The Internet - a very Warped place!

In the beginning...

The internet is not yet "done," not by a long shot. But its short history has been tumultuous and startling in its growth of features and value to our everyday lives. We may not have an internet implant anytime soon, but we can expect that more of our commerce, communications, learning and entertainment will be done with internet services. Warp is right at home on the 'net. Warp 3 was the first consumer operating system to bundle internet connection software, and Warp 4 has continued that fine tradition, and other operating system vendors have followed suit.

The history goes back to 1961 when packet switching was envisioned. This is the technology which breaks up communications into chunks and sends them independently, instead of the circuit connection which your telephone uses. A rudimentary network was created and the use of requests for comment, or RFCs, was established in 1969. TCP/IP became the standard communications protocol in 1983 and is still the primary networking protocol in use today. In the 1990's, the world wide web began development in Switzerland, creating one of the most important capabilities of our time. There were 600,000 host computers connected to the internet in 1991, 4 million in 1995 and 16 million by 1997. Use the web to find more about the rich history of the internet and the world wide web. Ask your favorite search engine, or try the Internet Society ( for some links.

How it works...

We can't take pictures of the internet, or capture it , or diaable it. It uses computer installations around the world, interconnected in a maze of wires, fibers, radio and satellite links. In the early days there was a "backbone" which carried all the traffic between the nodes, owned by the federal National Science Foundation. Today there are are many commercial and government networks carrying parts of the traffic over the internet. "Packets" of information are routed through this maze by distributed addressing functions where a machine you go through to connect to the internet, called a "router," knows the addresses of it's neighbors, who know the addresses of their neighbors and so forth. When a packet is being sent to an address across the world, or across town, routers are queried to find the best route for that packet, and it is sent to the nearest server which is on that path, until it gets to the destination. The TCP/IP protocols take care of reassembling the packets into the message you are receiving, such as this page. "Server" computers are positioned at many locations to provide information such as world wide web and file transfer protocol (ftp), and receive automatic transfers of communications such as mail and newsgroups. These servers are known to the routers by their internet protocol (IP) addresses, which are 32-bit numbers usually written in "dotted decimal" notation such as These numerical addresses that are used by the computers are converted to words such as by distributed naming services such as the "domain name service" (DNS). All of this is described in considerable detail in the RFCs at Internic ( it's mirrors such as Ohio State University ( Vendors for internet products usually have informative papers on the protocols used by their products on their web sites.

How to set it up.

You need a computer running Warp, and a modem. The modem can be an internal expansion card or external device using a serial port. In either case, it uses a hardware communication method known as a com port, usually Com1 or Com2. It also uses an all-important interrupt, usually IRQ 3 or 4. Any PC modem will work with Warp, though a few don't come with the setup information needed to configure your Warp software. Ask around or experiment a little and you can usually pin this detail down.

Most of the software you need comes in the Bonus Pack in Warp 3. Choose and install the Internet directory and you'll have everything you need except a web browser, but there are instructions for getting one. Once you have your initial browser, you should go to IBM software downloads ( get either the Netscape 2.02 browser or, if you feel adventurous, the Netscape 4.04 Communicator browser (beta as of August 1998). While you are there, you might want to go ahead and download the latest Java runtime software, too. More about that later.

For Warp 4, you should have installed TCPIP with your basic installation. If now, you need to run Selective Install for Networking. This will give you your TCPIP software, your dialer software which connects you through the telephone lines to your internet service provider, and the tools to use internet services, including Web Explorer and a link to get Netscape.

Once you are online, you can find links to lots of good tips and resources for improving your software at OS/2 SuperSite ( on newsgroups such as comp.os.os2.setup.misc.

Getting online.

The best way to connect is with a local area network which has a high speed connection to the internet. Most of us have this at work and school, but not at home. The most common way to get connected is to hire a company called an Internet Service Provider, or ISP. There are a few nationwide services like IBM, America Online, and Earthlink, but there are many local and regional ISPs. They all charge in the neighborhood of $20 per month, and provide you with a telephone number you can connect to any time, an email address and mailbox, and space for storing files for your web site. The features that distinguish ISPs are their reliability and their support. Find out who is best by checking with your friends. If your friends aren't online, you need to find some new friends, and check local magazines like Micro Times for advertisements. Your ISP will know all about setting up a Windows client, but may or may not know anything about OS/2. It doesn't matter -- they will send you a list of addresses and passwords and other details which you can feed right into your OS/2 tools and get right to work.

What tools do I need?

Back in the '70s, the main use of the net was file transfers. One of the early protocols, file transfer protocol, or ftp, is still used a lot today. FTP-PM comes with Warp. It is quite functional, with a very easy to use interface, but requires attention to details like entering addresses, and selecting download modes (CAUTION - default mode is text, which causes binary downloads not to work.) You can get commercial products like FTP Browser from Hobbes ( automate some of the ftp chores. The next big use of the internet was electronic mail, or email. Warp comes with Ulti Mail Lite which is functional but not the best product around. Most people use mail a lot, and it is probably worthwhile to buy a commercial replacement. Search on mail at Hobbes or BMT Micro ( to find lots of options. Other popular services include groupware tools for newsgroups and chat. Newsgroups are a network of servers with tens of thousands of discussion groups where participants can read recent postings of other participants, and respond with comments of their own. This is very useful for asking questions on subjects you're interested in and benefitting from the expertise of other participants. Warp comes with a streamlined but highly effective text news reader called NR/2. There are many commercial alternatives, the most useful advantage being the ability to handle binary attachments which are prevalent on some newsgroups. Chat is like newsgroups but is real-time, meaning you have to be connected to the chat server for your group at the time the discussion occurs -- there is no record. Find chat software at the same places you can find other internet tools. The most important tool in your internet kit is your browser. Netscape includes mail, ftp, and news as well as a superior web browser. The web browser allows you to visit millions of sites and easily view informative and entertaining products, and download documents and software. IBM produced a browser called Web Explorer for a few years after Warp came out, but now they are working with Netscape to develop Warp ports of the Navigator and Communicator products. There is a group in Europe working on a Warp port of a streamlined browser called Opera.

One final set of tools to consider is encryption to protect your communications over this wideopen, world wide network. The main tools are SSL, which is built in to Netscape, but probably with a very weak protection (40-bit key), and PGP. PGP can be run to encrypt files and then sent over the internet. It can also be used in conjunction with PM Mail or MR/2 ICE mail programs to automatically handle incoming and outgoing encryption in you emails. See the Internet SIG Crypto page ( for additional information on this topic.

Now what?

The best way to explore your new environment is to -- well, explore! Start browsing. Join newsgroups and ask questions. Come to club meetings like the SCOUG Internet SIG. The techniques are fairly simple and you'll master them quickly. The community nature of the internet tends to connect you to related places and groups, so as you travel you find more and better places to visit.

One of the first skills you need to learn is searching. Many people bookmark their home page in Netscape to a search engine such as Yahoo! or Netscape. Try several out and pick one or two that suit you. Now you need to practice formulating your queries. That's big talk for "asking the right questions." You can easily get millions of responses to a query on many large search engines such as AltaVista. They all have a help function which you might find useful to refine your technique.

Another important skill you need to learn is managing your email. You may find that you have huge amounts of email or newsgroup content to read if you participate in a lot of groups. And you may have heard about the rising incidence of "unwanted commercial email" or "spam" as it is generally called. This is a frequent, minor problem which can be handled pretty well with the delete key. Your government is trying to solve it by passing laws they don't understand. You will find that you can categorize the kinds of messages you don't want and use the filtering capabilities of your email and news reader programs top manage a lot of them. Here again, you might want to experiment with a couple of shareware products to find whhich has the filtering features that suit you best.

Soon, you may want to put up your own web page. You can use a commercial WYSIWYG publishing tool like Home Page Publisher, or one of the many shareware tools you can find online at places like BMT Micro and Hobbes. If you look into the design of web pages yourself and do it manually. It's all text, and fairly easy to construct with your System Editor. It uses a special language called Hypertext Markup Language, or HTML. You can see what it looks like by using the View Source menu item in Netscape. Reading other people's code is a good way to learn, but writing your own is the best way. There are resources available to help you learn this at the Internet SIG ( Try this. Type the following in you editor:


<title>My first page</title>

<body bgcolor="white">
<h2>My first web page</h2>
The web is the future.
Use the web, Luke.


Now, save it as page.htm. Open your browser (you don't need to be online) and use file, open to navigate to the location you saved your page. It will open in your browser with "My first page" in the title bar, and a white page with black text. The information in the < > symbols in your code are called tags. They give formatting instructions to your browser to assemble the page the way you want it to look. Actually, it presents the page the way you code it to work, whether you want it to work that way or not. Practice will make for good web design. Perfection requires lots of practice and some luck.

Finally, let's talk about other utilities. There is a lot of creative software to make your internet surfing more productive and fun. If you would like to learn more of the technical details of the internet, there are a lot of nitty-gritty tools for troubleshooting and investigating what is happening on your internet. For example, you might like to find out the physical location and contacts for a web site. You can use tools like whois to find this information. Maybe you like to save whole web sites on your local disk, graphics, links and all, for perusal later. There are tools like SuperSlurp to get multiple web pages.

Searching internet areas at places like Hobbes and BMT Micro will yield many useful tools like these. Much of it is free and most of it is fun.

There are so few pastimes left that are both free and fun. Use the web and you can someday say you were there back when it was new.

Copyright 1998. You may use this document in any way you wish if you tell someone that OS/2 is a great operating system.