Author Topic: No word from Mensys/XEU - Alternatives?  (Read 17713 times)

Martin Iturbide

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No word from Mensys/XEU - Alternatives?
« on: December 30, 2014, 06:01:37 pm »
Hi

Since WarpStock 2014 (October 24-26) I haven't got any news from Mensys about eComStation. At WarpStock Menso told us that they were working on an agreement with Arca Noae, reorganization,  Joachim was becoming the product manager, and that they are moving on. But for the moment no news or formal statements had been released.

Instead of commenting about Mensys situation or making speculative statements maybe we should start thinking about alternatives for the community.

The good thing from Arca Noae is that they made commercially available "the crown jewel of drivers" for OS/2 users, so there is not dependency on buying the full eCS anymore to get the ACPI driver.

The issues remains in:
1) You can not buy new licenses of OS/2 legally. OS/2 Warp 4.52 it is abandonware, which falls into the gray area of copyrights. It may be illegal to distribute OS/2, but IBM is not enforcing copyright claims on it (if there is not an interesting amount of money involved).

2) We do not have a full updated installer of OS/2 anymore. If eCS disappears, it will be hard to get OS/2 install on real hardware.

So, between the alternatives we have:
Alternative - Create an OS/2 Warp 4.52 Distro.  eComStation is nothing more than Warp 4.52 with a lot of open source software on it, some other private software (installer) and a lot of effort to tweak it to make it work.

The same thing can be recreate to use something similar to UpdCD to create a new OS/2 distro from a OS/2 Warp 4.52 ISO image. Just like Sigurd is doing, the idea will be to have a open/public package that will bundle all OS/2 open source software, and with the use of a legally acquired license of OS/2 Warp 4.52 ISO you can generate your own Distro, which will be interesting to assign a name for it.

The issue with this alternative is that no new license of OS/2 can be sold. Legally it is only an alternative for people that already have a license of "OS/2 Warp 4.52".  But I think that this can be best way to deal if eCS disappear from the point of view of the community.  (Still no solution for corporate customers or people that require new licenses, but today they can still order eCS).

I want to be wrong about this, but I have no evidence that shows me that XEU/Mensys is making progress with eCS. Any other Non-Mensys/XEU solution alternatives ideas around?

Regards
Martin Iturbide
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Dave Yeo

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Re: No word from Mensys/XEU - Alternatives?
« Reply #1 on: December 30, 2014, 07:03:08 pm »
Is it that important that the base operating system be 4.52? Probably a lot more copies of Warp V4 available then 4.52 and it can legally be upgraded to Ver 4.5. Though I guess the big problem is getting multiple cores working on V4.5

Martin Iturbide

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Re: No word from Mensys/XEU - Alternatives?
« Reply #2 on: December 31, 2014, 05:31:34 pm »
Yes, Warp 4 is more easy to find than version 4.5x, but it is just an idea.

The other crazy idea is to have an organization to buy a lot of 100 Warp 4 boxes (for example), and share that 100 licenses with a registered group of people for a year, since that 100 people will became part of the organization for a period of time... I don't know if the OS/2 license allows you to do that, but that is too crazy. 

It will like Netlabs, OS2VOICE, or OS2World (for example) buying OS/2 license boxes , storing them and giving one to each subscribers for a period of time, and during that period the person will be a "Registered member" of that organization. ... too crazy to work out? I need to read the license agreement again.
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Greg Pringle

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Re: No word from Mensys/XEU - Alternatives?
« Reply #3 on: December 31, 2014, 07:27:39 pm »
I notice the ecomstation.com web site has an "ORDER" button that has a link to "https://shop.xeu.com/"

These would of course be new licenses. Is the concern  that these will not be available?

Martin Iturbide

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Re: No word from Mensys/XEU - Alternatives?
« Reply #4 on: December 31, 2014, 08:12:58 pm »
Hi Greg

My concern is that there are no real progress with eComStation since Jan 1 of 2014. Suddenly XEU showed up as the owner of eComStation and haven't specified any plans with it.  Menso (Mensys owner) show up at Warpstock 2014 and said that they are still working, but nothing had been announced or showed from their side.  While some of the important drivers developers that used to be hired by Mensys started a new company. That is the source of my concern.

For sure, you can still order eComStation from their site and get licenses, but from the platform point of view, there haven't been progress with eComStation (not a single new release or formal announcement) since Jan of 2014. I think it is time for Mensys/XEU to show us something. But that is my personal opinion. 

Regards
Martin Iturbide
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Eugene Tucker

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Re: No word from Mensys/XEU - Alternatives?
« Reply #5 on: January 01, 2015, 06:48:15 pm »
I have just purchased a renewal and it processed properly. Foolish I know and a potential waste of money, but I wanted to see for myself. Details of status of the product should be communicated, but the way modern businesses conduct themselves today there is so much cloak and dagger.

Sigurd Fastenrath

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Re: No word from Mensys/XEU - Alternatives?
« Reply #6 on: January 07, 2015, 10:40:46 am »
So, between the alternatives we have:
Alternative - Create an OS/2 Warp 4.52 Distro.

At least on paper this is the one and only chance to keep OS/2 going on. Until Mensys proves that black is white I see no more development or even things going on at Mensys, other than may be trying to satisfy/solve problems for customer they have and already purchased eCS. 

If I remember correctly there have been posts here around that at the beginning of Arca Noae there have been negotations with Mensys in wich way to cooperate. Then Arca Noae started (fortunately!) their business and it seems to me that these negotations had lead to nowhere. That might lead to the conclusion that ecomstation is dead.


In practice
creating an own distro is doomed to failure, due to the license issues.

The only hope I have in this case is that Arca Noae may get an license agreement with IBM - if Arca Noae is interested to do so at all. And if I remeber correctly I have read more than once that they are not going to do such things.

« Last Edit: January 07, 2015, 10:48:11 am by Sigurd Fastenrath »

Lewis Rosenthal

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Re: No word from Mensys/XEU - Alternatives?
« Reply #7 on: January 07, 2015, 02:55:42 pm »
Hi, guys...

Some quick points:
  • OS/2 Warp (including Warp 4.52) is not abandonware. IBM still owns it, and IBM is happy to continue supplying and supporting it to their enterprise customers who pay them for service and support.
  • We (Arca Noae) are still in discussions with XEU concerning possible synergies between us. It is our undrstanding that they are indeed desirous of releasing eCS 2.2 as GA.
  • Arca Noae is currently focused on providing update and maintenance strategies for current licensees of OS/2 and eComStation, and not on producing our own distribution of the operating system. What is a new distribution but the previous distribution with fixes and enhancements, anyway?
Our last exchange with XEU was last month, so this news is current as of the end of 2014. I would reiterate that Arca Noae's software and driver subscription complements XEU's software subscription, and current eCS licensees may indeed get value out of both subscriptions.

I'll have some news to announce if and when we finalize our discussion, but be assured those discussions are still ongoing.

Cheers
Lewis
-------------------------------------------------------------
Lewis G Rosenthal, CNA, CLP, CLE, CWTS
Managing Member
Arca Noae, LLC                               www.arcanoae.com

Fahrvenugen

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Re: No word from Mensys/XEU - Alternatives?
« Reply #8 on: January 07, 2015, 04:44:53 pm »
Hi,

I'd just point out, in addition to the fact that Lewis has already stated that Arca Noae isn't looking to do a full client - is that right now the only way to (easily) get V4.52 is via eCS or to have an IBM license already to which you paid IBM for (or to negotiate directly with IBM).  It isn't something you're able to find copies of on the used market.

Unlike V4 (which was released in a box / shrink-wrap version), IBM only released V4.52 as a part of Software Choice (and I believe also for a while it was in the Developer and educational software collections), for those who had paid IBM for a SWC subscription.  From what I recall (and someone feel free to correct me if I am incorrect) the SWC subscriptions were not transferable.  I think (and again, I'm going from memory here - it was a long time ago) the version of 4.52 which is part of eCS - technically is a different IBM part number then the SWC version  - even though the code is identical.  The part number licensed to Serenity / Mensys came with a licensing setup allowing for eCS to be developed / distributed by Serenity / Mensys.

As a result, my understanding is that it is okay to sell a boxed V4 copy used (ebay or where ever), just as I believe it is okay to sell a used copy of eCS (I could be incorrect on this part).  However I don't believe it is legal to sell a "used" copy of IBM OS/2 V4.52 due to the way SWC was set up / licensed.


Jan Waliszewski

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Re: No word from Mensys/XEU - Alternatives?
« Reply #9 on: January 07, 2015, 09:47:37 pm »
Fahrvenugen described very precisely the legal position of OS/2 and ECS today (including Warp 4.52, which may be legally obtained only as a part of ECS and the one from SWC is indeed not tranferrable). The conclusion is that only cooperation of Arca Noae and Mensys/XEU allows progress of OS/2 / ECS maintenance in reasonably manner. It is the only scenario in which existing OS/2 / ECS users can be supported while allowing new users to buy licenses.

Greetings - Jan Waliszewski

ivan

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Re: No word from Mensys/XEU - Alternatives?
« Reply #10 on: January 08, 2015, 12:57:26 am »
Jan, is there any vast improvement in 4.52 over Warp 4 with FP 6?  We have both, WSeB as well, because we got SWC when it first came out and kept everything up to date until they stopped supplying updates. 

Since OS/2 is still working, what are the specific updates to the base OS that eCS has provided?  I don't mean the addons just the base OS/2 - Has Mensys whatever got access to the source code for OS/2 and if so why are they not working on fixing several of the bugs?

Fahrvenugen

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Re: No word from Mensys/XEU - Alternatives?
« Reply #11 on: January 08, 2015, 01:45:15 am »
Ivan,

Warp 4 with FP 6 is even older.  The latest public fixpak for Warp 4 is FP15 and DDPak 2 (Device Driver fixpak).  There were additional FP's released for Warp 4 for those with  a SWC or other type of paid subscription.

Warp 4 + FP15 + DDPak 2 brings you up to Warp 4.50 (legally), but the non-CP version (the CP version was the SWC version / update, which essentially was a client version of WSeB - the base OS without the extra "server" stuff)

The big changes with the CP version of Warp 4 (what we know as 4.52) is the addition of LVM and JFS.  There were a number of other things (bug fixes, device driver updates, updated installer so it wouldn't crap out on AMD and then Intel 64-bit processors, etc).  It also came with the full 32 bit TCP/IP stack (although that can be added to Warp 4).

As for eCS, the big updates are a new installer, device drivers to make installation easier, with version 2 - bootable JFS, and additonal software to make the overall experience an easier one.

As far as I am aware, Mensys does not have direct access to OS/2 source code, other then code which IBM has themselves made available (such as code in the Device Driver  / Development Tools, etc).  Some code IBM has released to open source (JFS for example).  As a result bugs which require direct access to OS/2 source code to fix still go unfixed.  However things which can be fixed by hooking into existing code or replacing existing code with alternate code (such as device drivers, the work that has been done to get ACPI working, etc) - that's seen attention.


Dave Yeo

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Re: No word from Mensys/XEU - Alternatives?
« Reply #12 on: January 08, 2015, 05:40:04 am »
Hi Ivan, besides what Fahrvenugen says, there has also been newer fixpaks applied to the base code including newer kernels, eg eCS 2.2b2 comes with the 106 kernel which includes a fix for using high memory (a crash when closing apps) and I believe several other parts of the system were updated and in theory Mensys can pay IBM to fix other issues. In practice I don't think they have the cash to pay.

ivan

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Re: No word from Mensys/XEU - Alternatives?
« Reply #13 on: January 08, 2015, 11:54:25 am »
Sorry Guys, I should have said that FP 6 is for WSeB (it was the early hour in the morning after a very long day - at least that is my excuse).  We have CDs full of various updates, fixpaks, kernels etc - although I don't remember seeing the 14.106 kernel.

My main point was, and still is, is that there is little r no change to the base OS/2 that makes up eCS.  Agreed, a new improved installer would be nice but is not essential for us - we have basic disk images that we use when we change equipment, main boards, HDs etc.

As I see it there are some things that must happen before we can push OS/2 out to the world again.
1) There needs to be a name change eCS is meaningless to most people and OS/2 is the property of IBM.  Somewhere along the line some research needs to be undertaken to find a name that resonates with the public.
2) The price has to be one that people will want to buy it to try - make it too expensive and no one will look at it.  Just how much the price is still dictated by IBM I don't know.
3) It needs to install as easily as windows on most computers.  Yes, I know that will be a lot of work that needs to be undertaken on drivers, mainly video sound and network although the main board manufactures appear to be standardising on a small number of chips which may be an advantage (example, most of the boards we are look at as possible replacements are using the Realtek 8111 gigabit network chip).

There are other things but the above are the main ones and they will cost money to implement well - much more than our dwindling community can raise.  So the first thing might be to look for a commercial sponsor, someone like Elon Musk and SpaceX or Richard Branson and Virgin Atlantic.
     

Martin Iturbide

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Re: No word from Mensys/XEU - Alternatives?
« Reply #14 on: January 08, 2015, 04:11:03 pm »
Sorry, it had been a very busy days at work and it is getting worst, but I can not resist to jump into the discussion.

What is surprising to me is that many people still have faith in IBM, like if they are doing something on the back or to secretly private paying customers.

The fact is that  FP6 and Kernel 14.106 was released on 2007 (I think it dated 2007-Feb-16). From that day I haven't seen a single binary / Source code update from IBM on this platform.

Does anybody has other evidence of a single IBM binaries release since FP6? Please let me know to include it here.

And I consider OS/2 Warp and Warp Server for e-business Abandonware - Please read wikipedia: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Abandonware

"Abandonware is a product, typically software, ignored by its owner and manufacturer, and for which no product support is available. Although such software is usually still under copyright, the owner may not be tracking or enforcing copyright violations. Abandonware is one case of the general concept of orphan works."

OS/2 Warp and OS/2 Warp Server for e-business are abandonware since 2006 December 31. You can not buy OS/2 Warp and OS/2 Warp Server for e-business, you can not get official support. It falls under the definition of abandonware, but that do not mean that distributing abandonware is legal. The issue with Abandonware is that everybody tends to make its own concept about it to their convenience.

Just in case you are getting confused, eComStation is not abandonware (yet), and it is not "OS/2 Warp and/or OS/2 Warp Server for e-business" it is a different product, even if it uses OS/2's components, that packaging make it a different brand product.

I don't know in how many years (when all of us will be dead) OS/2 will turn into Public Domain. At that day we will no longer discuss about abandonware :)

Regards
« Last Edit: January 08, 2015, 04:20:43 pm by Martin Iturbide »
Martin Iturbide
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