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IBM Won't Open-Source OS/2 394

wikinerd writes "Following an online petition in November 2007 by members of an OS/2 online community to open-source OS/2, IBM answered by sending a letter via FedEx making it clear that OS/2 is going to remain closed-source, citing business, technical, and legal reasons. An earlier petition in 2005 that had attracted over 11,000 signatures met a similar response. Both petition letters to IBM Corp. can be viewed at the library. The End of Support period for OS/2 passed by in December 2006, and the given IBM's response the future for OS/2 doesn't look bright, unless re-implementation projects such as Voyager or osFree attract the necessary critical mass of operating system developers."
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IBM Won't Open-Source OS/2

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  • by Trenchbroom ( 1080559 ) on Tuesday January 22, 2008 @02:25AM (#22134780)
    How can they open source OS/2 when a large percentage of the code is still under Microsoft's copyright? I'm sure Microsoft would have NO problem with this--seeing as they are all open source friendly and all. No issues using their own code to dethrone Windows, naturally.

    No news here people. Only common sense needed.
  • eComStation (Score:5, Informative)

    by hpa ( 7948 ) on Tuesday January 22, 2008 @02:28AM (#22134800) Homepage
    IBM has already licensed off OS/2 to another company, Serenity Systems, who is continuing to support it under the name eComStation []. This might have been an exclusive agreement. There is again, of course, all the issues with whether or not the actually own all the stuff.
  • Re:Windows NT (Score:3, Informative)

    by MightyMartian ( 840721 ) on Tuesday January 22, 2008 @02:42AM (#22134886) Journal
    There are some big similarities. CMD.EXE was taken from OS/2. NTFS was in its beginning an HPFS variant (I believe you could still mount HPFS drives in NT 3.51). But under the hood, they were two different architectures. NT was heavily inspired by VMS.
  • No big loss (Score:3, Informative)

    by MemoryDragon ( 544441 ) on Tuesday January 22, 2008 @02:52AM (#22134946)
    IBM cannot OSS OS/2 parts of it are owned by third parties, lots of the code comes from Microsoft. There also is eComStation for companies who have to use OS/2 onward. But besides that there is nothing in OS/2 which is interesting anymore. While being very sophisticated for its time, there is no part in OS/2 which has not been covered better nowadays. Decent multitasking (Basically every OS currently in existence) OO Desktop, KDE definitely has 10 years more sophistication than OS/2 ever had Decent C++ class libraries as core APIs for the OS, again look at KDE! The rest is an out of the mill os, with a flakey 16 mode and a decent 32 bit mode. The only interesting thing is the small resource footprint which would make it a nice cellphone and PDA os noawasays, but that Window was missed by IBM! Id say let it commercially live on as eComStation and once its times are over, let it die!
  • Re:Bets anyone? (Score:4, Informative)

    by slittle ( 4150 ) on Tuesday January 22, 2008 @03:09AM (#22135074) Homepage
    Aside from reasons already mentioned (non-exclusive ownership and other unknowns or ambiguities), OS/2 is still a commercial product under the eComStation [] brand by Serenity Systems. I'm sure their contract with IBM has something to say about exclusive distribution rights or some such.

    IBM themselves have finally moved on, though. Their hardware management consoles still used OS/2 until a few years ago, but they're all Linux now.
  • sold (Score:1, Informative)

    by marafa ( 745042 ) on Tuesday January 22, 2008 @03:09AM (#22135076) Homepage Journal
    moderate me a troll but i could have sworn ibm sold os/2 to a german company that makes POS solutions: []
  • by RAMMS+EIN ( 578166 ) on Tuesday January 22, 2008 @03:40AM (#22135200) Homepage Journal
    ``You must have been using Windows 95 for quite a while before Linux came onto the scene.''

    Actually, Linux is older than Windows 95.
  • Re:IBM vs. Sun? (Score:5, Informative)

    by SEE ( 7681 ) on Tuesday January 22, 2008 @04:32AM (#22135450) Homepage
    AT&T was very liberal in the terms it released Unix code rights to Unix vendors in the later 1980s, and even then, Sun went back and paid the SCO Group ten million dollars to secure additional rights to Unix/Xenix code in Solaris before releasing OpenSolaris. Microsoft is the AT&T of OS/2; there's a reason versions 1.0-1.3 were called Microsoft OS/2. Now, what do you think the chances would be of Microsoft agreeing to sell IBM the sort of rights to OS/2 that Sun was able to get to Unix?

    IBM would have to do a lot more core-level rewriting than Sun did, because the core stuff is all Microsoft, and Microsoft isn't going to give it up. It's a lot more work for something people have a lot less interest in.
  • Re:Windows NT (Score:5, Informative)

    by dryeo ( 100693 ) on Tuesday January 22, 2008 @04:47AM (#22135526)
    I can mount HPFS drives under Win2k using pinball.sys from 3.51. Unluckily it is broken if your partitions are over 4 GB (maybe 2 GB?).
    I can also run OS/2 v1.x text mode binaries under 2k even cmd.exe.
    NT did start as a rewrite of OS/2 and the first version that booted up was OS/2 NT ver 3.
    One thing MS did get in the divorce was rights to use version 3 and up which is why OS/2 4.5 is actually ver 2.45 eg
    F:\usr\bin>uname -a
    OS/2 amad.localdomain 2 2.45 i386

  • Re:IBM vs. Sun? (Score:5, Informative)

    by JoshJ ( 1009085 ) on Tuesday January 22, 2008 @04:58AM (#22135584) Journal
    The question is not "can they sell it" (where "it" refers to an OS CD- ie, the binary) but "can they change the license on the source?"

    If they don't have the copyright to it, they may not be able to.
  • Re:IBM vs. Sun? (Score:5, Informative)

    by Richard Steiner ( 1585 ) <> on Tuesday January 22, 2008 @06:25AM (#22136046) Homepage Journal
    All folder and desktop context menus were configurable via drag-and-drop (you could add commonly used programs to any of 'em), program icons were stored as extended attributes in the filesystem, shortcut icons were able to track the files they were attached to across drives, and the most common ways of launching programs were the Launchpad and the Warpcenter toolbar.

    If you think OS/2 2.0 and later were at all like Win 3.1, you simply weren't paying attention.

    Perhaps you're remembering Windows NT 3.1 instead?
  • by TheOrquithVagrant ( 582340 ) on Tuesday January 22, 2008 @08:07AM (#22136460)
    Actually, you can run OS/2 under VMWare. You need to edit the VM definition file and set the OS type to "os2experimental", and it won't work for OS/2 versions newer than Warp 4 FP12.

    Xen 3.1 or newer on SVM-capable AMD hardware will also run OS/2 up to this Fixpack-level. The final fix needed to enable running the latest Fixpack levels and hopefully eComStation as well will be in Very Soon Now.
  • Re:IBM vs. Sun? (Score:4, Informative)

    by bit01 ( 644603 ) on Tuesday January 22, 2008 @09:23AM (#22136822)

    I'll reply to you because you have the most reasonable of all the replies.

    Repeating myself for the upteenth time:

    I'm not objecting to IBM not wanting to open source OS/2. It'd be nice if they did but they have their reasons for not doing so that they've chosen to keep private. It could be things as simple as the not wanting to harm Serenity Systems, not wanting to cannibalize or confuse part of their linux market or not wanting to devote even minimal engineering effort to it.

    I'm objecting to all the content-free mod'ed up comments saying, with no evidence at all, that IBM can't open source it for legal reasons. This is nonsense.

    It all depends on the particular constituent licenses and copyright assignments. This is no different from on-selling. For pretty much any use of software, including open sourcing it, on-selling or feeding it to your dog, you have to check the constituent licenses and copyright assignments. Hand waving about how "open sourcing is impossible" is nonsense. It depends on the particular constituent licenses and copyright assignments. I really don't know how to make it any clearer.

    There's way too many people on /. who think that open source licenses are legally mystically different from the myriad of commercial licenses out there. They're not.

    Due to incessant marketing and branding there's also way too many people who think that a branded software package is an indivisible software blob that can't be split and merged as needed. Despite propaganda to the contrary, licenses both closed and open source are not viral and there's nothing legally stopping IBM open sourcing the majority of OS/2 that it does own outright, regardless of what the licenses and copyright assignments of the associated subsystems not developed by IBM are. Interested people/companies could then create the missing subsystems or adapt them from Linux/BSD.

    The same is true for all companies that claim their software can't be open sourced for legal reasons. Nonsense. If they own it they can open source it. Any dependencies on restrictively licensed subroutine libraries can be re-engineered. It's all just legal FUD to blindside objections and cover up the possibly embarrassing real reasons.


    Integrated software = marketing buzzword for "we own all the pieces" = we own you.

  • WPS on Linux (Score:3, Informative)

    by SCHecklerX ( 229973 ) <> on Tuesday January 22, 2008 @01:06PM (#22139402) Homepage
    That would be a dream come true. Screw KDE and Gnome.

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