Additional bits have been revised as of March 7th(though not the Warp 4.1/5 stuff yet). A brief overview of WarpNC was added as well. Step by step . . . :-)


Unofficial IBM OS/2 Beta FAQ v 0.19

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Compiled and maintained by:

Kris Kwilas

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I am still in the process of updating the FAQ. More information on Warp 4.1 and Warp 5 will be added ASAP.

Main Index

Appendix Index

Java for OS/2 Warp

The Gold version of Java 1.02 for OS/2 Warp was released on March 3rd. You can download a copy from As of March 3rd, the JAVAOS2.EXE file above was approximately 4.1MB.

For the latest "unoffical" information about Java for OS/2, please read Mark H. James' excellent Java on OS/2 FAQ at

IBM has announced plans to continue updating the Java support in OS/2 Warp and OS/2 Warp Server. A beta release of the Java 1.1 code should be available by the end of March, with an official release of the 1.1 code level tentatively scheduled to be available prior to the end of 2Q97.

Anyone interested in some of IBM's future Java projects should check out the alphaWorks site at

To keep up to date on the latest official IBM Java information, please visit

OS/2 Warp FixPaks

Another set of links to OS/2 updates can be found at Francophones may find La Boutique OS/2 ( worth a visit.

FixPaks are built internally every two weeks. If no major problems turn up in a month of testing each FixPak, it is usually OKed for external release. Generally, this means that a new FixPak will show up around once a quarter.

If you have a bug that is fixed by a specific (unreleased) FixPak, you can call IBM Support and they will provide you with the means to download a copy. Note, FixPaks are primarily intended as bug-fixes. While they may speed up your system, that is not their primary intention.

If you are not having problems, the rule of thumb is not to apply a FixPak. Most of the bug fixes "cured" by FixPaks will not apply to your situation. If you think you are having a problem, then by all means give a FixPak a try. Be aware that using FixPaks that have not been released by IBM will leave your system in an unsupported state.

FixPak information has been trimmed to only reflect the latest "official" releases.

FixPak 1 for OS/2 Warp 4(XR_M001 or revision 9.025) was released at the end of February. I've been running it since then, with no problems to report. This release received extensive testing inside and outside IBM(including a controlled release to a larger audience than normal). You will need this FixPak if you want to use the new OS/2 versions of WordPro and Freelance Graphics under Warp 4.

With OS/2 Warp 4, there are now two main methods that can be utilized to install FixPaks(and other updates). The "old" method of building floppies from diskette images still works fine. You can download the required files from or

Users of OS/2 Warp 4(preferably those with a direct Internet connection, though this will work, albeit slowly, over a modem) can visit to utilize the Automated Software Update feature of OS/2 Warp 4. The page in question will setup an automated download and installation of the FixPak files, saving you the trouble of having to build and apply disks. Highly recommended. [Note: CMD.EXE should be your default command processor or this may not work.]

FixPak 26 is the latest official release for OS/2 Warp v3. See the list below for download sites.

Here are some official IBM sites that carry FixPaks. FixPaks are also available from OS/2 Warp 4 users can also use the Automated Software Updates feature for an almost painless upgrade experience.

You will also need a set of IBM Corrective Service Facility "kicker diskettes" to start the FixPak installation. The most recent CSF disks are dated 12/5/95. They are available from as CSFBOOT.1DK and CSFBOOT.2DK. They are also available from numerous other sites, often compressed into one WKICKR.ZIP archive. Be sure to check the file dates to make sure you are downloading the 5 Dec 95 version(or later).

[OS/2 Warp 3] With all of these sites, look for XR_W0??.*, where ?? is the version number of the FixPak(26 as of when this document was revised).

Here are a couple of OS/2 Warp 3 FixPak CONFIG.SYS parameters for people to play with. Thanks to Dick Kurtz of OS/2 Fix Distribution(RRKURTZ at BCRVM1 for those of you who know what that means) for the first portion. These features are built into OS/2 Warp 4.

"The parameters to the SET command are:


 The default is OFF.  To turn it on, put
 in CONFIG.SYS and reboot.

 To change the timeout (I'll describe that in a moment)
 where x is in milliseconds.  Default is 500 (half a second)
 and reboot.

 The timeout says that that when a focus change is requested (by
 clicking on another application, hitting Ctl-Esc etc) and
 the application that has the focus does not respond to the message in
 x milliseconds, OS/2 determines that the application
 is not responding to messages, flags his queue as bad and switches
 focus to the desired application.  The system will subsequently
 monitor that queue to see when it does indeed start responding to
 messages and mark the queue as good again.

 A good first cut at isolating a problem would be to raise the timeout
 to say, 5000 milliseconds.  If that does not help, turn it off and see
 if that helps.  If there is indeed a SIQ fix problem, this will help
 us isolate it."
SET QUEUE_SIZE_THRESHOLD=x is the parameter that controls the PMQSize-like functionality(see above). The default queue depth is 3000 entries.

SET PM_DYNAMIC_DRAG=ON turns on a full window drag mode a la NT, the Windows 95 Plus Pack, and numerous OS/2 utilities. The IBM code does not extend to VIO windows. While not bad for their first attempt, the code could certainly use some tuning. The easiest way to see its limitations is to turn on Always Maintain Sort Order and resize a folder. Pretty choppy, right? It may be because of the video driver not being optimized for that time of redraw, but Windows NT experiences none of the same choppiness with my ATI Mach64 video card.

The best advice I can offer for FixPaks is to be very careful. If you are happy with the way your system is running, and you do not have an APAR that is specifically addressed by a FixPak, it is probably best not to apply one. If, after a couple of weeks, the denizens of the Internet have passed their approval on it, feel free to give it a whirl. Of course, the usual cautions about having a backup and knowing what you are doing apply.

Bottom line: Caveat Lector!

Lotus SmartSuite 96 for OS/2 Warp

Pre-release versions of WordPro 96 and Freelance Graphics 96 are available from A pre-release version of WordPro is also included on the OS/2 Warp 4 Application Sampler CD.

WordPro 96 and FLG 96 have been released as the "SmartSuite 96 for OS/2 Warp." To round out the suite, the currently available Windows 3.1/SmartSuite 4.0 versions of 1-2-3(Release 5), Organizer(v2.1), Approach(v3.0), and ScreenCam have been included for use under Win-OS/2(with free upgrades to their OS/2 counterparts when released).

Be advised that these applications work much better with the latest FixPaks for OS/2 Warp 4 and OS/2 Warp v3. IBM and Lotus have done a lot of work on the Open32 code in recent FixPaks to make sure everything works properly. See the OS/2 Warp FixPaks section above for download instructions.

As for the rest of the SmartSuite applications(not to mention feature parity with the SmartSuite 97 apps), Lotus has publically stated that everything will be up to the "97" level by the end of 1997. At the moment, it is not clear which applications will be revved first(i.e. will WordPro 97 appear before 1-2-3, even though WordPro 96 is already native). Supposedly, we could see some additional native releases(though probably not all) sometime around the middle of the year.

On a related topic, it remains to be seen exactly what impact Lotus' Java development will have on future(presumably post-97) SmartSuite revisions. 3Q97 has been hinted at as a period when some of Lotus' Java applications/applets will get some exposure, but it's really too early to tell(particularly since nobody has mentioned specifics as of yet). Additional information, as it becomes available, should be found at FWIW.



Netscape for OS/2 is available for download from As of March 2nd, no official updates to the browser have been released. However, a maintenance release of Netscape 2.02 for OS/2 is expected sometime in March(hopefully the first half).

The most recent updates to the OS/2's Java support(which is used by Netscape) can be downloaded from However, as of when I wrote this(March 7th), the Hursley site had still not been updated with the 1.02 Gold code available from

The current release of Netscape 2.02 is a hybrid of Netscape 3.0 and 2.0. A great deal of the internal, behind-the-scenes code is based on Netscape 3.0, even though the interface resembles the 2.x releases. Since some sites require Netscape 3.0 or higher, a -3 switch can be added to the parameter field of the Netscape program object to fool sites that require 3.0.

A great resource of Netscape for OS/2 information is maintained by Martin Warnett(one of Netscape's OS/2 developers). Martin's pages include information on the forthcoming release of Communicator for OS/2, as well as links to native OS/2 plug-ins. Highly recommended.

Some "background" on the current status of Communicator can be found at

OS/2 Warp NC

Note: WarpNC has been placed in this part of the FAQ(rather than with the 4.1/5 info) on the assumption that anyone reading this document is probably not a strong candidate for a Network Computer a year from now.

What is OS/2 Warp NC and what does it mean to me? Quite frankly, I do not have a definitive answer to either of those questions, but I'll try to compile my impressions, based on what little has been reported in the media, along with a slight dose of speculation. Please be aware that this will be a highly subjective interpretation. Odds are that I have made errors in the portion that follow, but it's the best I can do when the product is only occasionally mentioned. The TLA's are also going to be flying fast and heavy. You have been warned. :-)

OS/2 Warp NC(henceforth, WarpNC) will a somewhat slimmed down version of OS/2(at the OS/2 Warp 4.x level by release) intended for use on Intel-based network computers. WarpNC should be released by the end of 1997.

Why Intel "thin-clients" rather than IBM's existing PowerPC NC's? In theory, the idea of a thin-client running all Java apps sounds great. However, no small number of IBM's customers have rather large investments in existing OS/2(and sometimes Windows)-based solutions. Rather than forcing those companies to migrate to a PPC thin-client, losing access to their existing OS/2 apps and requiring Windows to be run on a server and redisplayed to the client via Citrix' Winframe or some other method, a new class of Intel-based NC's allows IBM to leverage the existing software base their customers are using and moving things into the new Java age(not to mention some of the cost savings associated(in theory :-)) with the whole NC model).

So, how has IBM managed to create this lean and mean sibling(for want of a better term) to the existing OS/2? You may not have noticed, but some parts of OS/2 are, how shall we say, a little bloated when it comes to memory requirements. All the great object-oriented features of the WorkPlace Shell come with associated RAM usage. An OS/2 "workstation" with the WPS, a couple of networking protocols, and an application or two can easily start taxing the resources of a 16MB machine. By stripping out the WPS(though it may be optional if you have enough RAM), IBM can save a nice chunk of RAM right off the bat. Using the Intel OS/2 kernel which has been optimized and tweaked over the years will probably(I have no hard figures here) save memory over a uK PPC OS/2. While the existing "OS" on IBM's PPC NC's is probably reasonably small, it does not allow the use of existing applications in the same manner as an Intel implementation would.

However, the loss of the WPS may not be as big a tragedy as it might appear. It is important to remember that IBM's NC targetting is not necessarily the same as the PC marketplace. Large numbers of users in companies accessing corporate data off their MVS machines may really only run a limited subset of the applications that "power users" or even relative novices would run. For some markets, users could conceivably "live" all day in an environment structured around the applications they use(which may never be something like WordPro, Word, or Photoshop, though the Intel-based system would allow their use if desired).

So far, two possiblities(though it is likely both will be available in the final product) have been mentioned for the "interface" to WarpNC: Netscape and Notes. If you think about it, for a certain class of users, it makes a lot of sense. Most of your data will reside on servers, automatically being replicated and distributed via Notes/Netscape. When changes need to be rolled out to the organization, you change the software on the server and the clients update automatically. You basically wind up running one "application" on WarpNC that allows you access to your network, Java apps(like upcoming Lotus SmartSuite, Notes Mail, and ??? releases), corporate data, and whatever else IS wants to include. If necessary, you can still use existing OS/2, DOS, and Windows 3.1 apps(as well as Win32 apps via a Citrix Winframe server), all on your little "thin-client" which suddenly may not seem so thin after all. :-)

I feel compelled to point out that Netscape and Lotus are both developing what can be termed new "interfaces" to the computer(like the WPS, Motif, or the Windows GUI). I would speculate(wildly, since I have no proof :-)) that this sort of "interface" to WarpNC would be more likely than the exiting Netscape browser and Notes workspace. FWIW.

Some additional information(minimal at this time) on Lotus' "NC Desktop", as well as future Lotus Java applications, can be found at

Information on Netscape's Contellation "interface" to Communicator can be found at Constellation is scheduled for beta sometime in 2Q97, though the release date of the OS/2 version(and past announcements indicate that there will be one) is unknown.

An Infoworld article on WarpNC can be found at

Internet Connection Secure Servers 4.2

Trial, unsupported versions of IBM's Internet Connection Secure Server 4.2 for OS/2, AIX, HP/UX, Solaris, and Windows NT are available from The latest releases of these servers include support for HTTP 1.1, Java, CGI, SSL V3(secure transaction layer), and SNMP management. All functions are fully enabled for a 60-day trial period, after which the secure transaction layer stops working until a licensed copy is purchased. More information on ICSS 4.2's capabilities is available from

OS/2 Warp 4(aka Merlin)

Merlin was the codename for the current Intel release of the OS/2 Warp client(OS/2 Warp 4). The base information on OS/2 Warp 4 was updated for the "last" time on October 6th, 1996. Please see merlin.html for information on the product as originally shipped. Information about OS/2 Warp 4.1 and Warp 5 can be found at the beginning of this document.

IBM's OS/2 Warp 4 Capacity Planning and Performance Tuning Guide is available from

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