EDM/2 (Electronic Developer Magazine/2) has had another batch of updates to the wiki; as a wiki, it is possible for everyone to add or edit articles. From VOICE News.
The OS/2 Guest Additions for VirtualBox were updated (10/17/2017) as part of the recent VirtualBox 5 update (for other platforms). If you are running OS/2 on a Virtualbox VM, use "Devices - Insert Guest Additions CD Image...", then check the OS/2 CD drive inside the /OS2 directory. From OS2World.
The bitwiseworks Firefox fork has released (10/5/2017) a new build, based on Gecko 45.9.0esr. Note that 45esr has been obsoleted by 52esr, with 45esr no longer getting security updates since April. This build has several bugfixes, and is no longer considered a beta release; native printing support other than Postscript was dropped, although printing to PDF is possible. There are several additional external dependencies required now; see the README file for more details. Note that Bitwise has abandoned the ZIP packaging for an RPM package (which is not publicly available), and instead offers an archive based on the RPM package. If you prefer the classic packaging, you can find a suitable version on Hobbes. The next release should be based on 52.4.0esr, which has already been imported into the master branch. However, 52esr will be the end of the road, as newer versions require the Rust compiler, which is unlikely to be ported to OS/2. Potential future alternatives include Otter (which requires newer versions of Qt) and Pale Moon (a Mozilla fork). Note that the SeaMonkey project is also undecided on how it will proceed beyond 52esr (on all platforms), as Mozilla long ago stopped caring about anything other than Firefox. You can donate to bitwise projects by buying sponsor units via their online shop.
Arca Noae has posted info on upcoming updates. ArcaOS 5.0.2 will have an updated Samba client, and the new ability to install from an ArcaOS bootable USB stick (or local partition). Firefox 45.9 will be available as an RPM from an Arca Noae YUM repository (for subscribers).
Warpstock Europe 2018 will be held in Berlin, on May 26-27. Registration should be available soon. From VOICE News.
Warptock 2017 was held in Toronto, Ontario, Canada on Friday, September 8 through Sunday, September 10. You can view a picture gallery, the presentation materials, and YouTube videos of the presentations. From OS2World.
Dave Yeo has released (8/26/2017) an updated OS/2 build of SeaMonkey 2.42.9, based on the Bitwise fork of Firefox. There are additional external dependencies required now; see my Warpzilla Tips page for more information, as well as mozsupport and mozmedia packages. Note that the SeaMonkey project skipped from version 2.40 to 2.46 on other platforms, and Dave has back-ported some fixes. The refreshed build has fixes for full screen, and plugin support; reports suggest that disabling Chatzilla will prevent some heavy CPU usage.
The experimental OS/4 kernel now has support for AVX instructions, as found in newer CPUs. This means potentially better performance in software that supports it, such as ffmpeg, firefox, and others.
Adrian Gschwend wrote a retrospective article for the 20th anniversary of netlabs.org. From VOICE News.
There is now an option to convert your Acra Noae driver subscription to an ArcaOS subscription. Arca Noae has made several updates available, which can be downloaded from the order page on their site (the same page that provides the ISO download).
I have updated my ArcaOS article a few times; part 3 includes a couple fun hacks for SNAP Graphics. Arca Noae is looking into adding accelerated hardware support for newer Intel graphics chipsets. They are still working on having a bootable USB installation, which may make it into a 5.0.x point release. It's likely there will be both 5.0.2 and 5.0.3 prior to the 5.1 release, which is planned to have additional NLS language support included. They are also exploring the feasibility of a VDD for UniAud, to provide sound support in DOS and WinOS2 sessions.
A new release of Odin32 may be out soon; there's been some work recently on getting version 0.9.0 prepared. Odin32 can be used to run and/or build Win32 applications for OS/2, and is based on WINE and IBM's Open32.
VOICE has released their 2016 financial report. They are currently accepting applications for those wanting to become a VOICE board member, with the President and two board positions up for re-election. Roderick Klein is running for re-election as President, Bjorn Rietdijk is running for re-election as Board member, and Stuart Updike has stepped down. Applications should be sent via email before August 12th to the Vice President, Neil Waldhauer, describing why you want to join the VOICE board. The current board members will then vote. From VOICE News.
ArcaOS 5.0.1 has been released (7/9/2017). This refreshed install contains various updates, including some NIC auto-detection issues that I reported. Note that the ArcaOS installer does not support upgrading a previous install, and most of the changes are related to installation, so if you are already successfully running 5.0, it is recommended that you simply apply any updates that get released separately, rather than do a fresh install. You may also like to read my mini review. From OS2.jp.
The UniAud sound drivers have been refreshed (6/25/2017). This is based on the GPL ALSA Project from Linux and provides drivers for various sound chipsets, including HDA, AC97, and PCI cards. Note that the cause of repeating system sounds has been found to be a bug in IBM's SND.DLL, and there is a workaround available. For what it's worth, this project has stagnated for quite a while now; ALSA 1.0.24 is from early 2011, while the current upstream version is 22.214.171.124. From eCSoft/2 via OS2World.
VLC media player version 2.2.6 has been ported (6/5/2017) to OS/2. This is a highly portable multimedia player and multimedia framework capable of reading most audio and video formats (MPEG-2, MPEG-4, H.264, DivX, MPEG-1, MP3, OGG, AAC) as well as DVDs, Audio CDs, VCDs, and various streaming protocols.
Dave Yeo has released (5/20/2017) an OS/2 build of Thunderbird 45.8, based on the Bitwise fork of Firefox. Note that it has the same limitations as the current Firefox build; notably, printing support is broken.
ArcaOS 5.0 (code name Blue Lion) has been released (5/15/2017), marking the first OS/2 update since eComStation 2.1 in 2011. There are some official screenshots to provide a quick overview. There are two levels of pricing: a personal license is $129, with an intro price of $99 for the first 90 days of release, while a commercial license is $229. The former includes 6 months of support and maintenance updates, while the latter includes one year. If you have an existing software subscription, check the details on your available options; of note is that ArcaOS 5.1 is already in the planning stages. An earlier announcement detailed some of what to expect in this 5.0 release: XWorkplace with ArcaOS branding and exclusive features (such as a new Removable Device widget); new apps including DVD Tools, Archive Tool, Dynamic Icons, ArcaBar, Lucide Document Viewer, and much more; new network filesystem connectivity (Samba 4.5); updated kernel, with fixes and enhancements to better handle modern memory-hungry apps; new loader, allowing use of RAM above 4GB as a RAM disk; brand new installer; updated SNAP accelerated video driver; and more. The OS2World forum has lots of discussion about getting ArcaOS installed on various hardware, and Lewis Rosenthal did a video interview with Bryan Lunduke on YouTube (skip the first 7 minutes or so of the video to get past the unrelated bits); which was followed by a video review.
Bitwise has released (11/30/2016) their OS/2 port of Apache OpenOffice 4.1.3, which again reduces the memory footprint. Bitwise took over OpenOffice development from Mensys, but the primary developer on the project remains the same; they allow you to purchase the software in their online shop, as a means of donating to the ongoing development. Bug reports can be filed in the OpenOffice Bugzilla, and presumably the OS/2 source code continues to be available in the Subversion repository. There are plans for future updates to the WPS integration package, but reports indicate the previous version from Mensys continues to function with this release; it extends the WPS data file class to recognize OpenOffice.org document files, has integrated support for WPS-Wizard hint and folder info area, and provides Rexx hooks for reading document properties. From OS2World.
Roderick Klein wrote an article describing how VOICE has been spending donations, as well as where it plans to invest going forward. Most money came from PMMail licenses, and it has been spent on os2.org, Netlabs.org, funding BitWise Works to port Qt 5.5, hardware for webcam drivers, improvements to XWorkplace, and Warpstock events. There are plans to host an RPM repository, get the VOICE Newsletter going again, and perhaps run a YouTube channel. From VOICE News.
A year after the open letter for the Apache Foundation to acknowledge that OpenOffice is dead, there is discussion within the project to retire it, due to a lack of developers. The IBM Lotus Symphony team quit working on the project years ago, and it has been mostly abandoned for some time. Unfortunately, the OS/2 support was removed from LibreOffice source code long ago.
The first issue of OS/2 Lab Notes has been made freely available as a PDF file. Printed issues are available for purchase; licensed users of PAF and/or OWPZip are entitled to free issues. From VOICE News.
Lars Erdmann gave an interview about USB driver development at Warpstock Europe.
Lewis Rosenthal's presentation at Warpstock Europe was covered in a TechRepublic article, where it was revealed that the new OS/2 distribution code named Blue Lion would be called ArcaOS 5.0, and is expected to be released before the end of 2016. Version 5.1 will provide additional language support, and is tentatively planned for a 2017 release. There will be a Commercial Edition with 12 months of updates and priority support, and a Personal Edition with 6 months of updates and support, offered at a lower price; pricing is not yet finalized. From OS2World and VOICE News.
bww and Arca Noae are actively seeking one or more developers to work on the Eclipse SWT project (also used used by SmartSVN and SmartGit) and ultimately, the next OpenJDK build. This is funded development work, while the end product will remain freely available to all. Previous efforts included improving the Odin32 library to support needed functionality; presumably, that would still be a part of this project. Thanks to Lewis Rosenthal for the info.
OS2World recently celebrated its 16th year online. It continues to be a great resource for the community.
The third annual OS/2 User Meeting in Cologne, Germany was held at the end of November, and there are some pictures and discussion available on os2.org. Herwig Bauernfeind of Bitwise discussed their current and future projects: Firefox 38, Virtualbox 5 (in early alpha), updated Java, SWT and Eclipse, Samba 3.6, Injoy Firewall 5 (with a new Qt GUI), OpenOffice 4.1.2, and Qt5; Flash plugin support has been discontinued. The fourth annual event is already planned for Saturday, the 26th of November 2015, at the same location.
Arca Noae has posted their Blue Lion announcement and some FAQs, and there was some nice press coverage on TechRepublic, The Register, and Network World.
Lewis Rosenthal announced at Warpstock that Arca Noae is now licensed by IBM to create a new OS/2 distribution; it is currently codenamed "Blue Lion" and has a tentative release of Q3 2016. It will be based on OS/2 Warp 4.52 (MCP2) and the SMP kernel, with a new installer which does not require floppies or optical media (USB and possibly network installs), the Arca Noae driver updates including ACPI, USB, and MultiMac, and an updated version of SNAP Graphics. Lewis made it clear that there is no agreement between Arca Noae and XEU (formerly Mensys), and they intend to be a better OS/2 distribution than eComstation. Note that eComstation has been effectively dead since December 2013, despite some vague promises earlier this year that 2.2 would finally be released in October 2015.
Joachim Benjamins, formerly of Mensys and now XEU, came out of hiding to report on bugfixes that will be rolled into eCS 2.2, which is now expected in October. There is a healthy amount of skepticism in the forum, since there has been no progress since December 2013, and the bugfixes listed were done by others and have been available for quite some time already.
Arca Noae has licensed the SNAP Graphics for OS/2 source code from Alt Richmond Inc., the company that bought the SciTech SNAP technology several years ago. Mensys previously licensed it as well, but never utilized it in any way (at least, no fixes or updates were ever released publicly). Arca Noae hopes to add support for additional hardware, starting with newer Intel graphics chipsets. From VOICE News.
Martin Iturbide continues on his quest to get unmaintained OS/2 programs to be released as open source; he has created over 1500 public repositories of OS/2 open source projects on GitHub, created a wiki index for them, and published an EDM/2 article discussing how to use Git on OS/2. He has gone through the Hobbes archives, extracting the available source code, and making it easily accessible. He welcomes assistance in uploading more source to github, and any other suggestions, and will gladly provide repository administration rights to anyone interested. From OS2World.
Arca Noae has posted an informative FAQ about the company, licensing, drivers and software subscription, and more. They have also fleshed out their About page, detailing who is involved, and some of their previous OS/2 involvement. From VOICE News.
Arca Noae has announced their membership in the UEFI Forum. The UEFI (Unified Extensible Firmware Interface) specification defines a new model for the interface between operating systems and platform firmware, and is intended to replace the legacy BIOS. Arca Noae is looking into how this new technology can be supported under OS/2 in the future. From VOICE News.
Arca Noae recently acquired the remaining assets of Serenity Systems International, which was primarily its domain name. There was no change in status for eComstation, which continues to be an IBM licensee via XEU (formerly Mensys). From VOICE News.
This YouTube video shows OS/2 running on some recent hardware with touch screens, with some rudimentary software enabling a touch interface. The hardware includes a Sony laptop, a Samsung tablet, and a Lenovo laptop / tablet convertible.
Greggory Shaw reports that ownCloud version 7 runs well on the OS/2 ports of Apache and PHP (with the zip and iconv extensions); you can use SQLite as the database if you are the only user, or MySQL to support multiple users. He says that the native clients for Windows and Linux are fast and easy to setup, and the web interface can be used for all platforms. He uses Samba on eCS to access the ownCloud directories, while WebDAV can also be used via Netdrive.
Arca Noae has updated the roadmap of their product development; short term projects include a graphical package management utility, CUPS printer package, and new network drivers, while longer term will be UniAud updates, and further out will be investigation into SATA RAID and SAS controllers, non-LVM USB disk support, USB3 support, booting from a GPT partition, and overcoming the current 2TB hard disk size limitation. They are soliciting feedback on what users would like to see next, and have made available both personal and commercial editions of their software subscription package. Already available as part of the subscription are ACPI, USB, and MultiMac updates.
The OS/2 Shareware BBS collection of files is now hosted on www.os2site.com; note that access is limited if you are not browsing on OS/2. This is the entire collection, accumulated over the period of March 1990 through August 2006.
Elmar Stellnberger reports that Mark Harvey's 20-year-old MultiUser program for giving different users different desktops continues to work well, and can be used in conjunction with the Security/2 sses package from Nickk. In addition to Hobbes, the software is available from Elmar's site, which also offers collections of icons and fonts.
The QSINIT loader is a replacement for OS2LDR; it allows 3.5GB of RAM to be used on certain systems where OS2LDR prevents using more than 512MB due to "memory holes". It also allows using memory above 4GB as a RAM disk, which otherwise is useless on a 32-bit operating system that does not support PAE (such as OS/2). It is now fully compatible with the official ACPI drivers, and has lots of other features, including PXE support, VESA video support, disk editor, reading, writing and formatting drives in FAT32 or FAT16, general partition managing capabilities, including GPT partition support, LVM support, general boot manager features, and more. The source code is also available. From OS2World.
Sander Nyman has graciously contributed more of his fine writing to stoke the fires of wild rumor and gossip:
Some of you may already have heard the exciting news that Menso de Jong, the founder of Mensys will attend Warpstock to speak on the future of eCS.
More information has become available from a source regarding the Mensys presentation. The following are some of the possible details as we currently understand them.
Because of the extreme rarity, and highly secretive nature of all Mensys discussions regarding "The future of eCS", all attendees will be required to wear blindfolds throughout the presentation. After careful consideration, the third movement of Frederic Chopin's Piano Sonata No.2 was chosen as the perfect accompaniment to set the mood for the presentation and to highlight eComStation's new multimedia platform, codenamed "Helen Keller".
Another important concern of the eCS community rumored to be discussed will be the lack of a strategy to take eCS forward as a modern 64 bit OS. A source who may be close to the secretive "Mensys eCS strategy summation" committee (aka MESS), speculated that the consensus reached by the committee was that since not a single developer has bothered to write even one piece of 64 bit software for eCS, there really was no need for the extravagance of a 64 bit eCS OS, however to counter any possible disappointment, it will be emphasized that Mensys is working diligently to replace remaining 16 bit code in eCS, and can foresee the day when an eCS distribution of OS/2 will be 100% 32 bit, and run circles around 16 bit operating systems that are stuck in the past.
Of course the elephant in the room (apologies to Republicans & IBM) will be the lack of eCS wireless support in a mobile wireless 21st century. It's said that Mensys is not out of touch with reality. They fully understand the crisis nature of this problem, and realize that an eCS 2.2 release that doesn't address this issue is "Dead on arrival". To that end it's rumored that Mensys is working around the clock on a solution codenamed "Webesortofwireless" that will improve the compatibility of wireless keyboard and mouse combinations across the board, and prove to the eCS community that Mensys "Gets it".
Surely there will be more "leaked" bits of information as we get closer to this exciting presentation, and they will be reported as they become available.
eComstation.Ru organized an "OS/2 Guru Jam Session" on July 25-26, and has posted the resulting materials. Included are interviews with Alex Taylor regarding eCS components, Paul Smedley regarding porting software, and Lewis Rosenthal regarding supporting businesses running OS/2. There are also IRC transcripts on various topics.
Dave Hart from PlanetECS reports there are several PHP applications that work well on OS/2 with the ports of Apache, MySQL, and PHP, including WordPress blogger software, MediaWiki wiki software, phpbb forum software, extplorer web-based file manager, PHP Dev Shell, a plugin based code management PHP framework, and WebIssues, an issue tracking and team collaboration system, which uses a PHP server, and a Qt4 client that has been ported to OS/2.
Dave Yeo has refreshed (7/5/2014) his unofficial builds of SeaMonkey 2.14.11, Firefox 17.0.11, and Thunderbird 17.0.11, based on the Bitwise fork of the Gecko 17 "Extended Support Release" branch. Compared to the 17.0.5 Bitwise build of Firefox, they include several security fixes from the newer Gecko code, as well as a selection of important fixes back-ported from the Bitwise Gecko 24esr tree. These builds require libc065, and the fontconfig runtime. SeaMonkey is a continuation of the Mozilla Suite, while Firefox and Thunderbird are a stand-alone browser and mail/news client based on Mozilla code. See my Warpzilla Tips page for more information.
Martin Iturbide has written an article offering several suggestions on how users and developers can collaborate for the benefit of the community.
Sander Nyman suggested that the lackluster trickle of OS/2 news could be supplemented with a flood of rumors, and has supplied a few to start it off; feel free to send in your own:
Since Mensys quietly split off the software development part of their business to XEU.com, there has been no communication regarding eComStation. For months now, this has prompted questions asking is eComStation dead? Supposedly XEU is still working on eComStation 2.2, although Roderick Klein is no longer with the company. Meanwhile, prominent OS/2 developers who previously collaborated with Mensys are now pursuing alternatives. There are plans under foot to start a new OS/2 company, and some of the major players involved include Lewis Rosenthal, David Azarewicz, and Steven Levine. Lewis Rosenthal shared a few more tidbits - they are working with Bitwise Works, and are planning a Warpstock Europe 2014.
The fork of OpenWatcom has refreshed (4/28/2014) their version 2.0 of the C, C++, and Fortran 77 compilers. It appears that the improvements in this fork are mostly related to other platforms (DOS, 64-bit Windows and Linux), but OS/2 installers are available. Meanwhile, OpenWatcom proper is still (6/5/2010) on version 1.9.
Martin Iturbide received permission from IBM to republish their OS/2 Courseware from 1999, including the 5 day training course to obtain the "IBM Certified Systems Expert - OS/2 Warp Server for e-business" certification. He has converted it into electronic format and made it available on the OS2World.com Wiki, and is seeking help tracking down the remaining courseware material. The latest addition is OS/2 2.1 for Software Developers; Martin is still searching for some of the other content, so let him know if you have any available.
Dave Yeo has refreshed (3/29/2014) the unofficial builds of SeaMonkey 126.96.36.199, Firefox 10.0.12, and Thunderbird 10.0.12, based on the Gecko 10 "Extended Support Release" branch. These feature much improved shared memory usage, and a crash fix for attempting to print without a printer installed, but have none of the new features (or instability) of the newer Gecko 17 test releases. The builds require libc065, and the fontconfig runtime. See my Warpzilla Tips page for more information.
A website to locate and download DLL files for OS/2 is now available. The site uses fuzzy-string search, so you don't need to specify the exact filename. Currently there are 2696 DLLs available. From OS2World.
Flash plugin wrapper version 0.4.2 has been released (2/24/2014) for Software Subscription customers, which requires eComstation 1.2 or higher. It uses an Odin wrapper for the Win32 Flash 11.5 plugin. Supporting Flash 12 or newer plugins will require dinput support in Odin.
As of 2/11/2014, Mozilla for OS/2 is officially dead; all of the OS/2 support code has been removed from the source tree. One of the primary reasons for this was lack of contributions being sent upstream, and the stated lack of desire to do so, as was predicted several months ago.
TeamOS2 Hamburg launched a new German-speaking forum as an independent and non-commercial platform for OS/2 and eComStation users. They intend to archive the message base from commTalk.de, and perhaps os2.org as well. Thanks to Frank Wochatz for the info.
The OS/4 project has been running for quite some time, with the goal of updating the "core" or kernel of OS/2. It is likely that their kernel violates some IBM license, since they certainly do not have their permission to create modified works. However, those willing to experiment and ignore the legal murkiness can test out their package, which now includes replacements for the ACPI driver (acpi4.sys), clock driver (clock03b.sys), doscall1.dll, a PSD driver (os4apic.psd), an updated kernel (os4krnl), and a full featured replacement for os2ldr that includes the ability to select which kernel file to boot. Apparently it will boot some newer systems which the regular ACPI drivers do not work on yet. Much information is in Russian, but the package does include English documentation.
Two new subscriber-only mailing lists are available on the Rosenthal & Rosenthal server: eCS-ISP is for discussions of server hardware and software which are not addressed by another specific list, such as rsync backup issues, server hardware and drivers, and hosting concerns. GNU Ports is geared toward porting Linux apps to eCS. Subscribers must request access and accept the confirmation email. The mailing list convention is to send emails to listname-on to subscribe, listname-off to unsubscribe, listname-digest to switch to digest mode, listname-index to switch to index mode, and listname-request for administrative queries. Thanks to Lewis Rosenthal for the info.
The REXX Reference Summary HandBook, by Dick Goran, has been scanned and made available online on the EDM/2 Wiki. From OS2World.
Mensys released (12/13/2013) eComStation 2.2 beta II for Software Subscription customers; OS2World has the readme information. The final release was originally scheduled for the second week of April - perhaps beta III will be out in time for April 2014. Roderick Klein of Mensys previously posted a detailed list of driver updates in eComstation 2.2, many of which have required further updates since then. The majority of user feedback has been positive so far.
Martin Iturbide received permission from IBM to republish the "OS/2 Warp 4 Certification Handbook" from October 1996. He has converted it into electronic format and made it available on the OS2World.com Wiki.
Mensys has released another updated eCS 2.2 beta live/demo CD, which allows you to boot the OS on your hardware (but not install it to your hard disk). It includes the latest USB, Panorama, AHCI, DaniS506, and ACPI drivers, and is intended to get additional testing; apparently a new eCS 2.2 beta is planned for the near future.
There is a nice YouTube video demonstrating a triple boot configuration on a Samsung Series 7 tablet. Windows 7, SuSE Linux, and OS/2 Warp are each briefly compared for basic usage. The pen / touch interface has even been made to function under OS/2 on this tablet.
Qt version 4.7.3 has been refreshed (3/23/2013) for OS/2. This is a cross-platform application and UI framework. Applications that use QT include VLC, SMPlayer, VirtualBox, Psi, Scribus, and LyX. The QT4 runtime libraries and plugins are necessary for running programs built with the QT4 library. Highlights include printing support through CUPS, drawing using SNAP or DIVE, support for WebKit including SSL, and context sensitive help. Development is funded by donations from the community; sponsor units can be purchased from the Mensys online shop. This release is available in ZIP and RPM formats; older versions must be uninstalled first. This refresh includes support for path rewriting and symlinks. There has not yet been any activity on supporting Qt 4.8.x, which would include a newer version of Webkit for Qt-based browsers like Qupzilla and Arora.
IcedTea-Web Java Browser Plugin version 1.3 beta has been ported (3/21/2013) to OS/2; it requires OpenJDK 1.6. The new version improves compatibility with some sites, but if the previous version did not work well for you, this version is unlikely to change much; there are still known redraw issues.
The OS2World Wiki is available again; anyone can post articles under the Creative Commons Attribution - Share Alike license. Martin Iturbide's "Comments and Suggestions about eComStation User Experience" is posted there. From VOICE News.
eComStation.ru has posted a guide to installing eComStation 2.1 on a Lenovo Ideapad S206. From VOICE News.
The Java 6 netlabs.org project to port Java to OS/2 has released (2/17/2013) a "GA5" build of OpenJDK 1.6.0 build 27. Both SDK and JRE packages are available to compile and run Java applications, including GUI applications that use AWT and Swing; it uses the Odin32 runtime libraries. You can help fund development by sponsoring units via Mensys. There is a listing of Java applications known to work.
Odin32 version 0.8.9 has been released (2/17/2013); it is available in ZIP, WarpIn, and RPM formats. Odin32 can be used to run and/or build Win32 applications for OS/2, and is based on WINE and IBM's Open32. Nearly all recent changes are for improving support for the OpenJDK port and Flash plugin.
The Register is running some interesting retrospective articles on OS/2 history; first is a two part series from Dominic Connor, who was a contract programmer at IBM Hursley in the early years. Next is an overview from Andrew Orlowski, discussing why IBM lost out and Microsoft won in the OS wars. Eugene Gorbunoff has also written an article describing his views on the history, present, and future of eComStation. Thanks to VOICE News for some of the info.
VisPro/REXX is a Visual Programming tool that is completely integrated with the Workplace Shell and offers multiple views, drag-drop interaction, popup menus, settings notebooks, direct editing, all CUA '91 features and supports the OS/2 Font and Color palettes. Dave Hock has authorized that it become freeware, and it is now available for download with the original installer as well as in a WarpIn package that includes various updates. From VOICE News.
Michal Necasek has posted a review of Gordon Letwin's 1988 book, "Inside OS/2" from Microsoft Press. From OS2World.
eComstation.ru has listings of OS/2 based solutions and companies that you can contribute to; there are entries from the oil and gas industry, warehousing, floor automation systems, SMS communications, and more. From VOICE News.
The OS2World Gaming site is back online. There are a number of updates pending, including info on newer Qt4 and Java games; contributors are welcomed. From VOICE News.
April 2nd marked the 25th anniversary of IBM's announcement of OS/2. There were articles about it by Harry McCracken on Time, Michal Necasek on os2museum, Esther Schindler on Google Plus, Egan Orion on theINQUIRER, plus several more, as collected in this OS2World listing. Thanks to VOICE News, OS2World, and William L. Hartzell for the links.
eComstation.ru has a eComStation 3.0 wishlist, with wishes like USB CDROM support active by default, PDF printer installed by default, and more. They are also collecting ideas for future versions of eComStation. From VOICE News.
eComstation.ru has listings of interviews with various OS/2 developers over the last few years; the most recent addition is a Q&A by Eugene Gorbunoff, who does evangelism for eComStation.Ru. From VOICE News.
Alex Taylor has documented a procedure for using Ghostscript as a printer driver for seamless printing. This is useful for printers which are supported by Ghostscript, but not by either OS/2 itself or other CUPS-based drivers; apparently, a lot of Japanese-market Epson printers fall into this category.
eComStation.Ru has started the "eCo Labs" project to accumulate ideas for development projects. They also have a forum discussing what would make for a Perfect eComStation, and a place to list wishes for new apps. From VOICE News.
Craig Miller has posted reviews of Stardock's OS/2 Essentials 2.0, eCo Market, BioGraph 1.3, Trials of Battle, WarpNote 1.93, SearchPlus 2.0, and Vigilance on Talos V on his BlueNexus web site. WarpNote is a "yellow sticky note" application, SearchPlus is compared with PMSEEK 2.0, as shipped with eComStation, and Vigilance on Talos V is a side scrolling Metroid-style game.
eComStation 2.1 was released at Warpstock Europe 2011. It is available for purchase from Mensys or various resellers, in "Home & Student", "Business", and "Server" editions, and includes OpenOffice.org. The Business edition is required if you need more than 5 licenses, and the Server edition adds the Warp Server for eBusiness components. The ISO files can be downloaded by those with an active eComStation Software Subscription, and it works with a valid eCS 2.0 key. The media kit includes a printed, 72 page Quick Install Manual, and 3 CDs. CD 1 Is the install CD, CD 2 contains bonus applications, and CD 3 is OpenOffice 3.2. There is a complete list of what's new, including: Airboot to replace the IBM Boot Manager (though if BM is installed it can be used); new graphical disk checker for install; new AHCI driver based on DaniS506; Firefox 4.0 will be included; new File Open Container will be an option (not default); new MultiMac network driver included; and new CPU throttling utility for better battery life. eComStation 3.0 was also discussed, which will include an updated version of the Panorama video driver, an update to the USB stack, updated ACPI driver, the eCUPs printer driver, more new MultiMac network driver support (including Intel wireless chipsets), and Flash 10 and Java browser plugins. In addition, Mensys has recently renewed their OEM contract with IBM through 2014 (this was the 3rd contract renewal), and they seemed reasonably sure that further renewals will continue. There was a three fold increase of new eCS licenses being sold in 2010 over 2009, and this trend is continuing into 2011; several major companies were mentioned, including the US Postal Service and Iridium Phone Communications. Thanks to Joachim Benjamins, "The Captain", and VOICE News for the info.
Craig Miller has posted reviews of FireFox 4, FTPBrowser, PMINews 2.0 and GTIRC on his BlueNexus web site.
The OS/2 Museum is a blog "devoted to the history of OS/2 and random aspects of PC software and hardware history, with emphasis on the 1987-1997 period." There are overviews, including screenshots, of the versions of OS/2, including the PPC version, up through Warp 4.
NatteFrost has accumulated reference information about different versions of OpenGL that have been available for OS/2, which could be helpful to other developers. From VOICE News.
Craig Miller has posted reviews of SysInfo/2, PMView Pro, Entrepeneur, Hopkins FBI, SimCity, and SimCity 2000 on his BlueNexus web site. The games are also available for download from their respective review pages. He has new software reviews approximately every two weeks; previously he covered CUPS, OpenTyrian, Gotcha!, Links for OS/2, and the generic Win16 audio drivers.
Martin Iturbide wrote a retrospective article on the OS/2 events of 2010.
The sNOa Game Pack is now free; a registration key can be found on the download page. The games included are Sunny Pills, Deathmorozes, Operation Warp, Operation Warp II, MARS!, Tie Revenge, and Xonix. The source code for Sunny Pills is also available.
Martin Iturbide has set up a wiki listing the last updates available for OS/2 Warp 4.52. If you see that he has missed any IBM fixpack, APAR, or driver (public or not), let him know. From VOICE News.
eComStation.Ru is creating a list of "eComStation Essentials" - small utilities and applications, which are not included with eComStation, but should be installed on every PC. From VOICE News.
There is documentation on Hobbes detailing how to install eCS 2.0 on the ASUS EeePC 701 netbook; the package includes some necessary WiFi drivers. Also, Yuri Dario managed to install eCS 2.0 on a Asus EeePC 900, and shared his experience. There are various videos on YouTube showing OS/2 and eComstation running on the Asus EEE PC netbooks. From VOICE News.
The eCo Software Developer Connection has some new info, including new control elements, which include a "vivid" listbox and an about dialog. There are updates to the eCo Software runtime, and the eCo Software Toolkit should be updated soon. There are also reference books, useful links, and more for professional developers. Thanks to Eugene Gorbunoff for the info.
The Simple DirectMedia Layer version 1.2.10 OS/2 port has been updated (8/4/2008). This is a cross-platform multimedia library designed to provide low level access to audio, keyboard, mouse, joystick, and 2D video framebuffer. It is used by MPEG playback software, emulators, and many popular games. The SDL/2 package includes the following libraries: SDL 1.2.10, SDL_mixer 1.2.6, SDL_image 1.2.5, SDL_gfx 2.0.13, SDL_net 1.2.5, and SDL_ttf 2.0.7. The latest build is on netlabs.org FTP, and offers a VMAN fallback mode, in addition to the default accelerated SNAP Graphics mode.
The July issue of the VOICE newsletter has been published, which covers VBox/2, Feature Install, virtual memory problems, multilingual character sets, Usenet advocacy, Developers Workshop, and more. There is a Newsletter Master Index and Search Function for finding things in back issues.
The SciTech SNAP Graphics products are no longer being actively developed, and there is a free registration code you can use. SciTech SNAP Graphics is a "universal" video driver, with support for over 240 graphics chipsets, with extra features like zooming, multihead, video overlays for some chipsets, software OpenGL 1.5 support, and more.
James Bell, author of MidiLab/2, the original MIDI sequencer for OS/2, has posted all the material associated with the program on his web site. There are both binary and source downloads available; anyone interested can pick up further development of the project.
The OS/2 and USB page has been updated with additional info on cameras, printers, storage, multimedia, cards, mice, and more. Be sure to check it out if you are using USB devices. Thanks to Martin Iturbide for the news.
eCo Software has released the "Panorama" video driver, which features support for older Radeon chipsets (pre-R300, i.e. those with a number below 9500). Thanks to Eugene Gorbunoff for the info.
There are timezone updates available for eClock, Java 1.3.1, and Java 1.4.2. For other apps, including GoldenCode Java, you can update your TZ variable manually, by appending or modifying it with the new daylight savings string "3,2,0,7200,11,1,0,7200,3600" - this translates to "March, second week, Sunday, 2:00AM, November, first week, Sunday, 2:00AM, 1 hour adjustment". Thanks to cytan and Maynard for the info.
There's a wiki article discussing How to Boot OS/2 from USB. From OS2.org.
The OS/2 Java Corner has been updated with new info. It contains over 180 Java applications (and some applets), each with a short description and its url, and sorted into categories. All applications have been reported to run well with IBM Java 1.1.8 or 1.3.1, or Innotek's port of Sun Java 1.4.2. Click the Java icon at the top of the page to see a list of the most recent updates. Thanks to Roger Henson for the news.
Martin Iturbide has migrated The Config.sys Documentation Project to a wiki on the EDM2 web site; this will allow for more people to easily contribute to it.
Martin Iturbide has migrated the Warp Wishlist onto the netlabs.org Wiki, which makes it easier for everyone to contribute to it. This is a list of operating system and application enhancements that current eComStation and OS/2 users believe are worth paying for.
Opera 5.12 for OS/2 was released back in 2002. Since then, the browser has become free. You can register and turn off the ads by using this registration code: v-ucebm-WmRrz-WnifM-ezWsJ-WFTyb
Mensys has updated their Hobbes DVD, which contains over 4 GB of software from the Hobbes file archive. Long-time OS/2 users may recall that there was once a Walnut Creek Hobbes CD. The DVD from Mensys offers a convenient web interface, which can be either used to browse the contents or search for a specific file. Of each DVD sold, Mensys will transfer 2 Euro to the New Mexico State University to support the Hobbes server. From VOICE News.
www.RexxInfo.org is a comprehensive new web site covering Rexx, with free downloads, tools, reference, manuals, and how-to's. From VOICE News.
Sander Nyman reports that he has discovered why Duxshelf has stopped working for many people. The Styler/2 option "Use Styler/2 font," which can be used to replace system fonts with Warpsans (or another font), appears to make Duxshelf crash. You can fix this by adding DUX.EXE to the "Exceptions list" for the font replacement feature.
The winners of the 5th Annual OS2World Awards have been announced. Winners are: Best Commercial Software - DFSee; Best Individual Software - Genmac NIC Driver; Best JAVA Application - Jeti/2; Best PHP Application - phpMyAdmin; Best Site - os2voice.org; Best Supporting Company - SciTech Software; Best Unix Port - LIBC/GCC; Honor Award for Individuals - Paul Smedley.
An eComStation demo CD has been released. It is a "Live CD" that can be booted directly on a system, without anything getting installed. It can be downloaded as an ISO image, or you can purchase it for a nominal fee. It will be published in more languages in the future. There is now a review of it. From VOICE News.
Sander Nyman reports that on October 5th, Symantec discontinued support for the OS/2 version of Norton AntiVirus. However, the Linux virus signatures are identical, and can still be used. You can delete the extra Linux files (3 *.so files, and navuplin.dis); the 2 OS/2 DLL files (NAVEXO2A.DLL and NAVENGO2.DLL) are copied to the new VIRUSDEF folder automatically by Live Update. NAV Live Update can also be fixed by editing NAVLUOS2.INI as follows:
[NAVLUOS2] PacketName=ftp://update.symantec.com/public/english_us_canada/antivirus_definitions/symantec_antivirus_corp/rapidrelease/ennlu.lin UserName=anonymous Passwordfirstname.lastname@example.org
The PCI Soundcard Matrix has been updated with additional information. There is also another PCI sound card compatibility listing hosted by OS2World. Thanks to Martin Iturbide for the news.
Martin Iturbide has started a nice Wiki listing various MMOS2 Related Projects.
IBM now has an online "Library Server" where you can find a lot of information on OS/2 APIs. For example, searching for "Presentation Manager" gives you links to a number of programming guides and references.
IBM has officially announced that they will stop selling OS/2 on December 23, 2005, and withdraw support on December 31, 2006. Further details indicate that support after December 31, 2006 will be available for a fee through Service Extensions or Total Content Ownership contracts. There are no plans for any Java 1.3.1 updates (obsoleted by the GoldenCode and Innotek Java offerings), IBM Web Browser updates (obsoleted by Mozilla), or new FixPaks. No new device drivers will be provided after this year. From VOICE News.
Bob St.John has said that this will have no effect on eComstation. The product plan is to sell it through at least mid-2007. "eComStation will remain available as long as it is a good business. There is no end in sight." Esther Schindler has an opinion article discussing the OS/2 community, and how it hasn't depended on IBM for years. The Inquirer also ran an article recently pointing out how much of the OS/2 hardware support these days isn't coming from IBM. There have been a couple Ubersoft comic strips about the announcement.
Martin Iturbide reports that there was wide coverage by the press: Slashdot, The Register, OSNews, The Inquirer, Red Herring, Tom's Hardware Guide, PC World, ZDNet UK, NewsForge, WebProNews, WebProNews (2), Softpedia, ATM Workplace, Neoseeker, DesignTechnica, Monsters and Critics, SearchDomino, WebIndia123, BetaNews, CNet News, ZDNet, and eWeek.
WarpOverlay version 1.10 has been released (4/18/2005) as open source. This successor to HW EnDIVE provides hardware-based video overlay support on top of the SciTech GRADD drivers. This no longer uses DIVE, so it only works on applications that use its API, such as WarpVision. For what it's worth, it was quite easy to add support for my Radeon X600.
Tonigy is now free for non-commercial purposes; a registration key is available. Tonigy is an IFS that maps tracks of Audio CD into WAV or RAW files, tracks of Video CD into MPG files and tracks of Data CD into ISO files. From OS2World.
There is a new QEMU forum on running OS/2. QEMU is a virtual machine for running x86 OSes, that runs on Linux, FreeBSD, Windows, and MacOS. They need more developers to help improve the OS/2 guest support. Thanks to "ecs user" for the info.
The latest "testcase" kernels (revision 14.103a and later) at last feature proper support for Athlon64 and Pentium4 systems with more than 512MB of RAM. Previous versions would crash in testcfg.sys or apm.sys, unless you used Veit Kannegeiser's APMAA64.SYS.
IBM has released (2/28/2005) Convenience Pak FixPak 5. Downloading requires a Passport Advantage subscription; eCS customers can get it from the eComstation site. The majority of changes in it have already been available via IBM's testcase FTP server (kernel updates, and HPFS and JFS fixes). Thanks to Achain for the info.
Smartsuite 1.7.3 was recently made available to eComstation "Upgrade Protection" subscribers. IBM has published a list of fixes. It's also available from IBM, by calling 1-800-465-6887. From VOICE News.
The modem settings information page has been updated. Thanks to Martin Iturbide for the news.
Four months after announcing it, Golden Code has finally made their port of Java 1.4.1_07 available for purchase to endusers. It is priced at $42; customers requiring more than 10 seats are requested to contact Golden Code Development directly for volume discount information. It includes a plugin for use with Mozilla (including GCC builds). This is a native port, as opposed to the Odin port from Innotek, and features many improvements over the previous release. For German customers, Juergen Ulbts is organizing a group purchase, contact him if you are interested.
The first alpha version of a Firewire driver (IEEE 1394a) has been released (8/6/2004). This version does not yet enable you to use any devices, but it will show if your Firewire controller is recognized; those based on the VIA VT6306 chipset are supported, and it should also work with other OHCI compatible controllers. From VOICE News.
The OS/2 Config.Sys editor, Tyra/2, is now available for free (Username: Freeware; Key: 788818476). The source code will be open sourced after removing the registration code. The CSDP (Config.Sys Documentation Project) and Tyra/2 will be given to the Team OS/2 Hamburg e.V. to maintain. Thanks to Joerg Sievers for the news.
Felix Miata has an excellent FAQ on disk partitioning. From VOICE News.
The OS/2 Compatible Hardware List has been updated, and now has over 1600 compatible printers listed. Minor changes to the other device types have also been made. There has also been an update to the PCMCIA Socket Chipsets Matrix. Thanks to Jonas Buys for the info.
The latest "testcase" OS/2 kernels (14.097d and above) have a new experimental feature, that allows loading parts of DLLs above the 512MB line. "Any DLL objects that do not need to be called by (for code) or addressed by (for data) 16 bit code can be moved out of the low shared arena... this is the place that most often runs out of room, causing sys0008 and similar." Scott Garfinkle gave an example that "saved nearly 11mb of shared memory address space" on his test system:
EXEHDR /HIGHMEM MMPARTS.DLL EXEHDR /HIGHMEM:1 xx.dllwhere xx is every DLL in mozilla and mozilla/components except npoji6.dll (the Java plugin). Note that for mmparts.dll, you'll need to use an unlock program or boot to a command line. If you have trouble finding the new EXEHDR, you can also try the above512 program.
IBM has released (12/17/2003) Warp 4 FixPak 17 for Software Choice subscribers. Still available (1/10/2001) is the free FixPak 15. FixPak 17 updates the base level of OS/2 to approximately the same level as Convenience Pak FixPak 4. Device drivers are not included, and can be found in the separate Device Driver FixPak. You will need FixTool version 1.44 to install this. My personal preference is to install it using Fix.cmd from FastKick, which eliminates the need for floppies. From VOICE News.
BlueCad 1.0 is now available for free. Unfortunately, this CAD program has only continued on the Windows platform. Thanks to Klaus Staedtler for the news.
Here are some Java tips which may be useful:
SET HOMEDRIVE=X: SET HOMEPATH=\DIR\PATHor if you prefer a root directory you must NOT have a trailing backslash:
SET HOMEDRIVE=X SET HOMEPATH=:The JAVA2_USERHOME variable used by the Innotek/Sun Java does work correctly.
Adrian Gschwend wrote in to announce that GIMP can now (4/7/2003) run on the OS/2 desktop, with the help of Everblue. Gimp is the Gnu Image Manipulation Program, often called the free "Photoshop". It has been available for a long time for XFree86/OS2, and now you can run it without XFree86/OS2 installed. Everblue, the XLib implementation for OS/2 PM, is bundled with GIMP in a WarpIN package for easy installation. There is also a gimp.org page for the OS/2 version, which has further information.
The WPS Toolkit web site has been launched at netlabs.org. The Workplace Shell has by far the most innovative and extendible interface of all computer GUIs around. Besides giving you a lot of little helper functions, the API of the Workplace Shell Toolkit encapsulates the complexity of the handling of some of the tasks being the most time consuming to code. The following major APIs of the Workplace Shell Toolkit possibly are of particular interest: Text Message File (TMF) Support, Settings and Details Manager, Extended Attributes Manager, and Memory Mapped Files Manager. Among lots of little additional helpers to show up in future versions the following major APIs are on the todo list: XUL support. There is a programmer's guide and reference available.
IBM has released updates for the OS/2 networking components. MPTS has been updated to revision WR08706, and TCP/IP 4.3 has FixPak UN022206, both of which require a Software Choice subscription. eCS customers can find these on the eComstation site. With this update, MPTS is at version 6.52, and the TCP/IP revisions are: SOCKETS.SYS - 6.3100, AFOS2.SYS - 6.3000, AFINET.SYS - 6.3100. To check your current version, type INETVER at a command prompt. From VOICE News.
Virtual PC for OS/2 version 5.1 has been released (10/21/2002). This allows you to execute additional operating systems on top of your OS/2 desktops. This update comes with a plethora of new features and enhancements. For existing Virtual PC for OS/2 customers, the update is free of charge, and can be downloaded here. You can purchase it for the suggested retail price of Euro 239, from resellers such as Mensys. From OS2.org.
Here's a nice tip for people who are using recent kernels, and have large Windows EXE files (for use with Odin or otherwise). You may have noticed that the WPS takes a VERY long time to display the folders holding these files. The reason for this delay is that OS/2 has to search through the entire file to find the proper icon to display. If you're tired of waiting, add the following to your CONFIG.SYS file:
SET NOLARGENTEXEICON=nWhere n is the number of megabytes OS/2 should scan before assigning a default Windows icon.
IBM has released (8/19/2002) Device Driver FixPak 3, for Software Choice subscribers. eCS customers can find it on the eComstation site. Still available (9/29/2000) is the free Device Driver FixPak 2. Thanks to Andy Willis for the news.
IBM has released (2/25/2002) FixPak 3 for WSeB, which is available via FTP, and on the Software Updates Page. If you want to use the RSU update, you need to get this fix, or install TCP/IP FixPak UN_2101. Thanks to Klaus Staedtler for the news.
IBM has released (1/31/2002) TCP/IP 4.3.2 for Software Choice subscribers. This should include all of the previous fixes, as well as improved support for Java 1.3.
IBM has released (12/28/2001) updates to Java 1.1.8. You must have Java 1.1.8 from Software Choice already installed. Thanks to Klaus Staedtler for the news.
IBM has released (10/26/2001) updated kernels for Warp 4 and WSeB / MCP / ACP (UNI and SMP), as well as updates to JFS, SES, and the dump formatter. There are lots of fixes, and a couple new features: fine-tuning of the clock scale; support for more than 64MB of memory (for machines that previously required Dani's patch to OS2LDR); the internal revision displayed during boot can be suppressed; and trap messages will show the module name, including traps in 32-bit code. Thanks to R.C. for the news.
IBM has created updated (8/4/2001) installation disks for Warp 4. They are for ThinkPads, but should work on other systems as well.
Just like in Microsoft Office, there is a game hidden in the Star Office spreadsheet. Open a new Spreadsheet document, and then enter =GAME("StarWars") in the first cell. It starts a game resembling Space Invaders - the text is German, but it's easy to figure out. From eCS NewsCast.
Complete text of some OS/2 books are now available at OS/2.cz: Advanced OS/2 Programming, Inside OS/2, and Programming The OS/2 Presentation Manager. Note that these are copyrighted materials, so be aware of any local copyright and fair use laws. There is also a free OS/2.cz e-cards calendar for the year 2001. Thanks to Filip Molcan for the news.
IBM has released (3/14/2001) updates for TCP/IP 4.21 and 4.3 to fix the Trap E's that were occurring for dialup users (especially with InJoy). Thanks to Klaus Staedtler for the news. They also released (2/27/2001) updates for TCP/IP 4.21 and 4.3 that fix FTP ASCII transfers, and another update (8/14/2000) for TCP/IP 4.3 that fixes traps when connecting to FTP via Telnet.
IBM has released (1/9/2001) fixpak IP08414 for Warp Peer services. From VOICE News.
FixPak 43, the last FixPak for Warp 3, has been released (10/18/2000). You can get it via FTP or the IBM Software Updates page. It applies to Warp Server and Warp Server SMP only, because all versions of Warp 3 except Server and Server SMP have been dropped from support.
MPTS has been updated (4/28/2000) to revision WR08621, which contains a 32-bit TCP/IP stack. It requires either WR08600 or WR08610 to be installed. I recommend extracting the disk images to a directory on your hard drive, and installing it from there, since it is much faster. With this update, MPTS is at version 5.50, and the TCP/IP revisions are: SOCKETS.SYS - 6.2004, AFOS2.SYS - 6.2000, AFINET.SYS - 6.2013. To check your current version, type INETVER at a command prompt. Warning: the problems with the InJoy dialer in 32-bit stacks has gotten much worse with this release; it now causes Trap E errors. From WarpCast.
IBM has released (4/27/2000) FixPak UN_2101 for TCP/IP 4.21 (included with WSeB). It should be installed with MPTS 8621.
It seems the 512MB memory limit in Warp 4 has been increased to a maximum of 3GB. With FixPak 13 applied, it defaults to 1GB, but can be tuned via the Config.Sys variable "VIRTUALADDRESSLIMIT=3072" which indicates the value in megabytes, 512-3072.
For those who have stuck with the 16-bit TCP/IP stack (version 4.0x), MPTS WR08425 is now (1/19/2000) available. This will bring your inetver to 4.02y, and requires 8421 or above to be installed. Thanks to Klaus Staedtler for the news. Also available (12/2/99) is FixPak UN_0980. This contains updates to the 16-bit TCP/IP applications, including FTP, FTPD, NewsReader/2, Syslogd, and TCPCOEX. From WarpCast.
Martin Hadam reports IBM has updated (8/16/99) the Feature Installer to version 1.2.5. It "contains enhancements for installation reliability and serviceability."
FixPak 6 and above includes what seems to be a fix for the Pentium F00F bug. To enable it, add the line "BASEDEV=CMPXCHG8.SYS" to your CONFIG.SYS. You may have to copy this file from the OS2 directory to the OS2\BOOT directory. Thanks to Loren Bandiera for the info.
It's recently been discovered that FixPak 5 and 6 have an extra setting for the WarpCenter. If you add the line "SET MENUSFOLLOWPOINTER=ON" to your Config.sys, the cascading menus work in the same manner as the Windows 95 Start menu; that is, to view the contents of any folder you only need to put the mouse pointer over its icon. Thanks to Loren Bandiera for passing it on.