Linked by Michael Reed on Thu 7th Feb 2008 17:21 UTC
OS/2 and eComStation Last month, IBM made an announcement that put an end to any hope of an open source OS/2. Responding to requests from an online community that had previously collected 11,600 signatures in support of its cause, the company confirmed that they would not be releasing the source code of their OS/2 operating system. I used OS/2 as my main operating system for about four years, and unlike some former users, my reaction to the news sits somewhere between disinterest and relief.
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by digitaleon on Sat 9th Feb 2008 16:17 UTC
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What I took away from the article, boiled down, is this:

OS/2, once a leader in the client OS market, is now moribund. As the vendor has little interest in maintaining it, some have requested a source code release. In addition to complicated - and potentially costly - legal concerns that would limit said release, there are many other more 'modern, up-to-date' client OS projects that would benefit from the degree of user and developer attention needed to bring OS/2 into the same league. Thus, the desire for a source code release, while probably well-intentioned, isn't really worth the time and resources needed to make it worthwhile, and should be reconsidered.

Fair enough; the points presented are wholly valid. But they don't seem to reach a conclusion as to why OS/2 shouldn't be open sourced, or indeed, why the author is glad that an open source release didn't happen. It seems to be a brief enumeration of the risks and issues associated with doing an open source release, rather than an exploration of the unfavourable consequences that would result from said release.

In short, what's the actual downside, for other than IBM? From the article, it seems to be that developers might become 'tainted' if working on similar projects, that effort better expended on other OS projects would be diverted towards a resurrected OS/2 instead (with the spread of effort possibly being detrimental in the long run), that it would be a burden on the vendor preparing for release, and that what source could be released would be of little intrinsic value.

If I may play devils' advocate for a moment, wouldn't these also be good reasons in favour of an open source release (again, for other than IBM)? Those requesting the release would seem to believe that these concerns are surmountable, and I cannot see any reason as to why their doing so would be a net negative; should there be little interest, the sources will remain mostly disused. And should OS/2 and eComStation end up in the same situation as BeOS did earlier this decade, there are plenty of reasons to believe that a 'clean room re-implementation project' would emerge (if the previously noted Voyager project doesn't already qualify). In the longer term, IBMs' current business could easily see benefits, assuming acceptable licensing terms.

My interactions with OS/2 have thus-far been confined to one fleeting session in 1998, so I never really got to know the system. As an OS hobbyist of sorts though, I do hope it can live on as long as it is useful for it to do so, rather than being consigned to the archive tapes of history as a fait accompli. I am interested in yours' (and others') opinions on this.

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