EurOS/2 Magazine - Volume 1 Number 9

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Contents

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

Comdef '96 - Resellers waver

The Comdef '96 conference took place from 13-16 June on board the Canberra. Richmond Events organise Comdef with a target audience of IT resellers of all kinds. Comdef includes a conference programme and many opportunities for meetings between resellers and organisations seeking channel partners.

From an OS/2 point of view, there were clear signs of changes. In past years, there has been almost total belief in the inevitability of computing revolving around Microsoft products. This year, although there remained many who chose to see nothing but user demands for Windows, others adopted a more flexible attitude.

There were, at times, vigorous discussions about alternative approaches including OS/2. These often centred around the ideas that are spinning off the Internet, including Larry Ellison's favoured project, the Network Computer. Whatever the actuality of Internet usage, there is no doubt that Internet ideas are developing rapidly and are very influential in people's thinking. Although some would see the Microsoft juggernaut absorbing the Internet, others could see opportunities for new computing technologies that would bring about a shift in the norm.

Increasing numbers of people consider the present style of computing to be a revolution that is largely played out. Originally, the PC was an escape from rapacious suppliers with expensive proprietary systems. But as the PC has become more complex than those old proprietary systems, it has generally become a vehicle for proprietary lock in by a single software company.

Another aspect of shifting views was the presence as a speaker at the conference of Graham Lea, an industry analyst and consultant who seems unique in offering a detailed critical analysis of Microsoft and its technology from a viewpoint independent of all vendors. Graham recently spent four years as a technical advisor during the antitrust action against Microsoft in both the USA and Europe. He has been a consultant for 30 years, working with all computer generations from early mainframes to the latest microprocessors, as a programmer, systems analyst, and designer, specialising in systems software and large database applications. In his time he has set up and managed the computer department of an oil company, been chairman of a trade association for five years, and advised clients in many parts of the world. His clients include hardware and software vendors, resellers, and governments.

Graham Lea launches Micro**** Monitor at Comdef '96

ABOARD SS CANBERRA--(BUSINESS WIRE)--June 17, 1996--MICRO**** MONITOR, a new monthly newsletter that tracks Microsoft's business practices, was yesterday launched at COMDEF '96, aboard the SS Canberra cruising off the English Channel Islands.

It is published by Heterodox, and edited by Graham Lea, who has a 30-year background as a consultant, editor and independent industry analyst. The first issue of Micro**** Monitor has a major article entitled "Gates and Asperger's Syndrome" which suggests that "Bill Gates may have a form of autism called Asperger's Syndrome.

"The symptoms often include an exceptional memory; obsessions - for example with computers; difficulty with personal relationships; profound fluctuations in mood; social withdrawal; the avoidance of eye contact; rocking motions in chairs; trampolining; and the predominant use of visual images, which may account for Gates' popularisation of the graphical user interface,"

Lea added: "If Gates has Asperger's Syndrome, it may explain much of his complex personality, as well as the unorthodox business practices of Microsoft." Speaking to delegates in an address entitled: "Carnage, Crossroads, Casualty: Microsoft's road ahead," Lea said: "There is carnage on the road behind Microsoft, with many corporations harmed by Microsoft's aggressive and anti-competitive practices.

"The road kill results from the techno-piracy of the intellectual property of competitors; the techno-sabotage of rival products to hinder or prevent their running under Microsoft's Windows; anti-competitive software development practices; the pre-announcement of products (vapourware) in an attempt to harm competitive products; and licensing practices that are already the subject of a consent decree."

Citing another article in Micro**** Monitor, Lea told delegates that "forecasts by market research firms are at best guesses." He drew attention to "absurd market predictions recently released by Dataquest, which appeared to be biased in favour Microsoft, and could not be founded on any statistically rigorous methodology."

"Microsoft has reached middle age and now has a legacy of trying to maintain backwards compatibility. There are many signs that Microsoft will have an accident on its real road ahead," Lea said -- and counselled delegates to "Go back to your offices and prepare for the post-Microsoft age."

MICRO*** MONITOR first edition - JUNE 1996 - contents:

  • Gates and Asperger's Syndrome
  • A message to readers
  • So, farewell, Adobe?
  • Thus spake Gates
  • Ballmer's bellows
  • Microsoft and education [in UK]
  • Poor Windows 95 performance with Pentium Pros: the reason
  • Dataquest
  • Enderle's phantasmagoria
  • Windows 95 sales and the market researchers
  • Dataquest's various predictions about Windows 95 Sales
  • "Windows 95 Shipments to Triple in 1996" according to Dataquest
  • NT scalability
  • The MS Simply Interactive PC will sink

Heterodox has also published a report entitled "Citizen Microsoft" that details Microsoft's past business practices, including a full account of the antitrust case against Microsoft in the US and Europe in which Lea was closely involved.

EurOS/2 members can subscribe to Micro**** Monitor on special terms for prepaid subscriptions entered within one month of receipt of this edition of the EurOS/2 Magazine. The special subscription rate is £150 per annum, or outside the UK $250. This is half the normal rate. Heterodox can be reached at +44-(0)-171-976 0270 (phone and fax). Email: 100137.655@compuserve.com. The subscriptions office is at Heterodox, Suite 20, 3 Abbey Orchard Street, Westminster, London SW1P 2JJ, England.

Graham Lea comments on the state of IT.....

"Trade magazines do not tell you the truth about Microsoft, because their editorial content is subtly influenced by a desire to please Microsoft and its cohorts so that the publications can obtain advertisements and, occasionally, leaked information. For example, you probably believe the propaganda that Windows NT is invincible and a great success - so skilfully has the message been spread by Microsoft and the media. But the reality is that NT is used in only 0.5% of PCs after three years. Some success.

"Then there is IBM's OS/2 Warp, which is actually selling around a million copies a month at retail (easily outselling Windows 95 retail, and despite IBM's incompetent marketing). Most retail copies of OS/2 are replacing some version of Windows.

"Nearly all market research is worthless, except as deceptive advertising copy. The methodologies are statistically invalid, and the conclusions reflect either a remarkable degree of ignorance, or a high dependence on fees for commissioned research.

"Heterodox's business is collecting, analysing and publishing information from many sources. Our archive and databases of Microsoft's business practices may be the largest outside Redmond and the US Justice Department. We also offer consultancy advice to clients about strategies for using Microsoft products, and for negotiating business relationships with Microsoft. We have no trading relationships with any vendor. We do not sell hardware or software. We are completely independent and objective."

Arcada Backup for OS/2

Reviewed by Chris Green

First Impressions

My first feelings about Arcada Backup for OS/2 Warp were rather negative, it comes in a ridiculously large box which contains only a slim manual (54 pages) and two 3.5" High Density floppies. However, in spite of this, Arcada is a very competant and practical backup program for OS/2.

Installation

Arcada Backup has modest requirements, basically little more than the minimum requirements for OS/2. It will run on OS/2 2.11 or higher and 8Mb of RAM is recommended though the minimum is 6Mb. It requires about 3Mb of disk space. It supports a wide range of tape drives connected via the floppy disk interface or printer port, it doesn't support SCSI or ATI/IDE interfaced tape drives.

I was not very happy with the installation program which grabbed the whole of my 1024x768 screen and didn't allow me to reduce its size or minimize it during installation, so much for multitasking! Fortunately the installation took only a few minutes and went quite smoothly.

My system is a NexGen P90 586 with SCSI hard disks, until recently I have used a Colorado Jumbo 250 floppy interface tape streamer for backup and this is the backup device that I used to try out Arcada Backup. The backup program I have used ever since I first started with OS/2 is BackMaster so to some extent this review compares Arcada Backup with Backmaster.

Arcada Backup identified my tape drive with no problems and added the required drivers and other changes to CONFIG.SYS. Here I must vent one of my pet hates, why do so many OS/2 programs insist on adding their installation directories to the PATH, LIBPATH and HELP variables in CONFIG.SYS? If all the programs I use did this then these statements would very soon hit their 1024 byte limit and even when much less than this they are awkward to edit and don't help efficiency. There are various ways to avoid doing this and this isn't a particular criticism of Arcada Backup, though any program that doesn't do this tells me that its author(s) have thought a little harder than most.

A 'Start Here' icon installed on the desktop provides a brief but useful walk through of Arcada's facilities and then installs the real backup folder.

Also during installation you are prompted to create a set of emergency OS/2 boot diskettes with the Arcada drivers installed on them. It's very important to do this to enable recovery from major hard disk disasters which may prevent OS/2 booting from hard disk. It's a very good idea to actually try this out having created the disks, backups are no use unless one can restore from them!

Arcada Backup in use

The basic backup and restore facilities are very easy to use, better than BackMaster I think. Double clicking on the 'Backup Assistant' icon guides one through the stages of creating a backup and similarly the 'Restore Assistant' goes through the restore process.

'Backup definition' objects can be created which specify collections of files to be backed up, these can be dropped onto the 'Backup Device' icon to start a backup. A 'Default Backup Definition' is installed initially which will backup all files. Selecting and deselecting files within a backup definition follows the usual OS/2 drive tree style, clicking on directories and files to select or deselect them. Thus it is very simple to set up and run different backups.

There is a 'Scheduler' icon to allow backups to be run when the system is unattended.

Arcada Backup records all backups in a 'Reports' object, this is something that was new to me and is a very useful facility. It allows one to see when backups were done and what files have been backed up without having to read the directories from the actual tapes which can be very time consuming. It also avoids the need to maintain written records, all that is needed is a unique identifier on each tape.

On the other hand Arcada Backup tape utilties seem a little weaker than BackMaster's. The utilities are accessed by double clicking the tape device object which wasn't immediately obvious and there is only a brief one page description of them in the manual. There is also a rather odd reference to 'Initialise' for SCSI drives which aren't supported. A major omission is that there doesn't seem to be any way to find how much space is left unused on a backup tape.

Backups and restores both ran very smoothly on my Colorado Jumbo and one big surprise for me was that Arcada Backup was much faster than BackMaster, just about twice as fast in fact. I assume this must have been because Arcada Backup detected that I had a floppy interface able to drive 2.88Mb floppies which will run at 1Mb/sec as against the 512k/sec of 1.44Mb floppies. It took Arcada Backup about 16 minutes to backup 100Mb and about the same time to verify it, this is about 6Mbytes per minute which is a very respectable rate for a floppy interface tape drive.

Conclusions

As I said above Arcada Backup is a very competant backup program for OS/2, it's very user friendly and is thus suitable for users who may be a little afraid of the 'technicalities' of backing up. It compares well with BackMaster, it's faster, easier to use and provides better recording of backups. The only omission (I couldn't find it anyway) is a way of showing space left on a tape. Overall I would recommend it to anyone looking for an OS/2 backup program.

Chris Green B.Sc(Eng), M.B.C.S., C. Eng., F.I.A.P. was originally educated as an electrical engineer and graduated from Bristol University in 1967. His career has mostly been in the more 'technical' areas such as control systems and communications. He spent ten years in the Middle East during the seventies and eighties in hospital computing and oil field monitoring systems. Since then back in the UK he has been a contract programmer mostly on Unix systems. His home system runs OS/2 Warp Connect, with other members of the family running PCs too, all networked with his Warp Connect machine as the 'server'.

June Meeting - OS/2 and Strategic Technologies

The June meeting of EurOS/2 was devoted to a discussion of the key issues that influence choice of operating system. This was tackled from two directions - the issues that influence perceptions including press relations and marketing, and the technology factors. We know that the technology factors aren't overriding, because almost everyone concedes that OS/2 is technically superior to Windows, but that isn't the end of the argument. However, they are important, especially over the longer term.

Rather than attempting to report on the whole meeting, I plan to include topics that were discussed in this and the next few magazines. First, let's look at some Internet related influences. Everywhere we look in IT today, we seem to find the influence of the Internet. As a source of ideas and as a driver for change, the Internet seems to have strength even beyond its considerable immediate impact.

One effect of the Internet looks set to be a flattening in charges for data communications over distance. The Internet pricing model is totally independent of distance. For light users, payment is based on time, and for heavier users with dedicated connections, payment is simply related to bandwidth. Once a connection is made, data can be moved around the world. The ability to connect a telephone handset to the Internet may not cause a revolution overnight, but it seems that the public telephone companies will have to move towards a similar pricing structure for their voice and data services.

As charges cease to be distance related, it will be attractive for many more organisations to build global networks. They will link either with their own offices, or with trading partners, worldwide. Global networks will place great strain on directory and security services, which will be essential for effective implementations. Now it just so happens that OS/2 Warp Server has this month been equipped with the option of DSS - Directory and Security Server. DSS is based on the open standards of DCE and is compatible with DCE implementations from a range of suppliers and on a variety of platforms. IBM is making DSS itself available on several platforms, but inevitably the PC base of OS/2 Warp Server will be attractive to many organisations. NetWare has NDS, although this has so far proven less than universally popular, and Windows/NT lacks a full scale directory and security service altogether, which makes it an attractive target for software by both Novell and IBM.

Another technology that is getting a boost from the Internet is objects, and especially distributed objects. The Web has become synonymous with the Internet for many people. The browsing principle is being supplemented by more functions that run at the client end - by means of mechanisms such as Java. The Java language itself is thoroughly object orientated, and the whole concept of moving "applets" of Java code along with data can only be effectively managed using object concepts. OS/2 includes the now well established System Object Model (SOM) and its distributed counterpart, DSOM. These are robust technologies of proven effectiveness, and IBM is working to interface Java to SOM and DSOM.

OS/2 has for a long time been blessed with an implementation of the excellent and popular REXX interpreted language invented by IBM Fellow, Mike Cowlishaw. Object REXX, or OREXX is a recent derivative of REXX which ingeniously makes few enough syntactic changes to ensure that most existing REXX programs will continue to work, while adding a whole raft of object mechanisms. Moving forward yet again, Mike Cowlishaw has observed that the most important feature of Java is that it is machine and operating system independent because the code is compiled to run on a virtual machine, the "Java Byte Code Machine". This thought has enabled him to develop NETREXX, which will run on any computer that has Java support. That looks like being almost any computer in the quite near future.

Problems!

Several EurOS/2 members are reporting difficulties in implementing Windows programs under Win-OS2. Although these can often be made to work well eventually, it can involve a good deal of work. Do you have Windows problems you would like to share? Do you have successful experiences of Windows program implementations that you would be willing to share with others?

One tip that is sometimes overlooked is to study the DATABASE.TXT file that is included with OS/2 Warp. This includes session setting recommendations for many popular DOS and Windows software products. The settings have been carefully researched and tested, and are well worth consideration. They may not fit exactly in a particular environment, but they are an excellent starting point. It is worth looking out the latest available version.

Exchange of Views

Can you offer comments on your own experiences of OS/2 based server or workstation implementations? Contributions from readers are very welcome, especially in computer readable form. Please see contact details below or mail your ideas right now while you think about it! Or if you want to know something, mail in your request so that it can be mentioned in future editions.

My OS/2 based Web Server project is progressing, including the use of security features to protect the exposed machine. I'm still interested in comparing ideas with anyone else working on similar projects.

Planned Meetings

The final meeting before the summer (so called!) has been scheduled for Monday 15th July (usual time and location). The topic will be OS/2 Merlin. I hope to have a hands on demonstration as well as reports about the new features and early experiences of using Merlin as a network client. Don't miss this opportunity to see and talk about the most exciting operating system release of 1996!

There will be a fresh programme of meetings in the autumn, starting in September. The next issue of the magazine will include dates to allow you to plan ahead.

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 usually 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?

OS/2 News

In the UK, IBM has committed to continuing to provide 60 days of free telephone support with OS/2. This will certainly continue through the launch of "Merlin".

On Friday 7th June, I attended "InterForum '96" which was subtitled "The future of desktop computing - business strategies for the network-centric computing era". There were presentations by CEOs or other senior people from BT, Informix, IBM, Silicon Graphics, ICL, Sun and Oracle, with a last minute insertion of a session by Microsoft. Although all the speakers had some interesting things to say, much the most lively session was by Larry Ellison, founder and CEO of Oracle Corporation. Starting with a hestitant delivery of a rather dull speech based around prepared bullet point slides, Larry Ellison came to life when he abandoned the script and talked about his ideas for the Network Computer. There was a good deal of knockabout, and in the questions and answers it seemed that the audience had split into those that loved it and those that hated it. A key element of Ellison's message was that the PC revolution was running out of impetus, slowed down by the "bloat" in hardware and software. The Network Computer offers a new way to undermine the status quo and to carry computing to an even wider user base. Much of this is welcome to OS/2 users who see this trend increasing the emphasis on advanced technologies for servers, objects and communication of information.

OS/2 leads the way in the implementation of open standards again with Merlin. The new version of OS/2 is the first operating system to support the Desktop Management Interface (DMI), a cross industry standard developed by the Desktop Management Task Force (DMTF) to enhance ease of use, interoperability and management capabilities.

Both Merlin and the forthcoming release of Lotus WordPro for OS/2 will support TrueType fonts. This will support the exchange of documents with Windows users, while retaining the exact font presentation on screen.

There is much hype in the press about "dramatic" developments in computer implementations. Meanwhile, OS/2 sites are quietly carrying on with their evolutionary developments. The latest to achieve at least some coverage is Thames Water which is developing object oriented software using IBM's VisualAge toolset.

Magazine format

The EurOS/2 Electronic Magazine is despatched by e-mail in HTML format. You can read it with the tags, but it is most effectively read using the OS/2 Web Explorer or a similar Web browser. Simply save the magazine in a convenient file, giving it a name with a .HTM extension. The file object can then be dropped on the Web Explorer and you will be able to read a fully formatted version of the magazine. Provided you are connected to the Internet, the live Web links will all work for you.

If you would like to access the EurOS/2 Magazine (including back numbers) through the Web, EurOS/2 member John Poltorak has it set up at his Web site and you can go directly to an index of EurOS/2 magazine issues.

Various methods of stripping off the HTML are available if required (see earlier editions of the magazine for details). 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.

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

Pick up a new version of NetRexx from the [IBM NetRexx page at Hursley].

For links to many OS/2 resources, you could do a lot worse than visiting [OS/2 Judy's Warped World].

This came to me as an e-mail and I don't know whether it expresses a note of pleasure or displeasure. IBM does it again... IBM OBJECT REXX for NT/Win95 is available from... [IBM Hursley's REXX site]. Personally, I'm all in favour of cross platform developments, because they enhance our ability to implement operating system software based on its technological merits, which should be all that really matters at the system software level.

The Internet sorely needs a comprehensive directory. Although X.500 has virtues as a directory services standard, its take up has been limited by its complexity. Now researchers at the University of Michigan have come up with a lighter protocol called Lightweight Directory Access Protocol, or LDAP. This is receiving support from IBM among others, and an excellent document on [LDAP is available from Netscape].

If you're building Web pages on a tight budget, have a look at [Randy's Icon and Image Bazaar] for a collection of graphics that are claimed to be free of copyright restrictions.