Linked by Eugenia Loli on Thu 14th Jul 2005 20:57 UTC, submitted by Kelly
OS/2 and eComStation IBM has hammered the final nails into OS/2's coffin. It said that all sales of OS/2 will end on the 23rd of December this year, and support for the pre-emptive multitasking operating system will end on the 31st December 2006.
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"Re: So ... it's now offical..."
by on Fri 15th Jul 2005 01:28 UTC

Member since:

I've put many little details in this post. Hope you enjoy them.

""Moral issues aside, why would you want to use OS/2 except as an oddity?""

Isn't that enough reason? :-)


Touche!

I can actually think of three reasons why it might still have some appeal from a hobbyist perspective:

(1) Using OS/2 *will* a learning experience for someone who has only used Windows, Linux/BSD, or BeOS.


I know quite a bit about OS/2. I'd like those parts of my brain back...along with most of the details covering DOS memory managers.

If you want to learn about operating systems, strip both Windows (NT+) and one of the OSS unixes (*BSD, Linux, and now open Solaris) down to the bare bones and poke around in all the corners you can.

What additional you can learn from OS/2 is minimal and will take just as much effort as either unix or Windows. (Yes, learning Windows is a real PITA -- it's only easy for the things Microsoft wants you to easily.)

The platform represents an approach to the "Desktop OS" problem that really isn't *nix-like or Windows-like at all in most respects, and it has both a strong GUI plus a fairly strong command line and scripting environment with Rexx (and remember, both 4DOS and 4OS2 are legal freeware now so it has two very good shells aside from the bash and zsh ports).

I knew the developer of 4DOS and 4OS2 at the time I was using OS/2 myself. Great programs, though they are superceeded by so many shells and shell extentions these days.

His comment on OS/2? 'Supporting OS/2 was a big waste of time and I would not have done it if I had known.' He only had a handful of registrations and a boat load of complaints and whiners. On the other hand, selling parts of 4DOS to other tool makers plus some of the 4DOS shareware payments gave him enough money to take a n almost year-long world-wide sailing trip. You know what? He's the kind of guy who deserves that kind of trip.

While I did my duity and bought OS/2 software, did not raz developers or other material supporters of OS/2, StarDock's Brad Wardell's closing comments were correct and not flattering for many OS/2 fans even if the number of negitive people were low.

(2) OS/2 is the best DOS juggler in the world. :-) As an environment for running older DOS software multiple DOS versions concurrently, OS/2 is without parallel. Linux with DOSEMU/DOSBox might come close in some ways, but it's really not the same.

Yes, it was impressive at the time (8 years ago).

Today? It's not impressive at all. Any emulator or a VM environment like VMWare or Xen trounce OS/2 DOS support easily.

((Did I mention that I know quite a bit about DOS memory and memory managers?))

(3) If one is lucky and can find a good older software source, there are still enough older programs and such available (between native OS/2 retail/shareware stuff and older 16-bit Windows stuff) to actually turn OS/2 into an incredibly useful platform. I still do almost everything under OS/2 at home except gaming and MIDI stuff. Remember: it's all about the applications. :-)

That's one major problem with OS/2; source code. Little of it, and OS/2 isn't POSIX-compliant enough to make porting easy. At the point that you add X, why not run some full and modern version of unix?

Reply Score: 1

rcsteiner Member since:
2005-07-12

I knew the developer of 4DOS and 4OS2 at the time I was using OS/2 myself. Great programs, though they are superceeded by so many shells and shell extentions these days.

Are you talking about Rex or Tom? Rex I have a great deal of respect for, but Tom has done some things I don't really agree with (and he has a mindset I really don't understand at times).

His comment on OS/2? 'Supporting OS/2 was a big waste of time and I would not have done it if I had known.' He only had a handful of registrations and a boat load of complaints and whiners.

Even if true, at least he was kind enough to release the product WITH SOURCE to the OS/2 community, and for that folks like me (who registered 4OS2 1.0 when it was originally released and faithfully upgraded it over the years) are forever grateful.

Today? It's not impressive at all. Any emulator or a VM environment like VMWare or Xen trounce OS/2 DOS support easily.

Impractical. I can't run VMWare on my PPro box (not enough RAM), and Xen requires changes to existing OSes in order to juggle them effectively. Virtual PC and SVista might be better alternatives, anyway, but again they require a system with larger resources than mine, they require additional $$, additional licenses for the OSes you want to run in the emulated machine, etc.

OS/2 provides all that is needed, and it does what it does in far less space and with far less horsepower required.

That's one major problem with OS/2; source code. Little of it, and OS/2 isn't POSIX-compliant enough to make porting easy.

Are you simply unaware of EMX and friends, or are you simply dismissing them?

EMX (and its accompanying flavors of gcc) provides a POSIX subsystem for OS/2 similar in many ways to Cywgin for Windows, and it resulted in XFree86, GIMP, XV, slrn, and a nontrivial number of other POSIX applications being ported to OS/2 a number of years ago.

I've been told by some POSIX programmers that support for an OS/2 version of their programs is quite easy, usually requiring only a few conditional defines in key header files. Note that I know very little about porting POSIX code to OS/2 via EMX, but I've used a lot of programs ported via that process.

That's why I've been using Perl under Warp 4 recently in addition to Rexx, for example, and why I sometimes fall back to Midnight Commander and its FTP filesystem when NFTP doesn't do what I want.

At the point that you add X, why not run some full and modern version of unix?

I have. I simply don't like them as much as I do OS/2, and for a variety of reasons.

FWIW, I've installed and run several versions of Solaris/x86 (2.5, 2.6, and 7 so far) and FreeBSD (two versions each in the 3.x, and 4.x lines) at home, and I also currently run a number of Linux variants (mainly things like older Mandrake flavors and live CDs like DSL, INSERT, and the like). I really do like DSL as a start, but it isn't all that useful to me yet. Needs more packages. :-)

Not only does OS/2 have a lot more capable desktop software available for it than either Solaris or FreeBSD (try something as simple as creating a few GIF animations under Solaris, for example, something that the OS/2 freeware program Embellish makes a trivial task), but it also allows me to install its boot filesystem in an extended partition (something neither Solaris nor FreeBSD supports at all), and that makes it hard for me to shoehorn either one of those OSes on my existing boxes (which also have Windows and DOS boot partitions on them for various reasons).

Linux is a far better alternative, but OS/2 is a hell of a lot more stable (in terms of API) than Linux is, it uses a lot less disk space and a lot less RAM, and it's also noticably smoother on my hardware than most Linux versions released in the past 2-3 years.

Some newer distros are a lot better, and it obviously depends on the window manager in use (fluxbox and icewn fly on my boxes, while newer KDE variants tend to walk fairly slowly), but I've had so many issues getting Linux plus DOS support to work well on my hardware that I've almost decided to wait until I get a new machine or two before continuing. If I can't even match my old OS/2 setup, then what's the point?

FWIW, basic DOSEMU setup is trivial, but getting DOS multimedia to work is not. I've already addressed DOSBox -- if you can find a version that'll run under Mandrake 8.2, let me know.

All that aside, however, I simply like using OS/2 more than I do Linux. I like 4OS2 and 4DOS better than I do bash and zsh (mainly because I prefer visual picklists to more primitive filename display/completion techniques used by Linux shells), I prefer writing Rexx scripts or 4OS2 scripts to scripting using sh syntax, and I like being able to load a pile of stuff on my box including Firefox and not have any swapping even on my 192MB box (even an "obsolete" Linux distro like Mandrake 8.2 wants to swap quite a bit if I try something like that).

Consider it a difference in personal taste, in computer resources, and perhaps also in overall expectations.

In order to replace what I currently have, a new OS has to at least match my existing environment, and Linux simply doesn't cut it.

BeOS didn't either, BTW -- it couldn't share its own filesystems across the network via CIFS/SMB, it didn't have enough native software, and it didn't have much in the way of legacy software support (there's a lot more now, but Be Inc doesn't exist anymore).

Reply Parent Score: 1