Installing OS/2 Warp in a virtual machine isn’t difficult, but there are a few pitfalls. The issues are easy to work around, but sometimes quite difficult to diagnose, especially for users not intimately familiar with OS/2. In general, the problems are the same one might encounter when installing OS/2 on a physical system.
The first issue is that OS/2 Warp (and older 2.1 and 2.11 releases) may hang immediately when the system starts booting, even before displaying the “boot blob”. This problem was tracked by IBM as APAR PJ23092 (Faster Intel Machines fail to boot). IBM made updated OS2LDR files available in 1998, but those only reduce the incidence of the problem and do not fully fix it. At any rate, re-trying the boot usually helps.
The next problem is disk size. Using a disk larger than 2GB is not recommended unless the boot floppies are updated with newer disk drivers. However, a larger disk should not be necessary. For plain OS/2 Warp, there should be no other showstoppers—but read on.
For OS/2 Warp Connect and Warp Server, the second boot from the hard disk during installation may encounter the following (or very similar) error message:
SYS1919: The file D:\CID\LCU\SRVREXX.EXE specified in the RUN statement on line 81 of CONFIG.SYS does not contain a valid program. Line 81 is ignored. Press Enter to continue...
Pressing Enter allows the boot process to continue, but the system then hangs in the networking installation phase shortly thereafter.
The problem is caused by a bug in the OS/2 installer which does not automatically recognize all IDE CD-ROMs. The installer will successfully access the CD-ROM in the initial install phases but fails to add the IBMIDECD.FLT base device driver to CONFIG.SYS. That causes the above error message (D: should be the CD-ROM drive) and the subsequent hang.
The bug affects OS/2 Warp, Warp Connect, as well as Warp Server. However, in plain Warp, it does not cause the installation to fail; the CD-ROM is simply inaccessible after an otherwise successful install. The problem is likely caused by a hardcoded list of CD-ROM vendors; that would avoid problems on IDE-based systems at the time when OS/2 Warp was released, but fails on newly introduced CD-ROM models.
The remedy is very simple: In the System Configuration panel, make sure the “Non-listed IDE CD-ROM” entry is selected. That ensures the IDE CD-ROM driver will be installed and the installation will not fail.The final Warp Connect installation hurdle is that there the OS does not come with a driver for the AMD PCnet network card emulated by VirtualBox and an OS/2 PCnet driver must be provided by the user on a floppy (image).
Another potential networking-related issue is that OS/2 Warp Connect did not ship with a DHCP client. If TCP/IP networking is enabled, a static IP address must be used, or on some LANs OS/2 might be able to use BootP instead (a bootp utility did ship with Warp Connect). Alternatively, Warp Connect may be updated to the latest base OS and networking fix levels, which added a DHCP client.
In comparison, OS/2 Warp 4 is much easier to install. The disk size limitation is still there, but the boot loader is less likely to hang and the installer properly handles an IDE CD-ROM. A driver for AMD PCnet network adapter comes with the OS, and DHCP is supported which means easy TCP/IP configuration for the typical user.
With Warp 4, it is highly recommended to update to at least Fixpack 5 and enable the GENGRADD display driver (generic VESA driver). That allows OS/2 to use much better display modes (higher resolution and color depth) as well as display graphics significantly faster. Note that GENGRADD was already available in Warp 4 GA but the initial GRADD support was too buggy for general use.