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SCOUG was there!

Copyright 1998-2024, Southern California OS/2 User Group. ALL RIGHTS RESERVED.

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The Southern California OS/2 User Group
Drivers Flow From Timur Tabi
Don’t make a sound, there’s a barbarian at the gate

by Peter Skye
USTIN — Timur Tabi’s father expected great things of him.  That’s why he named him Timur, moniker of the famed conqueror Timur, grandson of Ghengis Khan.  You may have heard that Ghengis was bad, and that may well be true, but his grandson was considered one of the most brutal and vicious leaders in the history of Central Asia.  The modern Timur, who only attacks operating systems, lightly warns me to “not (make me angry), or I might slaughter your village”.

           Not to worry (too much, anyway).  Timur The Modern is of Turkish and Austrian descent, and has a fondness for music that probably stems from a recalcitrant Viennese gene or two.  Call him “tih-MOOR”, or “tee-more”, or simply “Tim”.  And don’t make him angry.

Pick One From Column A, And One From Column B

           Timur’s current software-related project is, well, let’s see, there’s a lot of them.  He’s part of the Win32-OS/2 Project team, which will soon allow you to run Windows 95 and NT programs on OS/2.  He teaches an online class for those who wish to learn the ancient art of writing OS/2 drivers.  He’s a Systems Software Engineer at Crystal Semiconductor (a division of Cirrus Logic), writing drivers (although not OS/2 ones) for their extremely high quality sound chips.  He’s a contributing editor for EDM/2, the online “Electronic Developer Magazine For OS/2”.  He’s been contacted by Theta Band Software, a company which will put recording studio sound capabilities into Warp and cause every garage band in the country to run out and buy OS/2, and is working with them to ensure that Crystal OS/2 drivers are the best OS/2 sound card drivers in the universe.  He constantly monitors the os2.multimedia and os2.programmer.misc newsgroups.  Timur, do you ever sleep?

Timur The Instructor

           “The driver writing class is in its tenth week,” Timur said in late February, “and people are still signing up.  It’s online through EDM/2, and the assignments are sent by email.  I’m available, again via email, to answer any questions and give general direction when somebody gets stuck.”  Truly a once-in-a-lifetime chance to learn driver writing from the master.

           “Timur Tabi is a high-profile experienced OS/2 and Windows device driver programmer,” said Carsten Whimster, EDM/2’s Editor-in-chief.  EDM/2, by the way, has been serving the OS/2 developer community as an online monthly magazine for six years.  Carsten keeps the site lively with a variety of columns, articles, series and book reviews, plus a number of online courses ($25 signs you up for one).  If you haven’t looked at it lately, check it out.

Windows 95 on OS/2

           The biggest news is that we’ll soon be able to run those favorite Windows 95 apps on OS/2.  You know, a game here, an application there.  We have plenty of OS/2 software now, to be sure, but there’s always something kicking around that makes us wish we had Windows 95 capability.

           “I’m looking forward to welcoming everyone back to OS/2,” said Timur, who had heard about The Win32-OS/2 Project and asked to join on.  “Sander van Leeuwen and Peter Fitzsimmons are the guideposts for Win32-OS/2, and I’ve always been an OS/2 fanatic.  Solving the Windows 95 problem will be like annihilating a very large village, indeed.”

           Here’s the jargon:  Win32 is the Microsoft API (Application Program Interface) specification for Windows 95 and NT.  There are two subsets of this API:  Win32S is the version of the Win32 API that runs on Windows 3.1, and Open32 (originally called DAX) is IBM’s OS/2 implementation of Win32.  The Open32 DLL (Dynamic Link Library) contains the (somewhat incomplete) OS/2 code for Win32 and is called PMWINX.DLL.

           The Win32-OS/2 Project is developing a Win32-to-Open32 conversion program to match up the calls, and is also developing additional DLLs to create a complete set of Win32 calls for OS/2 (IBM’s version is incomplete, which is the biggest reason why OS/2 can’t run Windows 95 software).

           The conversion program also reformats the executable file(s) from a Windows format to an OS/2 format.  EXE files have several formats.  There’s a PE “portable executable” which is the Win95/NT format.  There’s also an LX “linear executable” which is the OS/2 format (if you want to see what it looks like, there’s a link on Timur’s Win32-OS/2 page to an INF file which describes it).  The PE executable file is reformatted by the conversion program to an LX file.  The conversion program is aptly named PE2LX.

New York, It’s A Wonderful Town

           Born on May 25th, 1969 in New York City and raised in its suburbs, Timur got his B.S. in Computer Engineering from George Washington University (in Washington, D.C.) in May of ’91.  He then moved to Karlsruhe, Germany, where he attended the University of Karlsruhe for a semester and studied VLSI (Very Large Scale Integration) Design.  In January 1992 he moved back to the U.S. and lived in Fairfax, Virginia until May of 1994.  He worked for Editing Machines Corporation where he wrote audio device drivers for Creative Labs’ SoundBlaster, the TurtleBeach Multisound, and Roland’s DM-80 digital audio workstation, and began studying again at George Washington University for his Masters in Computer Science - Hardware and Systems.  He taught undergraduate classes in digital circuits (hardware) and Ada (software).

           In June 1994 he moved to Boca Raton, Florida for a co-op (workstudy program) job at IBM, and worked there while he finished his Master’s Thesis.  He defended his thesis on May 18, 1995, and became a “regular” IBM employee on May 30th.

           He moved to Austin, TX in January 1996 with over 700 other IBM’ers as part of the IBM PSP consolidation.  He was a Senior Associate Programmer, and left IBM on March 10, 1997 to join Crystal Semiconductor.

           Timur’s interest in device drivers began in college because they were a mix of the hardware and software that he was studying.  He saw many other engineers who understood one or the other, but not both.  He was fascinated with the art of combining the two technologies, and writing drivers was his answer.

It’s Crystal Clear To Me Now

           Crystal Semiconductor (Timur’s current employer) is owned by Cirrus Logic, a major manufacturer of integrated circuits.  Crystal specializes in CODECs, the heart of a sophisticated sound card, and IBM and Dell are two of their big customers.  Their competition is mainly ESS (which Compaq still uses) and Creative Labs, both of whom they hope to crush with their new 4237 chip.  Most of Crystal’s sales are to motherboard manufacturers, and the buzz is that the plug-in sound card market will diminish as more and more motherboards start including sound capabilities.  The 4237 is so hot, Cirrus (Crystal’s parent) has taken the chip as its own (you’ll find that particular Crystal chip on the Cirrus, not the Crystal, web site).

Take The Whole Village

           While at IBM, Timur made a number of OS/2 Warp contributions.  He was architect and developer of sample code for new OS/2 Warp audio device drivers, giving other device driver developers an object-oriented framework for developing OS/2 audio drivers.  He was architect and lead developer of RTMIDI, the OS/2 Warp real-time MIDI subsystem, which provided real-time processing, playback, and recording of MIDI events (he wrote all the device driver code for it).  He was the architect and developer of the high-resolution OS/2 Warp TIMER0 timer device driver, which provided high-resolution timing for device drivers and applications (TIMER0 was covered by Timur in his Warpstock technical lectures on OS/2 Timing Services).  He was the developer of the OS/2 MPU-401 device driver for MMPM/2 (MPU401.SYS), which worked with all MPU-401 compatible hardware (Roland Corporation, a musical equipment manufacturer, created the MPU-401 Musical Instrument Digital Interface, usually called MIDI, in the early 1980’s).  He was part of the team which architected and developed Win-OS/2 audio support for OS/2 Warp for the PowerPC, and he also helped with the DOS audio support.  He was one of the first adopters of object-oriented development for OS/2 device drivers, and was the first in IBM’s Personal Software Products (PSP) division to write an object-oriented OS/2 Warp device driver, in C++.  He was the author of the new DevHelp header file for the Watcom C/C++ compiler.

           He had full responsibility for (he “owned”, in IBM parlance) RTMIDI, the MPU-401 driver, the SoundBlaster drivers, the generic OPL-3 driver (OPL3.SYS) (the Yamaha OPL-3 is a common sound card chip), TIMER0, and the Watcom PDD runtime library.

           But wait, there’s more.  Timur also has time for sport and, lacking a steady supply of available villages, occasionally indulges in skiing, windsurfing and scuba diving.  He’s also learning to play the electric bass and hopes to some day join his guitar-playing band-member sister Yasmin on stage.  Yes, yes, Timur, an audience is almost as good as a village.

Down The Aisle

           Timur’s getting married in June.  His fiancee Theresa is a print media graphic designer and, based on the photo of her that Timur has posted on the web, is certainly the young maiden that any Timur past or present would have selected to carry off when they sacked an undefended town.  “Where’d you meet a babe like that?” Timur said his friends kept asking him.  I asked too.  “Through an Internet dating service,” answered Timur.

           Darn.  Things are always happening on the web where I’m not looking.

           Timur did put in a plug for Theresa’s design services and so, if your brochures or catalogs need some sprucing up, you’d better contact Theresa quick.  You’ll get both a hot new look for your printed pages and a goodwill ambassador to keep Timur The Modern out of your village.  (Theresa is a graphic designer and is trained in eye-catching page layout.  That’s different from a graphic artist, who draws any pictures that are needed.)

Group what?

           Mr. Tabi’s Master’s Thesis in Groupware Development Tools made him a prime candidate for the inevitable question:  what does he think of Lotus SmartSuite?

           “My dad (a professor at the New York Institute of Technology) uses it.  I’m looking forward to the native OS/2 version.”  Timur’s Master’s Thesis was titled “Groupware Development Using Toolkits” and he covered groupware quite completely, discussing design considerations when creating groupware applications, available toolkits which provide development components, and security issues.  In that Thesis, he noted his findings that none of the toolkits provided the necessary security and proposed that developing groupware without addressing security issues makes it almost useless.  To aid the neophyte groupware designer, he compared several available toolkits for groupware development.  “If I had gone on for a Ph.D., I would have specifically addressed the groupware security issue,” Timur said.

           He suggested during our interview that those interested in groupware visit the comp.groupware.* newsgroups (go to Deja News, select Browse Groups, then enter “comp.groupware”) from time to time.

We’re From Microsoft, And We’re Here To Help You

           I asked Timur to comment on the scenario, which I hear over and over, of Microsoft filing a lawsuit to shut down The Win32-OS/2 Project.  Often, people ask me if the converter software isn’t “reverse engineering” the original code, which is often explicitly not allowed in the license agreement.

           “We’re not doing anything wrong,” replied Timur.  “We’re writing a program which converts Windows 95/NT EXEs and DLLs to new EXEs and DLLs which will run directly on OS/2.  A company or person can use it to convert Windows programs they’ve written themselves, or programs that they’ve purchased as long as the license agreement doesn’t forbid it.  A software manufacturer could quickly convert its Windows programs to run on OS/2, and those programs would work exactly as they did before, although they wouldn’t have the additional functionality that OS/2 supports.  There is absolutely nothing wrong with creating and supplying such a tool.  If Microsoft wants to write into their software license that Microsoft programs may only be run under Microsoft Windows, so be it.  Many other software companies, I’m sure, will be more than happy to fill the void.”

           And how, again, does this program work?

           “You purchase a Windows 95 (or NT) program and install it on either your own machine’s Windows 95 partition, a Windows 95 machine somewhere on your network, or a standalone computer that’s running Windows 95 (although, in this case, you’ll have to sneaker-net the installed files to your OS/2 machine).  You then run OS/2 and use our converter program, which replaces the original Windows calls in the program with appropriate OS/2 calls, to convert the program to an OS/2 program.  The converted program then loads and runs, at full speed, on your OS/2 system.”

           “You first, of course, check and make sure that the program license for the Windows program you want to convert isn’t prohibitive, and also check for any restrictions.  When you run the converter program you simply tell it what Windows program you want converted to an OS/2 program.  The conversion is quite fast.  And that’s it.  The OS/2 version is now ready for use.”

           And, once again, how much is it?

           “It’s free,” replied Timur.  “The conversion software is free, and we have no other products or ulterior motives.  The package is free.  We simply hope to make life a little easier for everyone who uses OS/2, and hope to keep companies from having to move to Windows just so they can run one or two apps that aren’t available on OS/2.”

And A Special Salute To The Other Members Of The Win32-OS/2 Project:

           Along with Timur, The Win32-OS/2 Project team is comprised of about a dozen gentlemen.  Their accomplishments and assignments are listed with them.

           The guiding light for the project is Sander van Leeuwen, responsible for “almost everything”.  Next we have Peter Fitzsimmons, taking on the API utilities, the development environment, and help with pe2lx, user32 and kernel32.  Also, and on a first-name basis to protect the guilty, are:  Christophe V., the registry API’s.  Saxon J.  Vince V., Winsock.  Kevin L., OpenGL.  Chris M., the build environment.  Joel T., MIDI support.  Patrick H., the console API’s.

           Timur and Gentlemen, we salute you.



Timur Tabi’s Home Page,

Theresa Augsburger (Timur’s fiancee),

The Win32-OS/2 Project,,

The Win32-OS/2 Project - transcript from a V.O.I.C.E. IRC question-and-answer chat session (OS/2 e-Zine!),

Timur Tabi’s Crystal Semiconductor and OS/2 Web Page (Timur’s soundcard page),

Timur Tabi’s Programming Links,

The OS/2 Warp Real-Time MIDI Subsystem (by Timur Tabi),

OS/2 Device Driver Programming class with instructor Timur Tabi (EDM/2 Magazine),

Cirrus Logic,

Crystal Semiconductor,

Crystal/Cirrus 4237 chip (to get here from the Crystal Semiconductor home page, choose “Other Crystal and CrystalClear Products” to reach the PC Audio Division, and then select Part Number “CS4237B”),

Deja News newsgroup repository,

EDM/2 Magazine,

Carsten Whimster, Editor-in-chief, EDM/2 Magazine,

Groupware newsgroup “comp.groupware” (there are also sub-groups; go to Deja News, select Browse Groups, and enter “comp.groupware”), news:comp.groupware

Lotus Smartsuite For OS/2,

General MIDI and GS (General MIDI (GM) and Roland’s GS standard) - original article in Electronic Musician 8/91 by Chris Meyer

Brief Overview of Proposed General MIDI,

Roland Corporation,

Roland Corporation U.S.,

Theta Band Software,

WarpStock ’97,

Yamaha Systems Technology Audio ICs - including OPL3, OPL4, YMF701,

Section List

Pick One From Column A, And One From Column B
Timur The Instructor
Windows 95 on OS/2
New York, It’s A Wonderful Town
It’s Crystal Clear To Me Now
Take The Whole Village
Down The Aisle
Group what?
We’re From Microsoft, And We’re Here To Help You
And A Special Salute To The Other Members Of The Win32-OS/2 Project:

The Southern California OS/2 User Group
P.O. Box 26904
Santa Ana, CA 92799-6904, USA

Copyright 1998 the Southern California OS/2 User Group. ALL RIGHTS RESERVED.

SCOUG is a trademark of the Southern California OS/2 User Group.
OS/2, Workplace Shell, and IBM are registered trademarks of International Business Machines Corporation.
All other trademarks remain the property of their respective owners.