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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RE[2]: Was OS/2 really that great?
by makfu on Wed 28th Dec 2005 22:32 UTC in reply to "RE: Was OS/2 really that great?"
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

Member since:

A few quick responses...

I havenít run OS/2 in nearly a decade,

Thanks for admitting that.

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.

Actually, prior to NT 4 coming out, OS/2 was outselling NT. Even Microsoft admitted that. And since IBM considered NT to be the main "competition" for OS/2, this is significant.

Looking at your list of stuff, OS/2 isn't as bad off as suggested. Perhaps taking a fresh look at the latest version might help.

2. Multi-user support

There are a few options for this. Muiltidesk is the one I use, which does offer multi-user support. There are a few other solutions for this, and I've read that multi-user support is also apparently being looked at for a future version of eComStation.

4. Large memory support

This has been fixed in kernels for several years. OS/2 can recognize as much memory as you put in your system.

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

While admittedly OS/2 doesn't take full advantage of 64-bit CPU's, the kernel has been updated and the system does run quite well on 64-bit CPU's.

6. Portable code base

I don't really see this as an issue. When you chose to run Linux, do you chose it because you can buy 4 or 5 different computers based on different architectures just so you can say you run Linux on multiple platforms?

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

The latest TCP/IP for OS/2 is a fully 32 bit stack based on the same stack as found in AIX. While there are a few things which are out of date (IBM's sendmail for one) It includes modern features like a bulit-in firewall. Furthermore the few pieces which are out of date have up to date ports which have been done by users.

10. Integrated multi-monitor, multi-adapter support

I don't know about multi-adapter support, as I've never had a need for this. But from reading the documentation from Scitech SNAP, I believe multi-monitor is supported.

I doubt OS/2 could scale to the large number of processors that Windows Server and Linux

The OS/2 SMP kernel scales up to 64 processors. I don't know what the limit for Linux (or Windows Server) is, but when was the last time you bought a 64-processor machine?

Anyways, just a few points.

Reply Parent Score: 0

Member since:

"Actually, prior to NT 4 coming out, OS/2 was outselling NT. Even Microsoft admitted that. And since IBM considered NT to be the main "competition" for OS/2, this is significant.

Looking at your list of stuff, OS/2 isn't as bad off as suggested. Perhaps taking a fresh look at the latest version might help."

I remember those days. OS/2 had around 2 million "users", while NT had around 1/2 a million. Yes, OS/2 owned Windows NT 3.51. However, the two operating systems combined probably added to less than 1 percent of the market. The market was ruled by DOS and Windows and Microsoft wiped OS/2 off the map with the release of 95 and NT 4.

Reply Parent Score: 0

makfu Member since:
2005-12-18

A few quick responses...

I havenít run OS/2 in nearly a decade,

Thanks for admitting that.

Your welcome. I never made any representation to the contrary.

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.

Actually, prior to NT 4 coming out, OS/2 was outselling NT. Even Microsoft admitted that. And since IBM considered NT to be the main "competition" for OS/2, this is significant.

I didnít ask if it was outselling NT. And no, NT was not OS/2ís primary competition when Warp 3 shipped. It was very clearly Windows 95 and the ramp-up to 95ís release. Furthermore, I would still very much like to know when OS/2 has 20% of the desktop market?

Looking at your list of stuff, OS/2 isn't as bad off as suggested. Perhaps taking a fresh look at the latest version might help.

2. Multi-user support

There are a few options for this. Muiltidesk is the one I use, which does offer multi-user support. There are a few other solutions for this, and I've read that multi-user support is also apparently being looked at for a future version of eComStation.

It still isnít an integrated component of the OS. Also, is this third-party product still resold and supported?

4. Large memory support

This has been fixed in kernels for several years. OS/2 can recognize as much memory as you put in your system.

4GB is not large memory support in 2005. Intel Physical Address Extensions (aka 36bit addressing) is. So no, you could not install OS/2 on one of my boxes with 32GB of ram and have it recognize all the memory in the box.

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

While admittedly OS/2 doesn't take full advantage of 64-bit CPU's, the kernel has been updated and the system does run quite well on 64-bit CPU's.

I would love to know what ďupdatesĒ those would be. An AMD64 or Intel EMT64 x86 CPU running in 32bit mode is no different than any other 32bit x86 CPU. For access to the 8 additional GPRís and whatnot, the CPU has to be in 64bit mode. This is an entirely different mode than traditional 32bit protected mode.

6. Portable code base

I don't really see this as an issue. When you chose to run Linux, do you chose it because you can buy 4 or 5 different computers based on different architectures just so you can say you run Linux on multiple platforms?

So what youíre saying is that I shouldnít care because x86 is good enough? Thatís just silly. If I want to build a compute intensive IBM Power based Beowulf cluster for Linux, or want a 64-way Itanium HP Superdome for SQL 2005, I have those options, OS/2 doesnít.

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

The latest TCP/IP for OS/2 is a fully 32 bit stack based on the same stack as found in AIX. While there are a few things which are out of date (IBM's sendmail for one) It includes modern features like a bulit-in firewall. Furthermore the few pieces which are out of date have up to date ports which have been done by users.


Sendmail is not part of the IP stack, itís an SMTP MTA daemon. I wasnít aware that OS/2 had a built-in firewall (Iíll take your word for it).

10. Integrated multi-monitor, multi-adapter support

I don't know about multi-adapter support, as I've never had a need for this. But from reading the documentation from Scitech SNAP, I believe multi-monitor is supported.

So no, itís not built in, I have to either rely on the OEM to provide a driver or buy SNAP (which you need for modern chipset support anyway).

The OS/2 SMP kernel scales up to 64 processors. I don't know what the limit for Linux (or Windows Server) is, but when was the last time you bought a 64-processor machine?

That it supports up to 64 CPUís does not mean it scales up to 64 CPUís. There are many obstacles to SMP scalability, not the least of which is optimizing the use of global data structures (locking) and synchronization of threads. Given that 32-way x86 based systems didnít even exist when Warp 4 was released, I doubt it scales past 4-8 CPUís.

As for Windows and Linux, both sport impressive vertical scalability with the Windows Server 2003 (NT 5.2) kernel having an advantage over the Linux 2.6 kernel (for the moment). Windows currently holds the number 3, 7 and 10 spot on the TPC-C non-cluster (single machine) benchmark running various version of MS SQL Server on 64-way Itanium2 HP Superdome hardware. Linux currently holds the number 11 spot running SUSE 9 on a 32-way Itanium2 NEC Express system.

Anyways, just a few points.

Your points did little to change the fact that OS/2 is a dead and obsolete platform better left in the past.

Reply Parent Score: 1