Operating Systems
"Starting today,everything your computer has ever done, it will now do better"

Ed. This page was originally HERE.

OS/2 2.1
Memory Expansion - or how to find a bad SIMM with OS/2
8514/A and the VGA bottleneck
OS/2 Warp 3
My Fixpack Philosophy
OS/2 software

OS/2 2.1

This machine was run under OS/2 2.1 for the longest time. 2.1 was reliable enough that I never felt the need to repair it with a Fixpack. I fit a complete system into 30MB and had the other 30MB of the machine's original hard disk left for user programs/data. . . this situation got much better by replacing the hard disk with a 120MB disk. I could then use the HFPS (OS/2's own High Performance File System - which improves disk access, decreases the liklihood of file fragmentation, and uses a smaller cluster size so you actually get to use more of the disk). Performance was decent, but not great, with only the 6MB of RAM on the planar.

Memory expansion

I improved the situation with the addition of an IBM 80386 Enhanced Memory Adapter. Although I lack any hard data from this time, the responsiveness of the computer was drastically improved. The machine's display system was still something of a bottleneck (more on that later). Unfortunately, with the performance increase, I also started getting TRAP 2 (Non-Maskable Interupt) and TRAP E (Page Fault) errors, previously unknown occurances.

It turns out, a faulty IBM 80386 Enhanced Memory Adapter can sometimes be the problem, as shown by this ECA document at computercraft.com, but this wasn't the case for me.

Ran through diagnostics, both the PS/2 Advanced diags, QaPlus and Norton DOS-based diags. No errors reported. Because OS/2's use of memory is so extensive, OS/2 will find memory problems where no DOS-based diagnostic program will.

So, I began swapping SIMMs out, one at a time ('the British Museum' method!;), until the problem ceased. The offending 2MB SIMM still passes all PS/2 diags... go figure.


In order to cure the video system bottleneck (256Kb VGA system) I ended up getting an 8514/A card. . . which did improve things if it left me moored in 1024x768x256. The day after I added the card, I moved to Warp 3. The card's discussed more in detail on the 8514/A page.. Ultimately, the 8570 has been best served by an XGA-2 adapter.

OS/2 Warp 3

This version of OS/2 has several advantages over 2.1: It includes TCP/IP support in the form of the 'Internet Access Kit', the Workplace shell User Interface gets some additional toys like the 'Launchpad' and 3d-ish icons. The BonusPak applications are a huge improvement over the 'personal productivity' applications of OS/2 2.1 and actually offer truly functional software.

But the best improvement IBM made to OS/2 with the Warp 3 product was in performance. Warp 3 was designed to be more responsive with less resources available to it. In terms of Disk space, Warp 3 does demand more of a system, but not by much - 55MB would get a person an installation with all the trimmings. Most folks wouldn't necessarily need all that.

Where the huge performance gain comes in is in the ability of OS/2 to swap system DLLs to the Swapper file - with previous versions system DLLs had to remain in memory. The 32-bit graphics engine also received improvement. Although these were relatively minor changes (the actual version levels between OS/2 2.1 and Warp 3 are actually 2.10 and 2.30 respectively) it did much to improve the overall responsiveness of the system.

My Fixpack Philosophy

I do not apply fixpacks willy-nilly in order to keep up with the current fixpack level offered by IBM. It's great that they have supported OS/2 so well in the past - but I'm a firm believer in 'if it ain't broke, don't fix it.'

The 8570, up until very recently, never had a fixpack applied to either OS/2 2.1 or Warp 3. The problems I did have were traceable to a certain SIMM. I did apply FP40 to this machine because I had given up my original Warp 3 license & when I was able to replace it, I did so with the earlier Red-Box Warp-for-Windows which lacked PPP support. . . and a bunch of other things which were intact in the Blue-box Warp 3 license. The 9577 machine has only had a FP applied in order to use Netscape 4.61 - and frankly the jury's still out on whether that was a good use of my time.

Any Y2K issues? Oh, sure. . . I didn't have a date:). But no computer-related issues. At the time, the 8570 had OS/2 2.1 loaded, and coasted into 2000 with nary a problem, even correctly figured out leap year. The WPS did not display dates correctly. . . but the underlying OS did. With FP40 applied the 8570 is 'Y2K-compliant', I guess. Not that I would lose sleep if it wasn't:).

Some Most Excellent OS/2 Software & Stuff

  • Christian Hennecke's pages
    In German or English; this fellow has collected some excellent OS/2 Tuning information together.
  • The OS/2 Benchmark Centre
    Here you can get Trevor Helmsley's SysBench tool to see if you've applied Mr. Hennecke's advice correctly:)
  • hobbes.nmsu.edu
    The OS/2 archive you can't live without. Home of such good things as:
    • TrueSpectraPhoto>Graphics 2.02 (tspg202s.zip)
    • Post Road Mailer 3.0
    • EMX - the DLL you'll need to run *ix programs on an OS/2 box.
  • SETI@Home Project
    Have your PS/2 (or PC) make the best use of all that idle time at 4.00 in the morning. Multiple OS platforms supported - always a good thing.
  • New to OS/2? Or have you just forgotten what 2.1 was like? There's a very good site on OS/2 History. Of course, some of us refuse to consign it vintage software status:).
  • Need some PS/2 icons? (And what OS/2er doesn't need more icons?) grab this ps2os2ic.zip for some great 32x32 WPS icons of PS/2s - great for all those *.dsk images, etc. See the sample.
    [sample PS/2 icons]
  • If you can find it, OS/2 Warp Unleashed is one of the best books I know of regarding the care & feeding of an OS/2 system. ©1995, Sams Publishing. Moskowitz, Kerr, et. al. ISBN 0-672-30545-3; US Library of Congress 94-067100


Well, I moved beyond using the 70 for the day-to-day stuff a while ago, bein' drawn away by bigger badder critters (see my 9577 page). The 70's primary purpose for some time has been 'doing wierd stuff.' Everybody needs a guinea-pig machine. One of the experiments it's survived was yet another 32-bit multitasking OS that was neither OS/2 nor an *ix. The article was printed in the IACT Quarterly Newsletter for Spring 2000.

I'm not currently using either TSX or TSX-Lite, but they might appeal to some folks - they are mighty lean & mighty mean. Check out:
S & H Software, Creators of TSX and TSX-Lite

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Louis Ohland, Peter Wendt, William Walsh, David Beem, Tatsuo Sunagawa, Jim Shorney, Tim Clarke, Kevin Bowling, Tomáš Slavotínek, and many others.

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