PCMCIA Support on Compaq Aero Notebooks

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By Dan O'Reilly

Last update: 6th November, 1995

Symptoms

PCMCIA does not work properly on Compaq Aero systems.

Hardware

Compaq Aero 4/25 or 4/33c notebook systems.

Problem

Although WARP will install on these systems, the user is unable to access the PCMCIA port.

Procedure

The installation for WARP doesn't have a specfic PCMCIA choice for the Aero systems. The Aero uses the VLSI chipset for PCMCIA; thus, to enable PCMCIA, a compatible driver is available, in the archive [CVLSI3.ZIP]. To enable:

  1. In "selective install", select PCMCIA support for a Compaq Contura and install.
  2. Copy the file SSVLSI.SYS from the CVLSI3.ZIP archive to \OS2 directory on the boot drive.
  3. Edit CONFIG.SYS to remove the reference to the Contura driver:
     BASEDEV=IBM2CMQ1.SYS

    and add the following:
     BASEDEV=SSVLSI.SYS
  4. Reboot, and PCMCIA services will be available.

Notes

The Compaq external floppy is not supported by this driver. To use this floppy, all references to PCMCIA drivers in your CONFIG.SYS file must be commented out, thereby disabling PCMCIA:

BASEDEV=PCMCIA.SYS
DEVICE=C:\OS2\MDOS\VPCMCIA.SYS
DEVICE=C:\OS2\BOOT\AUTODRV2.SYS
BASEDEV=SSVLSI.SYS

The floppy controller must be plugged into the PCMCIA slot before the notebook is booted.

To get this supported, it'll take a concerted effort by Aero owners complaining to Compaq, so take the time to make the call!

[Denis Cheong] writes (20th September, 1995):

I'm using OS/2 on my Aero, and would like to make the following comments:

  1. You must have an updated BIOS version on the Aero, otherwise the floppy drive will not be recognised at all when OS/2 is booted from the hard disk. The BIOS from 12 July 1995 is the one that I'm currently using and works; it's location is [1]. There is also another (older) one that has problems reporting battery status to OS/2 (and DOS and Windows) at [2].
  2. It is possible to set up the PCMCIA floppy drive with hot-swapping of sorts by booting a DOS 6.2 window with the DOS PCMCIA drivers loaded to initialise the drive once it has been inserted. You need to have PCMCIA.SYS loaded in your config.sys file to do this. You only need to comment out the SSVLSI.SYS driver in the config.sys file to be able to access the floppy drive after booting.
  3. It is also possible to set up the PCMCIA floppy drive with hot-swapping above with PCMCIA support, without switching between config.sys files. The way to do it is to rename ibm1flpy.add to ibm1flpy.sys, load ibm1flpy.sys *before* ssvlsi.sys, and to boot the DOS 6.2 window to initialise the floppy drive after OS/2 boots. You need to do this because SSVLSI.SYS's initialisation routines will clobber the floppy drive, which then requires cgi-bire-initialising. The only problem with this, however, is that when the DOS 6.2 window is opened, it clobbers OS/2's PCMCIA hot-swapping detection... so you will have to manually close and re-start the card manager in OS/2 for it to detect that you have removed the floppy drive and inserted another card. I have not yet found a solution to this, however I have had it working. If anybody has any problems with installing OS/2 on their aero they can contact me

By [Dan O'Reilly]

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