Setting Up and Updating Your New OS/2 System

By: Walter Metcalf
Dateline: 05/05/99

Last week in our Primer on Installation and Setup of OS/2 we looked at the OS/2 Installation procedure, and especially some of the problem areas. By now we have a running OS/2 system on our computer. However it needs to be updated with the many fixes and new features IBM has developed since the original OS/2 Warp 4 release. In addition you probably need to add drivers for many of the newer devices on your computer.

  1. Fixpaks

    A Fixpak is a set of diskette-image files which contains fixes for part of OS/2.

    1. What FixPaks should you install?

      The best advice continues to be, "Don't install a fixpak until you find you need it." That said, many applications and some features, such as the GRADD drivers, require certain Fixpak levels, in which case you have no choice, if you need to use that feature/application.

      There are three levels of fixpaks you need to be aware of:

      1. System Base

        These are the best known, and update the complete OS/2 base system. The current levels are 40 and 10 for Warp 3 and 4, respectively.

        Note: FP 10 "breaks" several older ESS audio drivers. Be sure to download the latest ESS drivers from the IBM Device Drivers Pak On-Line if you have an ESS audio device.¹

      2. Component

        These are update individual components of OS/2, such as TCP/IP or the DOS Box. These may be the least well known. Both are available from the Fixpaks page of this site.

        If you are going to use the Internet from Win-OS/2 (e.g. online Banking or RealAudio) you must have the latest version of the DOS Box, which you can download from the Fixpaks page on this site.

      3. Drivers

        Periodically IBM updates driver paks, e.g. OMNI, to add support for additional devices or fix bugs. The IDEDASD.EXE mentioned in last week's article is of this type.

        1. You've probably installed IDEDASD.EXE from last weeks article. While strictly speaking you only need it if your disk drive exceeds 4.3 GB in capacity or you have special hardware like a ZIP drive, installing is an excellent idea even if none of those conditions apply to you. First, it allows easy upgrading in the future, and second, there are a number of other problems repaired in that driver fixpak.

        2. It's a good idea to periodically check the vendor sites of devices on your system, using the IBM Device Driver Pak On-Line, for driver upgrades. If one is released, download it, save your original driver, and test the new one to see if it works and is trouble-free. You may find it works better than its predecessor! (Better sound, more colours, etc.) In this way you will keep your system running at peak efficiency.

  2. Netscape

    Both versions of Warp come with IBM's Webexplorer installed. This browser was declared dead almost as soon as Warp 4 was released, because IBM had worked out an agreement with Netscape to make an OS/2 version of Navigator, which is much more powerful. Unless you have Navigator on a CD, one of Webexplorer's last official acts should be to download Navigator from the Internet.

    To download Netscape Navigator from the Internet, simply follow this procedure:

    1. Configure the Internet (i.e. the Dialler) for your ISP. Check the Getting Starting page on this site for instructions and tips.

    2. Access the Internet and start Webexplorer.

    3. Click on or type into the box and press <Enter>. You'll see two main versions of Navigator: 2.02 and Communicator.

      1. Communicator 4.04 is the latest version is the one preferred by most users, even though it does have a few minor problems. (IBM is working on this problems.) I recommend you download this version.

      2. Navigator 2.02 is the original IBM written version. It seems to be incompatible with many present day web sites.

    4. If you live in United States or Canada, you may legally download the 128-bit encryption version. Many financial institutions require you have this version before they let you log onto their web sites.

    5. If you live outside the US or Canada, you will have to download the standard 40-bit encryption version.

    6. The International Canadian French version also provides for 168-bit encryption on a per session basis when the server provides an authorized certificate id.

  3. Plug-In Pak

    Be sure to download the Plug-In Pak that matches the version Netscape you downloaded. For Communicator, the correct Plug-In version is 2.1. This supports audio and multimedia on many of the web sites you will visit.

  4. Java 1.1.7

    Unless you are quite tight on computing resources, you should install the latest version of Java. It will greatly enhance your Internet experience and give you access to a whole new realm of Java programs that run as well on OS/2 as if they written natively for it. OS/2 has the fastest Java Virtual Machine in the industry. The only portion of the rather formidable Java Development Kit you need in order to do all the above is the Runtime component (11 MB) out of the entire JDK (52 MB). Unless you know you will be writing Java programs, don't install anything else!

  5. Other Software

    Check the following sites for more software that is available for download and updating or adding to your system.

    1. Duane's World

    2. Warpcast

    3. Fixpak Database - By Product


The always-innovative Indelible Blue has come up with yet another good idea: the quarterly WarpUp! CD.
Each CD contains the latest fixpaks (of all three types), Netscape, Java release, several Networking fixpaks, and so on. Warp 3 and Warp 4 are both fully supported. In addition there are there are the latest copies of free software such as ZIP and UNZIP. There's much, much more, including several utilities and packages put together especially for this package by Duane Chamblee of Indelible Blue, creator of WarpUp!

After popping the CD into your drive, you open a window, and type INSTALL<ENTER>. A Webexplorer screen appears with two main options: service and index.

  1. Service is a sniffer which looks over your system and tells you which software on the CD you should install; after you install an item, it disappears from the list. While it shouldn't be considered the final authority, it is still a big help.

  2. Index is a list of every module and package on the CD. This is primarily for accessing those packages for which there is no WarpUp installation assist (yet). It's also useful if you've installed something and you want to have another look at the the readme file.

WarpUp! makes two unique contributions to a user's "care and feeding" of OS/2:

  1. Major components such as Java and OS/2 base fixpaks have previously had to be downloaded from the Internet, which is slow and error-prone, and stored on the hard drive which takes up a lot of valuable space. By storing them on CD they are readily accessible quickly without occupying primary storage space.

  2. Many IBM (and third-party) teams around the world are constantly working on various components of OS/2. When they release their product they (especially IBM employees) often do not announce the release to the public. This makes it difficult for us to keep up with "what's out there." For example, I wonder how many of you reading this know that the version of TCP/IP containing the 32-bit stack, previous available only in the commercial TCP/IP v4.1 has been released separately by IBM in a free upgrade to TCP/IP v4.0? I certainly had no idea until I started digging around in the WarpUp! documentation. However note Duane's warning that it may not be appropriate for your system.

I highly recommend the current WarpUp! CD to every OS/2 user. Subsequent CD's will need to be evaluated individually.

Next time: Valuable Tools for your OS/2 System

¹Tip: Go to directory \os2\boot on the system disk, write-enable the file config.x, and place a 'REM' at the beginning of the lines referring to the ESS drivers. Save the changes and reset the read-only flag. This will prevent a trap when you do a ALT-F1. Thanks to Duane Chamblee for this tip!

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