OS/2: Surviving at Warp Speed

by Bill Silverstein

One spine, two spine, red spine, blue spine. Warp now comes in two flavors, Warp for Windows, in a package with a red spine, and Warp with Windows, in a package with a blue spine. Warp for Windows is aimed at users who already have Windows on their system. Warp with Windows is aimed at users who are upgrading from OS/2 2.1. Looking at the package, the easiest way to tell the difference is by the color of the spine. The four things you should have before installing Warp are: a system backup (a reliable tested backup); a book, OS/2 Warp Unleashed; a software product, Partition Magic; a device, a CD-ROM drive. These things may cost some money, but having them will save money and time in the long run.

A general rule of computing: always have a backup! Although IBM has improved the installation and reliability of Warp from OS/2 2.1, make a backup. When making a significant change to your system, such as repartitioning or installing an operating system, make a backup. When you make a backup, test it! After every backup, verify the data. After every significant system change, test the reliability of the backup by recovering some files.

OS/2 Warp Unleashed is a thick book that comes with a CD-ROM. The CD-ROM has demo programs and shareware/freeware utilities for Warp. The book is packed with useful information. Some of this information is the same as that which comes from IBM technical support, after you wait 15 minutes on hold. Some of this information you may end up teaching to the IBM support people. There are excellent hints on setting up and optimizing a system. The examples provided are excellent.

Partition Magic by Powerquest is one of those tools that you don't realize you need until you've seen it. Partition Magic allows the repartitioning of a drive without the need to reformat it. This is especially useful since most computer system providers format the drive as one big partition. For Warp, I recommend at least four partitions, but more on that later.

If you do not have a Warp-compatible CD-ROM drive, get one. Given the vast amount of information available on CD-ROM, it is worth having one even if you are not using Warp. Having a CD-ROM makes the installation much easier, especially if you also have Windows on a CD-ROM. Instead of feeding the Windows diskettes into the floppy drive, you can just point the Warp install program at the Windows CD.

Now, partition your drive for Warp.

    My recommendations are:

  1. Use Boot Manager. This allows you to boot DOS, OS/2, and a maintenance partition for OS/2.
  2. Install OS/2 on an FAT partition. This allows you to access the configuration files from DOS. You should boot from a partition other than C.
  3. Install an OS/2 maintenance boot partition. This allows you to use commands such as chkdsk on drives that are in use during normal operations.
  4. If you have the disk space, install HPFS and move OS/2-only programs and OS/2 help files to it. This not only provides faster access, but it also allows these files to be hidden from DOS.
  5. Reconfigure DOS so that your CD-ROM drive uses the same drive letter under DOS as under OS/2. This allows the use of DOS and Windows CD-ROM software under OS/2 and under native DOS. The use of the mscdex /l: parameter allows the specification of the drive letter.