[Back to contents] [Motivation] [Libretto 110CT] [Installation issues] [Windows 95] [Linux: RedHat 5.2 & Mandrake 6.0] [Epilogue]  

Last update 13 June 2001



Where to find more information

General aspects

How I got it together (but not the best way)

How you can get it together in a better way (but not fully tested on Libretto)

Hardware drivers

Installation of Fixpaks

Wishes and things to be done



Much information on installation of OS/2 on notebooks can be found through links at the The Notebook/2 Site. Other useful info can be found in several newsgroups (alt.os.os2.setup.storage & alt.os.os2.setup.misc) and through OS/2 links on the Mensys site.



Considering installation of all the operating systems on my Libretto, OS/2 proved the very toughest. Cause: the darn PCMCIA floppy drive. OS/2 apparently cannot live without floppies. Indeed, fixpacks and drivers for OS/2 are usually supplied in the form of (or based on) floppy disk images.

Several strategies have been attempted, and I came up with several solutions. Yet one thing is almost (but not completely!) unavoidable for all strategies: to get the hard disk into another computer in order to have the OS/2 boot sector installed in one (or more) of the partitions. Without floppies this is almost impossible (but see below for a trick).

The really indispensable thing is another computer, preferrably (also) running OS/2. Without this you'd better forget about OS/2 on your Libretto.

I had several hard- and software components which were useful in my case:

  • Another computer (my old Digital notebook) running OS/2 and Windows 95
  • A PCMCIA CD-ROM (Argossy 6-speed)
  • RedHat Linux 5.2 installation CD, especially Linux FDISK proved VERY useful
  • Parallel connection cable (Laplink & Parac type)
  • Iomega ZIP drive
  • Low level disk editor (PCTools or Norton Utilities)


    An easy way out was supplied by my old Digital notebook which featured swappable harddisks and a regular floppy drive.

    The Libretto harddisk can easily be taken out by removing two screws and lifting the plastic cover at the left-bottom side. A special piece of metal is fitted to the harddisk, meant for pulling the disk out. Removing this metal, fitting the Libretto harddisk in a Digital notebook harddisk-cradle and plugging it in the Digital was a piece of cake. As the Digital once had a BIOS upgrade with LBA mode (thus allowing large harddisks), the harddisk could be partitioned just like that with the OS/2 boot manager after having processed OS/2 setup floppy # 1.

    Attempt # 1

    Step 1a I installed the OS/2 boot manager at the start of free space, next I added logical partitions 5, 6, 7 and then 8-9 as one large partition. I then deleted logical partiton # 6. Finally I made primary partition # 3. This way, OS/2 recognized primary partition 1 as C:, the future logical FAT16 partiton # 5 as D: and its own residence logical partion # 7 as E:. Furthermore, space was allocated for the future Linux boot partition (logical # 6; provisionally deleted in order to get the drive letters OK) and the future Linux logical partitions # in the place of the temporary F:-partition (8-9).

    Step 1b Installation of OS/2 to drive E: (HPFS) proved easy then, only until the system was to be rebooted before reading floppy # 7. It proved impossible at all to boot ANY system from the harddisk in the Digital. Perhaps due to built-in disk translation only fit for Libretto BIOSses? In a flash I thought it could be wise to try to install OS/2 also on drive D: (FAT16). So I did.

    Step 1c Using the OS/2 floppies "Installation" and "1", I activated the boot manager to at least boot OS/2 and C:. Next I reinstalled the harddisk back into the Libretto, switched power on, crossed my fingers and YES! it booted OS/2. That is, it booted a temporary installation Workplace, with nothing more than a Library, an almost bare System folder and the autostarting Installation program. However, it did feature an OS/2 prompt, which came in handy much later.

    Attempt # 2

    This attempt used the capabilities of Windows 95 Winzip to save "long" file names. I believed that by packing OS/2 completely into one ZIP-file, OS/2's precious EA DATA . SF and WP ROOT . SF (mind the spaces!) could be preserved. OS/2 uses these files for its extended attributes / long file names.

    Step 2a Using a 500 Mb Digital harddisk which became obsolete because my employers Windows 95 had already been transplanted to the Libretto, I installed OS/2 incl. Win-OS/2 on a (logical) D: partition, and a temporary version of Windows 95 including Winzip and DCC on a C: partition.

    Step 2b Then I used Winzip to pack the complete OS/2 installation together into one ZIP file. I relayed it through a parallel cable to the Windows drive on the Libretto, and used Winzip there to unpack it to drive D: (remember, that is a FAT16 drive accessible to WinZip). I hoped that, once I got OS/2 running, I could copy it completely to E: (remember, that is a HPFS drive, only accessible through OS/2).

    Step 2c I then used a DOS harddisk tool (PCTools or Norton Utilities; you can also use Debug) to restore the 8.3 FAT16 file names for EA DATA . SF and WP ROOT. SF (which were changed to EADATA~1.SF and WPROOT~1.SF by WinZIp). Under Windows 95 (or DOS 7) the relevant drives must be "LOCK"ed in order to enable direct disk access for those tools (as Windows 95/DOS7 worries about long file names).

    Well, OS/2 did boot. A bright white screen background blinded my eye. However, all long folder names had been truncated to 8 characters and uppercase. Neither Task Manager nor Shutdown from the task bar functioned. Ctrl-Esc could be used to launch the Task Manager, and using SHUTDOWN.EXE from a windowed OS/2 prompt could be used to bring the system down. That was about all that could be done. Most other programs or commands would lock up the system. It turned out that CHKDSK (which had ran at boot time) had produced about 200 FILE0xxx.CHK files. So much for WinZip then, although it did get me a little further.

    From hindsight, I now know that EA DATA.SF and WP ROOT.SF cannot be transferred just like that, as they are dependent on disk geometry. I was also lucky that there was already a boot sector in drive D: left over from attempt # 1. But this is a way to get to the start of it all, an OS/2 prompt...

    Attempt # 3 

    Attempt # 3 was initiated after reading and trying to understand the contents of the README.CID file on the OS/2 Installation floppy. To keep it short: After stripping away IBM's network jargon, a description remains of:

    1. How to transplant the installation floppies to a harddisk in a well-described directory structure. When you include your Windows 3.x setup floppies, WIN-OS/2 can be installed from harddisk, too. (You do need an OS/2 system to do this, but I had one running on the now obsolete old Digital harddisk, and I could DCC this directory structure to my Libretto)
    2. How to extract a number of commands and files from the floppy images and from the end of the README.CID file itself
    3. How to use these commands and files to set up a very bare OS/2 system ("Maintenance system"), capable of displaying an OS/2 prompt. This system must be installed on a drive (they mean partition) other than the one where the directory structure is set up
    4. How to install OS/2 from the harddisk directory structure, using the Maintenance system and a response file. A sample response file resides on OS/2 Installation floppy (# zero) (SAMPLE.RSP).

    Well, this proved to be the right trick. Yet one small thing is needed for this: a working OS/2 prompt, in order to install the Maintenance system.....but I had an OS/2 prompt left over from attempts # 1 and # 2. Below a way is described to get such a prompt (in fact, the critical thing is the OS/2 boot sector.)



    For those who think attempt # 3 still is too complicated (and those ones are right I guess): various other strategies are possible. I did not explore them all in full, but stumbled on hints for them when fooling around:

      1. Use RedHat Linux 5.2 FDISK program to make the desired partitioning scheme (as Windows FDISK may screw up the master boot record, Windows FORMAT may screw up the boot sector entries and OS/2 is fuzzy regarding proper master boot record entries). You need at least three partitions: One (primary) to hold the CID install structure + optional fixpaks (about 100 Mb) and optionally Windows (add another 100 Mb then), one for a maintenance installation of OS/2 (might be a logical partition; at least 30 Mb), and another one where OS/2 is to be installed finally. If you want your final OS/2 installed in an extended (logical) partition, you need another primary partition, just for the first round; below it will be referred to as the "final" partition, too. Be sure that all OS/2 partitions are within the 1024 cylinder limit. You might need to reserve an empty primary partition slot in the MBR for the OS/2 boot manager (at least temporarily). Format the maintenance and final OS/2 partition as FAT16
      2. Install the CID directory structure from your other computer. It had best be put on a FAT16 partition for the time being. Optionally install Windows 95 or 98 (whatever you like) on that partition on the Libretto; do not use FAT32. Be sure to add Winzip to it then.
      3. Then either:

        Use your other OS/2 computer to make a single boot floppy using BOOTOS2 (BOOTOS2.ZIP) including LXLITE (lxlt131.zip).


        More or less like my attempt# 2, setup up a bare OS/2 system on any computer where Windows 95 is also running. Use WinZip to pack the whole of OS/2 (including system and hidden files and all subdirectories and pathnames) to a ZIP-file. You might create the ZIP file on a floppies (WinZip prompts for the next floppies automatically) or Iomega Zip-floppies.

      4. Use DOS or Windows 95 DEBUG to create a file from the OS/2 boot sector on that other computer. Type: (Mind you, in the lines below, everything after <Enter> (which means: hit the Enter key) is a comment and must not be typed in) :
      5. Debug <Enter>

        L cs:100 $ 00 1 <Enter> where $ is the number of the OS/2 partition. 0=A, 1=B etc.

        r cx <Enter>

        200 <Enter>

        n os2boot.br <Enter>

        w <Enter>

        q <Enter>

        Now you have a file on disk called OS2BOOT.BR, size 512 bytes, containing the boot sector of the OS/2 partition.

      6. Either: Copy all files on the BOOTOS2 boot floppy to the final OS/2 partition. Be sure to copy the file OS2BOOT, too (you might need to reset its system & hidden attributes first: ATTRIB -s -h a:OS2BOOT, and set them afterwards: Attrib +h +s [Drive]:OS2BOOT). EA DATA. SF does not need to be copied!

        Then be sure to edit the CONFIG.SYS copied from the BOOTOS2 boot disk and change all references to drive A: to your final OS/2 drive.

        Also change the line "BASEDEV=IBMFLPY1.ADD" to "BASEDEV=IBMFLPY1.ADD /A:0 /i" to instruct OS/2 to ignore the floppy drive altogether.

        If you are smart, copy KEYBOARD.DCP from your other OS/2 computer. Then you will be able to use the keyboard normally instead of searching for the ":" and "\" keys!

        Also copy some other useful files to the OS2 & OS2\DLL directories, like FDISK, etc.

        Finally, copy the file OS2BOOT.BR to this partition.

        or: Get the ZIP-file onto the Libretto someway, a good place would be the Windows 95 partition. Also copy the file OS2BOOT.BR to that place.

        Use Winzip to unpack it all to the final OS/2 partition on the Libretto ("restore all pathnames"). Your OS/2 system is fully present now, but can't be booted yet.

        Use a text editor to change the drive letters in ALL the OS/2 CONFIG.* files you can find on the final OS/2 partition to the proper drive letter on the Libretto (remember, after unZipping these drive letters refer to the other computer!). Check out OS2\BOOT and other subdirs too!

      7. And now comes the trick: how to cook a proper OS/2 boot sector. You will need DOS or Windows 95 DEBUG for this. The problem is that we need both the jump instruction and the boot routine from the OS2BOOT.BR (the boot sector from the other computer). However, between these is info on the disk layout and absolute sectors which still refers to the other computer. We have to combine the two boot records using DEBUG. Mind you, in the lines below, everything after <Enter> (which means: hit the Enter key) is a comment and must not be typed in:
      8. Debug <Enter>

        L cs:100 # 00 1 <Enter> (load first (=boot) sector; # refers to the final OS/2 partition number, 0=A, 1=B, etc)

        m cs:0103 011d cs:0303 <Enter> (save the final OS/2 partition info (media/sectors/heads etc) in memory)

        n os2boot.br <Enter> (OS/2 boot sector file)

        r cx <Enter> (read only first 512 bytes of the file)

        200 <Enter> (Debug echoes a colon; 200 hex = 512 decimal)

        L <Enter> (Load the OS/2 boot sector which originated from the other computer)

        m cs:0303 031d cs:0103 <Enter> (Fudge sector/media/heads/absolute sector stuff of final partition in)

        w cs:100 # 00 1 <Enter> (write it back to disk - # is again partition number)

        q <Enter>

        Now you have a complete OS/2 partition, ready for being booted.

      9. Using Linux or DOS or Windows FDISK, you can make this the active partition. Do so. OS/2 will be able to boot now.

      10. If you installed a bare OS/2 system using WinZip, OS/2 will probably complain that it cannot find the Workplace and will then open an OS/2 prompt in a window.

        • (To avoid this, boot just an OS/2 command prompt: as soon as the white rectangle appears in the upper left, hit <Alt><F1> and choose <C> from the menu.)
        • (If OS/2 is installed on a partition with the same drive letter as on the other computer, you may be lucky! - you might have an almost fully functional OS/2! But I would nevertheless proceed as outlined below.)

        OS/2 will then be able to boot, using an older configuration. That is the reason that you had to change drive letters in all CONFIG.* files you could find on the final OS/2 partition!

      11. You now have an OS/2 prompt which you can use to install:

        • OS/2 boot manager (start FDISK)
        • A maintenance system on the maintenance partition using the CID-directory structure.

        After having setup the maintenance system, you can use a CID install to get OS/2 up and running on the final partition (overwriting the one transferred from the other computer); if needed on a HPFS partition!

        If you do not have Linux (i.e. its FDISK) OS/2's FDISK may complain and only allow you to delete all other partitions other than the final partition (where FDISK was started from). I guess that does not harm, as Windows can be very easily reinstalled (Windows recognizes the PCMCIA floppy drive). Once all offending partitions are deleted, you can proceed in the same FDISK session to set up the final partitioning scheme.


    Hardware drivers

    The following OS/2 drivers and settings work more or less with the Libretto 110CT:

    1. PCMCIA: I used the Matsushita (no. 14 in the setup SAMPLE.RSP list). This works fine with my Argossy 6-speed PCMCIA CD-ROM
    2. Graphics card: Neomagic.exe. This executable archive (on Dr. Martinus - The Notebook/2 Site or OS/2 Device Driver Pak OnLine) insists on being extracted to a real floppy disk (arrggghhh.....). I used the temporary OS/2 system on the Digital to fix this, afterwards I copied all files to the Libretto. One thing remained to be done: to get it running in 800x480. It could run in 800x600 but then I lost my mouse pointer and icons if they happened to be in the lower 120 pixel rows of the screen.

      A very good solution, suggested by Trevor Hemsley (!remove _NOSPAM_ from this address!), is to use OS/2's GRADD driver (search for GRADD*.EXE). You do need Fixpak 35 (OS/2 3 Warp) or Fixpak 5 (OS/2 4 Merlin) for this. Simply download GRADD080.EXE, unpack it in a temporary directory (use UNPACK or PKUNZIP or so) and run "SETUP GEN" from that directory. (GEN means general VESA SVGA. Unaccelerated, but it does use the entire 800x480 screen). Next, add some lines in the \OS2\PRIVATE.DIF file indicating 800x480 monitor mode and reboot. In the System -> Display you now can choose from several color depths in 800x480 mode. (After my own setup, there was a stanza in \OS2\PRIVATE.DIF about 800x450 - my mouse cursor was stuck also. After changing this to 800x480, everything worked fine!)  
    3. Yamaha OPL3 Sax sound card: I found 2 drivers (on Dr. Martinus - The Notebook/2 Site or OS/2 Device Driver Pak OnLine - both again needing floppy support) but neither of them worked initially. Dr.Martinus suggested fiddling around with the relevant CONFIG.SYS line parameters. That did help, but Warp often hang while booting Presentation Manager in case of wrong options.... Anyway, it functions now. I can play .WAV and .MID sounds. No sound is available under Win-OS2, but I may have to adapt the Windows INI files. Recording sounds works... Another annoyance is that the Bonus Pak supplied with my OS/2 Warp featured a faulty MultiMedia player (and P2P application). It never installed OK because it kept on asking for a second disk which simply wasn't there...
    4. Mouse: just set mouse support in the BIOS to "both" (that is, Libretto's built-in pointer AND an external mouse). Any PS/2 mouse works fine.
    5. OS/2 Warp's IBM serial port drivers do not support speeds over 57k6. However, a good alternative is formed by Ray Gwinns SIO. Installation of these drivers is straightforward.
    6. A copy of my CONFIG.SYS is shown below.
    7. A report of how OS/2's perceives the Libretto 110CT's harddisk layout is shown elsewhere on this site.

    An interesting feature on the Libretto 110CT is that OS/2 does not alway boot instantly. Very often it just hangs before displaying the OS/2 blob in the upper left corner of the screen, only displaying a black screen plus text cursor. Repeatedly tapping Ctrl-Alt-Del or using the reset button/hole often helps (but again, sometimes not). Usually, booting OS/2 happens flawlessly after power down or restarting from Windows, OS/2 or Linux. Rebooting from bare DOS-prompts usually leads to "hanging".

    I don't know what the cause is. Some DOS boot code left behind in memory, not being overwritten by the boot sector? something to do with the APM BIOS power saving options? (my Libretto is set up in "hibernation mode".)



    It took me a while to find out how to properly install fixpaks. It turned out that again a desktop computer (or at least a PC with a floppy drive functional under OS/2) is indispensable; however, IBM clues that a virtual floppy drive may be used - I haven't tried this out, however.
    The proper procedure turned out to be as follows:
      (NOTE:   first steps on the desktop PC!)

    1. Download the proper fixpak diskette images (named like XRHW????.?DK) from the IBM site (because you can be sure to find proper and original ones there) into a temporary directory.
    2. Download the proper "kicker diskettes" from the IBM site; actually you'll find an executable plus text file there telling you how to make the kicker diskettes. These simply constitute two floppy images from which a maintenance system is booted. IBM states that some sort of version 139 should be used. I might have downloaded the proper ones by accident, but better take more care than I did.
    3. Use the program LOADDSKF to turn these images, one by one, into files and directories on floppy:

      LOADDSKF   XRHW????.?DK   A:   /y

      where you should fill in the question marks and the /y parameter is needed to avoid having to type "y" all the time.
    4. Use XCOPY to copy the diskette contents to hard disk:

      XCOPY A:   {Drive:Path}   /h   /o   /t   /s   /e   /r   /v

      where {Drive:Path} is the directory where to copy all fixpak diskette contents to. (The peculiar parameters worked OK in my case!)
    5. Repeat steps 4 and 5 for all Fixpak diskette images.
    6. Now XCOPY the kicker diskette images into the same directory:

      XCOPY   A:   {Drive:Path}   /s

    7. Copy the complete contents of {Drive:Path} including subdirectories to the Libretto (by serial/parallel cable; ZIP floppy; etc), making sure the subdirectory structure is preserved.
    8. And now on the Libretto:

    9. Make a proper response file. An example (RESPONSE.FIL) can be found in the directory. Make sure it reads something like:

      :LOGFILE   {Drive:Path}\SERVICE.LOG
      :SOURCE   {Drive:Path}

      (Be sure to substitute the proper directory name for {Drive:Path} and the proper drive letter for x).
    10. (If you have installed one:) Now boot into the maintenance system.
    11. Run FSERVICE to perform the upgrade:

      FSERVICE   /S:x:\{Drive:Path}   /R:x:\{Drive:Path}   /CID   /L1:x:{Drive:Path}

      FSERVICE initially takes its time to investigate the system. After 5 or 10 minutes it starts making the archives and backing up, and then it performs the upgrade proper.


    Wishes and things remaining to be done

    Of course some wishes remain.

  • Getting better APM support (Instructing the APM program to switch off power upon shutdown; to leave my harddisk alone for more than a minute; etc.) Maybe there exists an OS/2 APM out there that can swith off unused PCMCIA cards....

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