Author Topic: My experience with ArcaOS & problems I've faced etc.  (Read 422 times)

Tuure Linden

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My experience with ArcaOS & problems I've faced etc.
« on: April 07, 2018, 02:20:19 pm »
Hi All!

I didn't find a suitable thread for discussion about these matters so I picked up the courage to create my own. Hopefully this was the right topic.

A little bit of history first... I used OS/2 Warp 3.0 back in 1996 to ca 2000. However, the first time I saw it in action was in 1994 at a local computer store where they demoed the newest OS/2 alongside Windows 95 beta. Here in Finland, when Warp 4.0 was introduced, the local IBM dealer aggressively promoted the os by practically giving away red spine Warp 3.0 boxes. So, I ended up buying one Finnish floppy version costing only 100 FIM (about 16 US $). Some time later I also got a copy of  English CD-ROM version. My first install experience was on a Nokia 386 with 4 Mb of RAM - it worked but the system was very slow. The next step was a Digital DEC pc Lpv 433sx (a 33MHz 486sx with 8 Mb of RAM and S3 graphics) and finally I ended up using  Warp 3 on A Microtech 100MHz Pentium (also with 8 Mb of RAM and ATI Xpression 3D). I loved the fact that I could run alongside DOS and 16-bit Windows applications and that time the DOS part was even better than native DOS environment because of the multitasking and amount of memory available (always full 640k RAM / application). I never upgraded to Warp 4 because the price was far too high for a high school student that I was back then. So I slowly migrated to Linux that seemed much more complicated multi-user operating system than Windows/DOS/OS/2. Luckily I was a swift learner and soon I was able to use and maintain Linux systems quite well. I ended up using Linux as my only operating system for almost 15 years. My main profession is a comprehensive school teacher but as a side-job I've provided tech support and system maintenance since a was a university student (I still do it for a little amount). So I've dealt a great deal with Windows and in 2013 I got involved with Macs. (In fact, the first computer I ever used as a kid was a neighbor's Macintosh Plus back in 1989 and in 2001 I helped solving some issues that a fellow student was having with her iMac G3, but besides that I had not been interested in Apple products. Things change... Now I own several Macs and have fixed and even sold bunch of them and even installed Windows 10 on them and used it as a daily-driver for a while. Windows has become much more stable that it has been before but the UI is a terrible mess. And macOS is getting worse because the utilities are being stripped down (i.e. Disk Utility) and Apple is focusing more on iOS. Linux is getting more complicated and automated (one doesn't have to edit files like XF86Config anymore and there's no need to build one's own kernel and many of the old familiar conf-files are managed via daemons etc.) So I miss the old good times.

Luckily OS/2 isn't dead and haven't changed that much! I've always been a bit sad that IBM abandoned OS/2 and I've been always interested in checking the situation of the platform from time to time... Maybe there are nostalgic reasons and I'm missing the way to easily run old DOS and 16-bit Windows applications that current Windows versions don't run anymore. And I've had very good memories using the OS. So, I've sometimes checked the status of eComstation and even downloaded a live-cd test version some years ago... But finally when I saw Bryan Lunduke interviewing Lewis Rosenthal on his Youtube channel last year, I decided to buy an ArcaOS license. The future looks brighter than with eCS. The effort to be able to use OS/2 with modern hardware and support for newer software was something I wanted to get involved with. I volunteered to translate ArcaOS to German, Swedish and Finnish some time ago to help the project the way I'm able to.

After purchasing the license, I tested ArcaOS within VirtualBox under Windows 10 and it worked quite well. I didn't have so much luck with the pile of older consumer grade laptops I had laying around BUT an older Lenovo ThinkCentre C2Duo desktop was my first almost completely succesfull installation. The only issue was with the integrated graphics: panorama didn't work at all, it only resulted a blank screen. Snap Graphics worked but didn't support wide-screen resolutions. The cpu was also far from up to date. So, I decided to buy an older Thinkpad as my ArcaOS machine. I sold my old T400 a couple of years ago when I switched to Apple laptops so I needed to get a new one. The first Thinkpad my vendor had to offer was a T410s that wasn't a complete success because the WLAN wasn't supported and there was an issue with graphics: windowed DOS or Win/OS2 sessions didn't work even with the suggested CONFIG.SYS and AUTOEXEC.BAT modifications. So, I decided to sell the T410s. I really liked the specs and appearance of the machine BUT getting ArcaOS to run perfectly was the goal. Next I got a bigger pile of older and cheaper machines: T60, T61, T400, X200 and X201. According to Neil Waldhauer the T60 would be a perfect ArcaOS machine and X200 would also work but the WLAN card has to be changed a specific Intel one. I've tested T60 and X200 and the information seems to be correct. On T60 everything works out-of-the- box and with X200 everything works except for the WLAN. I also wanted to have a fast ArcaOS desktop (I have two licenses) so I bought a used Lenovo all-in-one: ThinkCenter M90z, however there are issues with the integrated graphics.

So what's my experience so far? The os itself is stable and runs very fast compared to modern Windows or Linux distributions. Driver support is something like it was with Linux about 20 years ago: you'll have to choose your hardware carefully. The FAT32 driver and USB memory sticks can cause system to lock up. Unfortunately the Firefox port seems to be garbage. It's quite unstable and SLOW. When the system itself runs blazingly fast, loading the browser takes a long time. The 38 version has a nasty bug when viewing Youtube videos full-screen and supports only 360p resolution. The 45 version doesn't like to play videos at all (it plays for 1-2 seconds and then stops), the full range of resolutions is available there but it doesn't help much because the videos refuse to load. The future of web browsing in ArcaOS is a bit uncertain... What would be the best browser in the future? I don't have very high hopes with the Pale Moon browser because of the bad experiences with current Firefox builds which it's most likely based on. Maybe something Webkit based would be better in the future? Some more in-depth documentation is also needed. For example, I didn't find any way to switch the graphics driver from SNAP to Panorama or vice versa and the only solution I came up with was to reinstall whole ArcaOS. Printing works with CUPS but not from 16-bit Windows applications. The sound in WinOS/2 doesn't work either. I tried an UNIAUD WinOS/2 driver but it does't work. Sometimes the "tada.wav" can be heard when individual 16-bit Windows program is started but that's all.

But still I like using ArcaOS very much and I'm looking forward for future versions. I'm sure that the current issues will be fixed in time and I like to do what I can to support the effort. Or am I the only one having the issues mentioned? Or might it be the case that I've missed something in documentation or in forum posts?

Edit:
I corrected a big bunch of typos and made my long story more readable. And I also added some more details...
« Last Edit: April 07, 2018, 07:33:50 pm by Tuure Linden »

Tuure Linden

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Re: My experience with ArcaOS & problems I've faced etc.
« Reply #1 on: April 07, 2018, 02:23:25 pm »
And of course I forgot something... I haven't been able to install Gimp. Is there a working build for ArcaOS available? VLC Media player and OpenOffice were easy to install and they work flawlessy. Same goes with installing Firefox 45.9.0 (besides the Youtube issue). And when I tried Virtualbox for OS/2 it complained about missing kernel driver. I haven't found a solution for that either.

Dariusz Piatkowski

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Re: My experience with ArcaOS & problems I've faced etc.
« Reply #2 on: April 07, 2018, 04:04:20 pm »
...And when I tried Virtualbox for OS/2 it complained about missing kernel driver. I haven't found a solution for that either...

Take a look at the virtualbox thread in the forum, it will walk you through all that's needed and the stuff you need to watch out for. In short, you are missing the device driver load in your CONFIG.SYS, for example, on my machine that means I have the following statement:

DEVICE=G:\apps\general\Vbox\VBoxDrv.sys

...so you must load the VBoxDrv.sys on your system as well.

Regarding the bigger write-up...thanks for taking the time. AOS is a great effort and is producing some good results. It has been quite some time on our platform that such a substantial amount of work was being done, so as with all projects of that complexity it will take time and will eventually produce a good result. I think it's a given that hardware support and device driver issues will be there forever, such is the plight of us OS/2 folks!

Pete

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Re: My experience with ArcaOS & problems I've faced etc.
« Reply #3 on: April 07, 2018, 04:05:09 pm »
Hi Tuure

I do not install DOS/Windows support having no Win3 apps and my few old DOS games run better and with sound in DOSBox so cannot help with win3 sounds.

I do not use Firefox as I prefer Seamonkey. The current Seamonkey runs reasonably well and plays video from most websites without problems. As Seamonkey uses a lot of Firefox browser code I would guess that something is not quite up to date with all the support files needed to run Firefox. I think some of the support files needed to get Seamonkey/Firefox working reasonably well and capable of playing video are from the netlabs-exp repository - Maybe our resident Seamonkey specialist will be able to advise.... There is also a Firefox addon that may help https://addons.mozilla.org/en-US/firefox/addon/h264ify/

Regarding VirtualBox: Do you have the line loading vboxdrv.sys in the config.sys file?
There may be some help in this discussion https://www.os2world.com/forum/index.php/topic,1709.0.html

Which gimp package(s) are you having problems with installing?


Regards

Pete

Tuure Linden

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Re: My experience with ArcaOS & problems I've faced etc.
« Reply #4 on: April 07, 2018, 06:17:44 pm »
Thaks for the tips!

Seamonkey really works much much better than Firefox... It seems to even load a bit faster than Firefox on my T60 and Youtube videos play reasonably well. After installing the h264ify plugin for Firefox Youtube videos didn't load at all anymore and there was an error message that my browser doesn't support the video formats available. But I'll start using Seamonkey for now on. The only set back is that Lastpass and uBlock origin extensions are missing - I've so used to having them around. Mozilla's own password manager is all but safe and in today's world it's always a good idea to block annoying adds and tracking... And this T60 of mine shows it's age: having multiple tabs open even without adds slows down the system quite a lot.

My old software is mostly for DOS and Windows 3 so that's why a working audio driver is needed. However, I already found a newer one: the problematic one was from 1998 and this newer one is from 2001 and seems to work a bit better. The help files states that DOS session setting 'EMS_MEMORY_LIMIT' has to be set to ZERO for all WinOS/2 sessions from which one wishes to generate sound. I haven't done so yet (and the information where this setting can be found was also missing from the help file) but the sound seems to work for now - but I would also like to have midi support for a music notation software. ArcaOS doesn't seem to have any midi drivers at the moment.

Even 20 years ago there were driver problems with OS/2 Warp 3 - so the situation hasn't changed much. For example my Creative Labs CD-ROM drive did'nt work and I had to switch to a Mitsumi one.    So that's something I need to just live with, I guess.

The Gimp I've tried was from hobbes: http://hobbes.nmsu.edu/h-browse.php?dir=/pub/os2/apps/graphics/gimp and the latest version available there. I also was quite sure that I had installed all the libraries required, but trying to run Gimp only opened the preferences for gimp.exe.

edit: some typos corrected
« Last Edit: April 07, 2018, 07:05:06 pm by Tuure Linden »

Dave Yeo

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Re: My experience with ArcaOS & problems I've faced etc.
« Reply #5 on: April 07, 2018, 06:30:22 pm »
Hi Tuure,
I've uploaded a newer SeaMonkey, see the thread  SeaMonkey Experimental build 3.
Lastpass and uBlock origin work fine here. The trick is finding the older versions that work. I have uBlock 0.9.0.5.1-let-fixed and LastPass 3.3.4 installed. Unluckily with Firefox dropping support for classic add-ons, these older versions can be hard to find.

Tuure Linden

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Re: My experience with ArcaOS & problems I've faced etc.
« Reply #6 on: April 07, 2018, 07:34:59 pm »
Great! Thanks, Dave. I'll check the new build out.

Tuure Linden

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Re: My experience with ArcaOS & problems I've faced etc.
« Reply #7 on: April 07, 2018, 08:40:29 pm »
The LastPass 3.3.4 has security issues so I didn't install it. The newest version from lastpass.com installed fine but it doesn't work anyway. Well, it's possible to access My LastPass Vault via theri WWW site so missing plugin isn't a disaster. The browser itself works quite well and it's even faster than the former version I tried.

However, is Seamonkey also using Rust in newer versions and making an OS/2 build from newest 2.49 branch is therefore impossible? 2.42 is an ancient version - of course it doesn't matter for now because every site I need to visit seems to work.

Roderick Klein

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Re: My experience with ArcaOS & problems I've faced etc.
« Reply #8 on: April 07, 2018, 08:49:10 pm »
Hi All!

<SNIP>
Unfortunately the Firefox port seems to be garbage. It's quite unstable and SLOW. When the system itself runs blazingly fast, loading the browser takes a long time. The 38 version has a nasty bug when viewing Youtube videos full-screen and supports only 360p resolution. The 45 version doesn't like to play videos at all (it plays for 1-2 seconds and then stops), the full range of resolutions is available there but it doesn't help much because the videos refuse to load. The future of web browsing in ArcaOS is a bit uncertain... What would be the best browser in the future? I don't have very high hopes with the Pale Moon browser because of the bad experiences with current Firefox builds which it's most likely based on. Maybe something Webkit based would be better in the future? Some more in-depth documentation is also needed. For example, I didn't find any way to switch the graphics driver from SNAP to Panorama or vice versa and the only solution I came up with was to reinstall whole ArcaOS. Printing works with CUPS but not from 16-bit Windows applications. The sound in WinOS/2 doesn't work either. I tried an UNIAUD WinOS/2 driver but it does't work. Sometimes the "tada.wav" can be heard when individual 16-bit Windows program is started but that's all.

But still I like using ArcaOS very much and I'm looking forward for future versions. I'm sure that the current issues will be fixed in time and I like to do what I can to support the effort. Or am I the only one having the issues mentioned? Or might it be the case that I've missed something in documentation or in forum posts?

When it comes to the browser discussion I suggested that you read what I just posted in this thread about the browser discussion:
https://www.os2world.com/forum/index.php/topic,1726.0.html

Based on what I heard from other users Firefox 45 does seem to be getting more stable.

Roderick Klein
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Roderick Klein

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Re: My experience with ArcaOS & problems I've faced etc.
« Reply #9 on: April 07, 2018, 09:07:59 pm »

<SNIP>
Hi All!

So, I decided to buy an older Thinkpad as my ArcaOS machine. I sold my old T400 a couple of years ago when I switched to Apple laptops so I needed to get a new one. The first Thinkpad my vendor had to offer was a T410s that wasn't a complete success because the WLAN wasn't supported and there was an issue with graphics: windowed DOS or Win/OS2 sessions didn't work even with the suggested CONFIG.SYS and AUTOEXEC.BAT modifications. So, I decided to sell the T410s. I really liked the specs and appearance of the machine BUT getting ArcaOS to run perfectly was the goal. Next I got a bigger pile of older and cheaper machines: T60, T61, T400, X200 and X201. According to Neil Waldhauer the T60 would be a perfect ArcaOS machine and X200 would also work but the WLAN card has to be changed a specific Intel one. I've tested T60 and X200 and the information seems to be correct. On T60 everything works out-of-the- box and with X200 everything works except for the WLAN. I also wanted to have a fast ArcaOS desktop (I have two licenses) so I bought a used Lenovo all-in-one: ThinkCenter M90z, however there are issues with the integrated graphics.


WLAN is a known issue for OS/2.  When I still worked at Mensys I hired a Russian company to port the E1000 gigabit driver to OS/2 from Linux (Please note that I left Mensys in 2013 I am no longer associated with eCS in any way). Later this project moved on using a FreeBSD based driver library (I picked up this knowledge from David Azarewicz his Warpstock presentations.  All of the newly ported NIC drivers are compiled FreeBSD kernel sources. The issue why wireless is taking so long is because the Linux port of the NIC drivers at Mensys at the time was cancelled duo to the fact that some things in the Linux sources changest to radically that David started basically from scratch with the FreeBSD code. The NIC driver I think are working pretty good for ethernet. But wifi is extremely more complicated that ethernet (wired chips are).

Other drivers seem to be doing pretty well. Arca Noae is working on a UNIAUD replacement audio driver and USB 3.0 seems to have progressed extremely far.

I really do not understand why you did go for example with a Thinkpad T540p.
http://www.blondeguy.com/computer/strobopeep.html

As Arca Noae said many times if you have an issue with installing ArcaOS open a ticket in https://mantis.arcanoae.com.
Arca Noae is in the same position as I was at the time at Mensys. They do not have access to all hardware.
That said computer hardware has become more generic making it somewhat easier to support hardware. Its still a lot of work to develop the drivers. But once a driver works a lot of system should work.
If you have an issue open a ticket and follow these instructions:
https://www.arcanoae.com/wiki/reporting-problems-best-practices/

Roderick Klein
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Tuure Linden

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Re: My experience with ArcaOS & problems I've faced etc.
« Reply #10 on: April 07, 2018, 09:43:28 pm »
Hi Roderick and thanks for the reply!

I've had an email discussion with Lewis Rosenthal and of course I opened tickets on Arca Noae site on two of the most important bugs. The fact is that Arca Noae is quite a small company and unable to support all the exotic hardware available - my "trash picked" cheap 5-10 year-old consumer laptops are not most likely to be the most important hardware to support.

I'm on a tight budget and have a reliable vendor of second-hand hardware (have had a good relationship for about 15 years now) and I buy the models available through this company because they have 3 months warranty for all the products and the prices are reasonable. It's quite certain that I'll get a newer ArcaOS compatible Thinkpad when one comes available for a cheap enough price. At the moment the available T540p models cost ca 600-700 euros and I'm in no hurry because the usb3 and wlan support for the model is not available yet.  There is a T450 with a minor crack on the display assembly available for quite a reasonable price but I still don't want to waste over 300 euros for a laptop that's not guaranteed to work with ArcaOS. Actually that's something I wrote to Lewis about: a better list of supported hardware is needed - it would help choosing a suitable laptop.

It's frustrating because they change the Linux kernel driver API too often, sure. The latest news have been that BSD variants are most likely to die out in a long run and Linux will dominate the open-source Unix clone market. Linux would have the best hardware support but if porting the drivers is too much work for a company size of Arca Noae I completely understand why they have chosen the BSD path. The BSD's hardware support has always been much worse than Linux's. But could be there be a solution for OS/2 similar to ndiswrapper that allows Windows WLAN drivers to be used in Linux? If I understand right, modern NT based Windows versions have still things common with OS/2 and they might even share some source code.

Roderick Klein

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Re: My experience with ArcaOS & problems I've faced etc.
« Reply #11 on: April 07, 2018, 10:44:59 pm »
Hi Roderick and thanks for the reply!

It's frustrating because they change the Linux kernel driver API too often, sure. The latest news have been that BSD variants are most likely to die out in a long run and Linux will dominate the open-source Unix clone market.

I do not know if FreeBSD is going to do die out there was a whole a lot of noise about I just found via google.
But I could be wrong....

To answer your question about a wrapper driver to load Windows Wifi drivers. We have that on OS/2 in the form of Genmac. But the development stopped as the Windows NIC drivers started to change to much.

Roderick

Martin Iturbide

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Re: My experience with ArcaOS & problems I've faced etc.
« Reply #12 on: April 09, 2018, 03:04:03 pm »
Hi Tuure

Thanks for sharing your review and opinions.

As I suggestion I found it good to try to share any specific problem (with details) of the laptop that you tested with ArcaOS and share details like the PCI.exe and hardware reports on a forum thread. There are people on these forums with a lot of experience of the tricks to make some hardware work. Wifi support is definitively or low point for laptops, wifi it is too important and ArcaOS does not have updated drivers yet. But on some other things like video resolution there are some tricks depending on the harware. 

Regards
Martin Iturbide
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