The Warp Wishlist

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The Warp Wishlist is now available at this netlabs.org wiki page with permission from it's maintainer.

Visit the Os2bbs page

Visit also the Ideas wiki page.

The Top Ten Wishes

  • A commercially supported, full featured GCC port, at the same code level as that of the equivalent Linux package (see "Mind Your Language", below)
  • Great tools for converting applications written for Win32 or for XWindows into GUI native PM apps such as the extraordinary project Everblue from Netlabs, which should make it easier and much faster to bring applications originally written for the Linux and Unix platforms to OS/2).
  • A "Ready for eCS" certification process (to go with the logo) for hardware and software - to enable eCS buyers to see whether products are certified to work with their eCS system BEFORE they purchase them. Five criteria for this logo might be
    1. installs to optional drive locations using WarpIn or something better (such as an RPM-style package manager);
    2. available in all the same NLS versions as eCS;
    3. fully supports the InnoTek-Font Engine for OS/2;
    4. uses the SysTray API from ErOS2;
    5. has been updated within the last twelve months.
  • Bootable JFS, though this file system may be seen as "too alternative" for desktop use by John Q Public (or in any SOHO account unfamiliar with AIX) it lets us walk away from HPFS and FAT16 boot drives, thereby reducing the number of required filesystems to one (like the ubiquitous Win* platform) - IBM already supports booting AIX and Linux from JFS, so how come they're dragging their collective feet on facilitating the code changes needed for bootable JFS to become a reality on OS/2?
  • The ability to easily install, load and run ubiquitous Win32 applications (eg MS Office XP) that the average business has already paid for, and prefers to keep using, without the need for any Windows licenses on our PCs ( CrossOver Office gives Linux and FreeBSD users this ability already).
  • Develop eCS 2.x as the first Desktop Virtual LAN (DVL) for x86 PCs. The idea is to virtualise a complete heterogenous LAN consisting of two virtualised workstations and a virtualised file and print server machine. The virtual server machine could run generic Linux and Samba, first virtual workstation would run eComStation 1.2 and the second virtual workstation could run Windows NT or Win2000 (see "other wishes" - below).
  • The latest release of the Sun Java 2 Standard Edition (J2SE) platform. A native OS/2 port of Java 1.4.1 is available from Golden Code Development Corporation, while Innotek has released their own Java 1.42_05 product, which uses their unique Odin technology to run unmodified Win32 Java code from Sun
  • The seamless integration of the Innotek Web Pack Plus for OS/2 and Castlesoft Colour Manager into the base eCS 1.x and future 2.x products.
  • A media player, like the very impressive WarpVisionGUI project that is packaged with whatever license is needed to legally play back commercial DVD movies.
  • Support for fourteen NLS versions; eg English, German, Dutch, Russian (available) plus French, Spanish, Italian, Portugese, Swedish, Trad Chinese, Simplified Chinese, Japanese, Korean, Hungarian and Klingon (as soon as commercially practicable).

The Programer's Cauldron

Our platform of choice needs constantly improving tools. The very sophisticated cross platform wxWidgets GUI application development framework is a good example of what is available for OS/2. Other steps forward may include:

  • Continued development of the potentially very important OSS Eclipse Java IDE for the OS/2 platform (brought to you by Netlabs)
  • Increased C99 and C++98 standards compliance for compilers and tools running on OS/2.
  • Regular updates to the EMX runtime, to keep it feature compatible with the latest GNU C compilers available on mainstream Linux distros such as Xandros.
  • A new edition - dusted off and scrubbed clean of anachronisms of the pre-MCP2 era - of at least one mainstream book that focuses on the unique aspects of the OS/2 platform
  • A versatile, full featured Help File authoring package such as Hypermake by Martin Vieregg (shareware) or VyperHelp by Mektek (Open Source - GNU GPL)
  • Feature sets equalling those available on the fascinating Linux, solid NetBSD and occasionally notorious Win32 platforms today.
  • A native OS/2 32-bit parser and editor for XML and SGML files (gX from Untravelled Sphere).
  • Add support for compression of LX executables to the OpenWatcom C/C++ linker.
  • An annual OS/2 developer seminar - held immediately after, and in the same city, as a large IT event unrelated to OS/2. Seminar attendees can reduce their time away from the office and, perhaps, charge their airfare to the non-OS/2 event that they needed to attend in that city anyway.
  • Add Intel SSE1 and SSE2 instruction set enhancements to the OpenWatcom compiler
  • A port of the modern, standards compliant Comeau C and C++ tools to OS/2 (commercial).

Mind Your Language

The OS/2 platform is well supported by languages and associated toolsets today and, due to the generally thankless work of many gifted OS/2 programers, the available choices are constantly improving. Languages and application development tools ready for your next OS/2 project include:

Must Have - Features and Applications

Much of the best software available for OS/2 today is available at no cost under open source licences. However, large commercial users often prefer to pay for a commercially licenced product (eg. StarOffice) rather than use free software of equal quality ( eg.OpenOffice.org 1.2), perhaps because of the legally enforcible obligations commercial software licences may place on software vendors. Having such choices is great! Whether "running native" or utilising the very sexy Odin subsystem, there are some standard/mainstream applications that OS/2 and eCS need to support in order to offer aid and comfort to Windows survivors taking those hesitant first steps toward a brighter, less costly x86 alternative.

  • Support for ACPI, without which OS/2 may cease to be a viable OS on future mainstream PC hardware.
  • A "single pass" unified installer that lets end users double-click once to install mutually compatible versions of Sane/2 and Tame/2 to any directory nominated.
  • Integrated WPS folder views for many archiver formats (like ZIP, RAR, ARJ, etc) - should be similar to the implementation in Object Desktop, but inherit the extensions from e.g., XWorkplace ( eZIP).
  • Enhancements to both the Presentation Manager (GUI) and command line (CLI) user interfaces, in particular, a robust new 32-bit command interpreter to replace the archaic IBM 16-bit CMD.exe that still ships with every copy of OS/2 and eComStation sold.
  • A "single pass" unified installer that lets end users double-click once to install both Ghostscript for OS/2 and GhostView to any directory nominated.
  • Provide support in OS/2 for the X.500 and DCE standards and for Kerberos authentication.
  • A cool GUI internet dialer out of the box with a modern feature set (like ISDNPM) - the new eCSCoNet in eComStation 1.1 has banished DOIP to a museum. Also available are the deservedly popular InJoy Dialer (character based) and SafeFire PPP/Links
  • A single sign-on facility, to obtain secure access from OS/2 to files and resources on Unix, Windows, Netware, Linux and Mac OS X servers - either over a LAN or across the world.
  • ALL configuration info to reside in a readable and editable set of files, saved in one known place (i.e. x:\System\OS2\ini).
  • Full support for reading and writing more modern Adobe .PDF documents within OS/2 word processors (see Lucide).
  • A highly scalable mail server with IMAP4 support - (CommunigatePro - Commercial).
  • Better support for PalmOS PDA devices (JSyncManager by Brad Barclay - free GPL).
  • Same for mobile devices in general, see http://www.juergen-ulbts.de/content/projects/smartphone/index.en.html and http://www.funambol.com/opensource/
  • Project scheduling software with Gantt charts (so far, there is PTime/2 by Wolfram Schmid).
  • An up to date Citrix ICA Client such as the very professional OS/2 Kit for Citrix ICA Client 7.100 Release 1 from Innotek GmbH.
  • A native, full featured, bloat-free equivalent to MS Outlook - to ease transition from the high-cost Windows environment to OS/2 for price sensitive corporate users (the Lookout/2 project).

Some Priority Applications for Porting

  • Adobe Acrobat 6 - while GSView or ePDF can do the job (mostly), Mac and Windows ex-users will forever insist on using the latest version of a product they have known and used for year after year. For the moment, Innotek are offering release four of their OS/2 kit for Adobe Acrobat Reader 4.05 and release one of their planned OS/2 kit for Adobe Acrobat Reader 5.1.
  • Ximian Evolution and Ximian Connector. Evolution is a highly regarded open-source MS Outlook look-alike, now fast gaining users on the Linux platform. Ximian Connector allows non-Microsoft clients to connect to an MS Exchange Server. Novell "loved it so much, they bought the company". For OS/2 to fit easily into mainstream corporate networks, something like these two GNOME based products need to be ported from Linux and/or Solaris as a high priority.
  • Macromedia Flash 7 Player, not yet available for OS/2, as the hard working team at Innotek are yet to obtain a licence (is this because of high cost ?).
  • RealPlayer 10 - needed mainly for the same reasons as Acrobat 6. The Helix DNA client has been open sourced by RealNetworks, which should lead, in time, to an OS/2 port of this versatile media player. Maybe it is not needed, but Windows refugees would sorely miss it.
  • Intuit Quicken - because it is nearly ubiquitous and its absence is a show-stopper for many SOHO users, who have all their financial skills/records tied up in this one, simple to use product.
  • Niku Workbench, a modern full featured alternative to Microsoft Project. It's code has recently been released under the GPL (see OpenWorkBench ) - free
  • VirtualDub, a multimedia editor, with useful features for everyone with a digital video or still camera. Can you port OpenDub to OS/2? (free GPL).
  • Port Xlib to OS/2 Presentation Manager to swell the flow of applications written for Linux and Unix that can be adapted with relatve ease to run on OS/2 (eg. project Everblue, from Netlabs)
  • VideoLan, is a full featured open source cross-platform media player and streaming server with a plethora of Codecs and skins - is the toolset needed to port this great looking application to OS/2 available?

Kernel Desires

Not so long ago, OS/2 was arguably less crash prone than other x86 choices (notably Win9x), but in more recent times WinXP and some Linux distros have reversed this lead. Key GUI architecture decisions taken over ten years ago by the designers of PM and the WPS make it impossible to terminate some failing processes, including the WPS and PM themselves. If OS/2 is to retain support from its current users, let alone attract new users, increased stability for PM and the WPS and a bullet-proof process killer are essential OS enhancements.

  • Multiple asynchronous input queues - the OS/2 Holy Grail - without this, process-killers often fail.
  • A new 32-bit command processor (4OS2 by JPSoft - newly free and being actively maintained, or 32-bit Command Interpreter by JdeBP - Free)
  • A more capable Graphics Rendering Engine - a prerequisite to provide all applications with (optional) anti-aliased fonts for low resolution monitors (i.e. unable to show 104 dpi on a CRT or 114 dpi on a TFT display).
  • The ability to utilise multiple virtual CPUs on Intel processors with its Hyper Threading feature.
  • Support for AMD's x86-64 CPU (64-bit superset of the IA-32 architecture)
  • Support for AMD's 3DNow! instruction set
  • Support for Intel's SSE1 and SSE2 instruction sets.
  • X11/Motif API's (XFree86/OS2 project - Free, HOBLink X11 - Commercial).
  • Remove the 31 character font-naming limitation - to ease document exchange and interoperability.
  • Symmetrical Multi-Processor (SMP) support for both Client (eCS with the SMP Pack) & Server (IBM WSeB)
  • Better hibernation support - support for JFS/LVM, SCSI, HPFS, etc
  • Elimination of the former 512MB limit for memory addressing (already fixed in IBMs MCP and Serenity's eCS 1.0 or above)
  • Allow "mounting" a device under an arbitrary path name (as in Windows 2000 and WinXP)
  • IBM completes (or releases for others to develop) SOM 3.0 in the form initially released as a beta in Februrary 1996, thus providing a CORBA 2 compliant object request broker for OS/2. [The System Object Model (SOM), is an IBM implementation of CORBA and forms the base on which the WorkPlace Shell (WPS) is built. The WPS in OS/2 4.52 and eComStation still uses the outdated, less capable IBM SOM 2.1 ]

System Security "Out of the Box"

There have been at least four products or projects which delivered multiple-user functionality (eg. desktop prefs/settings are determined by a user's login ID) to OS/2, but none of them has ever been distributed as a part of the base OS, in the way that Microsoft has for Windows since at least 1995. For lack of distribution with the base OS, this product category has stagnated on OS/2. The lack of even the most basic multiple-user features "out of the box" makes OS/2 almost unique on x86 - but not in a good way! A number of valuable projects will let us eliminate this deficiency:

  • Security/2 is now a requirement to run OpenSSH/2 and is currently expected to form a part of eCS 2.x product
  • For more secure connections, installation of OpenSSH/2 by default (instead of rlogin and Telnet).
  • Better security - C2 while connected to a network (based on extending SES in Warp 4.x)
  • For rusted-on IBM branded OS/2 users, multiple user features are offered with MultiDesk by Cristiano Guadagnino - Free
  • Access control (IBM Secure Entry and (perhaps in future) Sesame by Golden Code - Commercial)
  • Filesystem with password encryption of all data stored - as with NTFS
  • Antivirus options with modern virus scanning engines (Norton Antivirus by Symantec, Viruscan by McAfee or the very popular Virus Control by Norman Data Defense Systems Inc.)
  • An easy to install and use firewall application based on Stateful Packet Inspection technology.
  • Strong file encryption/decryption with both VIO and (in future) PM interfaces (TeaTime/2 by Daniël de Kok).

File System Support

  • Better FAT32 and NTFS drivers - for large disks (NTFS utilities - Free, FAT32 drivers - Free)
  • Ability to boot the operating system from mainstream file systems such as NTFS, FAT32 and ext2 (FAT16 and HPFS are at a developmental dead-end)
  • Add UDF-support for removable Magneto-Optical storage to the existing file system drivers.
  • Better support for VFAT long file names often used with Zip disks and with plain Diskettes (VFATMon by Jason Stefanovich)
  • Read/write access to Macintosh disks (HFS drivers from Marcus Better - Now GPL on Hobbes)
  • Read/write access to Linux file systems (ext2-os2 drivers by Matthieu Willm - Free)
  • The ability to share a fast to recover 64-bit journalling file system (eg JFS2) with AIX and Linux.
  • The ability to boot from and read/write to the much admired XFS journalling file system.
  • Integrate TVFS support into the kernel (TVFS - Free EWS, version 2.11 is now on Hobbes)
  • A bullet-proof FDISK, display, analysis and recovery tool for disks and filesystems (DFSee)
  • Logical Volume Manager (no reliance on drive letters, provides sophisticated drive spanning)
  • A database-like journalling filesystem with support for metadata (ie Extended Attributes) like BeFS in BeOS or like AFS in AtheOS.
  • The journalled ReiserFS.
  • A port of TrueCrypt, a free open-source disk encryption software for Windows XP/2000/2003 and Linux [1].
  • An equivalent of Captive, "the first free NTFS read/write filesystem for GNU/Linux. It implements the Win32 kernel API required to run the original Windows filesystem binary drivers.
  • A stackable union filesystem like UnionFS to create virtual folders "containing" the files of two unrelated folders. (TVFS - Free EWS, version 2.11 is now on Hobbes)
  • A filesystem in userspace like FUSE to allow the creation of virtual filesystems with normal programming tools like Rexx, Python, C,... enabling things like WikipediaFS.

Drivers R Us

  • IBM completes the KEE API to allow pure 32-bit physical device drivers (no more thunks, thanks!)
  • Drivers for the Broadcom BCM4401 chipset, as many mainstream laptops (eg. the Dell Inspirion 8600) use this Broadcom chipset for the integrated NIC.
  • Why not licence the surprising Panasonic USB drivers for DOS and include them in the eCS entry level product ?
  • A driver for a PCI sound card, any sound card, that supports the MIDI hardware connection. This can be via the joystick port, USB or Firewire or whatever.
  • A revolutionary video driver model (Scitech SNAP - Commercial & Free variants)
  • A universal driver for scanners (including USB 2.0 models) along the same lines as SNAP.
  • Better CD-ROM / CD-RW / DVDs device manager drivers ( JJSCDROM by Takayuki Suwa)
  • Better support for FireWire 800 and other new enabling technologies such as
  • Support for the Serial ATA standard likely to replace EIDE for PC hard drives within two years is already included in Version 1.6.4 of Daniela Engert's Danis506 drivers - Great to hear it !
  • Drivers for the proposed Serial Attached SCSI standard may be of special value to OS/2 users in future for attaching more demanding peripheral devices (such as scanners and disk arrays).
  • Better PCI sound card drivers (SBLive! driver - Free, Universal Audio drivers from Innotek - for IPA subscribers, or from eCS)
  • Better support for modern video cards (Scitech SNAP Graphics - Commercial)
  • Better support for IEEE 802.11g, 802.11b and 802.11a wireless networks (WLAN), including PCI cards and the general availability of drivers for IBM devices based on the Lucent Orinoco chipset.
  • Better USB 2.0 Scanner support - a serious deficiency today (USBScan.Sys will hopefully integrate with SANE/2 - Free and TAME/2 by Goran Ivankovic and Klaus Staedtler - Free)
  • Better USB 2.0 Camera support (USB on OS/2 site maintained by Martin Iturbide)
  • Better Serial drivers (SIO2K by Ray Gwinn - Shareware)
  • Better printer drivers (IBM drivers for postscript, inkjets, laserjets, and plotters - Free)
  • Better DVD, DVD-RAM / DVD-RW and CD-RW support (IBM's UDF 2.01 - for IPA subscribers, or from eCS, RSJ CD Writer - commercial)
  • Better TV card support for BT878-based cards (TVShow Project - from Kiev Elephant)
  • Better support for cable modems and xDSL (ISDNPM, treats cable modems like an NIC)
  • Support for USB 1.0, 1.1 and 2.0 (UHCI, OHCI and EHCI USB drivers - for IPA subscribers, or from eCS)
  • Support for multi-function Printer / Fax / Scanner / Copiers.
  • Support for SiS7012 and SiS7018 audio (hopefully to be provided in a future release of UNIAUD).
  • Updated DIVE, DART, and RTMIDI (for multimedia AND games)
  • Universal device driver porting kit - something like IBM Open32, only for drivers
  • Support for more and better joysticks with all their latest features (new joystick driver - Free)
  • 32-bit PC Card 5.0 support (CardBus drivers - for IPA subscribers, or from eCS)
  • 32-bit TCP/IP stack and applications (version 4.3.x - for IPA subscribers, or from eCS)
  • Enhanced support for removable media (LS120, LS240, Zip 250, Zip 750, Jaz, Syquest, etc.)
  • Support for modern optical and "wheel" mice (IBM drivers - Free, Amouse)
  • Support for the PCTel HSP56 audio modem chip.

The Front Office

Few business or home users would consider OS/2 worth buying as as an alternative general purpose platform without a choice of high quality Office productivity software ready to go. Happily, our preferred platform offers a wealth of alternatives in this area and our choices are getting much better in 2004!

  • Microsoft Office, dust off that old Windows licence, you can soon use it to run MS Office in an OS/2 virtual machine such as SViSta (commercial)
  • OpenOffice.org, the ultimate Office application for the Linux platform is coming to OS/2, with Innotek once again applying its Odin skills to good effect!
  • Lotus Smartsuite, updated to version 1.7.3 with many improvments - particularly for those needing to work with MS Office documents (commercial).
  • ROMLogic Papyrus Office, recently updated to version 10 - in both the German and English languages - a surprisingly compact Office solution (commercial)
  • SunDial Office, the Rodney Dangerfield of powerful, well designed Office suites - for those who prefer a different way of getting the job done (commercial)
  • Lotus Notes, one of the main rivals to MS Exchange/Outlook in the Fortune 500 space is apparently to be released in a Java version by IBM. The absence of this key application on our preferred platform was likely cited as a reason for walking away from OS/2, so a Java version usable on OS/2 would be great!
  • A new CIFS/SMB Client (not a netdrive plugin) to allow OS/2 to transparently access resources and files held both on (the formerly ubquitous) Windows servers and on the Linux and FreeBSD servers which have now won acceptance everywhere from SOHO to the Fortune 500

Servers for Every Purpose

IBM Warp Server for eBusiness (WSeB) was great, once, but has fallen far behind the pace and is unlikely to ever be substantially enhanced by IBM (it also costs a lot, for what you get). The modern open source server software for OS/2 included in the list below offers so much performance and value... perhaps we will one day be able to buy a commercially supported OS/2 ServerSuite from eCS resellers? Until then, you can be up and running with some of the great free and commercial server software below!

  • Web Servers, such as Apache for OS/2 (open source) the svelt and efficient Web/2 or the W3C Jigsaw server (written in Java !)
  • Application Servers, such as Zope (open source) & IBM WebSphere 4.01 (commercial).
  • Database Servers, such as MySQL and PostgreSQL (free) or IBM DB2 (commercial)
  • File & Print Servers, such as Samba (free) or IBM WarpServer for eBusiness (commercial)
  • Directory Servers, such as OpenLDAP (will this LDAP server be ported by Takashi Yano ?)
  • Mail Servers, such as ZxMail (commercial) and Weasel (also very well regarded).
  • Boot Servers, such as the Q-Systems solution, able to boot diskless OS/2 PCs over a LAN
  • FTP Servers, such as the superb FTPServer by Peter Moylan (shareware).
  • Standby Servers, such as CoStandby server for eBusiness by Innotek (commercial).
  • BackUp and Recovery Servers, such as BackAgain/2000 Server by CDS Inc. (commercial).
  • Proxy Cache Servers, such as Squid for OS/2 (open source)
  • Domain Name Servers, such as BIND 8 from the ISC (free). Is anybody porting BIND 9  ?
  • Multi-function Server suites, such as InetPowerServer or Caravan for mail, web and ftp use
  • DHCP Servers, such as that which ships with WSeB, or a port of something from the OSS world ?
  • Transaction Servers, like IBM CICS for OS/2 (apparently IBM has withdrawn it from sale).

Improved Multimedia Support

  • A fully licenced DVD movie player, with no crashing during playback & flawless audio-synch
  • An elegant, up to date port from the Linux platform of Xine for OS/2 currently a work in progress by Darwin O'Connor.
  • A commercially supported Warpzilla based browser that integrates the Macromedia Flash 7 Player, Adobe Acrobat Reader 6.0 as a helper application and a DVD licence.
  • Regular updates to the very useful Universal Audio Driver for OS/2 (free GPL version).
  • Ability to record DVDs - CDRecord ProDVD is now available for OS/2 (free)
  • Complete replacement for MMOS/2 WPS classes (CW Multimedia classes by Chris Wohlgemuth)
  • Create audio & data CDs in a snap using the power of the WPS ( Audio/Data CD Creator )
  • Multimedia playback with support popular audio/video codecs (WarpVision - Free).
  • Better hardware accelerated video support (WarpOverlay! project - from the Kiev Elephant)
  • Improved MP3 media players (WarpAmp - Free, PM123 - Shareware).
  • Ogg Vorbis, FLAC and MP3 playback (Multimedia IOProcs and the CW Multimedia classes)
  • Support for RealAudio & Video streams ( can Innotek get RealPlayer 10 running using its Odin technology?)
  • Sound drivers that accomodate simultaneous audio under OS/2 and Win-OS/2
  • Sound scheme editor (Sound Scheme Editor - Free)
  • A full-featured sound recorder/editor (such as the promising D-Tape project from Paul Ratcliffe)
  • New Audio-Video and Graphics Codecs - not yet another player (we have VERY good ones today)
  • More and better plugins/helper applications for Mozilla/Netscape (i.e. for WAV, MPG, etc etc)

System Utilities

  • A PM utility comparable to Norton SysInfo that every OS/2 user can admire (Sysinfo/2 0.8.20 by Alexey Smirnov - Free)
  • A utility that automatically mounts USB media, updates the list of the accessible devices and assigns the corresponding drive letter (USBmountD).
  • User friendly PM application for editing your Config.sys (Tyra/2- Shareware)
  • Another PM application for system maintenance (Config Tool by Goran Ivankovic - Free)
  • A compendium of Config.sys information (Joerg Sievers' Config.Sys Documentation Project, ConfigTool database by Klaus Staedtler)
  • Association editor, like the utility of similar name (AssoEdit by Henk Kelder - Free)
  • INI editor with repair function (UniMaint - Commercial, IniEdit - Free EWS)
  • Defrag program for all OS/2 supported file systems (Graham Utilities - was Commercial)
  • Uninstaller that monitors installations for perfect cleanup later (UniMaint - Commercial)
  • Better internet dialer applications (InJoy - Shareware, ISDNPM - Shareware, Dialer/2 - Free, SafeFire PPP/Links)
  • A process killer that grabs Ctl-Alt-Del, REXX interface (CAD Commander - Commercial)
  • Priority manager (Priority Master - Commercial)
  • Work Place Shell (WPS) class manager (XWorkplace - Free - GNU GPL)
  • File Phoenix/2, an effective FAT and HPFS undelete tool (Version 1.35 - Free EWS)
  • GUI File Manager, with a tree view like that in Windows 3.1 (http://www.os2world.com/freeos2/file.html#ffreedom FileFreedom 2.02] - Freeware)
  • Ability to open command line from WPS folders (XWorkplace - Free - GNU GPL)
  • Better network utilities: traceroute, nbtstat, ping, etc included in eCS and IPA subscriptions.
  • A really useful Character Map applet (Character Map/2 by Glassman - Free - GNU GPL)
  • Benchmarks to test OS/2 performance on your own system (SysBench - Free - Source code available)

Just Browsing

There are a number of good native PM and CLI web browsers available for OS/2, some bulky, some slim, some older, some startlingly new. What I wish was on my own desktop right now is an "eComStation themed" browser based on the latest Mozilla or KHTML code (used by Apple's Safari-web browser for OS X, by KDE in its Konqueror browser for Linux and in ABrowse for Atheos) - with integrated multimedia helper applications to smoothly handle PDF and Flash content. This sought-after browser would, ofcourse, provide by default bookmarks, including for the eCS updates site, OS/2 developer sites, news pages and free/commercial software provider sites. For the here and now (or yesterday if you prefer) try these six choices - all of them have their own strengths and weaknesses:

  • For IBM Passport Advantage (IPA) subscribers there is the IBM Web Browser (commercial)
  • For other OS/2 users (or those who want to use the latest versions) there are two other Mozilla based browsers; eg. Warpzilla, and the browser-only version now known as Mozilla - Firefox.
  • There is also the older but still widely used Netscape 4.61 for OS/2 web browser (Free)
  • If you want something really different, you can even pay for Opera 5 for OS/2 - Commercial
  • For nostalgic OS/2 users, there will always be IBM WebExplorer - it coulda been a contender - too bad IBM likely won't release the code either to the OS/2 community or else to Serenity Systems or an ISV such as Golden Code.

User Interface Enhancements

The WPS and PM "are OS/2" to most users. To replace either of these two elements of the OS/2 platform is to lead users to choose a whole different OS, like Red Hat, MacOSX or FreeBSD. If OS/2 becomes "more like Windows" (as is happening with many Linux distributions) we would be losing one of the key advantages our favorite OS platform retains - its unmatched user interface. That advantage can be increased yet further - here are some ways:

  • The OS/2 usability enhancements Rich Walsh has created in his DragText 3.8 product are just great. I wish they were integrated into eCS 1.x like Dialog Enhancer and eWorkplace. For the forseeable future, it seems likely to remain one of those must-have products, like oven mitts, aspirin and electric lighting.
  • Include a tiny widget on the system bar allowing easy switching between different LAN configurations with a single click; eg toggling between "Work/Office" with a fixed IP and a proxy and "Home", with DHCP and no proxy etc. There is already Windows shareware that allows this available.
  • Improved color scheme editor (ColourManager/2 originally by Richard Castle - Shareware)
  • The ability to easily create a directory, by default, in any "file, save" option (even windoze has this often useful feature).
  • Make Scitech SNAP the default video driver under OS/2.
  • Tabbed windows, like Mozilla's tabbed pages, but useable with any OS/2 application. The-Ion window manager for X servers uses this user interface idea.
  • Give REXX scripts access to WPS objects (using XWorkplace or the very promising WPS Wizard).
  • Replace the IBM Presentation Manager (PM) with an open source clean room re-implementation optimised for stability, not performance. This PM clone should not break tools or key applications.
  • Christian Langanke has provided us with (Animated Mouse Pointers 1.01 for OS/2 - Free)
  • Develop a plan to systematically replace every original WPS class with a better designed, more stable, functional equivalent (preferably to be released under dual commercial / BSD syle licences. Hmmm this seems, gradually, to be happening...)
  • Transform OS/2 titlebars, backgrounds, buttons etc (Styler/2 by Alessandro Cantatore - Shareware - variants are included in eCS 1.0 and 1.1)
  • Transparent windows and folders (Candybarz by Netlabs)
  • Allow small (32x32) icons in high resolutions (Dialog Enhancer by Richard Castle - Shareware)
  • While eCS 1.2 now bundles the Snowstorm screensaver, those still using MCP or earlier releases of OS/2 may like to try Screensaver by Siegfried Hanisch or else take a look at Screen Saver by Jostein Ullestad - Shareware
  • Add a Recycle Bin with options for managing deleted files & WPS objects (XWorkplace - Free, TrashCan 2.71 - Free)
  • Logout, close apps, and restart of desktop - like Windows 98 does (XWorkplace - Free)
  • Dynamic resolution changing.
  • Better, centralized configuration for display driver and other settings.
  • A Shutdown folder and the option to reboot when shutting down (XWorkplace - Free)
  • Improved selective install - change hardware or software, without having to do both.
  • Option to have full path name in title of folders (XWorkplace - Free)
  • Ability to readily locate all Shadows of an object and all Folder templates.
  • Enhanced replacements for the venerable WarpCenter (XWorkplace - Free, Systray Widget for XCenter based on the original work of Dmitry Zaharov - Free)
  • Determination of file type by header info (so Windows .HLP files open with WinHelp, and OS/2 and eComStation .HLP files open with NewView)
  • A font manager to avoid absurdly long font selection lists (XWorkplace - Free, FontFolder - Shareware)

Warp Legacy OS Sub-Systems - the Next Generation

OS/2 has a long, proud history of supporting legacy software such as 16-bit DOS and Windows. Several teams have done amazing work to enhance DOS, the 32-bit DPMI DOS environment, Win16, GEOS and other legacy software environments for which OS/2 already contains built-in support. Yet relatively little of this work has so far been made available in a form usable by ordinary OS/2 end-users.

Many OS/2 users say "Let those who want it, pay for it". Removing MDOS and Win-OS/2 from the base OS/2 product and offering a seperate Legacy OS Sub-System CD to interested buyers, might be the fairest way to fund a very extensive refresh of DOS, DPMI and Win16 support. This CD would provide end users with a "single-click" installation of the original Win-OS/2 sub-system, plus an eCS-themed GUI (perhaps using the Calmira II technology) plus Win32s 1.25, plus-Paragon DOS or the newly released DR-DOS 8.0 (for their speed, ongoing development status and features eg. FAT32 drivers) plus all of the patches and fixes available for the OS/2 DPMI host (0.9x and 1.0) for 32-bit DOS apps.

  • Eliminate 16-bit resource limits in Win-OS/2 and in DOS Virtual Machines a.k.a. "DVMs".
  • Full 16 bit WAVE and MIDI support in DOS boxes and Win-OS/2.
  • New look & feel for Win-OS/2 sessions (WPS for Windows - Free or Calmira II - Free or Paypal.
  • Improve OS/2 DVM compatibility with DPMI games (vCOMPAT by Martin Kiewitz - Free)
  • Installs of Win-OS/2 to include support for Win32s up to version 1.25 (Win32s compatibility list)
  • REXX in DOS sessions (like IBM PC DOS 2000 or Regina REXX - Free)
  • Provide VFAT long file name support for DOS and Win-OS/2 sessions.
  • Display short versions of long filenames so that DOS & Windows can see them.
  • Provide a "start" command in DOS sessions (4OS2 by JP Software - now free or "StartB" by Christian Langanke)
  • Ability to run the many K-12 Educational applications from Breadbox.com, using the Industry Standard GUI version of GEOS running on OS/2.
  • Distribute the DPMI version of the Seal 2 graphical user interface for use with DOS VMs (free).

Other Wishes for OS/2 and eComStation

  • Desktop Virtual LAN (DVL) - see top ten wishes above. The underlying technology is meant to be absolutely invisible to the end user. After booting, they would only see a regular eCS desktop come up, but when they click on the icon for, say, Microsoft Access 2000 that appears on their eCS 1.2 desktop, Access just launches as if the user was sitting at an ordinary WinXP machine. For this different approach to running unmodified Win32 applications (and unmodified Linux CLI apps) on OS/2 to have adequate "useability", then the virtualised machines running a copy of Windows 2000 and a copy of Linux would each have to be started up as soon as the PC was powered on. This idea is one possible use for the existing HOB XServer, VNC Server/Viewer and SVISTA technologies. I suggest that the "secret host" OS would be 64 bit NetBSD as it has significant respect and mindshare among developers, is under heavy development, has no licencing fees to pay and, unlike OS/2, supports all modes offered by the AMD x86-64 platform; likely to displace the x86-32 platform within three years or so.
  • Provide Firefox / Mozilla with any easy to use extra function eg. to convert PMMail *.msg files to Mozilla / Firefox format, perhaps using the PMM2MOZ program to "import" the *.msg files.
  • Opera 7 - do you feel the need for speed? A successful effort to port the Opera browser to OS/2 and eCS should result in a great product that adds credibility to OS/2 as an alternative on the x86 platform.
  • In the interests of coherency and understanding, stop referring to DOS Virtual Machines "VDMs" (rename them as "DVMs" so acronym mirrors "JVM")
  • The ability to host Linux, WinXP, other OS choices in a virtual machine under OS/2 - Serenity Systems is now working on SViSta (commercial)
  • A rewrite of MPTS PROTMAN, which allows dynamic network driver (re)configuration (a necessity for properly utilizing TCPBEUI in a DHCP environment).
  • Examples of newly developed and maintained embedded systems that use OS/2 for mission critical applications, such as EMS telephony (Total Recall System by Chris Martinic - Commercial).
  • Install a single variant of the REXX interpreter (Object REXX by IBM) as it is intolerant of flaky programming habits, compared to its less discerning sibling
  • Ability to map "Windows Special" and other keys to useful functions (XWorkplace or eStylerLite in eCS 1.x; Win95Key - Free)
  • A Chinese and other Language Homework Trainer package that runs on eComStation (free).
  • Support for multiple monitors "Dual-Head" (SNAP Graphics by Scitech Software - Commercial)
  • A native PM graphical configuration utility for the promising InetPowerServer suite
  • Better support for Daylight Savings Time (eCS Clock in eCS 1.x; DSTswitch - Shareware)
  • Provide an eComStation Pluggable Look And Feel (PLAF) for Sun Java applications, so that every application running on an eCS JVM will take on the appearance of a native PM application written for OS/2.
  • A heavily refreshed PM native VNC Viewer (and ongoing development of Eugene Romanenko's promising new PM VNC Server 1.02 for OS/2)
  • Implement eCS 2.x as series of tightly linked virtual PCs running on an SMP 64-bit OS-platform such as GNU Darwin, NetBSD or GNU Linux (with one VM capturing C-A-D for crash recovery)
  • Make the OS/2 CD bootable for installation or maintenance (BootAble by Hayo Baan)
  • An easy browser-based system for end-users to submit problem reports - see the eComStation.com web site for eCS Bug Reporting!!
  • A better, and more intuitive, method of integrating OS/2 with MS Windows in peer networks.
  • Enable the Shift-Printscreen key combo for windowed OS/2 sessions
  • A "Network Browser" to quickly navigate around the network attached devices.
  • A better file manager - perhaps based on the source code of FM/2.
  • A "WebExplorer" style browser - with the Gecko engine, Java, Javascript and 128-bit encryption
  • Leave the NumLock on if it's turned on at startup by the BIOS (XWorkplace - Free).
  • Update bootable OS/2 or eComStation install CDs with fixes (UpdCD by Zsolt Kadar - Free)
  • A utility to help clean-up of INI files, so that broken WPS links need not be stored forever (XWorkplace - Free).
  • Enhanced APM 1.2 (power management) support (APM/2 utility)
  • Start OS/2 applications from a DOS prompt: avoid swapping windows (Seamless OS/2 - free)
  • Integrate fully working Watchcat or a supported functional equivalent such as CAD-Handler into eCS!
  • Better Plug and Play adapter support, but not as "good" as Windows ME
  • Further polishing of the already impressive OS installer - it is now becoming one of the best elements of the user experience!!