“OS/2 has many applications that had been created by companies, individual developers and hobbyists. Many of these applications still works under the newest version of eComStation and have demonstrated a good quality. The only issue is that they are turning into abandonware since developers had switched to other platforms, but there is a chance to extend their life with the ‘Open Source Long Live Elixir’. Here at OS2World.com we will like to make a call to OS/2-eCS developers and ex-developers to open source their creations. We believe that the software can be expanded for the benefit of the community and allowing a learning experience from the code of these applications.”
Open Source OS/2 Abandonware Campaign
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2006-09-17 6:32 pmrhyder
The idea of OS/2 being open sourced is put forward from time to time.
Firstly, it probably isn’t practical – the source would contain code which is copyright Microsoft (and perhaps even Adobe and others). I don’t think that that MS would agree to cooperate when such a release couldn’t possibly benefit them in any way.
Secondly, it probably isn’t desirable – Given that a full release of the source code, which could be used to generate a complete working OS/2, is impractical, what actual technology could be taken from OS/2? In other words, which features of OS/2 could be reused? Does the kernel, for example, have any features that other, freely available and open source kernels do not have? Other features that made OS/2 the OS of choice for so many people in the past such as industry leading DOS support have no real appeal to most users in this day and age.
Similar points can be made about the GUI – it has some nice features but these relate to the *design*, not the implementation. The implementation is flawed as it is based upon a single input queue. The SIQ means, in practical terms, that a single crashing application can make any mouse or keyboard interaction with the OS impossible; in these situations, the OS seems to working and applications seem to be running but you can’t interact with them. After such a crash, all you can do is reset the machine.
In it’s day OS/2 was a great OS but I just can’t see what could be taken from the source and reused now. If some of the GUI ideas are still appealing then it would be easier to add them to other OSes than to recreate OS/2 from whatever bits of source code could feasibly be released.
2006-09-17 9:13 pmdjohnston
“Firstly, it probably isn’t practical – the source would contain code which is copyright Microsoft (and perhaps even Adobe and others). I don’t think that that MS would agree to cooperate when such a release couldn’t possibly benefit them in any way.”
Microsoft has nothing to do with OS/2. It is an IBM product.
2006-09-17 9:20 pmkleb
Microsoft has quite a lot to do with OS/2, seeing that it began as a joint IBM/MS initiative. There may still be code copyrighted by MS in the LAN Manager system or the graphical interface, the Presentation Manager.
Of course, it should be possible to rid OS/2 of this code, just as it was possible to rid Mozilla of code that Netscape Communications had licensed from other parties.
2006-09-17 10:02 pmZoidberg
“Microsoft has nothing to do with OS/2. It is an IBM product.”
Wrong, you’d better go back and study your OS history a bit. OS/2 has everything to do with Microsoft since they are the ones who wrote it. IBM didn’t take over writing it until OS/2 Warp 3.0, and even today it still has a lot of copyrighted Microsoft code.
2006-09-17 10:22 pmkleb
Wrong, you’d better go back and study your OS history a bit. OS/2 has everything to do with Microsoft since they are the ones who wrote it. IBM didn’t take over writing it until OS/2 Warp 3.0
That, too, is incorrect. OS/2 2.0 was developed mainly by IBM, after the two companies split efforts in 1990. They only collaborated with Microsoft on the 1.x versions. However, since important technology like the Presentation Manager was introduced in the 1.x line, it is entirely possible that Microsoft’s copyrights still encumber the system.
(It might also be an idea to ask Microsoft to allow re-licensing this code, as it is clearly very, very old and not useful to Microsoft anymore. Like many OS/2-based software products, this old code is in effect “abandonware” too. As well, Microsoft hardly has to fear an open-sourced OS/2 as a serious business threat. Of course, the GPL would probably be out of the question for ideological reasons, but more liberal terms like a modified BSD license might be possible.)
2006-09-17 11:58 pmrhyder
I must admit that I am not sure of the details on this issue but I wonder if it is possible that Microsoft could share copyright on later code that it did not actually write but that is a continuation of a project which it started?
Perhaps open sourcing the code would open source techniques which are still used in MS code?
As for the idea of MS allowing the code to be open sourced – I think that MS would have very little to gain from allowing OS/2 to be made open source. I don’t suppose that an open sourced OS/2 could rise up and topple Windows but open source operating systems in general are challenging Microsoft’s operating system position. Gain (PR) might be less than the potential threat.
2006-09-18 1:38 pmflywheel
That is not entirely correct.
IBM has always been in control of OS/2 – it was a joint effort.
MS mainly did the drivers and the GUI, HPFS for instance is mainly based on MS patents and it was also MS that created the horrible 5 step installation process for printer drivers, and AFAIK they’re responsable for the SIQ.
Both IBM and MS sold their own OS/2 versions, that only varied in the bundled software.
With OS/2 2.0 it became an IBM solo project.
2006-09-18 12:56 amsimmoV
“…The implementation is flawed as it is based upon a single input queue. The SIQ means, in practical terms, that a single crashing application can make any mouse or keyboard interaction with the OS impossible; in these situations, the OS seems to working and applications seem to be running but you can’t interact with them. After such a crash, all you can do is reset the machine.”
It is not a single input queue. If for any reason it’s called SIQ, it is because the Presentation Manager’s shell is a synchronous event. And it rarely would bring the machine down. An ALT-ESC or CTRL-ESC would have sufficed to bring up the window list and (if needed) close the offending program. Later versions would have a feature that would revive stuck windows without having to terminate them (Asynchronous Focus Change).
2006-09-18 1:33 amgalvanash
It is not a single input queue.
Sorry, but you are completely wrong. I ran OS/2 for many years, from the original release up to Warp 3. All versions of OS/2 have a single input queue (even eCom Station does), and until FixPack 17 it was very easy to run into this issue. With some software you were lucky to get more than an hour out of it before it would lock up the queue (early versions of IBM Works was famous for this).
The infamous “fix” for this didnt remove the limitation, it just worked around it in a clever manner. But dont take my word for it…
Hell, you could have just googled for this, there are like over 600 references to +”OS/2″ +”single input queue”.
I don’t think this article talks about open sourcing OS/2 or eCom Station but the programs thatr were written for these operating systems. Many developers have abandoned OS/2, because it doesn’t play any important role anymore.
2006-09-17 7:07 pmh3rman
>> I don’t think this article talks about open sourcing OS/2 or eCom Station but the programs thatr were written for these operating systems. Many developers have abandoned OS/2, because it doesn’t play any important role anymore. <<
You’re one hundred percent right.
How about we start to actually read articles before reacting to them? The article isn’t about opensourcing OS/2 at all, it’s the applications written for it.
the seemingly abandoned symphonyos project website has been hacked
I wish he had included examples of the applications which he would like to see open sourced.
In some cases, the developer has moved on to Windows or Linux development; in some of those cases, it would be in the interests of the developer for the users of their old software to move to the new platform so that they can become customers again.
As with the OS itself, barriers might exist in terms of ownership of the software in terms of IP.
Hi all –
There are a couple of options if anyone wants an open-source OS/2 clone.
1) http://www.osfree.org – The osFree project. This is just getting restarted after a longish “abeyance”.
I think they could really use another dev or two.
2) EOS – http://meos.sourceforge.net –
This is an OSS emulator. Among their emulated operating systems *will be* OS/2. It’s not there yet, but is apparently being worked on. This project is *very actively* developed and has made **massive** strides in the last month or two. Outstanding, well worth looking at.
Abandonware is an issue on any platform, not just OS/2. Although most very old software sooner or later slips into obscurity, there is always scope for some enthusiastic developer to take on the work of maintaining/enhancing the application. Or even just providing it “as is”, but without the fear of any legal issues.
I’m waiting for the GA release of eComStation 2.0 before deciding whether to return to eCS (1.2 does not play very happily with my hardware, but 2.0 has a much broader support for video cards, USB, etc – or so it seems). If not, I’ll release my source code to this project. Although I’m not sure that anyone would want it
As an engineer that spent years developing software on OS/2, I think I have enough history to ask why?
OS/2 does not really have anything special going on with it anymore. Everything that it did well, now is done by other OS’s.
2006-09-18 1:42 pmflywheel
That might well be (15 years later), but does any of them do it well all at the same time, well apart from Zeta ?
2006-09-21 9:29 amdylansmrjones
Not quite right.
They have the potential to do the same – even better;
They just don’t do it (except for even more exotic OS’es.
I would have to agree – it was VERY easy to lose any form of input due to the single input queue. I remember reading about this and wondering why they implemented it this way. The conspiracy theorist in me assumed it was done by Microsoft to cripple the software.
Maybe all none proprietary source code could be open sourced and the rest could be written “clean-room” by the community. That would be interesting to see.
I downloaded the demo copy of eComStation and everything about it reminded me of Windows 95. Including its Flash Player 5.0. The only thing that looked interesting was it’s multiple workspaces (like *nix desktops) and the included Photoshop clone called Pixel.
I would love to see OS2 operating system being opensourced. A cup of maturity would be of benefit for all – the operating system vendors, software developers and users. I think the opensource world only get valuable knowhow and experience, on the other side OS2 will get the attention of the developers. It is, I guess, what Haiku will achieve sooner or later, althouh with the price of sleepless nights of re-writing of already developed technology. Also, OS2 has been designed from its start as a versatile environment so it really can really be a source of fresh ideas.