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Interview with Joachim Benjamins, Mensys
TITLE: Interview with Joachim Benjamins, Mensys
DATE: 2008-03-21 16:39:01
AUTHOR: eCo Software
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When did Mensys come into the OS/2 business?
Mensys started out in 1993 as a one-man company, focussed solely on
applications for the then relatively new OS/2. There was no other
company at that time that did only supply OS/2 software. We are using an
inhouse developed OS/2 based Management Information System, which has
been extended to support our online shop, which is also running on OS/2.
When we heard that IBM was loosing interest in OS/2 we got in touch with
Serenity Systems, who got an OEM contract with IBM to supply their own
version of OS/2. It did not take long before we began to get involved
with the actual development of this follow-up product, called eComStation.
Who is participating in the development of eComStation today?
Besides Mensys and Serenity a lot of support for eComStation is coming
from the OS/2 community. Volunteers help with translating (resulting for
example in an excellent dutch version of eCS) and porting of OpenSource
components for the OS. Innotek has been an important partner for us,
with the support of Odin they have been able to provide OpenOffice.org
and Acrobat Reader in current releases to run under eComStation. The
russian company eCo Software is another important developer, providing native applications, drivers and games for eComStation.
Besides the companies, eComStation could not exist without the tremendous
support of people like Alex Taylor (GUI design, improvement of dialogs,
small but very useful utilities), Veit Kannegieser (boottime detection of
hardware, enabling the boot system with which the installation is started
on modern PC's) and Chuck McKinnis (who manages all the IBM updates and
created and maintains singlehandedly the eComStation Maintenance Tool).
We are very lucky to have these people around!
Of course the OpenSource portal Netlabs (managed by Adrian Gschwend) is
of incredible value to eCS, providing the possibility to maintain several
projects and many products already found their way into eCS. Chris Wohlgemut
has provided some very valuable extensions to the MultiMedia subsystem of
eComStation for example.
What is the "ideal eComStation"? What is the goal of the eComStation business?
The ideal eComStation doesn't exist probably... The main goal will be to
keep eComStation running on the ever-evolving hardware, with as good
performance as possible. Besides that, I think the most important is to
keep backward compatibility and interoperability with other OS-es at the
best level possible. Of course, the main attraction of OS/2 (and thus
eComStation) has always been the ease of use of the WorkPlaceShell
(userinterface), so we should certainly keep, improve and extend that.
Let's invite readers to read the eComStation roadmap
eComStation version 2.0 Release Candidate
is accessible to customers of the
Software Subscription Services.
As you can see, eComStation is alive and kicking and will
be further enhanced in the near future. Especially the support for
installation onto JFS volumes offers a great increase in performance,
which is noticable on every system.
What is the target market of eComStation?
There are two main markets I see for eComStation currently:
- existing OS/2 customers that want to maintain their applications,
stability and other features they have come to expect of an OS. These
are endusers, but mainly corporations that are longtime OS/2 users.
- customers that want to have a hassle free internet browsing experience.
These can be Cyber Cafe's, endusers, students etc. The fact that eComStation
is free of viri, spyware, adware, trojans etc. is becoming a real important
advantage nowadays. With modern browsers available, as Firefox and
Thunderbird, eCS is a great choice for those not wanting to be alert
on hacker-attacks every minute spent online.
How are you going attract new users to our platform?
To convince people of the power, performance and ease of use of eComStation
we launched the eComStation Demo CD
which is similar to the "Knoppix LiveCD", and enables the potential customer
to run eCS on his PC system without ever touching the harddrive. This CD will
give an impression of the OS and is distributed over the Internet. In the
first two weeks of availability it had over 3.000 downloads, proving there
certainly is interest in eComStation! Of course, the Demo CD can also be
included with magazines and such.
Besides promoting the OS like this we will need to improve on the available
development tools of course, so new applications can be created. There are
some toolkits readily available, but we would like to add more, with Eclipse
being an important one.
Please, remind the Internet infrastructure of eComStation.
The eComStation network consists of several servers:
localized websites, not run by Serenity Systems and/or Mensys are for
eComStation has many competitors. How do you compete?
Since eComStation is really a niche-player, we do not have that many
competitors. Our customers choose eComStation because they are convinced
of the qualities, mentioned earlier, or because they need to support a
specific application. Of course, when you look at 'just the Operating
system' there is an amazing amount of competitors out there, but no one
really offers all the features and compatibility eComStation does out of the box.
Mensys is serving users from dozens of countries. Do you cope with the work?
Mensys has indeed customers from all over the world. Since the 1.2
version of eComStation we are also the worldwide distributor of this
great Operating System, which means we get a lot of support calls and
requests. We try to improve our support by streamlining the online
knowledgebase and fora, as well as setting up a worldwide network of
eComStation consultants. These will be mainly targetting corporate
customers, but endusers will be able to get professional support as
well, provided they are prepared to pay for it.
How do you communicate with foreign customers? Or Mensys personnel consists of polyglots?
We have a network of resellers that sell eComStation (and other products) in
their area. They also provide first-line support. This enables us to serve
many countries without knowing all local habits and languages.
OS/2 survived thanks to the activity of standalone users. What happens today?
Right now we see a small increase in corporate purchases of eComStation.
Of course, since IBM will no longer sell licenses directly, we may experience
even more of those sales, as eComStation effectively is OS/2
with some interesting additions, including scripted installation and
extended support for hardware.
The real challenge lies in extending sales in the existing market. For
the professional (office) worker eComStation provides all tools required,
like an office suite, internet browser, email client etc. We may need to
add up to date support for Lotus Notes and other mainstream office
applications to make it even more viable. With the Host Access feature,
the connectivity with Mainframe computers is readily available, which has
always been a strong point of OS/2.
Attracting homeusers is possible with the absense of viri and spyware, but
we would need to improve multimedia further to accomodate the demands of
the modern PC user fully. Of course, the basic features like playing
streaming audio from the Internet via the WPS are already included.
eComStation is a carrier rocket for products developed by software
developers. How to join eComStation?
Developers can contact us to include their application on the 'extra' CD2
which ships with eComStation to attract more users. It is also possible to
host a project on the BetaZone, to which all eComStation customers have
access. eComStation users are always eager to test new applications and
tend to provide feedback on anything they can try :)
What is the current version of eComStation? How to purchase?
Serenity released the eComStation 1.2R (Media Refresh) version, which contains
a lot of small (and less small) bugfixes, improvements and updated drivers and
applications. This version does not include new functionaity, such as the
eComStation version 2.0 beta does.
The eComStation 1.2R version will be the first release that will have an
Italian language version, Spanish and Taiwanese (DBCS) version available.
Of course, German, Dutch and Russian versions are available as well.
We try to improve the support for other NLV's as good as possible, luckily
our buildsystem has been highly tuned over time, so this is more maintainable
than ever before.
|Carl Gehr |
WADR, there really is not 'current level' packages for:
* Flash. Latest is V7 [or a fakeout V9 that often freezes if V9 really required.]
* Acrobat Reader. [I do not consider Lucide as equivalent to the real Acrobat Reader because so much function is missing. e.g., Cannot have more than one document window open and just switch among them. Easy zooming of the text is not available., No search backward, no search on whole word,...]
|Todd Simpson |
I have a small IT based business in upstate NY, USA. Starting with Warp4 and now to eCSv12.R, I use eCS as my main computer / server. My system serves up VirtualPC/2 with as many as 4 virtual machines running at a time 24/7/365. Remote clients controlling the client vm for special services I provide. I also run a data backup service for my commercial clients that maintains nearly 2 million data and program files on rotation. This same system is a http/ftp/pop3/smtp server for all my professional IT needs. I also have internet radio and off-the-air tv for multimedia news and entertainment. This same system also supports both my eCS and w32 application development systems.
Wow, all that and stability too! Which leads me to the following:
I applaud the achievements that the eComstation platform has accomplished!
With the dedicated developers and steadfast user base, eComstation has proven that this OS does have a valuable place in the future of viable computing platforms.
It seems that the very best of both worlds for proprietary and open source development strategies can and do work for a common goal, eComstation!
We, the users, developers and all that are involved should be very proud of the fine OS that we have today!
Keep up the GREAT work!
|David J Burtness |
I have been an OS/2 user and now eCS user since 1993. I have never had a crash where I lost critical data. As such some of the data I access goes back to the 90's. As a developer, I have moved from C++ to Java about year 2000. I welcomed IBM's initial devotion to Java support with the fastest JVM for it's time. Now, as Java 5 and 6 are becoming the standard, I am concerned about the Java support in eComStation. Even the very name, eComStation, implies strong internet/ecommerce support. The Java SDK must be kept up to date in order to remain a viable development environment for the internet.
|The GuaRDiaN aNGeL [TGA/GiS] |
I would like to make an extra name in the ones beneath mentioned:
"Besides the companies, eComStation could not exist without the tremendous support of people like Alex Taylor (GUI design, improvement of dialogs, small but very useful utilities), Veit Kannegieser (boottime detection of hardware, enabling the boot system with which the installation is started on modern PC's) and Chuck McKinnis (who manages all the IBM updates and created and maintains singlehandedly the eComStation Maintenance Tool). We are very lucky to have these people around!"
P A U L S M E D L E Y
|bill zirkle |
in the US, Indelible Blue solely sold OS/2 etc. i knew them personallyand was sad went they had to move on.
Paul Smedley definitely deserves inclusion!
Emperoar TV now supports some digital adapters. this can extend my use of OS/2 since tv video is mission critical on this pc.
Maybe it would have been nice to mention that this is a translation of an interview given a couple of years ago.
2008-03-23 20:07:11 -- Eugene Gorbunoff [ecomstation.ru]
"Первое интервью в этом сезоне - Интервью с Joachim Benjamins (Mensys) (английский текст)" - "The first interview in this season with Joachim Benjamins (Mensys) (English text)".
Who lies? :)
How many developers work on eComStation system?
It is good to be in the open !
It is good to read and notice that we are still not forgotten, especially looking into al the updates (although that may sometimes fail).
It is even better to have a 24hour never-down system at the top of my fingers because my customers are relying on that.
Alltogether: it is a nice interview !
Thanks and keep busy, as so wil we !
I use OS/2 ecs all the day developing in house software with VisualAge. It works, it's stable and my users appreciate it.
Ihave used OS/2 since 1984 and actually use eCS 2.0 rc4 at home desktop and in my laptop.
As there are no portuguese version of eCS, many of the old or even new Brazilian OS/2 users don't know the actual state of eCS.
Where I sad "1984" read "1994" - OS/2 2.1
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