Building A Modern eComStation (OS/2) Personal Computer

My company, ERA Computers & Consulting, builds personal computers and servers to customer specifications for customers that want pre-loaded eComStation, specific Linux distribution, FreeBSD, other operating system pre-installed or no operating system installed. These personal computers and servers are all x86 type systems with one or more AMD single-core or dual-core processors. We do not sell nor do we usually install Microsoft operating systems. There are plenty of Microsoft shops to choose from already.

This article is to showcase a PC we just completed for a customer wanting an eComStation pre-installed system. Here are the specifications for the build taken directly from the quote approved by the customer:

Thermaltake Armor Series VA8000BWS Full Tower Case w/Side Panel Window (Black)
ENERMAX EG465P-VE-FMA 460W Power Supply
Asus M2N-E nForce 570 Ultra Sempron/Athlon 64(FX)(X2) SktAM2 DDR2 ATX Motherboard w/Audio, Gigabit LAN, RAID/Serial ATA
AMD Athlon 64 X2 Dual-Core Processor 4000+ Socket AM2 (65W)
Kingston KVR800D2E5K2/2G 2GB Kit DDR2-800 PC2-6400 ECC Memory
Adaptec SCSI Card 29160N
HIS H165PRF512N-R Radeon X1650 PRO 512MB GDDR2 PCI Express x16 Video Card
NEC 1.44MB 3.5in Internal Floppy Disk Drive (Black)
LITEON DH-20A4P-08 20X IDE DVD Burner Black Drive
Fujitsu MAW Series MAW3073NP 73.5GB 68pin U320-SCSI 10,000RPM Hard Drive w/8MB Buffer
eComStation 1.2MR upgrade from eCS 1.0 (ESD)
eComStation Subscription Services with eCS (ESD)
Labor to install eCS on new PC

The customer has his own mouse, keyboard and monitor that will be used with this new system. The customer prefers SCSI for storage (so do I as a matter of fact) so we provided him with an Adaptec SCSI controller and Fujitsu SCSI drive. The ThermalTake case was not on the original quote but was substituted on a new quote when the case quoted originally went out of stock. The internal hardware parts were chosen, specifically the ASUS M2N-E motherboard, because they all have drivers for eComStation and fulfill the customer’s specifications. Since the customer wanted ECC RAM the Kingston KVR800D2E5K2/2G RAM was chosen to fill that request. The ASUS M2N-E motherboard has an on-board 10/100/1000 NIC that is driven by the nveth driver found on OS/2 and eCS file repository (thank you “nickk” for nveth!). The on-board sound is driven by the latest port of the ALSA driver called Uniaud (thank you Paul Smedley for Uniaud!). The Radeon X1650 PRO graphics chip is driven by the latest release of the Panorama VESA driver (thank you eCo Software and Mensys BV for Panorama!). There is currently no 3D capability for eComStation so there is no need to run any driver that provides 3D. This may change in the future, especially with the Voyager project porting its’ GUI to multiple operating systems.

During the build and setup of this system it was discovered that when ECC was enabled in the BIOS the system became “flaky” and would not go past the P.O.S.T. process. Several frustrating hours of testing later the latest beta BIOS file for the M2N-E was downloaded and applied. This solved the problem with ECC and the system was finally finished with eComStation 1.2MR installed and running.

Here are some pictures of the system prior to shipping.

Upper Case Exhaust FanClick To View Full Size This is a picture of the inside, upper case exhaust fan. This fan is shipped detached and is installed by the builder.
Case Side View With Panel OffClick To View Full Size This is a picture of the finished system with the side panel removed. All cables tied off, or routed to allow better air flow inside the case.
Side View With See-Through Panel InstalledClick To View Full Size This is a picture of the finished system with the side panel installed.
Shot Of The Back Of The PCClick To View Full Size This is a picture of the back of the PC.
Front Of PC With \Click To View Full Size A picture of the front of the PC with the “wings” closed.
A Picture Of The PC Front With \Click To View Full Size A picture of the front of the PC with the “wings” opened.
A Picture Of The PC Case Top Exhaust GrilleClick To View Full Size A picture of the PC case top exhaust grille.
A Picture Of The PC Case Top Access PortClick To View Full Size A picture of the PC case top access port for 1394 jack, USB jacks, headphone jack and microphone jack.

In this build the 1394 jack is not connected as there is no 1394 pin header on the motherboard. The access cover is not spring loaded which I found to be a surprising and irritating oversight. Otherwise I found it quite pleasant to build with this ThermalTake case. I have been a strict Antec guy in the past. Now I will be an Antec and ThermalTake guy.

Edit Wed Mar 11 19:36:51 UTC 2009: Fix old URL for custom computers from ERACC.


Published by

Gene A.

Gene is a "Unix Guy", network technologist, system trouble-shooter and IT generalist with over 20 years experience in the SOHO and SMB markets. He is familiar with and conversant in eComStation (a.k.a. OS/2), DOS (PC, MS and Free), Unix, Linux and those GUI based systems from Microsoft. Gene is also a follower of Jesus (forgiven, not perfect), and this does inform his world view.

11 thoughts on “Building A Modern eComStation (OS/2) Personal Computer”

  1. Hi Gene,

    We need to see more in this same vein.
    A really excellently presented site (cursor here is hard to see though!), photos are well chosen and great quality.



  2. Thank you for the compliment Mike. I appreciate you coming to read the article. I will see if I can make a change in the CSS for the site to make the cursor brighter in the comment forms.

  3. Nice, I wonder how an eCS 2.0 install would have gone.

    Have you tried ACPI on one of these systems?

    P.S. Paul has and is working on UniAudio but as much or more credit goes to Brendan Oakley, Alan, Steven, Vlad, Pasha, and Andy

  4. Since there is not yet an eCS 2.0 GA release these builds are with eCS 1.2MR (so far). Perhaps one of the systems we will be building in the near future will be for a customer willing to have an eCS 2.0 beta installed. I will follow-up with another article if that occurs.

    Thank you for mentioning the others involved with Uniaud. The only one I knew for certain was Mr. Smedley.

  5. Thanks for the great article Gene. For a while now I’ve been looking for a post like this to get me on the right track with eCS machines.

    I’m not a super OS/2 Guru (got in the game late actually) but I have been a reseller for a couple of years now.

    PS> I’m normally lurking with the same name on IRC 😉

  6. You’re welcome TN (looks like my state abbreviation). It is good to see others coming over to eCS in whatever capacity. Glad you are on board.

  7. It’s a shame there aren’t more people on board to make eCS a more popular product. One thing I must say is that I’ve noticed it’s more popular than I thought it was when I first started with it 2 years ago.

  8. Great info. I am looking to get a new pc soon IF I can get an old DOS program (Q&A ver4.0) to run from a USB drive. It won’t run on large hard drives. I currently run it from floppy (data only) and it is slow! Would also like to use externa; USB drive to move data from home to work and back. Basic system without high end graphics, no multi boot, but should have a floppy, CDRW & DVDRW, no scsi, and is it possible to have it communicate with an APC UPS (or similar) to shut down automatically. Should have parallel for my HP Laser 4000. Scanner would be nice too. What can you suggest? Thanks for posting your project!

  9. rogerdg, I am glad you liked the article and posted a comment.

    Your DOS application may just choke on “large” partitions. It may be possible to get your old DOS program to run in a small partition if you install minimal FreeDOS. Have Boot Manager hide the other partitions when using FreeDOS. You would have to have multi-boot and reboot to FreeDOS to run it though. You could try that now with an existing system.

    The hardware specifications you mention here should be no problem if using an eComStation 2.0 release candidate. There are UPS control applications on if I recall correctly.

    When you are ready to get a system quote from ERACC go to our shopping site and pick out parts for a custom PC from us. You need to register on the shopping site to do this.

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