Linked by Thom Holwerda on Tue 27th Dec 2005 15:48 UTC
OS/2 and eComStation Two articles on OS/2: "IBM's farewell to OS/2 next month shouldn't take anyone by surprise. Long before Big Blue announced its plans to pull the plug, industry watchers were drafting OS/2's obituary." And, "Yesterday saw IBM cease the sale of the OS/2 Operating system. Come the 31st of December, standard support for the OS will end also. However, a significant number of companies and people continue to use it, and they are finding ways for OS/2 to live on."
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Was OS/2 really that great?
by makfu on Tue 27th Dec 2005 19:09 UTC
makfu
Member since:
2005-12-18

OS/2 had some innovative features and was definitely a superior OS when compared to most of its contemporaries circa 90-94. It was not, however, without some serious flaws.

I remember the frustration of trying to recover my hung UI hitting ctrl+esc many times due to the serialized input queueís issue (not substantially addressed until Warp FP16). There were also holes all over the system (you could overwrite the interrupt descriptor table from a dos vm, the shared usermode window manager code could be taken out by a stray pointer, etc.). And these are not just my assertions; the old DOSKiller and Andrew Schulmanís OS2Killer.exe were pretty good demonstrations of these serious architectural compromises, which are very similar to the memory protection holes present in Win9x (for compatibility and memory footprint optimization in both cases).

I would be willing to bet that if OS/2 garnered the same level of consumer, OEM and ISV support that Win9x had, it would not be remembered nearly so fondly as being a stable and reliable system. Windows 95 running a single application, or a small set of Microsoft applications, was pretty solid also. Throw a bunch of OGL and DirectX games, multimedia applications, modern browsers with flash plug-ins, media players and before you know it, Win9x is an unstable and unusable pile of crap. Granted, OS/2 didnít suffer from such awfulness as shared User and GDI heaps, but it was still fundamentally a flawed system do to its early 90ís, PC-centric design.

While the WPS was a great GUI environment, OS/2 itself has long been surpassed as a server and client OS by Linux, NT-based Windows and MacOS X. OS/2 running a simple embedded system like an ATM machine is one thing, but if it was asked to run modern desktop and server loads, it wouldnít fare well compared to whatís out there today. OS/2ís day has long since come and gone.

Reply Score: 2

CrazyDude0 Member since:
2005-07-10

Nice insightful reply Makfu. I bet now these "no knowledge" windows hater biatches won't reply to this thread at all.

You start finding problems in any system as it starts getting more users and more applications. IBM knows its not a better OS and thats why they are not willing to spend their money or time on it.

Wake up guys....grass only looks greener on the other side...

Goooooooo Microsoft...

Reply Parent Score: 1

RE: Was OS/2 really that great?
by rcsteiner on Wed 28th Dec 2005 00:42 in reply to "Was OS/2 really that great?"
rcsteiner Member since:
2005-07-12

There were also holes all over the system (you could overwrite the interrupt descriptor table from a dos vm, the shared usermode window manager code could be taken out by a stray pointer, etc.). And these are not just my assertions; the old DOSKiller and Andrew Schulmanís OS2Killer.exe were pretty good demonstrations of these serious architectural compromises, which are very similar to the memory protection holes present in Win9x (for compatibility and memory footprint optimization in both cases).

I'd be curious if those programs work on newer OS/2 releases (say Warp 4 without fixes and later), and I'm not aware of these problems being real-world issues in practice.

Perhaps others experienced with those programs can address it in more detail. The only mention of DOSKiller I see on USENET is c.1992, which is back in the OS/2 2.0 days.

I would be willing to bet that if OS/2 garnered the same level of consumer, OEM and ISV support that Win9x had, it would not be remembered nearly so fondly as being a stable and reliable system.

OS/2 had 20% of the desktop market for a while, it was the best-selling retail software package for a few months, and it was considerably more popular than Windows NT in the days before the NT 4 release, so it's had a fairly wide amount of exposure to a wide array of different users.

Somehow, its noted stability and reliability hasn't come into question in spite of those numbers..

I think using the two in parallel for a while would demonstrate to you quite conclusively that OS/2 is not only more flexible than Windows 95, but it is also considerably more robust than Windows 95 when it comes to handling ill-behaved applications, be they 16-bit Windows apps or DOS apps.

Granted, OS/2 didnít suffer from such awfulness as shared User and GDI heaps, but it was still fundamentally a flawed system do to its early 90ís, PC-centric design.

I use programs like Mozilla Firefox, Hummingbird Exceed, GIMP, StarOffice, and various DOS games and multimedia programs on a regular basis (Firefox and the X server are running all the time), and I regularly see uptimes in the 40-50 day range (normally cut short when I boot to DOS to take a bimonthly snapshot of my boot partition).

While the WPS was a great GUI environment, OS/2 itself has long been surpassed as a server and client OS by Linux, NT-based Windows and MacOS X.

Care to provide some supporting examples of areas where OS/2 has been surpassed as an OS instead of tossing out unsubstantiated generalizations? What is it lacking? What do the other platforms provide which OS/2 does not?

I use Windows NT 4, Windows 95 OSR2, various newer and older Linux variants, and OS/2 Warp 4 on the same hardware (all PPro boxes) every day, and Warp has a definite performance advantage over all of the above on a 64MB PPro, and is at least as stable in everyday use as all of the above.

As a single-user OS, it isn't as good at some types of *server* applications as a Linux or BSD would be, but in terms of raw server performance, it used to run rings around Windows NT in both single and multi-CPU confifurations. The old HPFS filesystem has cache issues these days which would adversely impact filesystem benchmarks, but HPFS386 addresses that, as does the new JFS filesystem for OS/2 from IBM.

I think you're blowing smoke, and I think you post was modded up because most of the folks here don't have any firsthand 32-bit OS/2 experience at all and don't know any better.

OS/2 running a simple embedded system like an ATM machine is one thing, but if it was asked to run modern desktop and server loads, it wouldnít fare well compared to whatís out there today.

Sorry, but I strongly disagree. I'd love to see some benchmarks comparing OS/2 to modern Linux and BSD kernels and to modern Windows flavors -- I strongly suspect the results would startle you.

OS/2 is a quick OS from the bottom up, its ability to handle multithreading applications is almost unparalleled on x86 hardware, and its kernel is very good at dynamicaly changing task priorities under load.

Remember that Microsoft stopped doing head to head comparisons between NT and OS/2 2.x after IBM's David Barnes left MS's people with their pants down on several occasions. NT simply couldn't keep up in that sort of environment. When the technology was actually compared in an unrehearsed head-to-head environment, Windows lost and lost badly.

No, I don't think OS/2 would do badly at all if actual comparisons were made. I would welcome it.

Reply Parent Score: 3

poundsmack Member since:
2005-07-13

"Sorry, but I strongly disagree. I'd love to see some benchmarks comparing OS/2 to modern Linux and BSD kernels and to modern Windows flavors -- I strongly suspect the results would startle you."

though i would like to agree with you i am afraid this is not the case. for one, though the JFS (Journaling File System)is rather interesting it is rather slow. ecomstation admits this to be a known OS2 issue effecting speed and is preparing a rather large update to remedy the problem. http://www.ecomstation.com/ecomstation20.phtml?url=nls/en/content/b...
also OS2's ability to render graphics on any modern machine is poor at best when comparing those os's that have truely suported 3d drivers. not that the SNAP graphics system isnt good, but its not the best. also on a kerlen level OS2 is rather dated on how it deals with multitasing and what not. again not that it does a bad job, but it does not do the best.

Reply Parent Score: 1

CrazyDude0 Member since:
2005-07-10

You are so typical...just like another zealot. You have not provided any technical data, just refute technical claims and think all is well...bravo

Reply Parent Score: 1

makfu Member since:
2005-12-18


I'd be curious if those programs work on newer OS/2 releases (say Warp 4 without fixes and later), and I'm not aware of these problems being real-world issues in practice.

Perhaps others experienced with those programs can address it in more detail. The only mention of DOSKiller I see on USENET is c.1992, which is back in the OS/2 2.0 days.

I havenít run OS/2 in nearly a decade, but I am willing to bet good money that these problems still exist. Changing fundamental architectural concepts was something I doubt IBM would have undertaken for Warp 4. You show me some indication that the system critical globally mapped structures are now protected via some mechanism (stub library, copy on write, etc.) and I will happily retract the above statements.

OS/2 had 20% of the desktop market for a while, it was the best-selling retail software package for a few months, and it was considerably more popular than Windows NT in the days before the NT 4 release, so it's had a fairly wide amount of exposure to a wide array of different users.

When exactly did OS/2 have 20% of the desktop market? I donít recall OS/2 EVER having anything remotely close to 20% of the desktop market. Most retail copies of Warp ended up as shelfware.

Somehow, its noted stability and reliability hasn't come into question in spite of those numbers.

I would really like to see some IDC, Dataquest or other source mentioned for your numbers.

I think using the two in parallel for a while would demonstrate to you quite conclusively that OS/2 is not only more flexible than Windows 95, but it is also considerably more robust than Windows 95 when it comes to handling ill-behaved applications, be they 16-bit Windows apps or DOS apps.

Is the WPS UI more adaptive than Windows 95? Sure. Is OS/2 more flexible Ė that depends on what you are defining as flexible. It certainly canít run anywhere near the breadth of applications that 9x can, and that ultimately is how most people define the flexibility of an OS.

I use programs like Mozilla Firefox, Hummingbird Exceed, GIMP, StarOffice, and various DOS games and multimedia programs on a regular basis (Firefox and the X server are running all the time), and I regularly see uptimes in the 40-50 day range (normally cut short when I boot to DOS to take a bimonthly snapshot of my boot partition).

What multimedia applications? What DOS games (does anyone play dos games outside DOSBOX anymore?)? OS/2 only has the most rudimentary OGL support (and zilch in the way of hardware accelerated ICD). I said modern workloads, not 1996 workloads.

Care to provide some supporting examples of areas where OS/2 has been surpassed as an OS instead of tossing out unsubstantiated generalizations? What is it lacking? What do the other platforms provide which OS/2 does not?

In no particular order, all of the platforms I mentioned support the following:

1. DACL based security model

2. Multi-user support

3. Full (meaning no userland accessible shared system code) memory protection

4. Large memory support

5. 64 bit support (in the case of Linux and NT based Windows)

6. Portable code base (MacOS X = PPC and x86, Windows = x86, x64 and IA64, Linux = more than I can count)

7. Modern TCP/IP features like h.323, IPV6 stack, built-in firewall, etc.

8. Extensible and Modular Authentication Support (Linux = PAM, MacOS X = PAM and Apple DS plugins, Microsoft = Windows GINA)

9. Modern 3d API support with accelerated drivers

10. Integrated multi-monitor, multi-adapter support

Iíll leave it at that for the moment, but thatís not a small list nor are those small features.

I use Windows NT 4, Windows 95 OSR2, various newer and older Linux variants, and OS/2 Warp 4 on the same hardware (all PPro boxes) every day, and Warp has a definite performance advantage over all of the above on a 64MB PPro, and is at least as stable in everyday use as all of the above.

Itís almost 2006. NT 4 and Windows 95 are both long obsolete and discontinued products (and you donít even mention what Linux kernel rev you are at). You are comparing one old system to another. My Amiga 3000 with an 040 accelerator and 16MB or RAM running WP 4.1.12 is probably faster and snappier than your PPro with4 times as much memory, but that doesnít mean it is capable of running a modern workload.

As a single-user OS, it isn't as good at some types of *server* applications as a Linux or BSD would be, but in terms of raw server performance, it used to run rings around Windows NT in both single and multi-CPU confifurations. The old HPFS filesystem has cache issues these days which would adversely impact filesystem benchmarks, but HPFS386 addresses that, as does the new JFS filesystem for OS/2 from IBM.

Show me a reputable benchmark of OS/2 outperforming NT 4 in OLTP, Fileserver, Messaging, Web Serving or any other generally accepted server task.

I think you're blowing smoke, and I think you post was modded up because most of the folks here don't have any firsthand 32-bit OS/2 experience at all and don't know any better.

I am blowing smoke? I point out generally recognized flaws in OS/2, like the globally mapped read-write data structures and SIQ and your response is ďnothing to see here, look over thereĒ. My point is that OS/2 was simply not that great an operating system. It failed in the marketplace despite being backed by the largest hardware AND software manufacturer in the world. As you point out, OS/2 was, at one point, a big seller. So where are those users now?

Sorry, but I strongly disagree. I'd love to see some benchmarks comparing OS/2 to modern Linux and BSD kernels and to modern Windows flavors -- I strongly suspect the results would startle you.

Well, since no one (outside the geeks on this forum) cares about OS/2 anymore, that isnít going to happen. However, I doubt OS/2 could effectively compete with these platforms on modern hardware running modern workloads. OS/2 doesn't have VLM support, NUMA aware scheduling or memory allocation, 64bit support and a whole host of other features (some listed above). I doubt OS/2 could scale to the large number of processors that Windows Server and Linux can and OS/2 certainly canít provide the user experience of MacOS X.

OS/2 is a quick OS from the bottom up, its ability to handle multithreading applications is almost unparalleled on x86 hardware, and its kernel is very good at dynamicaly changing task priorities under load.

Without scalability benchmarks, these are just your assertions.

Remember that Microsoft stopped doing head to head comparisons between NT and OS/2 2.x after IBM's David Barnes left MS's people with their pants down on several occasions. NT simply couldn't keep up in that sort of environment. When the technology was actually compared in an unrehearsed head-to-head environment, Windows lost and lost badly.

Microsoft most likely stopped doing head to head comparisons because OS/2 became irrelevant. Nothing David Barnes EVER did was unrehearsed. He was an IBM employee evangelist for OS/2. And again, you are living TEN YEARS in the past.

No, I don't think OS/2 would do badly at all if actual comparisons were made. I would welcome it.

You are running a dead, unsupported platform. No one is going to make any comparisons as they would be ludicrous. Let it go and move on.

Reply Parent Score: 1

jbalmer Member since:
2005-12-18

Why beat a dead horse...

OS/2 is dead. So let it stay that way. Lets not revive it - not when there are so many OS choices. And fine ones at that.

Reply Parent Score: 1

Member since:

Why listen to old music, when there is such a wide variety of 'good' new music?

Why drive a classic car, when there are so many new ones to choose from?

Why read an old book?

You get the point, I think? At least, I hope you do.

(Because we can, and we want to do so.)

Reply Parent Score: 0