Linked by Thom Holwerda on Fri 29th Jun 2007 13:12 UTC
OS/2 and eComStation Recently, Serenity Systems released the second first release candidate of eComStation 2.0, the successor to IBM's os/2. Mensys, the online distributor of eComStation and other os/2-related products, was so kind as to provide OSNews with a review copy of this release candidate, and since my experience with os/2 and eCS is not much more than a few failed attempts at installing Warp 4, I was eager to try it out. Read on for a short history of os/2 and eCS and a review of the release candidate.
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by PJBonoVox on Fri 29th Jun 2007 14:02 UTC
PJBonoVox
Member since:
2006-08-14

Good review, but how is it relevant now? Not a flame, just interested in the uses (considering it's price).

Edited 2007-06-29 14:04

Reply Score: 1

RE: ...
by rcsteiner on Fri 29th Jun 2007 15:14 UTC in reply to "..."
rcsteiner Member since:
2005-07-12

From a hobbyist perspective, eCS represents something different that really isn't based on Windows or UNIX, and it has an ability to run legacy DOS and Windows software that some folks might find interesting.

As a long-time OS/2 user (since 1992), I'm part of eCS's target market, and there probably aren't many like me left, but for us it's a very nice way to install and run OS/2 (warts and all) on newer hardware. :-)

Reply Score: 2

RE[2]: ...
by DoctorPepper on Fri 29th Jun 2007 16:54 UTC in reply to "RE: ..."
DoctorPepper Member since:
2005-07-12

I ran OS/2 2.11 and Warp back in the 90's, and really loved it.

I'm seriously thinking about ponying up the money and buying a license when it gets released. Mostly for the hobby and nostalgia aspect though, because I'm mainly a Linux/BSD user.

Reply Score: 1

RE[3]: ...
by frajo on Fri 29th Jun 2007 20:14 UTC in reply to "RE[2]: ..."
frajo Member since:
2007-06-29

Depending on how much time you're going to spend with eCS, your preferences might be endangered.
I'm runnning 4 networked boxes (XP, fedora6, NetBSD, eCS) behind a KVM switch in my office, with eCS readily doing the job in some 75% of everyday duties.

Reply Score: 1

RE[4]: ...
by DoctorPepper on Fri 29th Jun 2007 23:20 UTC in reply to "RE[3]: ..."
DoctorPepper Member since:
2005-07-12

It will go on my 4-port KVM switch, along with my Win2K, OpenBSD 4.1 and Ubuntu machines. I'm not sure it could switch my preferences, because I really love Unix/Linux and OSS, but this will give me OS/2 back once again, for the first time in over 10 years.

Reply Score: 1

RE: ...
by Sparrowhawk on Fri 29th Jun 2007 14:09 UTC
Sparrowhawk
Member since:
2005-07-11

Corporates, vertical markets, anywhere where a core application is running under OS/2 and the cost/risk factors make change prohibitive.

Also, for anyone with an existing eCS license the upgrade is likely to be around the $70 mark, if the previous upgrades are anything to go by.

The full price is so high because of the way IBM licenses the technology to Serenity.

Reply Score: 1

RE[2]: ...
by kaiwai on Fri 29th Jun 2007 17:55 UTC in reply to "RE: ..."
kaiwai Member since:
2005-07-06

The full price is so high because of the way IBM licenses the technology to Serenity.


That, and Serenity works on the basis of small amounts of sales; I'm sure if a company approached them to purchase 10,000 licences the price will be substantially less than the ticket price listed in the article.

Reply Score: 2

Very Funny... do the math...
by MacGod on Fri 29th Jun 2007 14:11 UTC
MacGod
Member since:
2006-03-24

If I read this correctly, he states that he graduatec from H.S. 4 years ago... that would make him 21-22 today.

He states that his first experiences was with WARP 4... that would put him close to 11-14 years old. Yeah I can see failure from a 14 year old installing WARP 4.

:-)

I was 21 in 93 playing with WARP 2.1

Bill

Reply Score: 1

RE: Very Funny... do the math...
by MYOB on Fri 29th Jun 2007 14:57 UTC in reply to "Very Funny... do the math..."
MYOB Member since:
2005-06-29

...I installed, and used Warp 3 when I was younger than that. Its also entirely possible that he attempted to install it many years later than when it came out.

Also, some people leave high school at 18/19 in Europe, I don't know about Holland in specific though.

Reply Score: 1

Thom_Holwerda Member since:
2005-06-29

I'm 22.5 years old, and graduated highschool at age 18 ;) . I indeed tried Warp 4 later, I don't know, say two or three years ago.

Reply Score: 1

rcsteiner Member since:
2005-07-12

Yeah, installing vanilla Warp 4 on newer hardware can be a nightmare. Dani's IDE drivers solve a lot of basic issues, but then you probably need Snap, network drivers from some company's web site, sound drivers, etc.

FWIW, I was 29 when I tried OS/2 2.0 for the first time 15 years ago. :-)

Reply Score: 2

jbrader Member since:
2005-11-12

Huh, I really thought you were some grand old man of computing but you're younger than me. My whole universe is different now.

Reply Score: 2

bryanv Member since:
2005-08-26

Gotta love the internet, right?

I'm f/13/single.

Oh wait, no I'm not.

Reply Score: 1

RE: Very Funny... do the math...
by madcrow on Fri 29th Jun 2007 15:27 UTC in reply to "Very Funny... do the math..."
madcrow Member since:
2006-03-13

Bah. I was installing OS/2 by like 10...

Reply Score: 2

RE: Very Funny... do the math...
by Simba on Fri 29th Jun 2007 16:23 UTC in reply to "Very Funny... do the math..."
Simba Member since:
2005-10-08

I was only 12 when I started playing with OS/2. I used it cause I was running a BBS, and Windows could not multitask DOS software worth a damn. So you had two options: either dedicate your computer entirely to the BBS and not use it for anything else, or run the BBS software under OS/2 or Desqview.

So yes, the fact that he was young would not have prohibited him from installing it. Even at 12, not only could I install it, but I also understood the difference between preemptive and cooperative multitasking, and why my DOS BBS software didn't work well running under something that only supported cooperative multitasking.

I begged my parents for a copy of OS/2 Warp 3 for christmas, and got it. And then I could run my BBS in the background while doing other things with my computer. But I learned to appreciate OS/2 for a lot of it's other qualities as well. Like the fact that it had a true desktop instead of the Program Manager that Windows had.

Edited 2007-06-29 16:27

Reply Score: 3

Doc Pain Member since:
2006-10-08

In Germany, the reseller Escom sold PCs with OS/2 3.0 preinstalled and preconfigured. From the few people I know who bought such a system, it was a shock to them when they moved into the "Windows" world, because they seemed to loose lots of comfort and stability.

"I was only 12 when I started playing with OS/2. I used it cause I was running a BBS, and Windows could not multitask DOS software worth a damn. So you had two options: either dedicate your computer entirely to the BBS and not use it for anything else, or run the BBS software under OS/2 or Desqview."

Nice you mentioned Desqview! If I look upward to the storage facility above my head, I can see a Desqview/X package with manuals and disks. Next to it, there's still an original IBM OS/2 package with manual, discs and disks. :-)

And, yes, "Windows" wasn't very good at multitasking these times.

"But I learned to appreciate OS/2 for a lot of it's other qualities as well. Like the fact that it had a true desktop instead of the Program Manager that Windows had. "

While "Windows" just claimed to be object oriented, OS/2 really was. Furthermore, it had the famous REXX (NB: REXX != Kommissar Rex). =^_^=

In Germany, some banks still do use OS/2 for their automated cash dispensers. Our finance administration still uses OS/2 systems as terminal like nodes to an IBM mainframe system which is responsible for finance administration of the whole federal country. It worked for years, and it has to continue working this way, because anything else simply isn't affordable.

Reply Score: 2

v RE[2]: Very Funny... do the math...
by dlundh on Fri 29th Jun 2007 22:35 UTC in reply to "Very Funny... do the math..."
RE: Very Funny... do the math...
by Hozz on Sat 30th Jun 2007 00:00 UTC in reply to "Very Funny... do the math..."
Hozz Member since:
2007-03-19

at age 15 ('97), I had simultaneous installs of Win95 (bundled), DOS 6.22, Win 3.11, NT4.0 and OS/2 Warp 3.0 on one Olivetti machine (one of those groundbreaking "we'll include a SCART plug and this'll be the media center for the next generation" type thingies, in case anyone ever came across one of those), with multi-boot and all.
I only had a 420mb HD, so partitioning took some careful planning before installing it all. Applications, data, productivity? why? I did it because I could, and because I didn't know anyone else (at the time) who did the same. I felt like a computing god.

Anyway, I digress, the point is, many youngsters are far more apt at tech than you'd imagine. I mastered DOS at age 11 because I had to, noone was there to teach me.

I'm currently mastering Linux, and it's a whole new world to me. Gotta love it.

Reply Score: 2

good review
by evert on Fri 29th Jun 2007 14:37 UTC
evert
Member since:
2005-07-06

thanks thom!

maybe, just maybe, i would prefer ecom over vista ;-) but sticking at winxp for my desktop and linux for servers at the moment. corporations who need stability and backward compatibility, however, should really consider this product.

Reply Score: 2

Nice review, Thom. Thanks!
by rcsteiner on Fri 29th Jun 2007 15:09 UTC
rcsteiner
Member since:
2005-07-12

I agree that the desktop aesthetics leave something to be desired, but I'm curious what you eventually end up learning about the WPS, and what you think of various things like crosshatched icons (for processes which are running), the difference between program objects and shadows in the WPS, etc.

Some of the following docs are quite dated but might still give you some additional hints and configuration tips:

http://www.faqs.org/faqs/os2-faq/
http://www.edm2.com/index.php/Stupid_OS/2_Tricks

Good luck!

Reply Score: 3

Installing
by daschmidty on Fri 29th Jun 2007 16:10 UTC
daschmidty
Member since:
2007-03-01

My family always used os/2 since version 2.1. I have done a number of installs in the past (starting at about age 14). The basic installation is moronically easy..but the advanced can be more um...interesting...especially nowadays where you have to go find drivers for hardware that did not exist when the software was written and make loads of driver floppies for use at install time.My first install of freebsd reminded me of os/2, in the sense that I could tell the system was performed reat, but if I didn't actually know what I was doing I was never even going to get it to install. The os/2 system tools are still some of the best however(except for networking...even on warp 4 it was pretty evil),

Reply Score: 1

Correction
by mallard on Fri 29th Jun 2007 16:35 UTC
mallard
Member since:
2006-01-06

From TFA:
"Up until Windows 2000, NT had an os/2 subsystem for running os/2 text-based applications."

The OS/2 subsystem was not removed from Windows until Vista. I have a couple of old OS/2 applications (including cmd.exe from OS/2 1.3) that still run on Windows XP, but not Vista.

Reply Score: 1

RE: Correction
by Thom_Holwerda on Fri 29th Jun 2007 16:40 UTC in reply to "Correction"
Thom_Holwerda Member since:
2005-06-29

The OS/2 subsystem was not removed from Windows until Vista. I have a couple of old OS/2 applications (including cmd.exe from OS/2 1.3) that still run on Windows XP, but not Vista.

Err: "There is no support for POSIX or OS/2 programs in Microsoft Windows XP-based or in Microsoft Windows Server 2003-based operating systems." As well as: "The OS/2 subsystem is not included with Windows XP or with Windows Server 2003."

http://support.microsoft.com/kb/308259

Edited 2007-06-29 16:41

Reply Score: 1

RE[2]: Correction
by mallard on Fri 29th Jun 2007 18:41 UTC in reply to "RE: Correction"
mallard Member since:
2006-01-06

Fine... I'm pretty sure I was able to run OS/2 apps under XP, but if MS say different, who am I to argue?

Besides, TFA is still wrong, because support was definately still there in 2000.

Reply Score: 1

RE[3]: Correction
by Zoidberg on Fri 29th Jun 2007 19:25 UTC in reply to "RE[2]: Correction"
Zoidberg Member since:
2006-02-11

I'm pretty sure I was able to run OS/2 apps under XP

You are mistaken, there was no support for OS/2 programs in Windows XP, and even in 2000 it was only for OS/2 1.x text mode programs. I doubt you were running any of those.

Besides, TFA is still wrong, because support was definately still there in 2000.

Correct, Windows 2000 was the last version of Windows to support the OS/2 subsystem. The author may be thinking of the HPFS file system driver which was last present in NT 4.0

Edited 2007-06-29 19:27

Reply Score: 1

RE[4]: Correction
by justin.68 on Sat 30th Jun 2007 10:55 UTC in reply to "RE[3]: Correction"
justin.68 Member since:
2006-09-16

Windows NT 4 had no support for HPFS. If NT 3.51 was upgraded to NT 4 the driver (pinball.sys) was disabled with the warning it wouldn't work with the new OS. Pinball.sys could be loaded in NT 4 simply by hacking the registry, but it might be unstable and features like the Recycle Bin wouldn't work on HPFS partitions.

The only OS/2 applications that used to work in the Windows NT subsystem were 16 bit text-mode programs. I remember some OS/2 text-mode programs compiled with EMX could contain DOS executable code (if compiled to work that way).

Reply Score: 1

RE: Correction
by rhyder on Fri 29th Jun 2007 19:12 UTC in reply to "Correction"
rhyder Member since:
2005-09-28

Am I right in remembering that it was just 16 bit OS/2 textmode apps that ran under NT? So, apps that were created specifically for OS/2 2.0 onwards wouldn't run.

Reply Score: 1

RE[2]: Correction
by rcsteiner on Fri 29th Jun 2007 20:25 UTC in reply to "RE: Correction"
rcsteiner Member since:
2005-07-12

Yeah, older 16-bit VIO (that's OS/2-speak for "text mode") utilities for OS/2 1.x would mostly work under NT, but most of the stuff written since 1992 would be 32-bit code. I have some older stuff like that lying around, but it's mostly little file/disk utilities and such.

Reply Score: 2

RE[2]: Correction
by dnstest on Sat 30th Jun 2007 04:43 UTC in reply to "RE: Correction"
dnstest Member since:
2006-06-11

99% positive you are correct on that. I don't think the OS/2 subsystem in Windows was getting a lot of use, given that it was very limited in its nature.

Reply Score: 2

Historical note
by dprickett on Fri 29th Jun 2007 20:28 UTC
dprickett
Member since:
2005-11-11

One historical fact I discovered a few years ago was that OS/2 was the operating system underneath all ATM machines -- even today. Although Windows (TM) is making significant inroads, OS/2 is still the major system.

Reply Score: 1

RE: Historical note
by WiggetyWhack on Sat 30th Jun 2007 01:34 UTC in reply to "Historical note"
WiggetyWhack Member since:
2007-06-30

Actually, that is complete horseshit, pardon my french. Older ATMs may use OS/2, but Diebold, who makes all of the ATMs, at least on the east coast, runs windows. Yes windows... you know why? For the VB support. Thats right. Their programmers are all VB retards. Explains their work on the voting machines.

How do I know this? My company was contracted over a 4 year span to help on various projects. The best gem of that period was definitely when we were contracted to code a prototype PDA<->ATM interface. At that time they were using NT4 embedded. It had to be done in VB, because their developers couldnt/wouldnt use anything else. On presentation day, the lead developer, who was going to demo the unit was freaking out, that his pda was going crazy then locking up. Long story short, his stylus had a bunch of ribbons on it, and they were dangling and hitting the screen.

Reply Score: 2

RE[2]: Historical note
by KenJackson on Sun 1st Jul 2007 05:18 UTC in reply to "RE: Historical note"
KenJackson Member since:
2005-07-18

Diebold is the same company that made the horrible voting machines for Maryland that lost some votes and sometimes froze when the voter pressed the "Cast Ballot" button. And yes, they were running Windows.

Reply Score: 2

RE[3]: Historical note
by ChrisA on Sun 1st Jul 2007 05:26 UTC in reply to "RE[2]: Historical note"
ChrisA Member since:
2006-05-06

Provide evidence in the form of links. That way we can show those Windows zealots that this stuff isnt made up otherwise they will just call you the zealot.

Reply Score: 2

RE[4]: Historical note
by KenJackson on Sun 1st Jul 2007 05:46 UTC in reply to "RE[3]: Historical note"
KenJackson Member since:
2005-07-18

OK, more precisely it was Windows CE. As for links, here are hundreds of thousands of links. Take your pick:
http://www.google.com/search?q=diebold+voting+maryland+windows

Reply Score: 2

RE[2]: Historical note
by PJBonoVox on Mon 2nd Jul 2007 22:10 UTC in reply to "RE: Historical note"
PJBonoVox Member since:
2006-08-14

Sorry to bring the tone down, but I must point out that 90% of the worlds 'ATM' machines aren't made in America or used by Americans, so your point about 'Diebold' is unlikely to be true.

Just saying, there's a whole world out there my American friend, don't forget that.

Reply Score: 1

ATMs and a Warp story.
by Quag7 on Fri 29th Jun 2007 20:44 UTC
Quag7
Member since:
2005-07-28

In 1994 I was fresh out of college and my boss sent me to a local roadshow type event where the IBM team was showing off OS/2 Warp. I hadn't seen the graphical Web by this point, being limited mainly to shell access to the net, and my boss's concern was that he'd read good things about Warp and wanted me to get a handle on it and form an opinion on it. Having not seen Windows 95 yet, I was fairly blown away - this was the first time I saw the WWW on a GUI browser, and it looked fantastic.

I was kind of inexperienced and I really thought that this was going to change the way people worked with computers.

I switched jobs soon after and I recommended this to a customer of the computer store I was working in in New Jersey. The customer was a bit of an enigma - he wore really expensive looking suits, drove a Jaguar, and had an Italian surname. He told me that he was in the "garbage collection business." (His exact words; I'm not kidding. It is only this element - being "a little too in character" that makes me doubt whether or not this guy really was, you know, connected. He sure looked like it though.)

So the question was whether this guy was made or whether he just liked to make people think that, and we joked about it among ourselves when he left our store. I never knew or suspected anyone of being part of this shadowy criminal underground so even as a native New Jerseyan I had nothing to really measure him by.

He was a good customer though - paid on time and brought in good business. My theory was that he was just some businessman who liked casting the aura of a made guy, but appearance wise, this guy was a character right out of the Sopranos. And this *was* North Jersey. I'm not sure whether it's more naive to think this guy *was* connected, or more naive to think he *wasn't.* This was several years before the Sopranos debuted on HBO. The first time I watched it, I immediately thought of this old customer.

Anyway I recommended OS/2 Warp to him enthusiastically, sure that it was the future of computing.

We didn't see him for about a year and a half. He drives up about 18 months later, gets out of his car, clutching the OS/2 Warp box. He puts it on the counter.

"You can have this. And if you ever recommend another Edsel program to me, I'll break your legs."

Then he bought a mouse, and walked out.

To this day I am not sure if:

(a) He was playing the "part" and trying to come off as threatening. He was smiling ever so slightly; the kind of smile which can indicate either amusement or menace.

(b) He was being very dry and joking with me, while expressing some displeasure at my bad recommendation (Windows 95 had since been released and had taken desktops by storm).

(c) He was your classic cinematic "made guy," was ticked off, and wanted me to know it.

That's my OS/2 Warp story. It is a story of how IBM's poor marketing, promotion, and licensing strategy with OS/2 almost got me beat down by la costa nostra. Maybe.

As for ATMs, I have seen several of them in maintenance mode, and clearly many of them do run OS/2 - the last one I saw was maybe a year and a half ago, so it's still out there. OS/2's/eComStation's value to people who are not OS/2 users now is of course dubious. I am fairly amused at the price they're asking. If it was free, I'd maybe install it in VMWare or something just to give it a try (I have no idea if it can be run in VMWare or not).

Edited 2007-06-29 20:45

Reply Score: 5

ATMs and error messages
by paws on Fri 29th Jun 2007 22:57 UTC
paws
Member since:
2007-05-28

Here in Denmark there are two main ATM companies, NCR and Wincor/Nixdorf. NCR machines are, I think, OS/2 based. Their terminals are a bit crap and don't seem to do half of what the Wincor terminals can (bank transfers and such).

But I was most certainly not pleased when I saw a generic Win 2k/NT4 error message on a Wincor terminal screen once, just liek 'illegal execution' or something. I won't use home banking cos there are too many links in the chain I don't trust... and they expect me to stick my debit card in a computer running the operating system with the most published and unpatched security flaws? (>XP I mean) Eep!

I also see XP error messages on the train info screens here quite often.

Reply Score: 3

RE: ATMs and error messages
by Doc Pain on Fri 29th Jun 2007 23:57 UTC in reply to "ATMs and error messages"
Doc Pain Member since:
2006-10-08

"I also see XP error messages on the train info screens here quite often."

And in the trams in Schwerin and Potsdam. :-)

Reply Score: 2

RE: ATMs and error messages
by Hozz on Sat 30th Jun 2007 00:15 UTC in reply to "ATMs and error messages"
Hozz Member since:
2007-03-19

Another Dane here, and this is completely unrelated, but what the heck:

Some years ago, on a trip to Greenland, staying at a hotel. There was an info channel on hotel TV that showed flights to/from the nearby airport (not that many, but hey). It crashed. Daily. it went into blue screen mode, rebooted, and showed the default win95 desktop until someone came in and restarted the broadcast. Hilarious. And completely off topic. I am sorry.

Reply Score: 1

Sadness
by flywheel on Sat 30th Jun 2007 01:09 UTC
flywheel
Member since:
2005-12-28

Since my first encounter with OS/2 back in 1992 (I've used OS/2 2.0, 2.1, 3.0 (Enterprise) 4.0 (Merlin), 4.5 (Aurora), eCS 1.0, eCS 1.1/1.2). I love the system unconditionally, both the base system and the WPS/PMShell and the community.

One setback after another did nothing to change my mind, until Scitech Software announced the death of SNAP Grapchics (The primary display driver system for OS/2-eCS), last fall. That broke my spirit and I never reneved my subscription on the OS nor on OO.O.
I now primarily use OpenSUSE and it works just fine and looks fine. But every time I see a snapshot of eCS, I feel the sadness in my soul.

I've never got OpenSUSE to work flawless with wireless on my laptop, at my university. WinXP sort of do, most of the time. I installed eCS 1.2 and after 5 min of work, it worked flawless - even places where WinXP couldn't find any signal.

Reply Score: 2

v eComStation the new Zeta
by ChrisA on Sat 30th Jun 2007 15:38 UTC
online resources
by TheNerd on Sat 30th Jun 2007 20:47 UTC
TheNerd
Member since:
2007-06-30

For those interested there are some fairly active IRC, news, and websites.

IRC: efnet #os2warez and #ecomstation | irc.ecomstation.com
Web: os2world.com ecomstation.org
News: news.ecomstation.com

I guess they aren't all super active but they are places to start looking.

Reply Score: 1

Good Review
by MikeG on Mon 2nd Jul 2007 00:48 UTC
MikeG
Member since:
2007-07-02

Nice review.

The network install did seem to work better on v1.2MR.

Sound does seem to be a problem with the eCS 2.0 versions. However, check on irc.ecomstation.com or irc.netlabs.org --- #netlabs and ask for a working version of uniaud32.

Pricewise, get a Warp 4 cd on ebay and get an upgrade version.

MikeG

Reply Score: 1

Thanks for the review
by brittonx on Mon 2nd Jul 2007 04:04 UTC
brittonx
Member since:
2007-07-02

It's nice to see the review. While OS/2 setup and configuration can be complicated, once it is done you never have to mess with it. I have been running an OS/2 Server here since about 2000. I host my website on it http://www.pdfgameguides.com . OS/2 and eCS make great Web server platforms. You can get a current version of Apache, Geronimo, MySQL, Postgres etc... There is also a wonderful advanced firewall available for OS/2. It is capable of dynamic traffic shaping and dynamically blocking traffic when your site is under attack. The firewall is "Injoy Firewall" from http://www.fx.dk . There are also many nice OS/2 ports of apps from the Linux world. Many are available at http://smedley.info/os2ports/

One HUGE advantage of using an OS/2 based system as your gateway and/or web server is that there are almost no known venerabilities to an OS/2 system. So, security is a matter of keeping Apache up to date.

Other important things to know about eCS, specifically is they have added advanced ACPI support so that you can run the OS/2 SMP Kernel (Multiprocessor/Multicore). Arguably still one of the best multicore & multitasking subsystems out there.

There is also the SciTech SNAP video driver subsystem which gives OS/2 a single driver that supports most videocards out of the box.

Edited 2007-07-02 04:12

Reply Score: 2

More info
by brittonx on Mon 2nd Jul 2007 04:23 UTC in reply to "Thanks for the review"
brittonx Member since:
2007-07-02

It is also important to note that OS/2 & eCS have IBM's advanced Journaling File System (JFS).

When you add that and the other things I mentioned in my initial comment, OS/2 is an obvious choice for my servers here at home.

Reply Score: 1