The President's Message
by Tony Butka
As I was preparing for October's SCOUG presentation, I was also building another custom computer for a client, running (sigh) Windows 2000 Pro. Afterwards, I realized that for the first time that I can remember, the OS/2 install was actually easier and cooler than the Winx install, because of some very neat new tools that we have available for our trusty 'old' operating system.
First, we have the extraordinary SciTech SNAP and Display Doctor video drivers. It's simply all automatic, including swapping out video cards. As it turned out on my Win install, the client wanted to use his old Matrox G400 dual head card in the new box, while my cheapie 'test' card is a generic Savage S3 32mb card. Under OS/2 with the SNAP drivers, you simply shut down, swap cards, and reboot. Period, that's it. Under Windows, you have to switch to VGA on boot, shut down, swap cards, reboot, install the new drivers, and then reboot again. In fact, it's the kind of issue that used to have folks laughing at us poor old OS/2 weenies.
Then, there's the AC '97 drivers that are currently available for VIA chipsets to do sound with no muss, no fuss. If you have a VIA chipset in that motherboard, chances are that you have on motherboard sound that works with AC '97. As our SCOUG demo illustrated, these OS/2 drivers are very solid and work just fine. God is it neat not looking for some 16 bit SoundBlaster compatible card. Not to mention the Software Choice Universal Audio Drivers that are being recompiled (thank you to open source GL) as we speak to provide the same audio functionality that SciTech does for video. For those of you with Software Choice or eCS, the sound file is available as uniaud.exe at the eCS site.
And finally, in the area of network card detection and system updates, we have Chuck McKinnis, who has developed a couple of very neat tools. First, there's the NIC detector software, NICPak. Unzip the file, run the cmd file, and follow the instructions.
Finally, for the eCS enabled, Chuck has also developed a graphic tool so that you can see what updates you have installed on your system and which ones you can apply. It is called eCS Maintenance Tool, currently at Version 126.96.36.199. Essentially what you do is take all those eCS downloads like the Java, TCP/IP, FixPak, and driver fixes and updates and copy them to a directory. Then install the Maintenance Tool -- currently a 5 file download (albeit small files) -- and unzip the ecsutil.zip file. Then unzip the Maintenance Tool and run ecsmt.exe. Everything's automated from there, telling what you have installed on the system and what you can upgrade. Again a very nice tool that automates the chores that drive us crazy.
What's my point? Simple. OS/2 has always offered a very stable operating system that handles the Internet flawlessly, and allows us to also run DOS programs better than DOS as well as our old Windows 3.1 programs. Now we have a set of installation/upgrading tools on a par with any operating system, and better than most. If we can get the installation part of OS/2 simplified with the help of tools like these, there's no reason that our trusty OS shouldn't be around for a good while.
Questions, comments, ideas for any presentations, contact me at
The Southern California OS/2 User Group
P.O. Box 26904
Santa Ana, CA 92799-6904, USA
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