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

SCOUG, Warp Expo West, and Warpfest are trademarks 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.

The Southern California OS/2 User Group

September 2001

 Dear Mr. Know-It-All 

Mr. Know-It-All has the answers to even the really tough questions.


OK, my eComStation GA CD's have arrived and I'm ready to install eComStation. I don't want to crash and burn. Does Mr. KIA have any tips?


The eComStation installation is quite different from what most OS/2 users are used to. The major differences are:
  • eComStation can install directly from CD on many systems. No install diskettes are required.
  • There is a preboot configuration menu This allows the bootable CD to work with a wide variety of special case hardware.
  • The full WPS is available during the install. You have access to a command line session or the drives folder, as needed.
  • LVM is used to manage disk media. You are no longer forced to rely on drive letter assignments based on partition type or drive number.
Overall, these changes are very good and give OS/2 much needed new capabilities. Many folks, including Mr. KIA, have installed the GA with few if any problems. Even so, much of the eCS installer is new code and, as expected, there are some new issues to consider.

The typical install problems fall into several classes:

  • LVM setup is not foolproof.
  • Data on removable media can be destroyed.
  • LAN networking installation requires attention.
  • NIC driver installation requires attention.
  • WiseMachine is not always intuitive.

Some of these you might recognize from the old Warp installer. This is because the eCS installer still uses parts of the Warp Installer.

LVM Setup

Before file installation can proceed, the existing, formatted drives must be made LVM compatible. When this is done, control data is written to otherwise unused sectors on the cylinders that hold the boot records. The program that does this is named VCU and the result is that the existing partitions are converted to compatibility volumes.

It appears that it is possible to bypass the VCU run or for VCU to fail without an explicit error report. The indication that this may have occurred is that the install drive selection dialog will show no installable drives or the LVM status display will show volumes without the expected drive letters.

To correct this, open a command line session and run VCU. Use the copy at \os2image\disk_2\vcu.exe on the eCS CD#2. There is also a copy at \eCS\vcu.exe on the eCS CD#1 which you should not use. Serenity forgot to include a copy of vcu.msg. If VCU attempts to report an error, you may not get a useful error message.

VCU will also fail to run if the drive has been shutdown dirty. If this happens, run:

  chkdsk /f
on all partitions and rerun VCU.

Data on Removable Drives

VCU and LVM both have a defect. Neither correctly handles removable media that is formatted without a Master Boot Record (MBR). This is also known as large floppy format. If VCU or LVM is allowed to write to this media, it will assume that the MBR exists and will destroy all the data on the media. The workaround is to remove this type of media before running VCU or LVM. An alternative for some media is to reformat it with a MBR.

Peer Networking Setup

During Peer Networking Setup you will be prompted for a domain name, a user id and a password. Leave the domain name at the default value of IBMPEERS. Select the values USERID and PASSWORD for the user id and password.

The installer appears to use the IBMPEERS domain name as an indicator of the install type. If you change this, the installer may do a Lan Requestor install rather than a Peer install and you will not get the correct set of login objects.

The installer ignores whatever user id and password you supply and uses the values USERID and PASSWORD, so you might as well supply these values so you know what to use later.

NIC Installation

By default, the eCS installer installs the Null NDIS driver during Networking Install. This is a good thing because it prevents NIC hardware problems disturbing the initial installation.

After you have completed the initial install, don't forget to run MPTS and change the adapter to match the NIC you have installed.

WiseMachine Usage

WiseMachine is new to most OS/2 users. It will take some time to get used to how it's organized and how you are supposed to use it. There is some documentation, but more needs to be written.

WiseMachine is good at redeploying the applications it knows about. It's a simple drag and drop operation to redeploy an application.

However, deploying an application is not the same as installing an application. When you deploy an application you are recreating the desktop objects and, possibly, updating config.sys entries. This is helpful if you have lost some desktop objects. However, it's only a subset of what needs to be done to install an application.

WiseMachine can install some applications, but is still a work in progress for consistent operation. To install an application, you need to know if WiseMachine can install the application and you need to know which menu to use. Many of the applications you will want to install will be found under the Utilities -> Selective Install menus. A few applications can be installed from the left-hand Application window.

When installing from the left-hand window, there is a problem with the "meat." This is WiseMachine's term for the actual application code. When you attempt to install an application from the Application window, WiseMachine will supply a default Source directory. This is where the "meat" is supposed to be. The default directory is rarely correct. You need to point WiseMachine at the "meat" which can be an adventure. Some meat is on the eCS CD's. Some you might have to provide yourself. None of this is fully documented.

None of these issues are show stoppers. They just make WiseMachine more difficult to use, than need be. Mr. KIA is hopeful that, in the near future, Serenity will release a WiseMachine update that corrects this.

Summing Up

With a little planning, you have a good chance for an easy, first-time eCS install. If despite your best efforts to read the readme's and follow the directions you still have problems, there are lots of places to get help.

The eComStation News Server is probably the best place to start. There are focused newsgroups and your peers will help you get beyond your problems.

There's also the venerable SCOUG Help Mailing List. Several SCOUG members have already installed eCS and can assist you.

Curious or in doubt, you can ask Mr. Know-It-All
OS/2 is his specialty and sharing solutions is his passion
Mr. Know-It-All lives in Southern California.

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

Copyright 2001 the Southern California OS/2 User Group. ALL RIGHTS RESERVED.

SCOUG, Warp Expo West, and Warpfest are trademarks 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.