OS/2 Archive

ArcaOS 5.0.6 released

ArcaOS 5.0.6 includes refreshed content and fixes since 5.0.5 was released. If you have experienced difficulty installing previous releases of ArcaOS on your hardware, 5.0.6 may address your issue(s). If installing from USB stick, the image may be created using any major operating system at hand (Windows, Linux, MacOS, and of course, OS/2, eComStation, and ArcaOS). Once built, the USB stick can be inserted into any USB port in the target system to boot into the ArcaOS installer/updater. It’s a relatively minor release, but anything that improves the chances of being able to install ArcaOS I’ll take. I’ve had some major issues getting it to boot on modern hardware – despite excellent help from the ArcaOS team, we couldn’t get it to work – so I hope I can find some time somewhere to try it again.

ArcaOS 5.0.5 released

ArcaOS 5.0.5 introduces support for xHCI (USB3) controllers to install on a wider array of systems than ever before. What’s more, for updaters, even if your USB controller was previously unsupported, and you had to install or update from DVD in the past, you may now boot into the installer from USB stick to perform the update. USB3-attached keyboards and mice should work, as well. ArcaOS 5.0.5 includes over 100 updates, enhancements, and fixes since 5.0.4 was released. If you have experienced difficulty installing previous releases of ArcaOS on your hardware, the fixes and updates included in 5.0.5 may address your issue(s). ArcaOS is a continuation of IBM’s OS/2, updated and fixed for modern hardware and with modern applications.

OS/2 on Virtualbox guide

There is this interesting article about running different versions of OS/2 on VirtualBox. It offers tips for each different version, disk image conversion information and prebuilt images. When I started looking into getting it working on a virtual machine, I had a hard time finding some crucial information and files, there were steps in the install process that were not explained in the few guides I could find, it wasn’t clear to me which versions could be installed, and some of the install files were in formats I couldn’t read. Now that I’ve figured out all those problems I’ve created a guide with specific instructions on how to get all major versions working on VirtualBox, complete with sound, video and network in some cases, and you’ll find those guides below. I also created prebuilt virtual machines you can just download and press play on. You owe it to yourself to play with OS/2. It’s an amazingly fascinating operating system with some great ideas and features.

The osFree project

We’re all aware of Haiku, the open source re-implementation of BeOS. This week, I found out a similar effort is underway to recreate OS/2 Warp 4 as an open source operating system. osFree is a Free Open Source software operating system development project, aiming to replace eventually all OS/2 subsystems with Open source analogues. It aims for OS/2 Warp 4 (Merlin) as a base compatibility system, which does not mean that we will not support features of newer (OS/2 Warp Server for e-business, eComStation and ArcaOS) OS/2 versions. This includes rewriting not only user-level code but the OS/2 kernel too. The project is very much in its early alpha stages, so don’t expect to boot into osFree any time soon. That being said, they have made progress over the years, and their current status explains how far along they are. osFree project is deep in the alpha stage. At the present time the osFree project work with low-level parts of operating system like loader and related tools. We also try to develop an experimental prototype of OS/2 personality for L4 microkernel. Also we have set of command line tools like CMD.EXE and file/disk maintenance utilities. I absolutely adore OS/2, and while I understand all too well a project like this won’t be finished overnight – look at Haiku – I do love that it’s being worked on.

Qt 5 libraries for OS/2

This is a port of the QtBase module of the Qt software development framework version 5 to the OS/2 operating system (and its derivants). This port is carefully crafted and maintained by bww bitwise works GmbH (also referred as bitwiseworks). The current version of the port implements all major parts of the QtBase module and is suitable to compile and run a large amount of Qt 5 applications on OS/2. An impressive effort, but I do have to wonder – what is the benefit of running OS/2 when all of the applications you’re using are better served running on, I don’t know, KDE or Windows? Doesn’t it make more sense to direct effort towards native applications?

Subway history: how OS/2 powered the NYC subway for decades

The role of OS/2 in the NYC subway system is more of a conduit. It helps connect the various parts that people use with the parts they don’t. Waldhauer notes, “There are no user-facing applications for OS/2 anywhere in the system. OS/2 is mainly used as the interface between a sophisticated mainframe database and the simple computers used in subway and bus equipment for everyday use. As such, the OS/2 computers are just about everywhere in the system.” At this point, we’re talking about an OS designed in the late 80s, released in the early 90s, as part of a difficult relationship between two tech giants. The MTA had to ignore most of this because it had already made its decision and changing course would cost a lot of money. It’s sad that OS/2 – in its current form available as ArcaOS 5.0 – has a relatively steep entry price, because it’s an incredibly fun and unique operating system to play around with. I’d love to set up a VM just for fun and playing around, but at $129, I really can’t justify that.

ArcaOS 5.0.3 released

The OS/2-derived ArcaOS is now up to version 5.0.3. This latest release appears to be mainly bug fixes and hardware compatibility enhancements.

ArcaOS 5.0.3 is (again) the result of many hours of collaborative work to keep up-to-date and to further refine ArcaOS 5.0. Post-install fixes are included, and these will be made available for separate download as part of the ArcaOS 5.0 Support & Maintenance subscription. In the interim, a full download of the refreshed media image is required to obtain all of these fixes and updates.

ArcaOS 5.0.3 includes over 40 updates and fixes since 5.0.2. The USB stick image package (available as a separate download for ArcaOS licensees with current support and maintenance subscription) has also been updated to incorporate the latest changes in ArcaOS 5.0.3.

ArcaOS 5.0 released

ArcaOS 5.0 has been released and it is available to be bought at the Arca Noae shop page. It is based on OS/2 Warp 4.52 binaries, and contains newer drivers for ACPI, USB, and networking, a new installer and several open source software projects such as Firefox, Qt, Libc, and OpenOffice.

The OS2World Community also posted a statement with important OS/2 community links and some remarks on the important role open source software has in the OS/2 community.

Blue Lion, the next OS/2, moves into beta testing

Per Arca Noae's revised release schedule, and as announced at Warpstock 2016, Blue Lion (ArcaOS 5.0) moved into beta testing stage today. The first beta release has been made available to the test team, and we anticipate a rigorous round of installation, modifications, formatting, deletion, disk wiping, and all that other fun stuff which accompanies a healthy beta test.

We do not anticipate a public beta cycle nor are we planning a gamma release or an untold number of release candidates. Instead, we fully expect ArcaOS 5.0 to emerge from beta testing at the end of March and to become generally available at that time.

As mentioned during earlier coverage, ArcaOS is a sort-of continuation of eComStation, since it's founded by several eCS developers who felt eCS had ground to a halt.

“Can someone explain the origin of the OS/2 table’s name?”

In a discussion at TypeDrawers, Greg Hitchcock (from Microsoft) shares a bit of the history regarding OS/2 table's name in the TTF font format:

Because the design of fonts between OS/2 and Windows was very similar (the same folks at Microsoft did most of the graphics for both OS/2 and Windows - with some input from IBM based on their FOCA values) we decided to consolidate the OS/2 and WIN tables into just one table - OS/2. This is why the spec says "...a set of metrics that are required by OS/2 and Windows." The parting with IBM occurred later in 1990. Microsoft had already made enough fonts using the OS/2 table that we decided it would be too expensive to rename the table to the WIN table.

Ultimately the OS/2 table has become somewhat of a catch-all for additional bits of data, which is why we are now on the 6th version of the table.

OS/2 resurrected: Blue Lion becomes ArcaOS

When the Blue Lion project was announced at the American WarpStock in October 2015, the name was only temporary. Following the close of events at WarpStock Europe, Arca Noae managing member Lewis Rosenthal noted in an interview that the final product name for the new OS/2 distribution is ArcaOS 5.0. The significance of the version number relates to IBM OS/2 4.52 - the last maintenance release of the platform released by IBM in 2001.

ArcaOS 5.0 is expected to be released in the fourth quarter of 2016, but Blue Lion remains as a code name, in much the same way "Wily Werewolf" is the code name of Ubuntu 15.10.

ArcaOS is a sort-of continuation of eComStation, since it's founded by several eCS developers who felt eCS had ground to a halt.

Blue Lion: new OS/2 distribution due 2016

Lewis Rosenthal announced at Warpstock that Arca Noae is now licensed by IBM to create a new OS/2 distribution; it is currently codenamed "Blue Lion" and has a tentative release of Q3 2016. It will be based on OS/2 Warp 4.52 (MCP2) and the SMP kernel, with a new installer which does not require floppies or optical media (USB and possibly network installs), the Arca Noae driver updates including ACPI, USB, and MultiMac, and an updated version of SNAP Graphics. Lewis made it clear that there is no agreement between Arca Noae and XEU (formerly Mensys), and they intend to be a better OS/2 distribution than eComstation. Note that eComstation has been effectively dead since December 2013, despite some vague promises earlier this year that 2.2 would finally be released this month.

Not sure if the harsh words for eComStation are entirely warranted, but the long, long release cycle for eCS 2.2 and IBM engaging in this new agreement is, honestly, quite telling.

eComStation, OS/2 Warp and WarpStock

The Warpstock annual conference was held on Oct 24 to 26 on St. Louis, Missouri. These conferences are related to the OS/2 and eComStation platform. Currently there are two reviews of the event online at OS2World and at WarpCity2 blog. Between the relevant news there is a new company called "Arca Noae" that will focus on software development for the platform. They are working on ACPI, USB, Network and other drivers for the platform. Additionally Mensys also gave some light why there haven't been activity on the last year. Arca Noae announced driver releases and software subscription products for the users of this platform.

Half an operating system: the triumph and tragedy of OS/2

It was now 1984, and IBM had a different problem: DOS was pretty much still a quick and dirty hack. The only real new thing that had been added to it was directory support so that files could be organized a bit better on the IBM PC/AT’s new hard disk. And thanks to the deal that IBM signed in 1980, the cloners could get the exact same copy of DOS and run exactly the same software. IBM needed to design a brand new operating system to differentiate the company from the clones. Committees were formed and meetings were held, and the new operating system was graced with a name: OS/2.

Fantastic article at Ars Technica about the rise and demise of IBM's OS/2. OS/2 is one of those big 'what-ifs' of the technology world, along the lines of 'what if Apple had purchased Be instead of NEXT' or 'what if Nokia had opted for Android' (sorry). Our technology world could've been a lot different had OS/2 won over Windows 3.x/95.

I reviewed OS/2 as it exists today (eComStation) six years ago.