26 March, 2009

OS/2 lives on :)

The oldschool types never really die, they update and evolve ;) The 90's operating system: OS/2, was a development collaboration between Microsoft and IBM, to introduce the 2nd generation operating system to accompany IBM's second generation personal computers of the early 90's. Today you would assume the OS was long since dead and forgotten.., well, you'd be wrong.

OS/2 lives on to this day, and is represented by Serenity Systems as "eComStation 2.0 RC6a" (2 pictures below).

What I liked about OS/2 was it's clean intuitive interface :) It even had pseudo-3D games! (chessboard in picture below)

From wikipedia.org:


There is a community of OS/2 users and developers, along with loyal company customers, hoping that IBM will release OS/2 or a significant part of it as open source. Petitions to that end were made in 2005 and 2007, but IBM declined, citing legal, technical and strategic reasons.[35] It is unlikely that the entire OS will be open at some point in the future, because it contains third-party code, much of it from Microsoft.

Also IBM made a deal with Commodore to license Amiga technology for OS/2 2.0 and above in exchange for the REXX scripting language.[36] This means OS/2 may have code not written by IBM, which can prevent the OS from being open-sourced in the future.[37][38]

Version 2.0 had such a long design cycle that its design started while OS/2 1.1 was still under development, and thus, portions of it were developed in conjunction with Microsoft, even though Microsoft never released a branded version of 2.0 (although they did release a beta in their name). IBM's contribution to versions 1.2 and earlier mostly resides in the GUI components; however, bug fixes and substantial performance changes to the entire system in 1.3 were made by IBM, and much more of the overall system (including the kernel) for 2.0 was developed by IBM.

The aborted PowerPC port did not involve Microsoft at all, and has been proposed as the basis for an open-source 64-bit version of OS/2.

Still, the community has suggested that, even if only the IBM portion of it is made open, the missing parts could be written by the same community to form a next-generation version of the OS. Code could perhaps be integrated from the Wine or ReactOS projects. Many developers believe that these missing parts include many of the legacy 16-bit components not revised since OS/2 1.x, and are exactly the parts that should be rewritten anyway. There is an ongoing petition to open parts of the OS arranged by OS2World.com.[39]

With the possibility of an open-source future for OS/2, the OS may be given a new lease of life. IBM's current and heavy involvement with several open source projects indicate that opening parts of OS/2 will not be difficult for the company. But until then, OS/2's future remains in limbo.

Open source operating systems such as Linux have already profited from OS/2 indirectly through IBM's release of the improved JFS file system which was ported from the OS/2 code base.

OS/2 programs will eventually use emulators and compatibility layers for running programs dedicated for OS/2.

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