eComStation comes in two CDs (you can download them as iso images to save some money) and third iso was with OpenOffice.org (however, the newer version was released recently). You need only first CD to install operating system. Second CD has additional free and trial (modern and legacy) software you can install.
First CD is bootable. Firstly it loads boot loader with two options: first one boot from hard drive and second one to boot from cd. Of course, you need to choose cd at first. I want to warn you that you need to back up your hard drive before this step. Setup can ruin your partitions (it happened to me twice) especially if you have extended ones. My guess is that it tries to initialize hard drive somehow if it can't identify partitions correctly. This is where setup begins. Just after it loads you'll see big eComStation 2 boot screen.
|First boot screen|
After this step it finally tries to load setup application. It uses Scitech Snap graphics driver if video is supported (as far as I understood) or uses "new" panorama (VESA) driver otherwise (included in this release). It loaded in all computers I tried. I guess these drivers works with quite big range of cards. Setup application is graphical and intuitive (it is eComStation original installer which differs from OS/2 but it is almost identical between both versions of eComStation).
|First setup screen|
You must to agree with license agreement on the next step and after that to choose installation type. This screen is quite important as you can choose between easy and advanced installation. Easy one will have less steps before install. I chose advanced one and review will focus on it. Management console is something like recovery console on Windows I guess.
After that comes the most annoying part. You need to write registration name and registration key. You can't go further until it is valid. The worst thing is that registration name has 21 symbols and registration key consists of 4 lines with 22 symbols each. However you can create reg file (or download it from ecomstation.com after you registered your code) and load it here. Because of this I strongly recommend to add such file into iso file. If you forgot that you can create a supported partition and add file there (fat, hpfs, jfs) before install. I don't know if usb key supported at this point.
Next button activates automatically and you can go further. You need to select partition (volume) on the next step where you will install eComStation. Logical Volume Manager is included to create one if you need so. I guess eComStation requires primary partition. Later you need to format it or choose migration option.
There are two file system options. HPFS (High Performance File System) is original OS/2 file system. However it has 64GB partition limitation and 2GB file limitation. JFS is modern, journalling file system which doesn't have such limitations. I chose JFS as it will have better compatibility with linux. It took around 20 minutes for a full 10GB format with JFS and 1.5 hour to format as HPFS. You can choose quick format too if you want (it takes several minutes).
You can change locale and timezone in the next step.
One more time you need to be careful here. I didn't have problems when time and timezone was changed, however locale changes led to installation errors on the second phase of the installation (WarpIN and KLIBC failed to installed leading to not fully installed and quite unusable system). Default locale didn't cause any problems in the future.
After you chose your locale setup starts to detect hardware and lists them.
Further step requires to choose default programs directory (I left unchanged) and default home directory (I change to my c:\home\[myname]). You can also choose here to install boot manager or skip this option. eComStation installation manual recommends to use their boot manager as default.
Later step allows you to choose which components or applications you want to install. Of course, this option is only available in advanced setup. Default setup is quite good but if you look through all list you might find some interesting things too (or some unneeded stuff too).
Installation consists of two phases. The first phase starts just after you accept your configuration and it installs base eComStation system files and initial configuration. It took me about 7.5 minutes on real hardware and about 10 minutes on VirtualBox (though it strange for me as system was much faster on VirtualBox). Progress bar doesn't show real progress it just fills up with blue/white colour continuously.
|eComStation desktop and OS/2 chess|