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Blue Lion, a new OS/2 distribution (arcanoae.com)
92 points by bane on Nov 4, 2015 | hide | past | favorite | 37 comments

I tried OS/2 back in the day. Ordered OS/2 Warp for a DEC PClone (428?). Got the disks and found out I needed a graphic driver for the S3 card in the DEC. Called DEC and the extremely helpful service rep couldn't find anything, so he called IBM's OS/2 support with me still on the phone line. IBM said such a driver exists but I would need to sign an NDA before they sent it to me. I remember asking a lot of "why" with the DEC rep being equally confused. After hanging up on the OS/2 support person, the DEC rep (surrounded by other reps given the laughter and commentary I could overhear) comped me a free Windows NT. I'm still amazed that I got NeXTSTEP running and not OS/2.

Not related to IBM or DEC but I had a similar (good) experience with Adaptec back in the day. I was a 14 year old kid trying to make an old ISA SCSI card work with a new fangled CD burner. The support rep said the card was no longer supported but hey would you like a newer SCSI card for free? In retrospect I'm pretty sure he just sent me a card out of a test pile knowing I had probably saved months to get the CD burner and couldn't afford a $150 SCSI card.

Yeah, pretty much this

No IBM "product" can work without some 10 consultants meddling with it and/or huge amounts of red tape

I had a good out of the box install experience with OS/2. Installed and ran with absolutely no problems. I don't remember details of the machine I was using... Used it for a few months.

It had a a lot of nice features. The network stack was very nice (compared to trumpet(?) or whatever Windows used to have back then which had gaping holes). Multitasking. Rexx as the system interpreter...

The final nail in the OS/2 coffin was trying to find driver support for your hardware.

The nails before that were lack of OS/2 native apps, since OS/2 could run DOS and 16 bit Windows software, companies didn't bother writing OS/2 native software anymore since they could write DOS or Windows and sell it to OS/2 owners in Win-OS2 mode. Lack of programming language support except for IBM VisualAge products.

But third party driver support, Microsoft did it better than IBM and got more OEMs to make Windows drivers and not make OS/2 drivers. When Microsoft still supported OS/2 with IBM they got third party driver support for it, after Microsoft abandoned OS/2 the third party driver support dried up.

I have a copy of OS/2 Warp Blue I bought back in the day. I fought and fought and never got it installed. I was so excited to use it and never got it to work.

I used OS/2 on a BBS system running Wildcat that was set up and included an internet email gateway (dial up users could send/receive internet mail) around 1991. Each 9600 or 14.4 high speed modem had it's own instance of the app running in a dos box. We grew it up to 8 56k dial-up lines running on that one PS/2 machine before usage tapered off with the rise of ISPs and full web access. I think we shut it down around 1995/6. OS/2 was way ahead of Windows with multitasking capability and memory management, I don't think Windows caught up until Windows NT/2000.

OS/2's multi-tasking was incredible for the time. I used it for BBSing too. I didn't host one with it though. I could zmodem download files (which could take hours) in Telemate in the background while I played Doom 2. Doom played at full speed with no issues and the download would maintain the same speed. This was on a 386DX-40 with 4MB of RAM and a 14.4k modem.

OS/2 Warp holds a special place in my geek heart along side BeOS. The only OSes I've ever used that just did things that didn't seem possible in the contemporary operating systems of the time.

You ever try an Amiga? It was about 10 years ahead of anything else.

Two key features the Amiga lacked were virtual memory and memory protection. OS/2 offered both.

Yes, I first learned C programming on the Amiga, and it was a fun experience. Deference an invalid pointer and meet the Guru!

I remember installing a program on my later Amiga (a 3000 with a 68030/ MMU) that made the first page write only. This definitely improved stability...

OS/2 really was the true successor to DOS.

> OS/2 was way ahead of Windows with multitasking capability and memory management, I don't think Windows caught up until Windows NT/2000.

Windows NT was the Microsoft operating system that replaced (in its lineup) the joint MS/IBM OS/2, so that's not surprising. (Windows NT began development with the intent of being OS/2 3.0.) So its not really surprising that "Windows" didn't beat OS/2 at its strong points until that version, since the prior versions were intended for lower-end markets with OS/2 being the higher-end OS for Microsoft.

The problem is that it was only a suitable replacement for "NT OS/2", not OS/2 2.x. And Win9x has it's own problems (my favorite is how its dependence on DOS allowed Caldera to continue its lawsuit).

Unfortunately, OS/2 was also ahead of the hardware at the time and its multitasking capabilities could easily tax the limited precious RAM of the day (especially where GUI apps were concerned). That led to lots of disk swapping, which sometimes gave it the appearance of slowness rather than serving as evidence of the technical advancement over Windows that it actually was.

Also the Workplace Shell. The old MS OS/2 2.0 SDK versions from 1990 didn't have it.

Blast from the past. I also ran a BBS on OS/2, though it was RemoteAccess/FrontDoor :)

Also ran RemoteAccess on OS/2. The sound of Sweet Child o' Mine being rendered by a PC speaker has forever been imprinted upon my psyche...

I worked in a college computer lab with PS/2 systems that had OS/2 1.X on them with the option of booting up PC-DOS as well.

After that I worked at a tools company that had OS/2 2.X systems on PS/2 systems and we upgraded them with Kingston Microchannel cards that added more RAM and used IDE hard drives. Using Client Access/400 for DOS/Windows ate up the 640K of DOS RAM, but in OS/2 it used the memory above 640K so more of it was free. It was the AS/400 client software that we needed to access DB2 databases and other things. We also used Token Ring and was a big IBM shop. Until management decided to switch to MS-DOS 6.X and Windows for Workgroups 3.11 with MS-Office 4.3 to get everyone on it standardized because they got a bulk discount from 800 Software. The IBM PS/2 systems got replaced with Compaq and Gateway 2000 systems that were cheaper. We also used Windows NT 3.1 and switched to Windows 95. I was downsized in 1995 before the Windows 95 roll-outs.

But I had OS/2 experience that got me a lot of job interviews, like Enterprise Rent-A-Car used OS/2 and I almost got hired there. OS/2 was phased out and in 1995 I couldn't get OS/2 3.0 Warp working with my 486DX PC clone so I got Slackware Linux instead. OS/2 3.0 Warp lacked driver support for certain hardware and that was the downfall of OS/2 from 1995 and on.


Client Access is probably the single piece of software that has caused the most alcohol to be consumed.

I used to have to manage memory in MS-DOS for CA/400 for DOS, Netware client, and MS LAN Manager.

Things got easier with MS-DOS 6.X and memmaker but MS-DOS 5.0 I had to managee upper memory by hand.

I had to configure adapter card ROM memory to fit into the same 64K C000 block so that there was 64K free D000 for an upper block to more the network drivers into to keep more conventional memory free.

I worked as a student supporter in IBM Denmark, doing support on OS/2 and working with it every day (I still drink my coffee from a OS/2 cup :)

I also ran the Danish OS/2 BBS and since it haf one of the largest collection of OS/2 drivers and OS/2 software I even helped create a redbook with CD's of drivers, all at the age of 25!

I loved the OS and had great fun working with the lavs in the US, the engineers really wanted OS/2 to succeed when management did not.

At least it is nothing compared to how MS attacked it. That OS/2 2.0 fiasco is one of my favorite topics BTW.

When OS/2 was discontinued end 2006, I had the opportunity to migrate critical infrastructure in several financial institutions around the country to modern environments. I hope no-one hopes expanding the lifetime of non-migrated infrastructure with this.

The 'best' client called christmas eve announcing that end of the year their datacenter UPS will be replaced and last time the power went out their $(very important piece of banking infrastructure) wouldn't even boot. Well, at least jobs like that paid good money.

But for fun and entertainment I think it's a great idea.

> I hope no-one hopes expanding the lifetime of non-migrated infrastructure with this.

LOL.. you can pretty much guarantee this is why it's happening, and why there is funding for it.

Unlike Microsoft, IBM translated OS/2 Warp with the help of a broader team of first language speakers. At that time I was a columnist at Hungary's biggest computer monthly and I was helping the Hungarian translation team. We tried to (pun intended) not to warp the language too badly. It is very very interesting to participate in changing the language directly. I still remember the debates in '95-'97 and the horrible word concoctions for the translation of "website" to Hungarian...

Seems to have been formed from ex-eComStation people (see https://www.arcanoae.com/about/). I wonder if they have to start from scratch with whatever enhancements were added to eCS, or if they are able to access the eCS source by some means.

Apparently IBM made some changes to OS/2 4.5.2 or whatever the last version was to add in support for modern hardware and that is what Serenity licensed as an OEM to make eComStation. It seems to be what Arcanae licensed as well as an OEM.

I see competition as a good thing, you got two OEMs trying to offer a modern day OS/2, of course they are going to work to make their own version better than the other one.

It is not uncommon for employees to leave one company to form another that competes with the former company. Usually they had a different vision than the managers had, and want to take OS/2 into a different direction than Serenity is currently doing.

I hope they offer open source bounties for porting open source programs to OS/2 from Linux and Windows and other operating systems. I hope they do the same for drivers to get modern hardware support.

OS/2 runs faster because it has a smaller Kernel than Windows 10 does and it was designed for earlier systems to use less system resources.

I'm curious what sort of problems this new distribution would solve. Is it mainly for running legacy software, or are there other applications?

It's to continue providing security and hardware support to all the companies still running it.

When I worked at Netscape, my main work machine was OS/2 based. Great for OS/2 builds as well as win16. Ran OS/2 until the late 90s. The multitasking worked well and I liked the speed and WPS.

Of course, I still have an Ecom Station VM for purposes of playing Galactic Civilizations. Stardock Systems started our on OS/2.

2016 - The Year of the OS/2 Desktop!

I used OS/2 for some telephony software back in the 80s. I found the OS quite quick and robust, processes/threads very lightweight. Of course, then Linux appeared and changed everything for me.

Wow 8 months to write an OS. These guys must be good!

Url changed from http://www.theregister.co.uk/2015/11/03/os2_returns_arca_noa..., which points to this.

Though one might to click the original link while waiting for the company's page to load. Seems they've been getting some press, and their servers are a bit slow dishing up the pages (though no 500s or anything when I was clicking around their site, just have to be patient).

Perhaps they are being served up by PS/2's...

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