News and Info about eComStation from WarpStock Denver

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From The OS2eCS Organization - By Jeramie Samphere

Following are highlights from two sessions attended at WarpStock on Friday 1:30pm--5:30pm (eComStation Installation Workshop) and on Sunday 8:15am--9:45am (eCS RoadMap)

Presenters: Roderick Klein (Mensys) & Alex Taylor

Roderick explained the problems with the old components of the original eComStation 1.0 Installer and the new approach taken with eComStation 1.1

eComStation 1.0 used the [El Torito] boot method which was used in MCP1 & MCP2 to boot from CD.

Limitations & Problems
  • Not all BIOS's Supported
  • Boot Emulation Limit in number of drivers that will fit on a diskette
  • Image files loaded were locked

eComStation v1.1:

Veit Kannegieser Method No Boot Emulation Uses similar method as ISO9660 Sierra (Used in Windows NT 4.0) Contains a mechanism to update drivers and kernel before boot*

  • Insert floppy containing updated drivers or kernel into drive after the First Menu("Boot from HardDisk or CDROM")

Uses BIOS calls to unpack disk images Can boot from USB Floppy Drive via Int13 BIOS calls

eComStation v1.2 has the ability to edit the config.sys file on the the second page of the PreBoot Menu.

Kim Cheung & IBM enhanced Boot Options: ALT+F2 & ALT+F4

ALT+F2 will show drivers as they load during boot. This is helpful for diagnosing a problematic driver. ALT+F4 will stop the loading of device drivers if a device doesn't load. The user will have then 3 options: Pressing F1 will Cancel, Pressing F2 Still loads, Pressing the Space bar continues with normal loading.

eComStation v1.2 now provides help documentation in the Preboot Menu.

Hardware Detection:

MCP1 Selective Installer from IBM uses mmsniff.dll to detect sound cards (mmsniff.dll embeds supported sound card data).

clbncd.dll contains the supported network cards.

clbsnif writes to memory to discover I/O devices on the ISA bus. This is problematic(Windows 95/98 used this method) since it can cause a device to freeze up.

MCP1/2 provided no new hardware support like USB.

eComStation v1.2 provides hardware detection. (clbsnif.dll is disabled to prevent problems with legacy ISA cards. If an ISA card is installed, it is expected that the user knows about the device and will need to manually install a driver.)

eComStation v1.2 handles Hardware detection by matching drivers & vendor ID/Chipset IDs in flat text files(not embedded in dlls). Hence their is one database for all detected hardware vrs. with MCP1/2 where the supported devices is spread out among many dlls.

eComStation puts all detected and recognized hardware in x:\ecs\install\rsp\machine.cfg

Also all detected hardware is in x:\ecs\install\rsp\rawdata.000 If a device isn't detected, it is useful to send this file to: so that the device can be supported!

The IBM installer hard coded pages in the dll (so how do you add a component, for example RSJ?)

The IBM installer's user interface was not consistent (selective installer & network installer were really different having a different look and feel). The old IBM installer had 6 different progress bars!

eComStation v1.2 allows you to easily edit the config.sys file in the "Boot Options Menu" of the installer.

The new installer allows you to put the boot device first in order in the "Boot Options Menu" to ensure the correct boot device.

eComStation v1.1 introduced a new device driver called LOCATECD.SYS This driver checks the CD Device for a label of "ECS_CDRUN" and looks for a file called "x:\ecs\ecs_inst.flg" in order to detect the correct CD device to install eComStation from on systems with multiple CD devices.

eComStation 1.2 has a new graphic "eComStation 1.2" blog on the boot screen.

The installer in eComStation 1.2 now contains new fonts that are easier to read.

Background on eComStation v1.0:

The installer used VXREXX and Kim Cheung was the main architect 100% custom Simple to use and more consistant layout than IBM's installer Few questions asked Few reboots


IBM would not support it! Not designed to support multiple language support! Monolithic and dependant on VXREXX contributed to eComStation v1.0 being 15 months late (eComStation v1.0 was released in August 2001)

eComStation v1.1:

Introduced current installer design Uses IBM's CID (Configuration Installation Distribution) 3 Layer Design

1. User GUI

2. Middleware (REXX) that provides validation and fixes

3. Individual product installers (CID enabled executables supplied)


  • Easy to extend/modify by changing the REXX code
  • Supported by IBM
  • Designed to support multiple languages

In eComStation v1.2 the scroll bar in the installer now works correctly allowing text to scroll as you move the bar.

In v1.2 the REXX middleware was redesigned (90% new code).

eComStation uses GUID-PROC.EXE (a Graphical frontend wizard-like installer).

Beginning in v1.1 pressing Shift+F3 allows you to open a command prompt window.

Also pressing F5 allows you to view hardware detected after the detection indicator runs.

Pressing Ctrl+Alt+F11 causes the installers user interface to toggle between Full-screen and a scaleable Window.

Every page of the eComStation installer is defined by GPS (Guided Procedural Script). GPS defines text displayed on the pages including help and user selections-how their dealt with. All GPS files contain a specific language file that is kept in a single subdirectory (x:\ecs\install\nls\en_US). This makes supporting multiple languages easier.

The Installer comprises of multiple stages: "Interactive Stage" which prompts for installation options & writes to corresponding CID files. "Execution Stage" launches the REXX middleware.

The Installer offers various options: Easy, Advanced, Via Response Files, or Management Console. The "Via Response" option is greyed out by default. To enable this option you must press Ctrl+Alt+R...This works in eComStation v1.1

eComStation introduces MiniLVM, which allows an easier to use Graphical Interface that allows you to add partitions and volumes to Boot Manager and select a volume to install eComStation on.

eComStation v1.2's Installer only supports PCI cards (Network & Sound Card devices). New with v1.2 is the support of sound and network devices in the installer (v1.1 still used IBM's Installer).

New in v1.2 TCP/IP configuration works with Java 1.4 which is included out of the box.

The only requirement of Java 1.1.8 in eComStation is the dependency for Internet Key Management and the GUI LVM tool.

eComStation v1.2 includes WarpIn so it makes it easy if a user wants to install/uninstall components such as eWorkPlace for XWorkPlace.

eComStation includes a new help viewer that doesn't lock the desktop while searching files.

v1.2 provides Network User ID's to have masked passwords.

Network Features that are now installable separately in eCS 1.2: DHCP/DDNS servers, NFS, and VPN

eComStation v1.1 and v1.2 are distributed on CDRWs for the purpose of allowing for faster shipping. eComStation v1.0 was provided on CDRs. This allows new distributions of eComStation to be produced and distributed 7 days faster than previously.

eComStation v1.2 introduces the biggest upgrade to MMOS2 since Warp 3!

Problems with IBM MINSTALL:

Downlevels critical dlls poor error logging exhibits bugs

New MMOS2 in eComStation v1.2:

New Installer also allows you to uninstall/install sound drivers New Multimedia Classes (CW 0.2.8) Reset configuration Reinitialize CDPlayer with multiple CD Devices Better logging (cwmm.log and minstall.log) New MINSTALL GUI (using WarpGuide) JPEG (progressive jpegs) MJPEG OpenMPEG (IBM) QuickMotion (some settings set as default to ensure stability) Check for WPDesktop ID entry in os2.ini eWorkPlace replaces 50% of the IBM Desktop Classes and provides substantial safety checks

eComStation v2.0(planned):

Will introduce Security/2 integrated with a GUI that will provide multiple desktops with local user logon!

  • Local Access rights for users for files, directories, and resources.
  • The GUI was demo'd at WarpStock Weekend in 2003

Encryption of files on JFS Bootable JFS

  • Hopefully will be introduced, more testing is required. JFS has had many updates from IBM that has greatly improved stability.
  • Big cache supported by JFS

New Boot managers: UPART & Air-Boot (IBM Bootmanager will still be included) Improvement in APM support (This is currently under investigation but has High Priority) ACPI support in conjunction with NetLabs Partition/Volume management using LVMPM (A new native GUI LVM tool)

  • A limited DFSee will be integrated that will allow resizing of partitions (Allowing for example a Windows partition to be resized to make room for a partition for eComStation for users migrating from Windows to eComStation.)

Networking: NetDrive with Samba 3.0 (if its Free) and a refresh of TCP/IP Multimedia:

  • DTA (Data Transport Agent), a native MMOS/2 (High quality Beta Testers Needed for this project! Testers need to provide SPECIFIC FEEDBACK! More information on this project can be found in the "Download Menu" section of the site for registered users of eComStation.)
  • Will run in private memory, not shared!
  • New Timer0.sys & Clock01.sys
  • Replacement of IBM's audio editor with [Audio Station]
  • PNG MMIO Codec
  • RealPlayer Codec (More legal research required. Volunteer support needed!)
  • Firewire support (Basic chipset support) iPod is currently reported to work with the current driver that is in development!
  • More Drivers
  • GENMAC (Supporting more network chipsets..25 chipsets)
  • LSI 320 & 320 Adaptec SCSI Out-of-box support
  • SATA support (using Dani's drivers) Note: eComStation currently with the latest Dani's drivers supports more HardDrives than Windows XP!
  • Further UNIAUD drivers and MIDI support

Roderick demo'd an IBM Thinkpad running eComStation with a bootable JFS!

By Jeramie Samphere, Operating Manager of

Reporting from the heart of WarpStock 2004!