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Warp 5 and Other Rumours- by Martin Alfredsson


Welcome to the highly unofficial FAQ of the next generation of OS/2 (Warp 5?). Very little is known of this product as of yet but I have tried, and will continue to try, to gather all the information I can put my hands on.

Please note that most features/timetables discussed here are rumors and might never surface.

Remember, I need YOU to provide me with more information. If you know anything, please send me an e-mail. You can be anonymous but I will probably trust your information more if you tell me who you are. I won't reveal anyone's identity if they don't specifically tell me to do so.

Many thanks to the people who have provided me with information so far.

Warp 4.x

Though this is a FAQ for Warp 5, some helpful people inside and outside IBM have given me hints about Warp 4.1 too. Since I think this is of great interest as well, I choose to include it here.

Warp 4.1 was to go into beta in early January and is planned to be released near the end of the first quarter of 97. Sources indicate that they will release 4.1 as a quiet upgrade to 4.0 that is to replace the current packages, but with no big marketing campaign.

Warp 4.1 will contain the SMP level-2 kernel. This kernel is to be used for both UNI (one processor) and SMP machines which means that Warp 4.1 will probably also be SMP enabled. We have all heard that development of the Warp kernel was stopped, and this is probably the reason -- the SMP kernel will replace the "old" UNI kernel.

IBM is probably combining Warp and Warp server into one common codebase (like Windows NT) to simplify development. You will still be able to get different versions but they will share a common code base.

There will be lots of Java and Web stuff in 4.1 and the IBM Web-server might be included in 4.1 with TME 10 Workgroup and so on. IBM has stated that they have several (20?) different projects going on that will surface as add-ons to Warp 4 and that they will upgrade the codebase between major releases (before Warp 5) with these new things (cited from a InfoWorld interview with John W. Thompson).

There is a new CHKDSK in development. It is supposed to be 32-bit and much faster than the current CHKDSK; it will be a VERY welcome addition for HPFS users! OS/2 for the Power PC already contains this new HPFS code, so it will be more or less a straight port from OS/2 for the PPC. It has been hinted that the new CHKDSK is to be released this year ('97) but I suspect that it will be included into Warp 4.1.

Warp Server 5 - "Hawk"

Hawk is NOT to be confused with Warp 5. Hawk is the next version of Warp Server and it will probably be based on the Warp 4.1 codebase, NOT the Warp 5 codebase. It now has a (still unofficial) release date set: May 26, 1997.

Warp Server will contain the SMP level-2 kernel that is to be used in Warp 4.1. Again, this kernel is to be used for both UNI (one processor) and SMP machines.

Warp Server will be much enhanced with new Multithreaded device drivers (probably from OS/2PPC), spinlock instead of semaphores, no more serialized I/O, scalable to 64 CPUs, raw file I/O, full failover-support and lots more. Clustering of servers will also be supported.

IBM is going to aim for 100% scalability per CPU. It's not possible to reach all the way to 100%, since synchronization between the processors will restrict this, but IBM is trying to get as close as possible.

There is an official (though internal) IBM document of three pages in length describing the next Warp Server.

Warp 5 - "The Mega Release"

So you still believe that Warp 4 was the last version of OS/2?

Get a grip and get ready for a reality check. IBM has officially announced that the next version of OS/2 will be released in early 1998 and they describe it as "the mega release".

The internal name for future versions (Microkernel based) is "Portable OS/2", as it has been called for many years; since Warp has become a household name, however, IBM is planning to use that name officially. There have been persistent rumors that Portable OS/2 has been running on RS/6000 machines for more than six years now but that IBM, for several reasons, never made a product of it.

The difference between the names "Warp 5" and "Portable OS/2" is that "Portable OS/2" is the name of a line of operating systems running on different platforms while "Warp 5" (and, before that, OS2PPC) is a specific version of "Portable OS/2".

The name "Warp 5" is not a firm name though, and I have had indications that IBM wants to drop the name since Paramount (owners of the Star Trek series) want too much money from IBM for them using the Paramount-owned trademark "Warp".

There is an (internal) document called "Project Notes for Warp 5" that contains the currently planned features for Warp 5. There have been a few leaks, but Warp 5 is a moving target and things on the drawing board today may be scrapped for different reasons.

The release date is also a moving target (software development, folks!) -- the plan at PSP is to be able to release in the first quarter of '98. There will probably be Intel, PPC and DEC Alpha versions, all depending on what chips are "hot" then. Just like Warp 4.1, it is to be client/server; that probably means that PSP will create a single version that will be used both for Warp Server 5 and Warp Client 5, which will make things much easier for both IBM and end-users (one FixPak for both version).

Most new features in OS2PPC will probably be reused in Warp 5 so please, if you run OS2PPC today and know the difference between Warp 4 (Intel) and OS2PPC send me more information!

OS2PPC has NOT, I repeat, NOT been scrapped. It is the foundation for Warp 5 and there have been several FixPaks released for it. Features likely to show up in Warp 5 (or even in Warp 4.1) are: OO device drivers, multithreaded device drivers, DOS and Win-OS2 through a processor emulator and a REAL asynchronous message queue.

Warp 5 is also being called Merlin2 (probably the official internal name). Rumors say that IBM should have alpha code working by September.

Rumoured Features

Full human-centric features are interesting stuff. What we see today is primarily VoiceType in Warp 4; VoiceType is also included in OS2PPC since the PowerPC has DSP encoding in the hardware. We might see other things like voice output (text to speech), software agents and an operating system that adapts to the user in future versions of OS/2. There will probably also be a more adaptable/customizable user interface.

Warp 6, yes Warp 6!

There is a (strictly IBM internal use only) list of projects that IBM is working on, each project of which has its own directory at a certain internal site. At this site, there are two directories, Warp 5 and Warp 6.

That's all that is known about Warp 6 for now but it's good to know that we'll have OS/2 for many years to come, (and maybe long after Microsoft's demise!).

Want to know when there are updates ?

For more information and rumours on upcoming releases and OS/2 development, check out the "Unofficial Warp 5 FAQ". If you want to know when this page is updated, send me an e-mail with the text W5FAQUPD in the subject line and your e-mail address as the text of the message. (I will NOT confirm your e-mail, I get too many for me to have time to do that, sorry.)
The Unofficial Warp 5 FAQ is maintained by Martin Alfredsson, the president of JMA Software Technologies and the principal designer of WebNavigator and MultiNote.

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