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IBM

Keeping the OS/2 Flame Alive 316

Posted by Zonk
from the burn-baby-burn dept.
nanday writes "Ever wondered what happened to OS/2? With IBM officially abandoning the operating system last year, users are relying on a third party version of OS/2 -- and, increasingly, using free and open source software to keep it alive." From the article: "According to Haverblad, the main reason that users stay with OS/2 is for 'features that Windows and Linux don't have yet.' He singles out the REstructured eXtended eXecutor (REXX), an interpreted programming language known for its ease of use, a 'rock solid kernel,' 'excellent multitasking,' and low system requirements. Haverblad also claims a lack of viruses and spyware and, referencing a report on OS/2 Warp Server by Secunia, fewer security vulnerabilities." Newsforge is also an OSTG site.
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Keeping the OS/2 Flame Alive

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  • by xxxJonBoyxxx (565205) on Friday February 17, 2006 @11:51AM (#14743072)
    "...the REstructured eXtended eXecutor (REXX), an interpreted programming language known for its ease of use..."

    REXX was also available for Amiga...and others...
    See: http://rexxla.org/Links/ [rexxla.org]

    • I'm on an OS/2 machine right now, at work.

      REXX is a poor replacement for Perl.
      • REXX is a poor replacement for Perl.

        But an elegant replacement for BASIC!

        Regardless, the golden years of REXX, and for that matter OS/2, have passed. The world has moved on, barring some pockets of legacy code here and there.
    • There are about a dozen more than this. See Interpreters [wikipedia.org]. Its a pretty well supported language on just about every platform. Though its really only naturally at home on Z-OS and I-OS and that's where it makes sense to use it.

    • I've used REXX on Windows. There's a terminal emulator called ZOC with a built-in REXX emulator. After it became widely used as a scripted helper for Trade Wars 2002, REXX support was incorporated into other TW helpers, including SWATH and (I think) TWX.

      Pretty sure there's also a standalone REXX for Windows. I'll let somebody else do the Googling and leech the +1, Informative.

    • by gmuslera (3436) on Friday February 17, 2006 @01:09PM (#14743762) Homepage Journal
      Is available for most OSs as there are free implementations of it. But in OS/2 was very tighly integrated with the OS, in a way that gives to that implementation extra value.

      Another thing i liked a lot about OS/2 is the WPS, that maybe by now there are better desktops, but back then was wonderful, still waiting some of their features in modern desktops like KDE.


      • Is available for most OSs as there are free implementations of it.

        Yes, exactly what I was going to say [freshmeat.net].


        But in OS/2 was very tighly integrated with the OS, in a way that gives to that implementation extra value.

        Yes, and AppleScript is very tightly integrated with MacOS, giving it extra value (this coming from someone who doesn't like Macs, mind you). While GNU/Linux may "suffer" from not having a scripting language tied to everything in it, it benefits from the flexibility of having all languages be on

        • by Watts Martin (3616) <layotl&gmail,com> on Friday February 17, 2006 @04:34PM (#14745330) Homepage
          It's worth noting as a minor nitpick that it's not actually AppleScript itself that's tied to the OS, but rather the Open Scripting Architecture, which is basically akin to the Amiga's "ARexx Ports" approach -- any language that can be built to talk with OSA can be used instead of AppleScript. There aren't many other OSA languages -- Frontier and JavaScript are the two most well-known ones -- but there's nothing intrinsic to AppleScript to prevent more from being developed. (Philip Aker has produced "OSAComponents," which claim to make Ruby, Python, Perl, PHP and Tcl/Tk "peer-level" scripting languages in the system, but I haven't tried them.)

          Also, even non-OSA languages can use the "osascript" utility to execute an OSA script. I find AppleScript profoundly annoying, but it's not that difficult to write, say, a Ruby or an Expect script which does all of the heavy lifting in its native tongue and passes just what it has to via AppleScript.
  • The problem is... (Score:3, Insightful)

    by ajiva (156759) on Friday February 17, 2006 @11:51AM (#14743073)
    Unfortunetly for OS/2 is that the installed software base is very small. So if you are content with whatever software is out there for OS/2 (old versions of browsers, etc) and don't have a fast computer then yes I agree OS/2 is worth it. Otherwise you're better off with Linux, Windows or maybe even Solaris.
  • REXX is something that the Amiga had too. But I think that REXX only really works if the majority of applications have hooks for it. Linux and Windows will never have useful REXX support because they have been going for too long without it. There would have to be a massive grass roots effort to add it to all the software, somewhat like when the Unisys started enforcing the gif patent
    • Re:REXX support (Score:2, Informative)

      by nogginthenog (582552)
      Well, on Windows there's nothing to stop REXX calling COM methods.
    • What, like: address SH "your shell command here"

      As a scripting language, its great, as you dont have to bother about having special libs developed for it, you get all the OS interface you need from the shell.

      When the vista environment comes out, I wont have to learn a new scripting language, just learn the few vista shell commands I need to get what i need done.

      Its not so good for full application development, but its the ideal universal scripting language.

    • On OS X AppleScript works much like REXX and lots of apps have hooks for it.

  • OS/2 (Score:3, Insightful)

    by certel (849946) on Friday February 17, 2006 @11:52AM (#14743084) Homepage
    I would still be using OS/2 if it was receiving regular updates for new hardware. I feel that if IBM was to relook at the OS, they may gain some market share because users are now more educated as to the workings of a computer.
    • Re:OS/2 (Score:2, Insightful)

      by garcia (6573)
      I feel that if IBM was to relook at the OS, they may gain some market share because users are now more educated as to the workings of a computer.

      You're joking right? OS/2 failed during a time when it was MORE likely that people using computers would understand them. Now, with OSs that nearly force you to NOT know about computers (by hiding everything behind purty graphics) people know even less about how their computers interact with the OS.

      Just because more people can *use* computers doesn't mean that th
      • Now, with OSs that nearly force you to NOT know about computers (by hiding everything behind purty graphics) people know even less about how their computers interact with the OS.

        Yeah, 'cause cars were so much better when everyone driving them needed to know how all about them rather than hiding everything behind purty dashboards. A computer is a tool and the simplest to use tool that completely accomplishes the job is the best one to use. I do not feel like going back to punch cards or flipping registers o

  • by gasmonso (929871) on Friday February 17, 2006 @11:54AM (#14743095) Homepage

    I suppose there are people using the abacus too.

    http://religiousfreaks.com/ [religiousfreaks.com]
  • by Manip (656104) on Friday February 17, 2006 @11:55AM (#14743106)
    Considering the timeframe OS/2 was developed in, and its complexity excuse me if I don't believe it is secure. Most of the software from that timeframe has been shown to have a LOT of security problems, primarily because the training, and tools to discover holes didn't exist at the time.

    Plus a complete OS that is secure? ... I don't think so... Linux, and BSD, in their lifetimes have had lots of security problems, particularly as they have grown in popularity.

    If OS/2 was released OpenSource tomorrow and got popular you'd have it with the MOST security venerabilities by years end I guarantee it.

    The ONLY reason OS/2 /appears/ to be secure is because it isn't worth any one's time trying to crack it.

    • Actually it is the most worthwhile OS to crack from a greed perspective... Guess what those ATMs generally run on... thats right, OS/2
      • by SatanicPuppy (611928) <Satanicpuppy@@@gmail...com> on Friday February 17, 2006 @12:06PM (#14743212) Journal
        Barring a few stupid corporations (*cough* Diebold *cough*), most ATMs accept extremely limited input, and have a very narrow range of possible actions they can take with that input, so there really isn't much to gain by hacking an ATM, and no real way to do it, because it's not really set up for that, and isn't running other, exploitable, services.

        Now, those Diebold machines that run Windows, on the other hand...I've seen screenshots of those things after a bluescreen, with the browser up, and the media player going. I'd bet there was a way to get them to spit out their complete internal cash supply. That's a good 250k, if it's full. Can you insert a buffer overflow on the back of an ATM card?
        • by general_re (8883) on Friday February 17, 2006 @12:34PM (#14743467) Homepage
          That's a good 250k, if it's full.

          No way. I used to work for a bank, and the busiest machines carried $30k when full, and most of our machines carried less. The machines just aren't set up to hold 12,500 bills (about 25 pounds worth of currency), which is $250k in $20 bills. Plus, that amount of cash would be way too tempting for the sorts of idiots who might consider hooking up a tow truck or backhoe and just driving off with the thing.

        • "Barring a few stupid corporations (*cough* Diebold *cough*), most ATMs accept extremely limited input, and have a very narrow range of possible actions they can take with that input, so there really isn't much to gain by hacking an ATM, and no real way to do it, because it's not really set up for that, and isn't running other, exploitable, services."

          Are you only considering the keypad and the card reader?
          What about physical access to the phone line? (Lots of ATM's use a POTS line, and a previous workplace
    • Considering the timeframe OS/2 was developed in, and its complexity excuse me if I don't believe it is secure.

      Remember, most of the OS/2 codebase was developed by IBM, whose minicomputer and mainframe OSes have frequently been used in the most complex and secure computing systems, ever since computers went electric.

      On the other hand, the rest of the codebase was developed by Microsoft in the late 1980s, so you're probably right.
    • Considering [OS/2's] complexity excuse me if I don't believe it is secure.

      Complexity and security are not oppposites. All modern operating systems are complex but they tend to have varying levels of security. Cryptography and fine-grained access control significantly increase complexity but also harden a system. In otherwords, complexity can make security weaker or stronger.

      Most of the software from that timeframe has been shown to have a lot of security problems

      Given multiple produc

      • When you consider the wide-spread use of Apache versus IIS, you see this argument holds no water.

        All I really see from this statement is that you have no understanding of logic. That's not too much of a problem here on Slashdot - handwaving and misdirection seem to win most arguments I read on this site.

        Note: I am not speaking to the assertions regarding vulnerabilities in any way. I am merely pointing out that the quoted statement has no value as the rebuttal it was intended to be.
  • viruses (Score:5, Informative)

    by blue_adept (40915) on Friday February 17, 2006 @11:55AM (#14743107)
    Haverblad also claims a lack of viruses and spyware.

    um, having a lack of USERS tends to do that.
    • Quite right. Whenever people try to hype up an old OS because of lack of viruses, I get the impression they're shooting themselves. Software will always have bugs : good review/verification schemes (like the linux kernel has) are great, but you're never going to get that on every single piece of software. It's probably the lack of people writing the viruses that makes them statistically more secure.
  • by thammoud (193905) on Friday February 17, 2006 @12:03PM (#14743183)
    I developed for OS/2 for about 7 years. Yes the kernel had threads and a solid multitasking support but the flawed design of Presentation Manager (PM) caused a single rogue app to lock up the desktop and making it useless. The single message queue that IBM designed in PM, was one of the worst technical design decisions ever made. There added many workarounds to kill rogue apps but the results were pretty unreliable.

    • by NullProg (70833) on Friday February 17, 2006 @12:10PM (#14743240) Homepage Journal
      I developed for OS/2 for about 7 years. Yes the kernel had threads and a solid multitasking support but the flawed design of Presentation Manager (PM) caused a single rogue app to lock up the desktop and making it useless. The single message queue that IBM designed in PM, was one of the worst technical design decisions ever made. There added many workarounds to kill rogue apps but the results were pretty unreliable.

      It was fixed in 1996 with the release of version 4. Microsoft owns the copyright on PM, not IBM.

      Enjoy,

    • single message queue that IBM designed in PM, was one of the worst technical design decisions ever made.

      Agreed, but it was MS that imposed that design decision, not IBM.
  • by Anonymous Coward
    And its not the stuffy old version that came with OS/2 either, it's the more modern ObjectREXX. Enjoy. [oorexx.org]
  • REXX (Score:5, Insightful)

    by Shag (3737) on Friday February 17, 2006 @12:04PM (#14743194) Homepage
    I used to code in REXX in 1989.

    It was pretty handy for scripting, useful as "glue" between different things and all that.

    By 1989 standards, mind you.

    I think modern things (like AppleScript/Automator) can probably do everything REXX could ever do, and more, while being more readable to us humans.
    • Back in the day, I used to run a BBS on my machine in a minimized DOS session. The BBS control script was done in REXX, and afforded me an insane amount of control when dealing with nightly maintenance of the board, its games, and assorted mail networks.
  • by ribuck (943217) on Friday February 17, 2006 @12:06PM (#14743213) Homepage
    "I believe OS/2 is destined to be the most important operating system, and possibly program, of all time. As the successor to DOS, which has over 10,000,000 systems in use, it creates incredible opportunities for everyone involved with PCs."

    -- Bill Gates, from "OS/2 Programmer's Guide" (forward by Bill Gates)

    • "OS/2 is dead."

      --Bill Gates, on or near the introduction of Windows 3.0.

  • by forgotten_my_nick (802929) on Friday February 17, 2006 @12:07PM (#14743219)
    http://www-306.ibm.com/software/awdtools/obj-rexx/ [ibm.com]

    We have apps running in Object REXX on Windows.
    • IIRC, REXX was originally developed *ON* S/370. It was found to be so useful that it quickly spread around to all of IBM's platforms, although it's rather broken on AS400|iSeries|System I5|whatever they're calling it these days.
  • by simong (32944) on Friday February 17, 2006 @12:08PM (#14743228) Homepage
    There are probably elderly PCs running Dow Jones feed servers in many banks still, probably even running OS/2 1.3 on the command line as it Just Worked, even to the point that there were attempts to port applications to v4/Warp when it was released. It had an amazingly fast boot time even compared to DOS but even when IBM had a burst of zealotry over Warp and tried to promote it as the Internet desktop of the future (I still have a few of those 60 day trial CDs that got everywhere at the end of 1994). It's good to know that it's being kept alive as despite its foibles, it had a potential that neither Linux, Windows or OS X have managed to really live up to, as a light, fast, multithreading application server. Just perhaps not a desktop.
    • Hmm, I seem to have missed a whole line there. It was about the general lack of compatibility with anything but, er, IBM machines. I can remember an IBM guy trying for two days to get a network connection on a generic PC at the ISP that I worked at at the time.
      • Not just in banks. A couple of my clients still have OS/2 boxes sitting quietly running voicemail systems, attached to a PBX. They just run and run, occasionally needing replacement drives but otherwise pretty flawlessly. The only systems we have that match their uptime are running FreeBSD.
  • by mr_majestyk (671595) on Friday February 17, 2006 @12:11PM (#14743247)
    On that day, OS/2's architect, Gordon Letwin, posted USENET message [google.com] explaining why the system was doomed in the market. After that, it was all downhill.
  • While I don't subscribe to the fanboy lit, I do remember being really impressed with OS/2 back in 1995 or so.

    Does anybody here have an ISO of the last version? I would love to spend some quality time poking around for old time's sake. (just send an email about it if you don't want to advertise having a copy to the world)

    • Sitting right in front of me, in the original box, are:

      14 OS2/ Warp V3 Install floppies
        4 OS2/ Warp V3 Display Driver floppies
        3 OS2/ Warp V3 Printer Driver floppies
      16 OS2/ Warp Bonus Pack floppies
        1 OS2/ Warp Demonstration floppy

      NOTE: Floppies are 3.5" 1.44MB.
    • Re:Fond memories (Score:3, Informative)

      by AragornII (30040)
      It is now being developed by a company called Serenity Systems. They struck a deal with IBM to continue to develop OS/2 and release new versions under the name eComStation. You can down load a demo CD (70 MB iso) from the eComStation Web site [ecomstation.com]. It won't install to a hard drive but is a bootable live CD version of the OS.
  • So OS/2 has REXX, a solid kernel, excellent multitasking, and low systems requirements.

    Good. But not unique. And a $259 price tag makes it considerably more expensive than Windows, Mac OS X or Linux.

    So... for the people who don't want to run Windows, but want to use a PC, maybe a nice OS/2 emulation layer for Linux? Maybe IBM could donate the documentation and money necessary to sponsor a FOSS developer for a year or something.
  • wonder if anyone could offer me a quick bit of advice (Sorry, I know this is O/T!). Our phone system, apart from being ancient, runs on a 166Mhz Cyrix (lol!) with OS/2 installed. If the hard disc in that machine fails, we are buggered as our telco no longer supports OS/2 and wants us to upgrade (a snap at £8,000!).

    My question is - does anyone know how I can make a perfect hard disc image that I can restore from if the Rickety 2Gb Segate in the box fails? Any advice greatly appreciated.

    Jonny.
    • My question is - does anyone know how I can make a perfect hard disc image that I can restore from if the Rickety 2Gb Segate in the box fails? Any advice greatly appreciated.

      Take the drive and slave it on a Linux box. dd if=/dev/hda2 of=what-ever-image-you-want-to-call-it. If you have hpfs support in your kernel, you could mount it and copy the files that way (mount /dev/hda2 /mnt -t hpfs).

      Enjoy.

  • by maynard (3337) <`j.maynard.gelinas' `at' `gmail.com'> on Friday February 17, 2006 @12:20PM (#14743339) Journal
    "Ever wondered what happened to RSX? With Digital Equipment Corporation officially abandoning the operating system, users are relying on a third party version of RSX -- and, increasingly, using free and open source software to keep it alive." From the article: "According to Strobe, the main reason that users stay with RSX is for 'features that RSTS and RT-11 don't have yet.' He singles out the Massachusetts General Hospital Utility Multi-Programming System (or MUMPS), a database programming language known for its ease of use, a 'rock solid kernel,' 'excellent multitasking,' and low system requirements. Strobe also claims a lack of viruses and spyware and, referencing a report on RSX showing fewer security vulnerabilities."
  • by I Like Pudding (323363) on Friday February 17, 2006 @12:21PM (#14743343)
    Ever wondered what happened to OS/2?

    No.
  • eComstation [ecomstation.com] is keeping the flame alive for those that are interested.

    ObjectRexx [ibm.com] is also available for many platforms as noted above.
    • I'm at a loss to understand why ObjectRexx never made it to OS/390 or z/OS machines. I used to use it all the time and couldn't see why OSes where people were less likely to use it got objects and the OS where most of its main use happened didn't.
  • by TheSkepticalOptimist (898384) on Friday February 17, 2006 @12:26PM (#14743378)
    Could we stop chauking up the lack of virii to the quality of the OS?

    I mean, honestly, no OS/2 virii? Is there any reason to target the 10 people out there still running OS/2 Warp with a virus?

    While I will agree that good OS design will prevent the kind of zombie take over of a machine that allow viruses to propogate and activate without user intervention, I don't believe for a second that ANY OS is virus proof.

    Virii are weapons of mass desctruction, that is, they want to have the greatest number of targets. An OS/2 virus, even if it had a 100% infection rate, would not make the news rounds, and might get a quick blurb on Slashdot. Virus writers are not going to waste time exploiting OS/2.

    We have seen a virus launched against OSX recently, probably due to the higher profile Apple has been getting recently with their new Macintel machines. Before this, people assumed OSX was virus proof, but its just that it wouldn't make an impact to write an OSX virus unless the writer can claim some fame by having it affect the greatest number of people and be talked about in the news.

    Also, when it comes to OS/2 having lower system requirements, it WAS written for computers designed about 15 years ago. I doubt OS/2 Warp server would be able to run or peform well with the typical client load that most servers today have to contend with. Email spam filtering alone can bring a modern server to its knees, I doubt OS/2 Warp Server would be able to function properly with 256mb of RAM, 10 gb hard drive space running on a Pentium class CPU even handling the email load a typical small business puts on today's servers.

    Anyways, I don't believe that OS/2 has any better ability to fight off virii then any other OS, just that its been forgotten about except by those too cheap to upgrade to a new computer and OS.
    • When I was running Warp 3 (back in 95 or 96), I managed to get infected with a DOS virus (because Warp Blue had Dos and Windows 3.1 preinstalled). I never noticed until I ran an antivirus program on a lark, because the virus couldn't adversely affect the system -- the multitasking and multithreading just let OS/2 work around everything the virus was trying to do.

      I miss OS/2. Workplace Shell is a thing of beauty. I hope Voyager works out.
    • Just so you know, this Mac OS X "virus" you speak of actually wasn't a virus, it required the user to download the file, which is disguised as a JPEG image through a simple icon change, but that doesn't OS X is even smart enough to tell you that the compressed file you're downloading contains a program, not an image. Furthermore, after being successfully downloaded it required the user to open it, then enter their password for anything to even happen. You might call it a trojan, but it is in no way shape
    • First off, nirii isn't considered proper usage, and makes you look like an idiot. Avoid hypercorrection if you want to be taken seriously.

      Second, I understand your point, but there is a very real reason why OS/2 could be a prime target. It runs over half of all the ATMS in North America. ATM's = money storage and bank access = Criminal interest.

      "Also, when it comes to OS/2 having lower system requirements, it WAS written for computers designed about 15 years ago. I doubt OS/2 Warp server would be able to ru
  • by Eric Damron (553630) on Friday February 17, 2006 @12:30PM (#14743432)
    OS/2 is the crappiest OS ever!

    How's that for keeping a flame alive?

    Joking... just joking...
  • ATM machines & OS/2 (Score:5, Informative)

    by harshmanrob (955287) on Friday February 17, 2006 @12:49PM (#14743610) Journal
    80% of the ATM machines in North America are running OS/2 right now. I'd call that one hell of an install base. I know this becuase my company does remote IT support for several banks, including one that plans to be the largest financial institution by the end of 2007. In that bank, a civil war is being fought between the Wintel and Unix/Linux side to decide what these ATM machines will run when IBM drops support. I do not know about you, but it scares the crap out of me to put in my ATM card and the next thing I see is a blue screen. That is when Mr. Crowbar will have to take over.
  • Rexx programmer! (Score:3, Insightful)

    by SlippyToad (240532) on Friday February 17, 2006 @12:58PM (#14743685)
    Sorry, I actually program in REXX, and "ease of use" is not the first thing that comes to mind. FUCKING HEADACHE, maybe. There are a dozen languages right handy that are easier to use, and especially debug, than REXX. Whenever possible I avoid it. If I'm doing glue scripting, TCL is my language of choice these days.
  • OS/2 Lives! (Score:2, Interesting)

    by nothingtodo (641861)
    I use/used it for about 10 years now. I dont use it for my primary duties though, mostly just playing around on it and enjoying the WPS. I just recently setup an old Netfinity server running WSEB (v4.5) with RAID, Mozilla, Staroffice, VPC, Java, Netfinity apps, a newsreader and some other goodies. Sytem is rock solid and stable and pretty snappy on dual PII 450s no less. OS/2 will never be opensourced because there's too much M$ and IBM code mixed in together. For machines that just have to run attended for
  • by tomcres (925786) on Friday February 17, 2006 @01:01PM (#14743708)
    It's now called "Windows XP". You may have heard of it.

    (I know, the article is about IBM OS/2, not Microsoft's. Microsoft and IBM parted ways after version 1.3, with IBM working on version 2, while Microsoft focused on building a more ambitious version 3, which eventually became Windows NT version 3. The rest is history. But yes, Windows NT in its embryonic stages was originally supposed to be Microsoft OS/2 version 3. Windows NT could still use HPFS file systems and run OS/2 binaries until, I believe, Windows 2000. Not that there were a lot of killer apps out that used the OS/2 v1.x API, but you could actually still run them on NT 3 and NT 4)..

  • by psykocrime (61037) <{mindcrime} {at} {cpphacker.co.uk}> on Friday February 17, 2006 @01:05PM (#14743738) Homepage Journal
    There is an effort underway to create an open source clone [osfree.org] of OS/2. You die-hard OS2'ers might want to check it out and get involved...

  • by Greyfox (87712) on Friday February 17, 2006 @01:10PM (#14743771) Homepage Journal
    I started with OS/2 with my first job. I had to travel around a lot and my boss ended up buying a 486 laptop for me. Now I was used using real operating systems from the various schools I'd attended and was not satisfied with Windows. I looked around for a real operating system to install on the laptop. SCO was my first choice but their OS cost mid 4 digits and the look and feel sucked. BSD was kinda scary back then and the only way I could find a distribution was to order a bunch of tapes. So I ended up installing OS/2. It was pretty nice -- I could work on the 3 DOS programs my company maintained for dogtracks in 3 separate windows, play most Windows games and had a spiffy interface. Workplace shell, for all everyone complained about it, was nifty. It was object oriented and allowed casading folders and a lot of other functionality that Windows 3.0/3.1 didn't.

    I ended up working for IBM doing OS/2 technical support after a couple of years. IBM really did have a highly rated support line despite the fact that out of all the people training with me, I was the only one who'd ever used the system. After about a year on the phones, they promoted me to electronic forum support, where I answered questions from users posting on CompuServe. Remember CompuServe? We had quite a presence there. I specialized in REXX and networking, although I would frequently hit the other forums as well.

    I was also an advocate for the OS because it really did suck less than Windows. In fact, it sucked less than Windows right up until the Windows XP/ME timeframe. In many ways, the OS/2 interface is still superior to Windows. I attended a couple of COMDEXes with Team OS/2 and attended several local Team OS/2 events at ham fests and things like that.

    At its peak, OS/2 had an estimated install base of 10,000,000 users despite the PCCO's refusal to pre-install the OS on systems for customers. We're all familiar with why they didn't -- Microsoft would revoke the volume discounts for any manufacturer preinstalling a competing OS on systems being sold. That was one of the nails in the OS/2 coffin. Others included the attitude in IBM that PCs weren't real machines and if you wanted a real OS you should be running AIX, the refusal of engineering to fix several really annoying little bugs, and several other factors as well. The two most annoying bugs were the tendency for the Workplace Shell to become corrupt (Binary registry files and all that...) and the single system input queue which would allow one application to hang the entire shell. Half-assed hacks were made to work around both problems, but they were half-assed and sucked.

    Around 95, I saw the writing on the wall for OS/2 and downloaded a copy of slakware 1.0 off the Internet. I've been using Linux ever since then.

    As for its advantages, REXX was an advantage over the DOS batch file language, but honestly what isn't? Perl, ruby and python all provide similar features and you're far more likely to find someone who knows how to write in one of those than in REXX. REXX was also quite limited, possibly even intentionally crippled, in what it was capable of doing. Interacting with the WPS and GUI components was always a pain in the ass, if not completely impossible. Network communications was impossible with the version of it that I used.

    The OS/2 kernel WAS rock solid outside its third party drivers, and as far as I know no one ever managed to write a virus for it. The WPS was always the biggest draw but IMHO IBM ruined it after OS/2 2.0 or 2.1. It was hideous in Warp 3 and later. Gnome kind of looks like the WPS -- very similar object desktop concepts, and the WPS used an early version an object system similar to CORBA to provide access to desktop objects. I never really liked icons on my desktop to begin with, so I don't really miss it all that much.

    Inside IBM most of the OS/2 people I knew switched to Linux after IBM killed the system. There might still be a few hold-outs lurking in the bowels of the company, but most of the stuff you need for t

  • I remember back in the day, I ran OS/2 with the WPS ripped-out, using some IBM employee-written freeware/shareware/whateverware called TShell as my text-mode interface. That thing multitasked like a beast in very little RAM. Great for my BBS machine. I came to the OS/2 world from an Amiga, so real multitasking was very important to me. Now I have several times more RAM on my videocard than I had in that whole machine. w00t!
  • by cwills (200262) on Friday February 17, 2006 @01:33PM (#14743928)
    A while back, IBM released ObjectRexx to the opensource world. The OORexx project is hosted on Sourceforge http://oorexx.org/ [oorexx.org] It runs just fine under Linux, and can be used as a straight scripting language for shell scripts.
  • Ever see the cheesy Tom Cruise movie Coctail? Great quote...

    "Bury the dead, they stink up the place"
  • by gelfling (6534) on Friday February 17, 2006 @01:40PM (#14743977) Homepage Journal
    Even when it was a so called supported product, we could never understand why they had zero interest in developing a browser. When they finally did it was a personal project of guys inside IBM that got product-ized but basically not supported. Similarly the nntp client and bunch of other stuff like that.

    We could never understand why IBM could NEVER fix the single threaded IO queue no matter how many times we complained about it.

    We could never understand why they never made an effort to improve or at least fix the fixpack process which could often as not leave you with a non operating system.

    We could never understand why the desktop utilities were so incomplete that freeware or sharware like FM/2 were necessary.

    We could never understand why we could get a bunch of APPC/APPM com tech support engineers on the phone but NO ONE inside the company was allowed to acknowledge the existence of Ethernet.
  • REstructured eXtended eXecutor (REXX), an interpreted programming language known for its ease of use, a 'rock solid kernel,' 'excellent multitasking,' and low system requirements.

    Are you sure this isn't a description of the Amiga OS?

  • by Kaenneth (82978) on Friday February 17, 2006 @02:58PM (#14744612) Homepage Journal
    But saying that it has few viruses, is like saying Unicorns don't need rabies shots...
  • by Sloppy (14984) on Friday February 17, 2006 @04:39PM (#14745364) Homepage Journal
    It doesn't matter how awesome it is. If it isn't free, then PHBs control its destiny, and the users are probably doomed to suffer from lack of maintenance. And no matter how much they want it, no matter how much they love it, no matter how loudly they cry or scream, they are impotent.

    Been there, done that. Never again. I now use software that I am 100% certain will last forever. Linux may not be as fast as Amiga OS and KDE may not be as "nifty" as WPS (although it's actually getting pretty decent), but at least I don't have to worry about the future. Even the Microsofties aren't this safe.

  • by PizzaFace (593587) on Friday February 17, 2006 @05:54PM (#14745960)
    Oh, sure, IBM says OS/2 will run on 2 MB of RAM, but you won't get decent performance unless you spring for 4 MB. And if you want it to fly with graphical apps, be ready to empty your bank account for a 486 with a full 8 megs!

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