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OS/2 Warp & why it's so good

My Best Buy Ever

It was back in 1994 when I had just acquired my first 32 bit machine an already out of date 386dx it came pre loaded with windows but lacking the installation disks It was impossible to configure it to drive my printer, also most of my previous software had been run on far more primitive equipment (notably a fine product of Alan Sugar, complete with pink spot) and being mainly DOS and GEM based It soon occurred to me that I could make far better use of 20 MB of disk space by deleting windows and all its associated files.

It was about this time whilst browsing through the cheap recycled and discontinued shelf of a large computer retail outlet I found a package containing OS/2 Warp 3, this promised me reliable 32 bit multithreaded multitasking computing with long file names, the ability to run both DOS and Windows programs, multimedia support and a bonus pack of applications all for a bargain price of 25 pounds(UK). I could not resist all right I would need a new hard drive and more memory to run it but with 2M ram and 40M hard drive I would have to upgrade these to make windows 3.1 any use anyway.

Eventualy I set forth boldly with screwdriver, a small bundle of simm's and a 420MB Hard drive I accomplished the necessary upgrade and installed my bargain software. I had been warned that things go wrong installing OS/2 (mainly from salesmen trying to sell me windows 95) but I had read the instructions and figured that things can go wrong whatever you are installing. I had decided to install onto a separate partition and it all went as per textbook,, and there lies the problem the book suggests that 45MB is adequate, I would suggest at least double that and put your swapfile in its own partition and make that about 40MB. Yes I did take me sometime to determine this by trial and error but at all times the system worked and the error messages were helpful, I could of course have phoned IBM customer service but at that stage I was still learning about the operating system.

The first thing to impress me was Work Place Shell, OS/2's object orientated graphical interface dragging an object (File, Folder, program or whatever) creates onto the desktop creates a shadow of that object (a bit like a Win95 shortcut but without the popup dialogue asking if you really mean to do it) and the sound and animation of opening and closing objects (a feature soon turned off especially on a 386 machine). Every object has a properties folder although daunting at first with its pages of configurable parameters it is "terrific" almost anything relevant to that object can be configured from here. For a program this can be which file types it is associated, whether it is run full screen, windowed, minimised or hidden, all DOS and windows DOS parameters can be set as is best for that program (Great for DOS Games) and for a file object you can set the default application to open it (any associated application can be selected by left clicking and selecting open as anyway) all objects you can change icons and set attributes.

New objects are easily created by dragging a new object from the appropriate template to wherever you wish to create it. Dozens of templates are provided in the templates folder and it is very easy to create your own templates to suit your own needs. PMShell is Brilliant! Don't use a machine without it.

The next most impressive thing OS/2 has is HPFS (High Performance File System) this makes for much more efficient caching (leaving more memory for running programs) and is fragmentation resistant ( I was working for a friend recently who uses windows I had forgotten how quickly FAT disks fragment and how badly it slows them).

The next is the OS/2 Bonus Pack a very useful collection of OS/2 Applications the most notable being IBM Works This is a very useful works suite containing the usual facilities of word processor, spreadsheet, database and personal information manager. These are comparable with most other works suites but being 100% native OS/2 they perform well.

Currently I run warp version 4 on my desktop machine and eComStation on my battered IBM ThinkPad. With version 4 came VoiceType which for me is fantastic as I am dyslexic and find this facility wonderful. I have dream't of having such machines since I were less than 10 years old.

Yes VoiceType really works! I find even now that it often performs with greater accuracy than the newer ViaVoice I use on my Macintosh.