This text was first published in OS2eZine May 16, 2002.
In a community like the OS/2-community, that at least from the outside seems to be shrinking, it must be of high interest to win over users from outside the community. Is the product good enough to win new users? How is the new user experience of OS/2 in a time when Windows is the standard by all measures? This article is the naked truth about becoming an OS/2 convert.
Since 1996 I have been interested in giving OS/2 a try. It started when I bought an IBM Aptiva PC and got a 3-CD 45-day trial package of OS/2. I was running the demo CD and was greatly impressed by the speech control and the JAVA integration.
A year later I installed and ran OS/2 Warp 4 on my Aptiva but could not find a workable way to set up TCP/IP so I could connect to my Windows computer. After a couple of weeks I installed Windows NT instead and that worked just fine, so OS/2 was off my agenda completely for a long time. When I first heard of eComStation my interest in OS/2 came back and I ordered a copy as soon as I could.
At the time I was running 8 computers at my home and I installed eCS on a 400 MHz/128 MB computer just for testing and fooling around. I started the installation after I read the instructions included in the eCS package. Everything worked fine until I run into the disk problem. It took me two nights to figure out exactly how to get it configured and set up. LVM was a bit of an obstacle I must say.
Since I’ve read a lot about the easy installation of eCS, I then thought that I was an hour from running my new system. The installation took a bit over 24 hours to complete because formatting of the disk was the slowest thing since walking was invented. When I was set up and had everything installed I wanted of the third party applications I tried to connect the computer to my home network.
The installation of NIC-drivers was a bit strange but worked out fine after a couple of tries.
Configuring TCP/IP was nowhere near a success.
I had by this time gotten a hold of a copy of “Getting Started with OS/2 Warp 4” and read everything it had to say about TCP/IP. Well, this must be an area where eCS and OS/2 differed from each other a lot because I just don’t have those icons on my system. And when I am trying to configure “local TCP/IP” I’m just not getting closer than being able to ping the localhost address. I tried the best that I could but ended up with pretty much a stand alone system. I could ping the computer from my Windows systems, from my Linux systems and from my BeOS system, but I could not by any means ping those machines from my eCS system.
I installed the Xitami web server on the computer and could use it as some sort of Intranet server but I wanted to be able to surf the web and read e-mail on eCS computer, no such luck.
After several tries I formatted the disk to FAT32 and installed Windows ME on it and gave it to my grandmother. She wanted to learn a bit about computers and I can’t in any way get an eCS-OS/2 system to connect to any sort of network at all, so I was kind of relieved by the chance to give the computer away and get an excuse for not having a home for eCS anymore.
Determined not to give up, I have now decided to let one of my Linux systems go in favor of eCS. I still don’t have a clue how to get it to work properly on my network but sooner or later that will be solved (because I actually still believe in all the great things I have read about this OS) and I will one day be able to read my e-mail on the eCS dedicated computer.
So why should you as a convinced OS/2 or eCS user care about my less than good experience on your so beloved OS? Well, a lot of what is being written about the differences between Windows and OS/2 seams to be based on a one time experience of installing Windows. Sometimes I get the feeling that it’s based on some obsolete diskette installation of a more or less forgotten Windows version (Windows 95 or earlier.) I work as a computer technician at the Stockholm stock exchange which has high demands for functionality and uptime and can get myself around in Windows, UNIX and to some extent in VMS. But I can’t get an OS/2 installation to work properly. I don’t think that I’m completely stupid when it comes to computers and operating systems.
I can agree on the fact that a few hundred or more Windows installations have forced me to think in a very special way about some things, but how come then I can install other PC operating system like Linux and BeOS without too many problems?
I think it can be beneficial for the OS/2 community to be completely honest with itself and admit that your so loved OS is not perfect and still needs a lot of effort to get in nearer to perfection (like all operating systems known to man.) eComStation is a great example of an initiative that only can do good for the OS and there seems to be developers out there who still enjoy programming on their beloved platform.
As I said earlier I will not give up my efforts towards getting a fully working eCS system and I have a very good reason to do so.
The OS/2 community has been good enough advocates, making me want to start to use the system now, in 2002. When you think about it from an unbiased point of view, that’s quite amazing, to say the least. In a world where you have everything in terms of applications and support served to you if you choose to go the Windows way, it becomes important that the communities around the alternatives like OS/2 show active movement forward. That shows the other users in the community as well as the users of other operating systems that there is a positive and ongoing culture alive and available.
This makes two good things: A new user that is curious and wants to try the system out, is made aware that there is a chance to make the effort worth the first troublesome steps. More important though, is that if you are in a live and vigorous environment, you lose fewer users. Fewer users leaving is a prerequisite to keeping a high amount of knowledge in the community.
In my way of looking at things, the OS/2-eCS platform has the best GUI that has been developed for the PC and a community that I really would enjoy being a part of.