OS/2 Warp 4 (Merlin) – reminiscence using Microsoft Virtual PC 2004

A little off the beaten track for someone who works at Microsoft evangelising Windows, but following Ben Armstrongs recent blog posting here, here and here about getting OS/2 Warp 4.0 running under Virtual PC 2004, I just had to give it a go. After all, it's the weekend and I've been feeling a bit under the weather, so why not curl up with a warm laptop, wireless connectivity, kids quiet on the Xbox and an inviting sofa to try it out?

Many years ago, I used to be somewhat of an OS/2 guru, having first used it in 1993 back at the time version 2.11 had just come out. I even attended a couple of "ColoradOS/2" conferences way back in 1995 and 1996 (if memory serves me right), and met Paul Giangarra, the lead architect for OS/2 "Merlin" (one of the codenames). What is most worrying is how much you forget after only 6 or 7 years - it all comes flooding back (not).... MPTS, LAPS, WPS, E, the buggy Netscape Navigator for OS/2, Mahjongg Solitaire (now there was a good game). As I recall, I must have been one of the very first people to have a copy of Warp as I brought it back from the states to the UK before it was publicly available over here.

Installation of the OS is easy enough. However, my laptop doesn't have a floppy drive (in fact I only have one machine with a floppy drive now, and besides I don't think I have any disks hanging around anyway - how times have changed). To create the floppies, I simply created a new Virtual Floppy from an XP Virtual Machine, inserted the Warp CD (bit dusty, but still working fine), and run cdinst from the root directory.

THIS WILL FAIL!, but all is OK as long as it gets to around 99%. Once you have a 99% completed disk 1, edit cdinst.cmd and see what it does to create disk 2 and the installation disk needed during boot installation, and run the commands from the command prompt. Respectively these are:

Note that the file has a %1 in the above lines which you can just lop out and run from a D: prompt.

The install is fine, as long as you heeded Ben's warnings about installing NetBIOS over TCP/IP during installation. I didn't the first time, and given how much I'd forgotten about MPTS and network configuration managed to get myself into a very big mess - fix pack's half installed, network only up once in every 5 or 6 boots, shared folders not working, SVGA mode stuffed. Hence, I went back to the drawing board and started a second time.

I wish I had have found this answer before giving up and going for the second install - it gives a great deal of information on setting up the Network.

The installation of the VM additions was possible before installing FixPak 15 which did surprise me - however, it enabled me to download fixpak 15 from my host machine, and use the VM Shared Folders to copy the extracted file onto the local drive of the OS/2 Warp Guest.

FixPak 15 wasn't quite as easy to install as I thought - unfortunately Bens link to the FTP site on IBM didn't work for me. However, it is downloadable as a .zip file from hobbes (there's a name I haven't heard of for years). To install it, you will need the CSF (Corrective Service Facility) version 1.43. If you use the link I provided, you'll need to download this separately, for example from here. Take care with the directory structure you use in the guest (ie the c:os2servos2serv structure which Ben mentioned), or the fixpak installation will fail.

Ben's link for the SVGA display driver and installation was perfect. Thankyou.

Browsers... Back in the days I was using OS/2, before Warp 4 you were pretty much snookered. On the bright side though, these were the days of BBS's and modems and Warp had a very capable terminal emulator, and combined with PComm/2, you were pretty much sorted. Warp 4 introduced the WebExplorer, but this leaves a lot to be desired. Netscape came out with a highly unsatisfactory browser (I can't find the link now), but fortunately FireFox 1.0 is available for OS/2 today. Note that you'll need to install libc-0.5.1 runtime on which FireFox is dependent. The rendering was a little suspect, but still very usable. Now, if only Microsoft had a version of Internet Explorer 6 for OS/2....

Things to remember about OS/2. No, it's not a bit like Windows 3.x. However, it does make extensive use of the c:config.sys (sound familiar?). Be careful how you edit it. I think I re-discovered this fact towards the end of giving up on my first installation.

Now for the great stuff. Once it was installed, I had to get the machine participating in my home domain. Yes, you can indeed do this. However, you will need to reduce the security settings if you are running Windows Server 2003. Start the Domain Security Settings snap-in, navigate to Security Settings/Local Policies/Security Options and set "Microsoft network server; Digitally sign communications (always)" to disabled. If you've got everything setup right, go back to a command prompt on the VM and type "logon <username> /P:<domainpassword> /V:d /d:<yourdomain>". You should get back "The command completed successfully". Try using "net view \<server>".

Finally, a dig around found a copy of IBM VisualAge C++ for OS/2 - the compiler I used for many years. I haven't done much C programming in several years, but this did come flooding back. I still have a first edition Kernihan and Ritchie "The C Programming Language" book (the definitive C language guide) upstairs, but didn't need to refer to it to get a version of the "hello, world" program running - in fact, it compiled and ran first time. There's a load of fixups mentioned on the IBM site (most recent c.2000) , but I couldn't get any of them to download. Fortunately, I didn't need them.

#include <stdio.h>
void main(int argc, char* argv[])
printf("Welcome from OS/2 Under Virtual PC 2004 :-)n");

And here's the screen shot....

I also found a copy of Database 2 for OS/2 (aka DB2/OS2), but that's for another day. Me and databases never did get along too well. I hope you found this useful - very much a trip back down memory lane personally. I'm sure I'll be reminiscing for a few weeks yet and have loads of utilities and other software on CD's somewhere or other. Now where can you get that really cool WarpSans font for Windows.....?

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