eComStation Preview: Review

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By: Walter Metcalf
Date: 11/2/00

The purpose of this new series of articles is to overview some of the highlights of eComStation and to provide information and/or assistance for at least three groups of people:

  1. Those who have already purchased eComStation;

  2. Those in the process of deciding between eCS and IBM Software Choice/Convenience Pak; and

  3. Those who would just like more information about the state of eCS preview products.

Technical Background

  1. System Hardware

    1. Motherboard = 586STC Rev A+
    2. Processor = Cyrix P200+ @150MH
    3. RAM = 128 MB
    4. HD = Quantum Sirocco 1700 (1.7 GB)
    5. CDROM = Toshiba XM-5702B
    6. NIC = LinkSys LNE 10/100 TX Etherfast
    7. Video = Trident ProVidia 9685

  2. Pre-Installation Notes

    1. Although there are ways around it, the preview version of eCS is designed to install on a clean hard drive, and that is the approach that will be taken in this article.

    2. It cannot be stressed too much that ALL PARTITIONS ON ALL DRIVES will be AUTOMATICALLY converted by the installation to COMPATIBILITY mode. After they are, FDISK, and most third-party, low-level disk utilities, such as Partition Magic will not work correctly.1

    3. Although LVM is the replacement for FDISK, it is radically different from FDISK, and if my experience is any indication, can take a bit of getting used to. (Remember than FDISK is no longer available, either!) Therefore, I highly recommend reading at least one of the "books" on LVM on the eCS CD. The best one in my view is \ecs\books\usinglvm.inf. (You can find essentially the same information in \books\pdf\usinglvm.pdf. You may want to print one out to have beside the computer while you are working your way through the LVM. Three other useful files are \books\pdf\install.pdf, Readme.txt, and Readme.OS2.

    4. Like WSeB, eCS is designed to begin installation by booting from the installation CD. To prepare for this, shutdown your system, and enter the SETUP (CMOS) area of your computer. Set your computer to check for and boot from the CDROM if present. Most new bioses have this feature. If yours does not, however, then you will have to create installation diskettes by running the MAKEDISK.CMD program from an OS/2 command line.

    5. The Boot Manager installed by eCS (via LVM) is a different version from the one used with Warp 4, and there are incompatibilities between the two versions. Any existing Boot Manager partition should be deleted.

  3. Count-down to Installation

    1. Read and print at least \ecs\books\usinglvm.inf

    2. Read at least part of the manual.

    3. Backup any information you wish to save from your hard drive(s).

    4. Boot from Warp 4 or earlier and delete partitions (incl. Boot Manager) on the target hard drive using FDISK.

    5. Press CTRL-ALT-DEL as instructed by FDISK.

    6. Set BIOS to boot from CDROM, and load eCS CD.

Kernel Installation

On the whole, apart some minor differences, the installation of the kernel is similar to the installation of the kernel under Warp 4. Let's look briefly at some of those differences.

  1. Booting from CD

    This was covered sufficiently in the previous section.

  2. Conversion to LVM

    This occurs by the time the installation begins. After this point, you can no longer use the Warp 4 Boot Manager, FDISK, or most low-level disk utilities.

  3. Initial Options

    On the initial boot-up screen you are given several useful options to simplify customizing your systems. These are:

    1. Enabling/Disabling hardware detection.

    2. Going to an OS/2 command line.

    3. Installing Daniela Engbert's enhanced IDE driver.

  4. Creating the Partitions

    If your hard disk is clean, then at the same point as in the Warp 4 install, you will be asked to create a directory into which to install eComStation. (Or you may want to resize the existing directory. At this point you will be taken to the Logical Volume Manager, instead of the old FDISK. Unfortunately at this point, there is no online help for the LVM. So you will need at least one of the documents I described previously to properly use this program. Since the LVM requires one full article in itself, unfortunately I cannot go into it here. Next week I will devote an article to explaining and using the Logical Volume Manager.2

  5. Resetting the Boot Device.

    When the Kernel is completely installed (i.e. at the end of the first pass), a message will appear on the screen, warning you to set your BIOS to not boot from CDROM. This of course only applies if you booted from CDROM in the first place.

  6. Preview Version Problems

    I noticed only one or two minor problems, which I have reported to JBS, and which will no doubt be corrected, probably in the GA version.

    1. My machine locked up during installation while attempting to detect some of my hardware. I had another report of similar behaviour from another Cyrix user. Using the key to bypass hardware detection took care of the problem.

    2. Only one Option is allowed on the Install screen. Since I had to use the key, I was unable to install Daniela's driver automatically. This meant either downloading it or "stealing" it from my Warp 4 computer, and installing it manually.
Other than the comments above, the kernel installation was very straightforward and similar to that of Warp 4.

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