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IBM

IBM's OS/2 Strategy for 2003 270

Landreth writes "OS2World.com reports that IBM has released their OS/2 strategy for 2003. They appear to be pushing the WebSphere Software Platform as well as client and server upgrades to Warp 4. The report can be viewed at IBM's website."
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IBM's OS/2 Strategy for 2003

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  • RIP (Score:4, Insightful)

    by Anonymous Coward on Friday January 10, 2003 @08:14AM (#5054043)
    Funny that an OS which /. has been reporting as being dead for years is apparently still being updated.

    -t
    • Re:RIP (Score:2, Funny)

      by Anonymous Coward
      But this story is about OS/2 not BSD.
  • Getting OS/2 (Score:5, Interesting)

    by bjb ( 3050 ) on Friday January 10, 2003 @08:16AM (#5054057) Homepage Journal
    I've been wondering for the last few years, who still uses OS/2? Forget companies who have legacy software running on it, I mean does anyone actually use it on their personal machine? I mean regularly; enough to validate upgrades.

    The bigger question I have, however, is that I never really had a chance to play with OS/2, and I always wanted to see what it was like. Is it even publically (preferably freely) available for a weekend hobbyist like myself who just wants to kick the tires?

    • Re:Getting OS/2 (Score:3, Informative)

      by EvilAlien ( 133134 )
      Banks. Banks love the hot n spicy OS/2 action.

      There was a really interesting article on the OS that I read a few months ago... I can't find the damn URL, but if you do a google search you will find quite a few resources with information on OS/2. It is apparently still quite popular with banks (mostly due to having existing infrastructure that relies on it paired with good ol' inertia).

      • Re:Getting OS/2 (Score:3, Informative)

        by revision1_1 ( 69575 )
        ATM machines, specifically. I worked in the marketing group for a small tech-savvy bank once, and was given the task of customizing our (single) ATM's 'demo loop'.

        You had to have an OS/2 machine loaded with the ATM software (am emulator, essentially), change the graphics/text/animation and so forth in the emu, and then create a boot floppy.

        You rebooted the ATM with the boot floppy, and voila! New interface!

        As soon as I told my boss I was going to need a machine running OS/2 and the ATM emulator software (which we couldn't locate anyway) his response was "uh, nevermind."

        I wish I still had those docs. It was interesting stuff: what was logged, and where, how to hook up the cash counter to the (serial, IIRC) port, etc. Neat stuff. The ATM innards were by Fujitsu, if memory serves.
    • When I click on "About Mozilla" I see

      Mozilla/5.0 (OS/2; U; Warp 4.5; en-US; rv:1.0.0) Gecko/20020602

      (Admittedly that's not the latest version.) So here's at least one person who actually uses it on a personal machine.
    • Re:Getting OS/2 (Score:5, Informative)

      by Dr. Evil ( 3501 ) on Friday January 10, 2003 @10:01AM (#5054692)

      I don't use it, but I ran it for quite some time.

      Most GNU and free software apps have been ported to it at one time or another. GCC, Xfree86, Mozilla, all were ported long before they were ported to Win32.

      It still has a heap of useful software apps, and it has some things which Linux has been working on since at least 1995.

      Like:

      • Smooth True Type font integration and management
      • Easy printer setup and support
      • Support for multiple simultaneous streams of audio (without the lag of ESD, or kludging about with multiple audio devices presented by one card)
      • Win16 application support (who cares if it doesn't fully or even partially support Win32, neither does Linux)
      • A desktop environment with a good clipboard

      It lacked:

      • A slick security model on the filesystem
      • Multiuser support
      • Good marketing and incentive for companies to develop native apps.

      The GUI also had a message queueing problem which prevented apps from responding when one app seized the queue.

      In the late days of BBSes, OS/2 was the prefered platform. You could strip out the GUI and the multitasking was very good. Desqview was the only competitor in that field, Linux was too new and strange for the BBS world -- BBSes were a PC phenomenon. Unix and variants were part of an educational and business world which didn't cross into the PC world.

      IBM never released the package for free (short of betas back in the early '90s), and now I believe it costs a fortune to get a copy... if you can get it at all.

    • Here are some of the reasons why:

      Warp 4 Screen Shots> [visi.com]
      • One thing I always loved about OS/2 was 'palettes'. Fonts, colours, backgrounds could be stored in a palette and dropped on to a window, and that window (and only that one) would change according to the pallette.

        I always wondered why no other OS I'd seen had anything like it.

    • Re:Getting OS/2 (Score:2, Informative)

      by farmkid ( 15226 )
      I'm another current user; OS/2 (in its eCS garb) is the only OS on my primary machine (though, admitedly, I have others for Linux and NT).

      As for getting it, there are two options:

      1) Get the current, non-IBM-branded version from Serenity Systems (www.ecomstation.com)

      2) Get the current (or previous versions, if you want) of the IBM version on eBay. Copies are available all the time for far less that you'd pay IBM.
    • teller machines, ATMs, workstations etc

      They're still real big with banks.

      Someone even told me they saw OS/2 (PPC) on a Mac at a deom (don't know if it's wives tail - does OS/2 PPC support the Mac G3 southbridge internally? Or does one have to install it on a IBM PPC workstation then manually install a homemade Mac G3 Southbridge driver set & shutdown, then reboot the system drive on a G3 board?
    • Re:Getting OS/2 (Score:2, Informative)

      by Slorf ( 576160 )
      I use it on a a spare P200 in my office as a utility box and backup workstation. The system is running OS/3 Warp Connect 3.0 fully patched with the latest fixpacks.

      The box runs an Apache 1.3.26 server where co-workers can download utilities I've written and where I test new CGI programs to give them a real cross platform shakedown. It also runs a Python tool of mine via Cron/2 that scans the National Weather Service every five minutes and pages me when there are severe weather watches and warnings for my area. The darned thing is rock solid, never crashes (I can't even say that about my Redhat 7.3 system), and just plain works.

      It also functions as a backup workstation, with Mozilla 1.l, openssh and a Citrix client so I can get my work done when my Win2K laptop goes in the tank, which happens all too frequently. With a P200 and 160 mb RAM, it is too old and slow to run even Windows 95 once you patch it up with all the security updates, and you can forget about running KDE or Gnome on it if you want responsiveness (though enlightenment runs pretty smoothly). OS/2 on the other hand is delighted with the processor and RAM. Sometimes it is more efficient to use an older OS on an older box.
    • Well... I use OS/2 every day on my main machine (including as I post). It is not perfect, and I sometimes wish some new functionality was available, but no one has ported it (or written an OS2-specific variant). But for the work I actually do day-to-day, this system is better than any other options.

      Of course, the WPS (workplace shell) is an object oriented interface that is FAR better than that on any other platform (including BeOS, Gnome, KDE, Windows, MacOS9/X, etc). But nonetheless, most of what I actually do is within specific applications, and an platform that lets me reasonably switch between apps is bearable. I have a set of applications that I am quite happy with, and in many cases simply have not found anything on Linux/FreeBSD, or MacOS X (or "minor" platforms either) that I am entirely comfortable using. Windows, of course, is not under serious consideration for full time use.

      Part of my happiness with current apps is inertia. I'm familiar with certain applications, and want to avoid a learning curve. But in many cases, I've really TRIED to find something as good elsewhere, and simiply have not been satisfied. Here are the main things I use:

      - Yarn Mail/Newsreader: I like this app. It is easy to navigate, unifies mail and news, is text mode/keyboard driven, is extensible with outside tools. Admittedly, I know the mutt--and perhaps some other *nix tools--would be as good, so this is mostly a matter of familiarity.

      - Mozilla: Available most everywhere, but this includes my OS/2 box.

      - Python: Available most everywhere too, including OS/2.

      - Boxer editor: I have used this editor for years, and really like it. I like the ancient OS/2 version better than the new Windows versions even (text mode, for one thing). This is an area where I am dramatically unhappy with my options elsewhere. Toys like joe, or even jed, just don't do enough. But vi and emacs are just way too steep a learning curve for me to really use (even though I know every capability is hidden in there somewhere). Jedit is OK for my iBook, but a bit slow. Nedit is bearable too, but canot be used in a console, which is what I really want. Boxer has menus that actually *show* you what it can do (with shortcut hints in the menus), and Boxer actually handles wrapped text in flexible ways, unlike almost every other editor (changing margin, text widths, hanging indents, etc., all per paragraph). Lots of editors work for code... few are usuable for writing books and articles like I do.

      - Good command line. You need to enhance OS/2's shell to make it fully usable. But I use a REXX script called 'cmdshl' that adds the needed colorization, tab completion, history, etc. I could also get bash or others if I wanted. (The default CMD.EXE is better than Windows, but not as good as I want).

      - Ghostscript/Ghostview: Up to date on these, most platforms are fine too... but I'm OK with OS/2 here.

      - Occassionally I run old, but still good, Win16 commercial tools, mostly WordPerfect 7, and Quattro Pro. Mostly I like these better than OpenOffice equivalents (if only because of my legacy documents). But OpenOffice I could live with (when will the OSX version be available?!).
      • OH... I almost forgot what is perhaps the most important thing: For most file manipulation/launching actions, I use an "orthodox file manager (OFM)" called FileJet. There are actually several good OFMs for OS/2, but this is my favorite (paid-for shareware). Midnight commander *hints* at what these tools can do, but a really good one is without question the best way to fork with files/directories/etc.

        I really have not found anything as good for *nix systems, although obviously there is nothing conceptually impossible about writing one.
    • Re:Getting OS/2 (Score:4, Insightful)

      by Micah ( 278 ) on Friday January 10, 2003 @02:20PM (#5057174) Homepage Journal
      I have a copy of Warp 4 and Visual Age C++ for OS/2 that I'll almost certainly never use again. Would be willing to sell for cheap+shipping.

      I loved OS/2, but it is what helped convince me that Free Software is SO important. I put quite a bit of effort into learning OS/2, hoping it would take off, and learned a lesson when IBM stopped pushing it. You just can't put much hope in non Free software! Linux is, fortunately, immune to being ignored by its manufacturer the way OS/2 (and BeOS) was.
    • I see OS/2 all the time at my local used bookstore, which also sells used software and music CD's. It's usually like $10, with manuals, or something like that.

    • FWIW, The Texas Department of Transportation uses it to manage all auto registration (and maybe driver registration--haven't been there yet) records. That's a fairly big installation because there are at least one Texas DoT in every county (well, maybe not Loving Country TX, pop 81, heh) in TX.
    • I walked up to an ATM machine in Paris, just two weeks ago, which was out of order an booting with an OS/2 Warp screen. I thought Id traveled back in time...

    • I'm still running OS/2 Warp 3.0 on my old P75 laptop. Toss Xfree86 and gcc on it and you can even recompile a lot of Linux apps to work properly with minimal alteration.

      If you're looking to try out OS/2 I'd check eBay for it. My original 3.0 came on a CD, and my laptop was floppy only, and I managed to get a box set with all the docs for under $10 with shipping.

      IBM does not, AFAIK, offer public domain licenses for it.
  • Change of plans.. (Score:5, Interesting)

    by Plutor ( 2994 ) on Friday January 10, 2003 @08:19AM (#5054074) Homepage
    I thought IBM's OS/2 plan for 2003 was kill it [slashdot.org]. Why has this changed?
    • Re:Change of plans.. (Score:3, Informative)

      by Anonymous Coward
      Well, for one thing, many companies (like Musicland, which owns Sam Goody, Suncoast, and other music stores) use OS/2 to manage their individual stores. I worked temp at a Sam Goody, and was surprised to find the graphical OS/2 interface hidden behind some dumb text-based check-out program. Worked pretty well, too. I don't believe it ever crashed within the time I was there, unlike the Windows machine (for searching their music database) which really sucked.
      • That was one nice thing about OS/2 -- the ability to kill off errant threads. Unlike Windows, OS/2 had a program (albeit, not included) called PMThreadKill that allowed you to terminate a process thread without hosing up the entire system.

        Windows has TaskManager, but even using this I have to reboot when I hit a pr0n site with my popup killer disabled (it blocks Fark.com story pop ups) and IE takes my system out. Wouldn't happen under OS/2.
      • Best Buy Co. now owns Sam Goody and Suncoast. And according to the article linked below, they're closing up Sam Goody and Suncoast all over the place. Decline in cd sales they claim.

        http://www.hollywoodreporter.com/hollywoodreport er /music/brief_display.jsp?vnu_content_id=1791893
    • Re:Change of plans.. (Score:5, Informative)

      by silvaran ( 214334 ) on Friday January 10, 2003 @08:35AM (#5054145)
      It was corrected on a slashback. The EOLs are mostly for hardcopy documentation and other bundled software, not for OS/2 itself.
    • As best I can tell from reading the IBM page, the new "strategy" is to help customers transform custom OS/2 client/server apps into "webified" eBusiness apps running on WebSphere. After enough migrations, you will have attained "OS independence" on the client side (and server side as well). A typical office worker will only need a web browser and an Office suite to do their entire job. This has been IBM's e-business strategy since long before I joined them. Any IBM'er who's been through the internal "e-Business transformation" will agree that it has brought some amazing changes to our admistrative processes.

      While reading the early parts of the page, I was anticipating OS/2 becoming some sort of a .NET competitor, like a pure web-based client environment a la the old "workspace on demand". But I soon realized that they are just pushing the webification of applications to break OS dependence on both ends.

      In the meantime, IBM will continue to provide some critical fixes and "consider" developing support for new devices, until customers no longer need OS/2 on the server side or client side.
  • So why use OS/2? (Score:2, Insightful)

    by KDan ( 90353 )
    I read through their strategy and I couldn't find any hint of why people should actually use OS/2 over any other solutions. Java, XML and the internet protocols are very well supported in Linux and *BSD, so why would anyone switch to OS/2 rather than one of those systems, if they decide to switch to something, or why would they choose OS/2 rather than something else if they're starting a new project?

    Unless they answer these questions, it's all hot wind.

    Daniel
    • There's only one reason, and that's the kickass object-oriented Workplace Shell. If you've never experienced it you'll probably never know how beautiful it is/was. If IBM redeveloped it for Linux.......
    • by squiggleslash ( 241428 ) on Friday January 10, 2003 @08:44AM (#5054191) Homepage Journal
      Maybe they just like it better. You know, the way it works. The GUI. etc.

      Where did this crap come in choice is a bad thing? EVERY time someone mentions a new OS, or in this case a resuccitated old one, the same old "Why do this, when Linux does blah blah blah and Windows does narf narf narf" arguments come up.

      Notice how nobody ever protests when GM or Ford comes up with another car. "But why get this 'Grand Marquis' thing when a Sable can already get you from A to B in comfort."

      But choice in OSes. Oh no, that's terrible! We must consider that evil!

      • New GM and Ford cars don't require propeitary gasoline.

        I agree with you tho, with OpenBeos in my sig ;)

    • Nobody is asking questions. The people who need OS/2 already KNOW why they need it.

      By the way, it's the best programming environment I've ever worked under, and as far as reliability goes there has never been anything to touch it until OSX came along.
    • I read through their strategy and I couldn't find any hint of why people should actually use OS/2 over any other solutions. Java, XML and the internet protocols are very well supported in Linux and *BSD, so why would anyone switch to OS/2 rather than one of those systems, if they decide to switch to something, or why would they choose OS/2 rather than something else if they're starting a new project?

      This announcement isn't for future OS/2 customers -- it's for current OS/2 customers. The idea is that this group should use generic interfaces so that they can transition off of OS/2 when IBM finally cuts the cord.

      It also shows that IBM as a company is trustworty in the most normal of senses -- even if you never liked or even knew about OS/2.

      Maintenance mode on most projects is usually 80-95% of the project's lifetime, and IBM will cover everything if you want them too from start to finish.

      This is one thing about IBM that I love -- they don't stop support after a couple years. The fees they charge pay for this kind of long-range planning so they are worth it if you need this kind of stability and assurance.

      To bring this back to an Unix/Linux focus...If anyone doubts Linux's future or top-notch support -- say, they have been in a cave for the last 10 years -- point to this type of dedication from IBM and that IBM not only supports Linux but has invested heavily in it.

    • You sure you read it?

      It seemed pretty clear to me that this strategy was about how to switch away from OS/2, not why to switch to it: "customers should exploit OS/2 e-business enhancements and deploy new e-business technology applications concurrently with existing OS/2 applications until platform neutrality has been achieved, and then change the operating system."

      This is very consistent with the central message in IBM's software strategy: target our middleware and you can deploy anywhere.
  • OS/2 (Score:4, Interesting)

    by Anonymous Coward on Friday January 10, 2003 @08:22AM (#5054083)
    The software that runs the telephone system at my workplace, runs on... yes.. OS/2. Its the only system in our mostly Windoze company, (other than our good old novell server) that is not constantly giving me grey hair.
  • I thought.. (Score:1, Interesting)

    IBM was moving more towards Linux. Linux and WebSphere suposed to be a nice combo right?

    At work, I see mainly Linux, Windows, and a increasingly smaller set of Solaris boxes.
  • Gentlemen, let us remember the little engine that could - the half OS. And we should never forget that in order to be successful an OS requires both technology and marketing. Only one of them is not enough.
    • Eh? And exactly how much marketing does Linux get? Its simply illogical to equate the success of a system with marketing $$$...
      • by C0vardeAn0nim0 ( 232451 ) on Friday January 10, 2003 @08:54AM (#5054237) Journal
        Linux have what people are calling today "viral marketing". I installed linux in 1997 when no one at the helldesk I worked for had even heard of it.

        one month later lots of people were asking me how to install, setup, use that novelty.

        why the success ? marketing (me), technology (they're so many) and _cost_ (the price of a blank CD-R).

        linux have all three, OS/2 at that time had _ONLY ONE_. technology. it didn't had "viral marketing" and even less from IBM and it COSTED MONEY. more money than windows. so in terms of cost/benefit windows ended as a better alternative, specially to business who gives backward compatibility a high value.
        • You might be interested to know that the first place I ran into OS/2 was Brazil. The big BBS in Campinas was running it and singing its praises back in 1994. The sysop was encouraging everyone to try it out. He even set up get togethers so that people could see it in person and try it out.
        • by benzapp ( 464105 ) on Friday January 10, 2003 @12:28PM (#5056004)
          it didn't had "viral marketing" and even less from IBM and it COSTED MONEY. more money than windows

          OS/2 never cost more than Windows. There were always two versions of OS/2. One which could canibalize a windows installation to allow OS/2 the ability to run windows programs, AND a version which included windows functionality right out of the box. Beginning with version 4, that was the ONLY Version. When you purchased these "blue spine" box or OS/2 v4, you were purchasing OS/2 AND Windows, so of course its going to cost more than Windows. You can be damn sure Microsoft wasn't going to let IBM sell Windows cheaper than them.

          OS/2 didn't have the best marketing in terms of television advertisement, but they had a great grass roots marketing system with their Team OS/2. Lou Gerstner also made a lot of pivotal changes around the time v3.0 was released that caused a lot of problems. The grass roots OS/2 movement of the early 90's was certainly more organized and forward thinking than Apple at the time which was stagnant from 1990 to 1996.
        • I would have to disagree with your assessment. The realtive success of Linux and the downfall of OS/2 has a lot more to do with timing and the marketplace than any other factor (including marketing).

          OS/2 was viewed and pushed as a "better Windows". This would have been fine had Microsoft and IBM stayed bed partners. But once M$ decided to stick with Windows, this split the market at a time when OS/2 was just trying to make headway. A fatal blow given the timing in the market. It was much harder to differentiate OS/2 compared to Windoze, esp. with NT right around the corner. That and the whole issue of is being very compatable with your bigger rival a good or bad thing.

          Linux on the other hand is very much riding the Internet wave. Web servers and firewalls have become the killer app for Linux, OS/2 unfortunately never had that killer app (well except for ATM software that is). If Linux "peaked" around that time (late 80's early 90's), then it would just be another *nix alsoran.

          So I wouldn't be so quick to attribute "viral marketing" to the success of Linux vs the "failure" of OS/2. The cost was not that big of an issue with most companies, esp considering the excellent support IBM offered for OS/2 (maybe being in Austin helped here). It's all in the timing, like they say, sometimes it's better to be lucky than good.
        • "it COSTED MONEY"

          And obviously it was more than worth the money. People still talk about and use OS/2 Warp 4. Can the same be said about the other major operating systems at the time?
      • Eh? And exactly how much marketing does Linux get? Its simply illogical to equate the success of a system with marketing $$$...

        Not if the purpose of the system was to make money in the first place. OS/2 failed because it wasn't marketed, whereas it's closest competitor (Windows) succeeded because of aggressive marketing.

        Personally, with Commodore getting screwed over like they did, I'd have preferred OS/2 getting widely popular over Windows.

  • by MosesJones ( 55544 ) on Friday January 10, 2003 @08:34AM (#5054138) Homepage
    This is why when you look at the computing marketplace that IBM will be here in 20 years time... NO MATTER WHAT.

    Microsoft, Oracle, Sun have all grown up in the last 30 years, and they have a more short term mentality. When people are buying IBM they know a few things

    1) Its not the cheapest

    2) Its not the best

    3) It will be supported for ever

    In terms of TCO when looking at systems that have 5+ year lifespans its this last element that favours IBM.

    Every large company will have AS/400s and OS/390s, they might be over 10 years old or more, they will still be running, and will still be supported. Microsoft can't say the same.
    • Therefore... (Score:5, Insightful)

      by zanderredux ( 564003 ) on Friday January 10, 2003 @08:44AM (#5054192)
      Microsoft will suck forever in the enterprise world because they insist on treating their enterprise customers with the same draconian and stupid rules they apply to the personal market.

      While I agree that such rules induce the behavior they want (ie, need for frequent updates because after 5 years your system is not compatible with itself), this scheme does not leave space for stability and security improvements business so deseperately need.

      Individuals can afford to do this. Business, with their regulatory needs, such as archiving data for 5+ years, do not. Go IBM!!!

    • and every large company has Microsoft Desktops, a microsoft file server somewhere, a microsoft print server, many exchange servers, and lots of little IIS servers throughout the infrastructure.

      those are all toys. the real work does get done on the many SUN, and IBM machines locked in the Halon room.
    • two funny things. (Score:3, Insightful)

      by twitter ( 104583 )
      I saw two funny thing here:
      Microsoft, Oracle, Sun have all grown up in the last 30 years, and they have a more short term mentality. When people are buying IBM they know a few things
      1) Its not the cheapest
      2) Its not the best
      3) It will be supported for ever

      Funny #1: Quality. At the time OS/2 WAS the best thing on Intel. Microsoft had written both DOS and OS/2, with OS/2 being a dramatic improvement. IBM took it and did much more good stuff for it. It was superior to M$ 95 when Redmond unleashed their first sort of 32 bit system and OS/2 is still arguably better than anything M$ has. Of comercial systems for Intel, you are hard pressed to do better. IBM hardware quality and mechanical design is first rate as well.

      Funny #2, you lump Microsoft, Oracle and Sun together. That's sort of like calling $the_most_vile_criminal_you_can_imagine and people who drive over the speed limit "law breakers." Larry Ellison may have said a few silly things about National ID cards, but Bill Gates is way ahead of the Total Information Awareness game. Oracale licenses may be restrictive but they are not invasive like those from M$. Sun is an honest company with reasonable and high quality wares. You can project what you like, but no company has been as rapicious as M$, and just about any deal looks benign by compairison.

      Oh what sweet revenge IBM could have on M$ right about now. M$ has been so bad that suits all over the country are looking for a way out. What better thing to offer them than M$'s old OS with all manner of superior free software ported over to it? Those not brave enough to taste true freedom could jump at this and still end up saving money over the Microsoft upgrade rape.

    • There is an other reason why IBM will be here in 20 years:
      Banks (and other financial service providers
      This is becausse these institutes need to keep there data availlable for a long time, ranging from 5 years for money to 50 years for some life insurance's. Most of this data is stored on IMB mainframe's (OS/390 or Z/OS) and it's still backward compattible to the year 0. Converting all this data to Oracle for instance will kost loads and have no gain.
      and the fact that no machine moves data as fast as a mainframe helps with that.
      -These 01 are just my two bits
  • Didn't we just read not long ago that OS/2 was being sh*tcanned by IBM? As to who still uses it, you'd be amazed. A lot of financial institutions still use it. Also, there are still IVR and Call Center solutions that use it in one capacity or another (Aspect, for instance). >
  • by bluelarva ( 185170 ) on Friday January 10, 2003 @09:06AM (#5054291)
    I wonder if there is any chance that IBM can perhaps open source OS/2 or at least part. I thought OS/2 had a great object oriented multithreaded GUI considering it ran on a pidly 486. I know open sourcing it won't bring it back from the dead but I think it could be interesting if some of that code can be adopted to Linux. It's very unlikely IBM lawyers would let such a thing happen but it's something to daydream about just for fun.
    • IBM can't do this because large chunks of OS/2's codebase are still copyrighted by Microsoft, if I understand correctly. However, that's always struck me as kind of a weak argument; I suspect that if IBM would be kind enough to just document in the code "The following function's source is removed, but it takes in this, puts out that, and should have the following bugs," then the community could probably get it working in a year or two.
      • Actually I believe the vast majority of MS code has been removed -- maybe a bit left in the 16-bit subsystem or HPFS filesystem. But now we have the JFS filesystem and don't really need 16 bit support.
      • The only advanced technology left in OS/2 that isn't already duplicated or surpassed in quality, would be the WPS. The problem with that is - noone that needs it would use it.

        What the computing world really needs is OS X on x86. Or even better, OS X on x86-64!
    • Yep, here it is: http://slashdot.org/article.pl?sid=98/06/08/213122 7&mode=thread&tid=136/
      It actually WAS Ralph Nader!
  • by tsikora ( 6430 ) on Friday January 10, 2003 @09:10AM (#5054331) Homepage
    and Sendmail all on OS/2 Warp Server for e-Business and every bit as solid as Linux.. and faster. 32-bit BSD TCP/IP stack, et.all The UnixOS/2 Development team has been making OS/2 a world-class server entry.
    • I'm sorry, but OS/2 has never been and will never be a "world-class server entry". It's not multiuser, doesn't scale onto multiprocessor boxes, requires reboots after software installs/upgrades, relies too heavily on the desktop for administration, and just generally isn't stable enough for the corporate server.

      The shop I last worked at had to use OS/2 as a server platform in a number of cases. These machines needed regular attention. We had to set up hacks to do things like restart critical services when they went belly-up for no known reason. If a client came to me suggesting that OS/2 be used for a 100 system server farm, I'd probably laugh in their face (and then agree to help at a significantly higher rate :-).
      • by Listen Up ( 107011 ) on Friday January 10, 2003 @12:38PM (#5056098)

        I'm sorry, but OS/2 has never been and will never be a "world-class server entry". It's not multiuser, doesn't scale onto multiprocessor boxes, requires reboots after software installs/upgrades, relies too heavily on the desktop for administration, and just generally isn't stable enough for the corporate server.

        TROLL What a bunch of total crap. OS/2 was SMP enabled from 2.11 (or 2.1 I believe) and scaled almost flawlessly linear as the number of processors grew. As a matter of fact, the OS/2 SMP model was one of the best models ever created and to this day is an example of how proper SMP should be done. OS/2 also ran services the same as Unix did, although with a slightly different model. Didn't know how to use REXX, eh? I used to work for a company (Lands End in USA) that used OS/2 for three 800 person 24-hour call centers and almost never was there a problem with OS/2. And when there was, it never stopped business. It chugged along like a tank. For even larger settings, you would combine OS/2 and an AS/400 or S/390 and have an unbeatable combination. The GUI was single threaded in the end (although extremely powerful), but command line OS/2 was as much Unix like as you could want and with all of the power you could handle. I could talk about OS/2 for hours, but the fact is is that you a an idiot troll, and if you knew anything about OS/2 Server and OS/2 Advanced Server you would realize how much of an idiot you look like.
        • What a bunch of total crap. OS/2 was SMP enabled from 2.11 (or 2.1 I believe) and scaled almost flawlessly linear as the number of processors grew.

          I have to back down on this one. As it turns out there are SMP enabled versions of OS/2. But this in turn brings up the question of what are we talking about? Standard OS/2 or OS/2 server? Because there's a huge price difference between the two.

          Didn't know how to use REXX, eh?

          I started using REXX in 1990 and it was my primary scripting language until I discovered real [perl.org] scripting [gnu.org]
          languages [python.org].

          command line OS/2 was as much Unix like as you could want

          OS/2's command line is no more powerful than the DOS command line. It pales in comparison to the UNIX shell, which is why several companies released enhanced shells for for OS/2.

          used OS/2 for three 800 person 24-hour call centers

          I developed for OS/2 over the course of 12 years at a factory with hundreds of OS/2 workstations. The stability of later versions of the OS/2 kernel is impressive: I've seen the kernel keep chugging along after the desktop hangs on a number of occassions. But what good is that when other layers of the system are so confounded that the only thing that solves the problem is a reboot?

          So best of luck in your advocacy of a dying OS (and in the improvement of your manners) but I stand by my statement: OS/2 is not a good server operating system.
          • I started using REXX in 1990 and it was my primary scripting language until I discovered real [perl.org] scripting [gnu.org] languages [python.org].
            REXX can do many of things that Perl and other commonly-used languages can do. If you don't like it, C, Perl, Python, Tk, and a host of other languages are available for OS/2. REXX is by no means the only available language.
            OS/2's command line is no more powerful than the DOS command line. It pales in comparison to the UNIX shell, which is why several companies released enhanced shells for for OS/2.
            If you don't like OS/2's command line, then you can run bash instead. Other Unix shells, including ksh and csh have been ported as well. This, of course, gives you access to Unix shell scripting as well, providing another replacement for REXX scripting.
            I developed for OS/2 over the course of 12 years at a factory with hundreds of OS/2 workstations. The stability of later versions of the OS/2 kernel is impressive: I've seen the kernel keep chugging along after the desktop hangs on a number of occassions. But what good is that when other layers of the system are so confounded that the only thing that solves the problem is a reboot?
            The Workplace Shell can be restarted easily without rebooting, thereby solving the problem of a hung desktop.
            So best of luck in your advocacy of a dying OS (and in the improvement of your manners) but I stand by my statement: OS/2 is not a good server operating system.
            Then I would expect that banks would not use it quite so much. Banks nowadays require 4+ nines of uptime, which seems to imply to me that OS/2 is one of the most capable server OSs in existence.
      • by benzapp ( 464105 ) on Friday January 10, 2003 @12:51PM (#5056229)
        Sheesh, the OS/2 GUI was great but not necessary. I ran a multinode BBS for years command line only. Especially in 1993 when 8 megs of ram cost some serious cash, using 2-3 megs for the GUI was unnecessary. Its funny you profess such knowledge because OS/2 had few GUI tools for administration. Almost all were command line and cable of being manipulated via REXX scripts. There were some GUI front ends, but most sucked and no one used them. As for the reboots, only Ring 0 drivers required a reboot, like Installable File System drivers. But, even Linux requires that. Oh wait, you need to recompile the kernel to that. *duh*

        OS/2 SMP has always supported up to 1024 processors , and still is one of the best examples of multiprocessing today, better than Windows and Linux. You forget that IBM practically invented multiprocessing and in the early 90's with the slow advancement of CISC processors it really seemed like multiprocessing was the way for performance gains. I remember going to Comdex in 1994 seeing OS/2 2.1 SMP running on 128 processors. They ran this great image editing tool called Colorworks which was highly SMP enabled, the performance gains were amazing. Today however, the only amazing multiprocessing machines are IBM Power4 machines. Everything else is a toy. 2, 4 processors. BFD
        • OS/2 SMP has always supported up to 1024 processors

          No.

          The current release, OS/2 Warp Server 4.5 for e-business, supports up to 64 processors.

          Earlier versions had support for 4 or 8 processors.

          I remember going to Comdex in 1994 seeing OS/2 2.1 SMP running on 128 processors.

          This might have been a multinode-cluster of smaller SMP nodes. OS/2 runs on x86 hardware, and afaik the largest x86-SMP is a 32-processor Unisys ES7000.

          IBM's largest SMP configuration, even on their own POWER platform, is 32 processors.

          Bigger toys (like ASCI White and such..) are multi-node configurations, but those thingies run AIX, not OS/2.
  • I've been looking at developing Java based web solutions on legacy systems lately and it seems that IBM have a pretty good JDBC driver for OS/400 and I assume they have an equally good one for OS/2.

    A couple of years ago it was all the rage to install a Linux partition on AS/400s turn it into a webserver and web-enable legacy systems that way, but now it seems IBM are pushing their own native system ie WebSphere, eliminating the need to install Linux. To be honest although I'm happy that I can develop native web apps on these platforms it 's always nice to be able to use the latest open source technologies and not be restricted to using WebSphere. Especially if you have to pay for it.

    Personally I thought one of the failings of OS/2 was the user interface but using it as a webserver platform makes sense I suppose, if your company uses it anyway.
  • by Anonymous Coward on Friday January 10, 2003 @09:45AM (#5054561)
    all the desktops in my architecture practice run OS/2, the servers run linux, and we have one copy of windows running on VMWare. I set up the os/2 boxes when warp connect appeared on the scene, ('93?) and have never looked back. Other than updating Os/2 to warp 4 our software upgrade costs have been virtually zero. They are zero because we don't run windows programs. We are never forced into an upgrade situation.We use a mix of DOS (oh the horror!) OS/2 and linux GPL programs.The last versions of many DOS programs before the big switch to windows (word perfect, quattro pro, generic cadd etc) were really very good pieces of work. OS/2 allows perfectly stable multitasking of these programs.

    We use HOBlink to add an X server to the OS/2 desktop, and now we can also use OS/2 as a thin client for various Linux programs.

    Nothing crashes. we don't get viruses, nobody is playing games when they should be working, and picking up additional copies of programs we need is trivial on e-bay.

    That being said, our backup plan is to migrate totaly to Linux if OS/2 ever really dies. The only thing keeping us from doing that now, is lack of a good Reasonably inexpensive CAD program that runs on Linux.

    We are just going to skip the whole windows think
    • We use a mix of DOS (oh the horror!) OS/2 and linux GPL programs.

      You are my hero.

  • For those who cry "who cares?!", please realize that this posting is probably due in part to some wistful nostalgia on the poster's part. I myself feel it and care.

    Back in 1994, I had a 486 running OS/2 v3. Note that the latest Windows available was "3.11". To demo my 16MB box, I'd format a floppy, have two animated games (chess and solitaire) play themselves, do a "dir /s" at the root of an NFS-mounted drive, "dir /s" on my big, fat HPFS-formatted D: drive (250MBs?), and write text in a real word processor, Describe. Talk about multitasking.

    Microsoft was better manipulating/threatening OEMs. IBM was too big and slow, and most of the organization didn't give a damn about a PC OS. And who would really have wanted IBM to "win" anyway? And who'd want equal marketshare between the two, with two different APIs constantly changing? ISVs would've hated it, especially with the way Microsoft keeps them running in circles.

    Etc. etc., boy, am I over the OS wars!
  • Vendor support (Score:3, Interesting)

    by jdfox ( 74524 ) on Friday January 10, 2003 @11:02AM (#5055235)
    When OS/2 Warp came out, I tried it and was pleasantly surprised at how good it was, although my colleagues all sneered at its huge RAM requirement of 16MB.
    What killed it for me was 3rd party support. For instance, I phoned up Epson to enquire whether they planned to produce OS/2 drivers, and got the following reply:

    Epson: "What version of Windows is this product running on Sir?"
    Me: "Well actually, it's a different operating system from Windows. It's from IBM, and it's called OS/2. I was wondering if you were planning to provide printer drivers for this new OS?"
    Epson: (long-suffering sigh) "Yes, SIR, but what version of Windows will you be running the product on?"

    And of course I couldn't write a driver myself, unless I signed up as a developer etc. etc. No point in re-hashing all that history I guess.
    • Re:Vendor support (Score:2, Interesting)

      by SoloLobo ( 640255 )
      Wow, talk about exposing one of my healed raw nerves.

      I too bought Warp4 with great expectations. I convinced my boss to spring for a new Dell w/ 16Meg RAM and I believe a 1Gig HDD. I installed the new OS with very little difficulty and was ready to rock. Then I opened a spreadsheet and the cursor was off by a mile!

      I called the video card manufacture (Number 9, where are they now?) to ask if they had drivers for Warp rather than 2.11 (one of the major changes to OS/2 from 2.11 to Warp 4 was the video subsystem). After the guy finished laughing at me he sneered " when they sell more than 3 copies of that crap we might think about it" and hung up on me.

      I also got a nearly identical response from the developer of SPSS. While they were heavily advertising their new version for NT3.5!
  • OS/2 was originally designed to fully utilize the 286 architecture in particular the newly introduced protected mode. I have newer heard of any other OS supporting 286 protected mode. I know that later OS/2 has been improved to also utilize the 386 protected mode, now I wonder: Does OS/2 still run on a 286, or what is the minimum requirement?
    • I had OS/2 2.1 way back when. I'm pretty sure it required a 386. That makes sense since 286 protected mode and 386 protected mode would require completely different binaries for the kernel and all application software I think.

      For some reason I gave my copies of OS/2 away along with the manuals. Or maybe I sold them for cheap at Half Price Books. I wish I hadn't done that.

      I believe the Embedded Linux Kernel project has ideas about porting to a 286 protected mode version (no actual effort or progress AFAIK, though, and IIRC they didn't port Linux so much as write or port another UNIX-like kernel to real mode), and it seems like I heard of a nonfree OS which can use 286 protected, but they are few and far between. Borland C++ 3.1 can compile 286 protected mode (as well as real mode and 386 protected mode); I'm not sure about other versions. (I kept that software!)
      • That makes sense since 286 protected mode and 386 protected mode would require completely different binaries for the kernel and all application software I think.

        That is not the case. Of course you'd need a new kernel to take advantage of the 386, but in fact the new protected mode is backward compatible. You can run a 286 protected mode kernel without changes on a 386, and run 286 protected mode programs on that.

        But even with a 386 kernel it would be possible to run 286 programs, and you could get a litle benefit from the 386 with only the kernel being changed but all user space programs being 286 code. Finally a kernel can support multitasking between 286 and 386 programs. I believe the later was the case for the first OS/2 versions to take advantage of 386.

        The fact that 386 protected mode is backward compatible with 286 protected mode is perhaps litle known, but that is responsible for the 386 protected mode being designed a clumsy way in a few areas. It is however not as bad as you could have feared with the backward compatibility requirement.
        • The fact that 386 protected mode is backward compatible with 286 protected mode is perhaps litle known, . . .

          I was going to argue with you about that compatibility but decided to look into it first. It looks like you're right. Cool!

          Now that I've had time to think about it, it makes sense. The x86 series has maintained backwards opcode compatibility all along, and the main difference in protected modes is the segment size.
          • the main difference in protected modes is the segment size.

            In fact the segment descriptor is one of the more clumsy parts of the 386 design. In the 286 the segment descriptor had a 24 bit base field and a 16 bit size field. The descriptor was 64 bits in size, but most of the remaining 24 bits were reserved and was required for software to fill with zero bits. On the 386 it was wanted to make base and size field each 32 bits. But obviously there wasn't enough space for that. Instead the base was made 32 bits, and the size was made 21 bits consisting of a 20 bit value, and a single bit specifying the unit being either bytes or 4KB pages. So on the 386 segments can be any size up to 1MB, but larger segments has to have a size being a multiple of the page size. The most clumsy part is the layout of the bits, the new bits had to be placed in the reserved bits, and thus each field is scatered in three different locations in the selector.
    • Re:OS/2 on the 286 (Score:3, Interesting)

      by iggymanz ( 596061 )
      Coherent (a Unix-like operating system) by Mark Williams Company also supported it. You do know how 286 switches from protected back to real for kernel services? The processor itself couldn't do it, so there was a fun trick [execpc.com] with the help of the keyboard controller.

      I used to run Coherent on my 10 MHz Capital E 80286 from Elek-Tek. It had 1MB of RAM and a 40MB Seagate ST251-1. Both 1.2MB 5-1/4" and 720K 3-1/2" floppies. 2400 baud Zoom modem. And Super EGA.

    • Just remembered one more...Novell Netware 286

  • OS/2 History Link (Score:2, Interesting)

    by datastew ( 529152 )
    For those of you looking for a history of OS/2 and its marketing, try this article [linuxandmain.com].
  • Choice in OS's is indeed a good thing. To paraphrase the folks on in a certain unnamed Usenet space,
    "If OS/2 is dead, then the necromancer animating the corpse is doing a mighty fine job..."
  • I ran accross this link about Linux in the banking industry on the IBM web site.

    Linux in Banking [ibm.com]

    Linux and Branch Banking Abstract

    . The banking industry is undergoing a major transformation to e-business, supporting a multichannel model for its delivery of services. As part of this transformation, there is a major focus on the branch IT infrastructure.
    In this very competitive environment, banks are looking for solutions that are cost effective, provide a high quality of service, and allow them to speed new products and services to market. In addition, they need to have a flexible and open environment in order to absorb the inevitable changes that occur over time.
    At the same time, Linux is gaining popularity and credibility as a robust and stable operating environment for many business-critical functions. This IBM Redbook surveys the current trends in branch banking, describes in detail an IBM Patterns for e-business approach to designing the branch infrastructure of the future, and provides the reader with an understanding of how and where Linux can play a key role in branch banking infrastructures.

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