EurOS/2 Magazine - Volume 1 Number 3

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Contents

WHAT'S NEW FROM EUROS/2......

Warp Server

Today marks the official launch of Warp Server, although I expect many of you have seen something of the widely distributed beta copies. Anyone who attended our last meeting received the beta II CD's to evaluate. I'd previously purchased beta I from IBM Software Distribution in Denmark. Although I'd installed it, and set up an experimental Web Server on it, using GOSERVE, I didn't find the time to properly evaluate the full server package.

It was therefore a privilege to be invited to attend an IBM training course last week, designed to ensure that there were people with knowledge of the product as soon as the launch takes place. The course was presented by IBM staff from the US who are travelling worldwide to build Warp Server skills, and the course was heavily biassed towards hands on exercises. As it was a five day course, compressed into less than three days, it was pretty intensive!

What were the most interesting features? Warp Server is such a large package that it is difficult to pick out features - by the end of the course I think everyone was overwhelmed by the volume of information needed to appreciate all aspects of Warp Server. But let's pick out a few. The TCP/IP facilities are significantly enhanced with DHCP and DDNS. More acronyms, but these are valuable - DHCP provides for workstations that don't need to be allocated with fixed IP addresses. Instead, DHCP dynamically provides a "lease" on an IP address for a limited (extendable) period. This avoids the problem of manually administering a system of IP addressing. DDNS provides a name server - but with a valuable new development. DDNS provides the usual name server functions such as translating abc.co.uk into an IP address, but unlike many other name servers is able to implement name changes while remaining fully operational.

Warp Server includes a wide range of network management functions, including snapshots of individual workstations, hardware and software inventory, alert monitoring. So much so that one application we discussed on the course was providing help desk staff with Warp Server Entry as their workstation operating system, rather than building utilities such as System View on top of Warp Connect.

In fact, the base operating system is OS/2 Warp, which appears to have been consolidated at the FixPak 5 level. Then, all the standard LAN Server functionality is added, including file and print sharing, serial port and printer sharing, and the usual variety of transport protocols.

How did it look taken as a whole? Well, it's certainly a comprehensive package, offering a bundling of a range of products that have been rationalised and which together are expected to offer very attractive value for money. It looks very functional, even though an installation might implement only a selection of the full range, especially on any individual server. But installation from CD seems slick for anyone having adequate background knowledge, and then workstation installation can be completed through the network.

For a full assessment, we really need to look also at the Eagle project. This will provide a range of server products. As I understand it, IBM have deliberately separated Eagle from the Warp Server launch because many of the servers covered by the Eagle project are cross platform, so Warp Server will be only one of the alternative ways of implementing Eagle servers. But more about Eagle next time, and at our meeting on 3rd April.

Planned Meetings

You are warmly invited to attend the next meeting, which will include a briefing from Nick Davis, OS/2 Product Manager, on IBM's 1996 plans for OS/2. This will mention Merlin - the next version of the desktop version - although there is so far little firm information on exactly what will be included. Another item will be novel ideas on OS/2 installation, presented by Cristie Electronics.

Also, you will be especially welcome if you have any interest in CID. Software installation is an issue for all but the smallest computer user, and CID has the potential to greatly ease the process. The next meeting will include a CID workshop - please come and join in if you fall into any of the following categories:

  • You don't know much about CID, but would like to know more
  • You have tackled the use of CID, but have run into some problems
  • You have made CID work for your requirements, but would still like to know more
  • You are a CID expert and can explain to others how to make a success of implementing CID.

The workshop will commence with a presentation by Russell Eubanks, Technical Manager, Moore Stephens on "CID - successes and failures". Or perhaps "CID - failures and successes". As the title implies, Russell doesn't by any means have all the answers - but please come and contribute your ideas, or just listen to the experiences of others.

The following meeting has been scheduled for 3rd April 1996 (same time and location) which is being prepared in collaboration with the Netware Users Association. It will focus on network and server questions in an OS/2 environment - technical strategies, new products, rival suppliers. A presentation on Eagle will be a feature.

In May, we are planning a meeting on software development. If you have particular views on what you would like discussed, please let me know. Marc West of JBA has kindly agreed to organise speakers for this meeting.

At present, meetings are taking place at 4 pm at the Moore Stephens Training Centre, 1 Snow Hill, London EC1A 2EN. Nearest underground stations Farringdon, St Paul's or Blackfriars. Please let me know your fax number for a map or details of local hotels. The formal presentations will finish by 6 pm, but are likely to be followed by extended informal discussions over light refreshments.

If you've any comments or requests concerning meetings or the magazine, we'd love to hear from you - contact details below. Which articles do you like or dislike?

Magazine format

The electronically distributed version is now completely HTML, and reaction to this was generally positive. If you want to read it without the HTML tags, I've located an effective DOS (works under OS/2) program to strip them off. It is available from our BBS - Moore Stephens Infoline - 0171-334-0337 and the file name is HTMLCON.ZIP. Or, if you want a copy and can accept e-mail file attachments, send me a mail note and I'll reply with the ZIP file.

Alternatively, if you'd prefer to receive a stripped version of the magazine, please mail me to be moved to the appropriate list. If you're getting the faxed version, you might like to switch to the electronic version - just let me know your e-mail address.

Visual REXX Programming

Visual REXX programming is popular for quick development of straightforward programs. Following the last magazine, I received feedback from Ted Cripps, who takes the view that "VX-REXX may appear to be more profesional, but for ease-of-use and rapid protyping, I think VisPro/REXX wins hands down. That's why I chose it for a training course (which I co-authored) called ".

David Whitford of Forton Systems has tried both VisPro/REXX and VX-REXX, and reports a strong preferance for VX-REXX. So that leaves the score about even between the two products, but with stress on different strengths and weaknesses. If you're considering trying either, and want some prior experiences you could contact David or Ted.

NetRexx

Described by Mike Cowlishaw, IBM Fellow, 21st February 1996

NetRexx is a new programming language derived from both Rexx and Java; the rules of syntax closely follow those of Rexx, while the semantics often follow Java. It is intended as a dialect of Rexx that can be as efficient and portable as Java, while preserving the low threshold to learning of the original Rexx language. Further, the language is intended to be even more keyword safe than Rexx: it should be possible to re-compile or execute an existing NetRexx program _from source_ at any time without additions to the keywords known to the language invalidating an existing program.

Like Rexx, NetRexx is designed to allow clear separation of its concepts, so it may be introduced gradually. Also like Rexx, sensible defaults are defined to aid ease of use - especially for the novice programmer. These defaults can be turned off for the programmer who needs stricter type-checking and certain other features.

The Java virtual machine environment is assumed to be one platform for NetRexx, and this places some constraints on the NetRexx language. For example, the semantics of type resolution are partly determined by the environment, not the language.

The constraints of efficiency, safety, and environment implied that this language would have to differ in some details of syntax and semantics from Rexx; it could not be a fully upwards-compatible extension to Rexx. The need for change, however, has offered the opportunity to make some simplifications and enhancements to the language to strengthen the original Rexx design (see "The Early History of Rexx", and SHARE proceedings), and incorporate other additions from ANSI Rexx and Object Rexx.

The initial, experimental, implementation of NetRexx is in the form of a translator that generates Java source code; a Java compiler is then used to generate Java bytecodes (class files). Initial measurements using this implementation suggest that the NetRexx source for a typical class has approximately 35% fewer lexical tokens and requires 20% fewer keystrokes than the equivalent in Java.

Editor's Note:

The first public in-depth presentation on this topic is to be given by Mike Cowlishaw at the [7th International Rexx Symposium] for Developers and Users, to be held at the Hyatt Regency Hotel, Austin, Texas on 13-15 May 1996.

Speculation on OS/2 "Network Computer"

Press release from Martin Langley of Open Services

Web Browser PC from IBM by August says man in pub

Speculation was fuelled about IBM's plans for the SOHO PC market today by the prediction of an OS/2 DAP that a sub-£500 Pentium based OS/2 browser PC was 'on the stocks' from IBM. The package, also featuring an integral 14.4k Modem, 8 Mb of RAM and 120 Mb hard disk, is unusual in not requiring a version of Windows, instead relying solely on OS/2 emulation to run popular packages.

Equipped with a UHF interface, the unit, codenamed Huddersfield, anticipates the convergence between TV and PC technologies, with a substantial cost saving through the use of existing domestic TV equipment as an option to a monitor.

Production of the unit, using existing portable PC capacity should enable IBM to regain the initiative in PC sales against faltering Windows 95 shipments by effectively 'pre-loading' OS/2 on a machine shipping in very large volumes.

The OS/2 DAP, Open System Services Ltd, are a successful software design company specialising in Website creation with a substantial track record providing communications support to blue chip clients.

Operations Director Martin Langley commented, "There are overwhelming reasons for IBM to produce this unit ready for the '96 christmas season. All the components are in place, little additional investment is required, the SOHO market is ready for a browser PC, IBM regains the initiative in 32 bit operating systems, and makes substantial profits if it gets the marketing right".

Editor's Note: This article is pure speculation! OS/2 is an IBM trade mark; Windows is a Microsoft trademark; Pentium is an Intel trademark and Network Computer is an Oracle Corporation trade mark. Please see the current edition of 'BYTE' magazine for an alternative view of possible developments in "Network Computers".

OS/2 FixPaks

Generally, IBM support staff advise that FixPaks should NOT be used unless a specific problem is being experienced. In particular, they say that if you are running Warp Connect (which includes some early fixes) it is better to stick with the standard system if possible. The FixPaks can introduce fresh problems that sometimes make matters worse. The "public" FixPaks have been tested more extensively than the regular ones, and so far, the public FixPaks for OS/2 Warp are 5, 10 and 17.

In case it is of interest, I'm currently running Warp Connect with FixPak 17 and the latest OS2C3 fix for the Netware Requestor without observing any problems. But that's not to say there aren't any!

EurOS/2 Contact Information

We would like to encourage anyone working to achieve successful OS/2 implementations to participate in EurOS/2. All communications are despatched electronically, via Internet, Compuserve or fax. To receive regular information from EurOS/2, please let us know your first name, last name, company, job title, address, telephone, fax, Internet e-mail address, Compuserve e-mail address, and indicate which form of communication you prefer.

EurOS/2 can be contacted in the following ways
  • Internet at euros2@ibm.net
  • Compuserve to Martin Brampton 100303,2007
  • Fax to Martin Brampton, Moore Stephens, 0171-246-6055
  • Telephone Martin Brampton, 0171-334-9191
  • BBS Moore Stephens Infoline, 0171-334-0337
  • Mail to Martin Brampton, Moore Stephens, St Paul's House, Warwick Lane, London EC4P 4BN.

Web Stuff

For more information on Rexx and the references quoted in the article on NetRexx, please see [the REXX web page]. To contact Mike Cowlishaw, mail MFC@WINVMB.hursley.ibm.com

If you would like to start learning about Java, there is a Post Road Mailer or [Post Road Mailer] which are alternative Web sites carrying information from Innoval.

For users of the Netware Requestor for OS/2, there is a new patch module from Novell. To obtain it directly from the Internet you can go straight to [Novell Patches for v2.11 Netware Client for OS/2]

Have you heard OS/2's rabble rouser and razzmatazz leader, David Barnes? He always puts on a good show, and you can visit his Web page to find his latest favourite shareware programs and bitmaps. He can be found at [David Barnes' Bitmaps and Favourite Shareware]. Be patient, it's a popular page and can be slow.

IBM publish regular Warp newsletters on the Web. To find references to currently available copies, visit [OS/2 Warp Newsletters].