EComStation 2005 RoadMap

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Apr 5, 2005 8:32pm

OS/2 & eComStation Community News

In August of 2004, Serenity Systems International released eComStation 1.2, a significant product update with many new and expanded features. This Road Map reviews the current status of eComStation and outlines the plan for delivery of new features. These new features represent significant activity, improving the usability of the product and extending the support for eComStation on current PC hardware. We believe users will find this information nothing short of exciting news! Users should consider this information for planning purposes, only.

Overview of Planned enhancements:

  • Support of installation on systems running AMD 64 bit processors.
  • The possibility to shrink already installed operating systems on the hard drive, to make room for a 'dual boot' installation of eComStation.
  • Optionally install the system on a drive using the high-performance Journaling File System (JFS), a modern high-performance file system that is also supported by IBM AIX and Linux.
  • Optionally install support for multi-user environments. This enables one workstation to be (non-concurrently) shared between several users, each with their own desktop, settings and files.
  • Improved co-operation with Linux and Windows networks.
  • Includes the very popular Firefox web browser, Thunderbird e-mail client and NVU html editor. Firefox is gaining popularity quickly! It is a very fast and capable web browser based on Mozilla.
"Beware of spy ware. If you can, use the Firefox browser." -- USA Today
"Better than Internet Explorer by leaps and bounds." -- FORBES

eComStation is virtually in-vulnerable to viruses, Spy-ware, and Ad-ware. The built-in fire wall provides security for unauthorized system access over the Internet. These features will be described in more detail in the sections below.

Some history

In 2000, Serenity Systems International concluded an agreement which resulted in the development and publication of eComStation; a complete desktop client system based on IBM OS/2 technology. A new installation program and updated user interface were included, making installation and use easy for new users. eComStation included a new look-and-feel, making the interface more enjoyable to use. User's purchasing eComStation received basic applications which addressed the needs of the desktop user. These included:

  • A superior "dialer" providing fast connection to the Internet via dial-up, ISDN, DSL and cable modems.
  • Three office suites: IBM Lotus Smart Suite, StarOffice, and IBM Works.
  • HOB Link X-11 Server.
  • And many other utilities that enhanced the usability of the product.

The overall objective was to create an attractive, updated and current desktop client providing the great benefits of OS/2; superior pre-emptive multitasking and multi-threading, DOS and Windows 3.1 application support, a powerful operating system requiring minimal hardware requirements to achive responsiveness and stability.

eComStation 1.0 was an excellent start and also allowed Serenity Systems International to better understand the issues and requirements facing users. Some users indicated they already had the applications they required, but wanted to update the base operating system. Therefore, eComStation 1.1 split the product into two components; eComStation Entry (or simply eComStation; the base OS component with many updates and utilities) and the Application Pack (which featured the major applications). These provided users with flexibility in making their software purchase.

Release 1.1 also saw a significant redesign of the installation program through a joint project between IBM and Serenity Systems International. The new design provided the ability to boot from CD, USB floppy drives and create response files to manage the installation process using IBM CID (Configuration, Installation, Distribution) technology. This resulted in a boot process which supported installation on many systems with diverse requirements.

The product enhancements included significant updates to the functionality of the desktop user interface, as well as updated utilities, browsers, and drivers. This resulted in a better user experience by offering a new look-and-feel, easier installation, and an up-to-date Internet computing platform!

Enhancements part of eComStation 1.2
  • Updated Web Browser: providing the current version of proven Mozilla technology, including the IBM Web Browser, providing users with a pleasing Internet experience. This support includes an e-mail and news reader with spam filter.
  • InnoTek Web Pack for OS/2: the best support available for users of the IBM Web Browser and Mozilla/Firefox.
  • The InnoTek OS/2 Kit for Java: provides OS/2 support for the most recent Java technologies from Sun Microsystems.
  • The InnoTek Font Engine: enables state-of-the-art technologies like anti-aliasing, sub pixel rendering and hinting within the browser environment and future applications that take advantage of it.
  • The InnoTek Macromedia Flash Player for OS/2 & The InnoTek OS/2 Kit for Adobe Acrobat reader 5.1, enables the widely spread cross-platform Internet multi-media (Flash) and PDF document format on OS/2. A browser plug-ins are included.
  • Updates to the eWorkPlace User Interface: This feature, derived from the award winning XWorkPlace, was first introduced in eComStation 1.1 and has been refined and updated in 1.2.
  • New AE Editor: Users will appreciate the look and feel of this modern system editor which includes improved functionality over the prior editor, such as the ability to directly print from the editor, new in 1.2.
  • NTFS.IFS Support: The ability to read Windows 2000 and XP formatted drives using NTFS, updated in 1.2.
  • Updated Installation Volume Manager: Improves the usability of the IBM Logical Volume Manager (LVM) by providing a simpler and easier user interface to the integrated volume management function, updated in 1.2.
  • Improved support for laptops: The system kernel has been updated to the latest release, supporting Speedstep (r) and Enhanced Speedstep (r) power saving options (Intel Centrino (r) technology) for improved battery life. New in 1.2
  • Improved device support: A host of new drivers is included, offering out-of-the box support for wireless network cards, gigabit network cards and SATA IDE hard disk drives. New in 1.2
  • Escape GL screen saver: State of the art OpenGL screen savers which improve the attractiveness of the system use, overall. New in 1.2.
  • Updated Multimedia Installer: better multimedia support and improved installation. Now install directly at the moment you install your other hardware. Updated in 1.2
  • New TCPIP.CFG tuning features: There are some new defaults enabled for the TCP/IP stack of eComStation. These pre-configured defaults provide eComStation 1.2 users with out of the box protection for abuses of the Internet protocol. Updated in 1.2.
  • Enhanced maintenance console: This allows users to perform routine system maintenance by booting from the installation CD.
  • Features include full system access including NTFS and FAT32 volumes, network access and the ability to perform backups. New in 1.2.
  • HOBLink X/11 Server for OS/2: Now part of the base eComStation product, enables remote access to X/11 applications on any xServer accessible on the network. The Applications appear as normal desktop applications. New in 1.2.
  • Included CD writing application: A (speed) limited version of the award winning CD recording application RSJ is included, enabling the user to create CD's without any extra software requirements. Supports any current CD-recorder device. This compliments the existing CD-RW UDF packet writting integrated into the operating system. New in 1.2
Apart from eComStation 1.2, the following products have been released 

OpenOffice.org for eComStation and OS/2: In a joint program with InnoTek, a well known Independent Software Vendor, Serenity Systems International has packaged OpenOffice.org 1.1.1 with software which allows this application to run on eComStation and OS/2. Currently version 1.1.4 is available. This allows eComStation and OS/2 users to participate in a world class office suite which supports Windows and Linux platforms, providing access to functionality, data, and document interchange which was not previously available to OS/2 and eComStation users. (This product is part of the eComStation Application Pack 1.2 bundle and is also available separately.)

Serenity Virtual Station (SVISTA): SVISTA is a virtual machine application which supports OS/2, Linux, FreeBSD, and Windows as host platforms, with support for OS/2, Windows, and Linux to run in guest containers. So, eComStation users with requirements which can only be supported with another operating system are able to host that operating system on their eComStation desktop. (The OS/2 host version of SVISTA is part of eComStation Application Pack 1.2, and is available separately.)

Application Pack 1.2: Contains SVISTA for eComStation and OS/2, OpenOffice.org 1.1.1 for eComStation and OS/2 as well as Lotus SmartSuite 1.7.3 for OS/2. Application Pack 1.2 is available to both OS/2 and eComStation users!

Software Subscription Services : Users of Entry 1.2 and Application Pack 1.2 have the options of purchasing a software subscription for their products. The subscription covers a period of 12 months. During that period, they will be provided with access to any new feature updates made available for these products. This early access is being provided through a new download area of the eComStation web site, the BetaZone.

MuliProcessor Pack: For people who desire to use the power of multiprocessor workstations, the eComStation 1.2 Multi Processor Pack is made available. This is the only economical way customers can purchase an IBM developed and supported symmetrical multiprocessor feature for Intel and Intel compatible hardware. While generally used on machines with two to four processors, this feature has been tested on machines with 16 (sixteen) processors and was designed, but not tested, to support up to 64 (sixty-four) processors.

What's next!

Additional National Language Version (NLV) Support: With the release of eComStation 1.2, plans call for expanding the national languages supported; extending the usefulness of eComStation.

eComStation 1.2 is right now available in: International English, German, Russian and Dutch. Italian, French, Spanish and Portuguese are planned for release Q2 2005.

Media refresh: a media refresh will be released containing the latest drivers, updates to applications and support for installation on AMD Athlon 64 based systems.

This year Serenity Systems International, through eComStation, will continue the trend started in 2000; to deliver an updated, current, OS/2 based client, with superior value and at a low cost to the user!

Also an exciting new release of eComStation is planned to be released by the end of 2005 (subject to change):

Support for ACPI: ACPI is important for many users. The ability to support ACPI is becoming more and more important in order to take advantage of new power management capabilities, or even to support the operating system on newer hardware. Therefore, support for this technology will be an important feature in the new version of eComStation!

Improved hard disk management: this release will incorporate features to re-size existing hard disk volumes in order to create room for the installation of eComStation alongside existing operating systems. This will be available during the installation process, as well as afterwards. This is especially interesting for users that want to keep using their pre-loaded operating system, but like to have the ability to run eComStation alongside existing installed operating systems or facilitate in migration to eComStation.

Support for Boot-able JFS (Journable File System): JFS offers many advantages including system performance, recovery times and stability. The new eComStation will offer the option to boot from JFS volumes--enabling all data and programs to benefit from this modern file system.

Support for multi-user desktops: this feature will enable one computer system to be used by more than one individual (non-concurrently), providing each user with his/her own desktop, files and settings. Enabling this feature will be optional.

Support for Samba: Samba network resources on either Windows or Linux file servers will be accessible, this further improves the integration of eComStation in existing networks, including NAS devices.

Samba Server support: enables the utilization of your eComStation machine as a (cost- effective) file server for a small (SOHO) network.

LDAP support: enables you to authenticate your eComStation workstation against a Windows 2003 Active Directory server, as well as Novell or Linux networks.

Fire wall configuration: a new configuration utility for the eComStation fire wall will be provided. The built-in fire wall is very efficient and its power will be unleashed by a simple to use, yet powerful configuration tool!

TCPIP applications: a number of the existing TCP/IP applications will be replaced with more modern counterparts, for example an updated DHCP client.

Further improved installation and migration options: installation will be based on a more modular setup, enabling easier update of certain system parts via CD, intranet, or Internet. The migration of previous installations will be further improved to ease the burden of upgrading an existing installed system.

Actively promoting and supporting eComStation

Reseller day: We intend to improve the relationship of Serenity Systems International, Mensys BV and their resellers and distributors. The first visible action of this effort will be the 'Reseller Day'. This day is mainly intended to figure out the questions resellers, consultants and integrators are faced with. White papers will be made available, to support their sales efforts. We will target system integrators and consultants with a dedicated mailing list and direct support whenever possible.

Web support: Ticketing: the support structure of eComStation will be improved, the new e-mail ticketing system allows for a better and more standardized support flow.

FAQ: the FAQ engine has been improved and now lists popular items directly on the support page of the web site. The eComStation news server now provides a web front-end for easy access and supports RSS feeds for integration in other web sites.

BetaZone: The eComStation BetaZone has been launched as a means of releasing new features and components for future releases of eComStation. Certain components are only accessible to those who purchased Software Subscription Services. Access is provided through the customer area of www.ecomstation.com

eComStation DemoCD: We will be releasing a Demo CD that supports running eComStation entirely from CD without touching the users' hard drives. It will be distributed via the Internet as a download-able ISO image. Users have long been asking for this capability so they can acquaint other users and colleagues with eComStation.

Developers Workshop 2005: The OS/2 and eComStation Developers Workshop 2005 will be held on the weekend of July 9th. and 10th., 2005 in Dresden, Germany. The workshop is targeted at developers that create software and drivers for OS/2 or eComStation. If you are developing software for OS/2 or eComStation and want to participate in the workshop, please visit the workshop home page at: http://wiki.netlabs.org/index.php/Developers_Workshop_2005 This site will contain information about the workshop program, facilities, accommodation and travel. Although this is not a Serenity Systems International event, we welcome and support this effort by the community.

Conclusion

We are confident that we are taking eComStation to a level where it is a viable business platform--offering unmatched value and performance. This is in many cases proven by the release of the immensely popular--cross platform, OpenOffice.org office suite; bringing compatibility with Microsoft Office products to the eComStation desktop. eComStation stays current with modern web browser technologies and applications by including the latest versions of Firefox, Thunderbird, and Java environments.

With its unique eWorkplace Shell user interface, eComStation is still unsurpassed in ease of use, performance and productivity and new developments will continue to leverage these capabilities. Strong file sharing, peer services, TCP/IP connection support and other industry standard network support make eComStation a great value for connected users. And today, that's everyone!

eComStation is an Internet enabled platform for business desktop computing.