.com/dzproducts.html

to download the latest version from their site.

Internet Connection Secure Server

Version 4.2 of this product has been released, "including enhanced Java and CGI support, HTTP Version 1.1 compliance, SNMP management, and SSL V3 support for secure transactions". You can now download and try the secure version. Its security features will stop functioning after 60 days but you are permitted to continue using the server itself, although without SSL and on unsupported basis, but with built-in proxy cache server. You can get your free evaluation copy from:

http://www.ics.raleigh.ibm.com/

Note: the READ.ME file says you need APARs IC15782 and IC16223, but I was unable to find them. There is some mention of IC16223 in the STACK40.ZIP file, but it looks like they forgot to search/replace every instance of that string while preparing the READ.ME file for the new APAR. However, it is a proof that it exists, or that it existed -- somewhere.

Important problems not yet solved

I think I have covered most of the important updates, but I want to spend some time talking about one important problem without a known solution -- so far.

As I said before, there is no full support for Windows 95's file-system(s) yet. Many users expected to see this in Warp 4 but it was not there and IBM recently closed one APAR regarding users' inability to use the new FAT32 with OS/2 (VFAT partitions at least could be used, although without long file names).

There is currently ongoing development of a (free) 32-bit driver for accessing Linux file system partitions and as a part of the developer's efforts to port his 16-bit Linux file system driver to 32-bit architecture, he created, "a package that allows the implementation of 32 bits OS/2 device drivers (BASEDEV and DEVICE) as well as 32 bits Installable File Systems (IFS)." He (Matthieu Willm) isolated that part from his Linux ext2fs IFS driver, and called it 'mwdd32'. Some talented individual could use this work as a starting point for full-featured 32-bit FAT32/VFAT driver, and doing that, become a very respected member of OS/2 community.

Major update(s)?

What can we expect next? Nobody knows for sure. Maybe someone will ask IBM what new features and improvements will be included in the next version of OS/2 -- so we can preview what everyone else will use in several years on Windows NT. I hope someone will ask them -- I'm just not brave enough.

In addition to the above links, here are some other good references and starting points for updates/fixes:

OS/2 Warp Master Update List:
http://www.cincyteamos2.org/masterupdate.html
IBM Personal Software Product Service Listing:
http://ps.software.ibm.com/enhanced.html
PSP Service APAR Database:
http://service2.boulder.ibm.com/pspapar
IBM and Lotus software download library:
http://www.software.ibm.com/download/
OS/2 Device Driver Pak On-Line:
http://service.software.ibm.com/os2ddpak/index.htm

Nenad Milenkovic is an experienced OS/2 user, specialized in networking and communications, and the best known OS/2 advocate in Yugoslavia. He has published two books and now writes for mainstream print computer magazines, but welcomes the opportunity to contribute to a magazine read by people with similar views and preferences as his own.

[Index]  [ Previous] - [Feedback] - [Next ]

[Our Sponsor: F/X Communications - Home of the InJoy dialer, ranked #1 in OS/2 shareware (Jan-97).]


This page is maintained by Falcon Networking. We welcome your suggestions.

Copyright © 1997 - Falcon Networking