back to article Is the world ready for a bare-metal OS/2 rebirth?

A US software company has signed on with IBM to release a new native build of Big Blue's OS/2. Arca Noae said its "Blue Lion" build of OS/2 will run on the bare metal of PCs without the need for an emulator or hypervisor. Those still using the 28-year-old operating system and its applications typically run the stack in a …

  1. John Savard Silver badge

    Pity

    No doubt it will be expensive, and aimed at those firms that are currently still using the operating system - it won't be intended to take the desktop by storm, to offer an alternative for people not adventurous enough for Linux, sick of what's been happening to Windows, and not prepared to pay the premium for the Macintosh.

    But then, Windows is the standard, and it would be a very bold PC maker that would go ahead and dump Windows and start bringing out a line of computers running the new OS/2 - and expect the software industry to start selling applications for it. Bold to the point of insanity.

    Now, IBM bought Lotus, and there was an OS/2 edition of Lotus Smart Suite... so they could start the ball rolling. But IBM sold their PC business to Lenovo, so where's the percentage for them?

    1. Mikel

      Re: Pity

      >But then, Windows is the standard, and it would be a very bold PC maker that would go ahead and dump Windows and start bringing out a line of computers running the new OS/2 Android - and expect the software industry to start selling applications for it. Bold to the point of insanity.

    2. Fungus Bob Silver badge
      Thumb Up

      Re: Pity

      Hey, its OK - OS/2 will obliterate your hard drive.

      1. Fungus Bob Silver badge

        Re: Pity

        Looks like 11 people here like OS/2.

        Or don't remember IBM's horrible marketing...

    3. Charlie Clark Silver badge
      Go

      Re: Pity

      I think the target market will be those using OS/2 or eComStation for dedicated work. Presumably the deal include the kernel sources so that it can be recompiled to run on modern chips, BIOS and I/O (disk, video, USB) systems.

      That said Workplace Shell was the best desktop GUI bar none. It was, of course, hamstrung by being single-threaded for a long time. It made the desktop something that you could actually use productively as opposed to the pretty backdrop that it is for most of us.

      1. ps2os2

        Re: Pity

        I think IBM will use this as base for running their mainframes (again). IBM is probably gun shy of letting MS anywhere near their mainframes. Rightly so, in my opinion. OS2 was rock solid and it never crashed (like their mainframes).

  2. wcomegys

    REXX and OS/2

    I learned REXX on OS/2, it has been a very valuable skill for me to have in my tool box.

    Look forward to the new release!

  3. Jim-234

    For it's day OS/2 was amazing!

    Stuff that is all "modern" like running multiple virtual machines, each running different OS versions, while still having your main desktop up and running, along with virtual machine save files, was just a standard part of OS/2 that could run on old 486 CPUs.

    I used to use that function a lot when you had to have different versions of DOS running for different old network cards & printers.

    Hopefully they have a cheap version or a trial version I can test out just for old times sake.

    1. Your alien overlord - fear me

      You had 486's? You lucky, lucky, lucky bastard. Stuck on 386 (DX if lucky). Just hope the PC manufacturers bring back the MCA interface !!!

    2. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      For it's day OS/2 was amazing!

      It still is!

      We are running it on 4 and 6 core AMD 64bit processors in SMP mode without any problems. My workstation also has a 1920 x 1200 27" monitor and I have a couple of VMs up and running and sharing between each other and the standard OS/2 desktop.

      1. SE

        Presume that experience is as a guest?

        1. Anonymous Coward
          Anonymous Coward

          No, all our machines running OS/2 are running on bare metal. The only thing we had to be careful with was the Gigabit network chip, in some cases the onboard chip wouldn't work but that was ficed with an Intel gigabit nic.

  4. oldtaku

    I have fond memories of OS/2, but I wonder if it still takes 5 minutes to boot... that was definitely the nadir for personal computer boot time. I imagine SSD helps a lot though.

    9 Started out as < 1 sec on Apple II, got worse and worse - PC BIOS, SCSI cards, Windows, and then OS/2 good lord. Since then it's been getting faster and finally back to < 10 sec from cold boot with Win10. Except CentOS. Debian boots right up, but CentOS is still a f@#$ing pig that spends minutes doing god knows what. )

    1. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      I recall booting OS/2 Warp 4 on a Pentium 133MHz machine with 64MB RAM and found it was quite usable.

      The problem I think was that mid-90s hardware had typically 8MB RAM or less, and OS/2 really needed its RAM. Windows NT had the same problem, if you want slow, try Windows NT 3.1 on a 486 with 12MB RAM (the minimum requirements). Windows 95 on a 486 with 8MB RAM isn't exactly swift either.

      My biggest complaint with OS/2 apart from its idiosyncratic support for hardware was the need to spend about 20 minutes turning all the sound effects off.

      1. Michael Duke

        Try Windows 95 beta on an AMD 386 40Mhz with 4MB of memory.

        My first introduction to the Win9x stack.

        Or installing WIndows NT 3.5 Workstation from Floppys and finding a corrupted disk (36 of 38 from memory)

        1. Anonymous Coward
          Anonymous Coward

          Try Windows 95 beta on an AMD 386 40Mhz with 4MB of memory.

          I can beat that: 386 SX 25MHz with 4MB RAM.

          That said, it was Windows 95 release A not the beta. Loaded from floppy.

          1. Pirate Dave
            Pirate

            I can beat that: 386 SX 25MHz with 4MB RAM

            4 megs? Weren't you lucky. I had a 386-25 SX with 1 meg, well 640K really, since a dude I knew said that should be enough for anybody. And that was a replacement for the old 4MHz ITT Xtra that I got second hand (MFM - FTW baby...).

            When I got Windows 3.0 (a couple of years after 3.1 came out), I seem to remember adding another 2 megs at a cost of like $110. I think this was after one of the memory price crises' - can't remember if it was where Bush Sr smacked the Korean manufs for dumping, or if it was after a factory blowing up (or some such). I also ran the DOSSHELL (from DOS 4.0 or maybe 5.x, iirc) and honestly liked it better than Windows - was much faster.

            But back to the OS2 topic - the question in my little non-OS/2 mind is - OS/2 was a really well thought-out, designed, and implemented OS that came from the Big Brains at IBM. And I think that's a big part of its reliability. Not to poor-mouth Arca Noae (whoever they are), but do they really think they are up to the task of updating an entire OS like OS/2 by late next year, and having it be as reliable as the original software that came from IBM? I admit, when I RTFA, I was a bit skeptical. Seems like updating OS/2 to current hardware would be a big task even for IBM itself. Or is Arca Noae a group of the old OS/2 folks from IBM?

            1. Roland6 Silver badge

              Re: But back to the OS2 topic & Arca Noae @Pirate Dave

              See http://forums.theregister.co.uk/forum/containing/2686640

              And visit the websites:

              https://www.arcanoae.com/ - and specifically the 'about us' page.

              http://www.ecomstation.com/

              As for potential markets this recent El Reg article and associated comments might enlighten you:

              http://www.theregister.co.uk/2015/09/14/world_finally_ready_for_usbbootable_os2/

              You will quickly see that OS/2 isn't intended for Joe Public but for those who have specific business application needs.

        2. Stoneshop Silver badge
          Facepalm

          Try Windows 95 beta on an AMD 386 40Mhz with 4MB of memory.

          Back then, an acquaintance was complaining about the snail-like pace that W95 exhibited on his machine, which had roughly the same spec (may have been an Intel 386/33). I told him to buy as much memory as the system and his wallet could take, but instead he went to the shop and bought a 486/33 with, again, 4MB. As expected, that yielded very little gain, if at all.

          In comparison, my 386/40 with 16MB performed excellently under Warp 3

        3. bpfh Bronze badge

          Been there, seen it, done that...

          Win95 Education version on 38 diskettes, then Office 6 on 42 more.

          One of the diskettes always had to have a read error and you waited in dreaded anticipation of the bzzz-bzzz-bzzz-bzzz...... Read error on A:\ Abort-Retry-Ignore...

      2. Anonymous Coward
        Anonymous Coward

        I recall booting OS/2 Warp 4 on a Pentium 133MHz machine with 64MB RAM and found it was quite usable.

        64? Did you win the lottery? I remember buying a 486 with 8 megs just to run OS/2 and my friends all said I was showing off.

        Note for younger readers: 25 years ago RAM was incredibly expensive. Thieves use to steal it to order.

        1. Anonymous Coward
          Anonymous Coward

          64? Did you win the lottery? I remember buying a 486 with 8 megs just to run OS/2 and my friends all said I was showing off.

          You didn't need to win the lottery to afford 64MB of EDO RAM near the turn of the century. You could get it pretty cheaply from second hand computer shops as most modern computers had moved to SDRAM DIMMS by then.

          1. Anonymous Coward
            Anonymous Coward

            You didn't need to win the lottery to afford 64MB of EDO RAM near the turn of the century. You could get it pretty cheaply from second hand computer shops as most modern computers had moved to SDRAM DIMMS by then.

            I was thinking more about the early nineties when it was very expensive. Here's one example.

            1. Bloakey1

              "I was thinking more about the early nineties when it was very expensive. Here's one example."

              I recall saving up to buy memory pairs, those were the days. I used to build lots of PCs then as it was worth while doing and a good result was often had at a budjet price.

        2. asphytxtc
          Unhappy

          "I recall booting OS/2 Warp 4 on a Pentium 133MHz machine with 64MB RAM"

          "64? Did you win the lottery?"

          Most likely, I think the Pentium 133 was the hint there... I bet it was an MMX too!

          (not so) fond memories of seeing my slightly "better off" friends showing off their Pentiums and 3dfx cards whilst I sat there chugging along on a 8mb DX2 :-/

          1. Daniel Hall

            I miss my 2x voodoo 2 1000's in SLI just so I could get 1024x768 display.

            Those were the days, ahh carmageddon

            1. P. Lee Silver badge

              Voodoo2?

              Luxury!

              I have an S3 Virge...

              It goes nicely with my 3c509

          2. Anonymous Coward
            Anonymous Coward

            Most likely, I think the Pentium 133 was the hint there... I bet it was an MMX too!

            Nope. Actually, I thought the slowest MMX chips were 166MHz. (Wikipedia confirms this for desktop CPUs.) An upgrade that machine did eventually get: it got upgraded to a Pentium MMX 166MHz around 2004-2005. The original 133MHz chip is laying around… somewhere…

            I still have that box though. Last time I fired it up, it was to install SCO OpenServer 5 for a project at work (a customer wanted a new driver for MacroView). That's when the PSU dropped a big steaming one. Thankfully the customer there decided to upgrade the boxes to run Linux and so it was, we got the PLC drivers ported from SCO to Linux and SCO was no more.

            I'll have a dig around and see if I can fix the power supply and put Linux back on. Since '97 when I got it, it has run: Windows 95, Linux (Red Hat 4.1 and later, Gentoo, Mandrake, Slackware, SuSE), SCO OpenServer (the installer, briefly), QNX, OS/2 Warp 3, OS/2 Warp 4, IBM PC-DOS 7 + Windows 3.1 and Windows 2000 Release Candidate 2.

        3. skswales

          Life before the lottery...

          Dell 386DX / 16MHz. We upgraded this system with a whole 6MB for development using OS/2. SRAM at £1000/MB. Oh yes, those were the days.

        4. Les Matthew

          "25 years ago everything was incredibly expensive"

          There FTFY :)

        5. bpfh Bronze badge

          IBM memory prices!

          Ahhhh, my parent's IBM Aptiva. 486 DX2 66, 4 mb + 540 mb HDD.

          Wanted to go to 8 mb. Wanted to stay stock. Got quoted nigh on the equivalent of 200 quid for a stick of 4 meg of 72 pin DRAM.... Before VAT!

          Local high street shop sold me 2 x 32 meg sticks for under 40 quid. Ahh, those were the days...

        6. Sgt_Oddball Silver badge

          I remember...

          My parents really went all out 'future proofing' their first pc. 200mmx pentium with 32mg of ram and a whopping 2.6gb hard drive... Hated the damm thing on win 95 c. Seemed a backwards step from the amiga we had before.

        7. SE

          True, dat (or whatever). I remember my uni computer suite being robbed several times just for ram and CPU.

        8. Scorchio!!
          Thumb Up

          "64? Did you win the lottery? I remember buying a 486 with 8 megs just to run OS/2 and my friends all said I was showing off."

          Plus using the UMB switch to gain a little RAM and tiny hard drives; my first one was 32 Mb, and I had a genuine floppy drive (5 1/4"?). I was pleased when I bought a 500 Mb drive, which I then compressed using what I recall was Stac technology. Doom on a 486 DX with 1 Mb video RAM and 4 Mb RAM was OK until the end. I had to cheat in order to win, or it collapsed into a heap of slurry vision and melted sound.

          At the more serious end of things I was using WFWG and had a Jumbo tape drive to cater for my backup needs and I was in heaven. I once had a problem with a document that seemed to vanish, but owing to the capacious nature of the tape drive, number of tapes and the daily backup cycle I fixed that in seconds; using the DOS interface I could backup the system drive speedily and easily. The GUI interface was ISTR MS Backup for windows, and I also recall an anti virus package. Windows at that point seemed to work, and I don't recall a BSOD under WFWG, even though my hardware was inadequate.

          I will be very interested in OS2 when it is relaunched. I have written off Windows 10; having briefly tried it I restored the drive image and reject it utterly. If Smartsuite reappears I will be even more interested; I still use the last Windows version, along with the LibreOffice package when I need to work on files associated with Microsoft. As of today for me it is probably either Linux or OS2 in the future.

      3. bpfh Bronze badge

        Late 90's, that's all IBM was using...

        Except it was still Warp 3.0 on the P133's, though there were still some big arsed MCA based 386's running 2.11, along with the 2x20 odd plastic bag packed diskettes for the install...

        Ah those were the days, when the site techs were wondering what all the problems were with this blue-screen prone windows after being fed a steady diet of OS/2, SmartSuite & Notes for a few years.

        Still have fond memories of Warp and Warp 4...

    2. Fruit and Nutcase Silver badge
      Coat

      @oldtaku

      just done a couple of timings on my dual-boot laptop

      Centos 7 - 20 secs to login screen

      Windows 7 - 17 secs to login screen

      Windows 7, hosted on Centos using VirtualBox - 12seconds to Desktop (automatic login)

      Both Windows instances are minimal installs/bloatware

      1. Tom 7 Silver badge

        Re: @oldtaku

        There's the time taken to login screen and then there's time taken to actually do something. Any idiot can put up a login screen as soon as basic security is there but the real test is how long till all the necessary services are available.

    3. tflopper
      Happy

      Actually have a Warp4 VM running, it is quite speedy on SSD (virtualized under VMWare workstation..) Actually has a "functioning" Netscape 4.61 install as well... wonder what the websites I surf think about the web browser id...

      1. Number6

        I still have an OS/2 VM, it's been cloned to new machines a few times but still goes back to the original disk image running on bare metal all those years ago. Apart from the fact that I've forgotten the LAN password and can't figure out how to reset it, it copes with its primary job even if it's less than trivial to get files on and off of it.

    4. Richard Plinston Silver badge

      > CentOS is still a f@#$ing pig that spends minutes doing god knows what.

      Maybe, but the RHEL and CentOS that I look after (including 3 around here) are maybe rebooted once or twice a year. One went for over 1000 days.

      1. Anonymous Coward
        Anonymous Coward

        Maybe, but the RHEL and CentOS that I look after (including 3 around here) are maybe rebooted once or twice a year. One went for over 1000 days.

        I recall delaying a rebuild of two skunkworks machines we used to store data you'd now stick in a CRM so that we could have a full year uptime, mainly to annoy IT who had been fighting us all the way to the point where we had to mod a couple of desktops because we were not permitted to spend any budget on servers.

        They once blew £100k+ on building their own CMS whereas we would have picked the nearest Open Source product and pay the coders to make it work the way we wanted to, and still have enough money to throw a large launch party, but hey, that would not have worked on Windows..

        Oh, by the way, apropos modding desktops: f*ck you Compaq for making desktops that needed a keyboard connected to boot so they could not be used as servers. We did anyway, just lifted the PCB from two keyboards and turned them into a dongle :). The only other mods we did was installing thermal cutoffs in each PSUs, a practice I consider almost mandatory for *any* PSU.

        1. Anonymous Coward
          Anonymous Coward

          Back in the stone age we used to joke about turning a desktop machine on its side and, magically, it was now a server. We used to buy the "keyboard eliminators" by the box.

  5. A Non e-mouse Silver badge

    Pre-orders will not be offered until the software is ready for release.

    Maybe Warner should adopt a similar strategy after their Batman fiasco.

  6. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Titlebars, menus, scrollbars, icons!

    Wow... Look at all the features it has that the GUI hipsters killed on "modern" OSes. It actually looks intuitive!

    1. Mikel

      Re: Titlebars, menus, scrollbars, icons!

      We are trying to get away from the stuff stolen from Xerox PARC.

    2. CommanderJameson

      Re: Titlebars, menus, scrollbars, icons!

      It's really, really not.

      Remember, this is a user interface designed and built by IBM.

      1. CrazyOldCatMan Silver badge

        Re: Titlebars, menus, scrollbars, icons!

        > this is a user interface designed and built by IBM.

        Or, as I used to put it, designed by techies, for techies. User-hostility was just a bonus..

        (Most IBM stuff I've ever used - including TPF on an S/370 - was incredibly powerful with no user protection whatsoever. You want to do something stupid that nukes your whole setup? Go right ahead!. Assuming competence on the part of the user was quite refreshing. No wonder I enjoyed linux/unix..)

        1. CFWhitman

          Re: Titlebars, menus, scrollbars, icons!

          "You want to do something stupid that nukes your whole setup? Go right ahead!."

          For some reason, "She chose down!" comes to mind.

      2. This post has been deleted by its author

        1. John 62

          Re: Titlebars, menus, scrollbars, icons!

          "WIMP was invented by Xerox PARC and stolen by Apple, Microsoft, IBM and AT&T. IBM made the strategic error of partnering with their competitor on the OS2 project. Microsoft stole all the best parts for Windows, crippled OS2 with late and buggy code and in the cradle of Microsoft evangelism, destroyed its market with fear, uncertainty and doubt."

          Oh the old stolen by Apple trope. Apple paid Xerox and then made it's own modifications. Xerox had little interest in becoming a computer company.

  7. Khaptain Silver badge

    IBM are not known for being cheap

    It would probably be the dogs bollocks, but expensive.

    In this day and age where everyone expects "free", it would be a difficult market to capture.

    Important point : OS/2 is just an OS, what is far more important are the programs and their availability...

    1. Not That Andrew

      Re: IBM are not known for being cheap

      Surprising amount of programs used to have OS2 builds, FF, VLC and OO.org among them. They have all changed substantially so it wouldn't be as easy as digging up the old build scripts and changing a few things, but it should be doable if the interest is there.

      EDIT: apparently FF and OO.org are still build able (just not officially) on OS2

      1. Justin Clift

        Re: IBM are not known for being cheap

        We added compatibility for OS/2 a few months ago in Database Browser for SQLite (previously known as SQLite Database Browser).

        It was due to an OS/2 user requesting it, and he provided the (small) patch set to make it work. ;)

  8. Grikath Silver badge

    something tells me...

    Microsoft has shot itself in the foot, and the blood in the water is attracting the sharks..

    1. Novex

      Re: something tells me...

      I was wondering that too. But for any operating system to stand a chance against Windows, it needs to have decent commercial software support, and good hardware device driver support too. Without those, it'll be 'niche'* like Linux (which still has some problems with hardware, and not much in the way of major commercial software support.

      *niche, as in most users stick with what they know rather than change if the change is too disorientating (both at an OS level, and an applications level). That probably doesn't apply to regular Reg readers.

      1. a_yank_lurker Silver badge
        Black Helicopters

        Re: something tells me...

        @Novex - What might maul Windows is surfing, emails, Facebook, etc. are largely OS and browser agnostic now. Thus any well thought OS has a fighting chance especially if there is a major player backing it. ChromeOS/AndroidOS have Google, OS/2 has IBM in the background. OS X has Apple. All are major enough players that any of them could the 'Slurps life miserable it they pushed hard enough. Linux directly does not have a major backer for most users but it is readily available, generally works well for most users, and is normally available for $0 or minimal cost.

        1. Esme

          Re: something tells me...

          @ a_yank_lurker - and not only that, linux has plenty of desktop interfaces to choose from, including ones that have that nice, old, intuiotive look and feel that is so familiar - unlike the later versions of Windows.

          Yup, choose Linux to get a desktop like the desktop you've known and loved for years. Never thought I'd be saying THAT one day!

          Incidentally, an old couple that asked me to help them go Linux on a second hand PC have taken to it like a duck to water. Does everything they need, less hassle, and far far cheaper than buying a new Windows PC. Zero problems finding their way around the desktop, too (last thing they;d been usingwas XP). I'm actually startled that they;ve needed NO help from me, I was expecting at least a handful of queries re minor things, but nope. Another win for Mint!

          1. Esme

            Re: something tells me...

            additional to my earlier post, I've just heard that said couple are so delighted with Linux that once they've ensured they have all the data files they want to keep off of their old XP box they intend to try Linux on that, too, and quite probably also on the laptop I didn;t even know they had. Wow..

            Back on the subject of OS/2, I'd happily run a range of OS's on kit I own, simply because doing so makes it harder for ne'erdowells to attack and gain control of all of them at once. Which is why I'm genuinely sad that MS have made Win10 so unpalatable. Much as I disliked MS, I didn;t particularly want to see Windows die for that very reason.

      2. enormous c word

        Re: something tells me...

        _Any_ OS has a future so long as it has support for a modern web browser which is most users view into a computer. How many Android users have even heard of Linux, how many MAC OSX users are aware of Unix?

    2. PNGuinn
      Joke

      Re: sharks

      There - learn somethimg every day on el Reg

      I had no idea that sharks had a fondness for Orc blood

  9. Erik4872

    Major niche OS

    I'm sure there are a very small number of OS/2 implementations kicking around in bank ATMs and maybe manufacturing controllers. But how would this fly today? How can you get people to develop anything beyond barely-breathing legacy app updates for such a niche platform? The company I work for has decades of legacy stuff, and even we got off OS/2 completely in the early 2000s. It would be like suggesting people run BeOS or AmigaOS as their daily driver platform.

    Look at how much trouble Microsoft is having getting developers to write apps of any quality for their app store, and Microsoft has even said Universal apps are the future for all Windows development. You need that huge software base to attract users.

    1. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Re: Major niche OS

      What do you want to use?

      OS/2 has a large range of software that has been ported from other OSs as well as QT4 apps. There is also OpenOffice 4, Firefox ESR branch (we are using v31 and may not go highew because of the stupid UI firefox uses), there is also SAMBA, COPS printing, MySQL and Postgres DBs among other programs.

      1. Steven Raith

        Re: Major niche OS

        COPS printing - filmed on location with the real men and women of tech support.

        (sorry)

        Steven R

        1. Anonymous Coward
          Coat

          Re: Major niche OS

          COPS printing - filmed on location with the real men and women of tech support.

          Son, do you know how fast you were printing on that print queue?!

        2. DropBear Silver badge
          Trollface

          Re: Major niche OS

          "COPS printing"

          Reboots are popular these days - "CHiPs - patrolling the Information Superhighway on Light Cycles", anyone?

      2. This post has been deleted by its author

    2. Alien8n Silver badge

      Re: Major niche OS

      "It would be like suggesting people run BeOS or AmigaOS as their daily driver platform."

      Once upon a time that wasn't that far fetched. Used to be AmigaOS was THE 3D rendering OS of choice. Early VR machines ran on Amiga and a lot of the early CGI in movies and TV were run on Amiga as well. It's surprising that Babylon 5 CGI (originally done on an Amiga, not sure about the later series) are still better than most of the CGI in the latest Dr Who series.

      1. Charles 9 Silver badge

        Re: Major niche OS

        Babylon 5 mainly used the Amiga not just because of the 3D rendering and CGI but also because it was possible to overlay said CGI on top of the recorded footage thanks to its support for genlocks (in a day and age when video compositing hardware capable of keeping all the footage in sync was really hard to come by). That said, due to the limitations of the hardware, it's now pretty easy to see when the footage is composited instead of taken straight from film.

        1. Mike 16 Silver badge

          Re: Major niche OS

          @Charles 9

          (in a day and age when video compositing hardware capable of keeping all the footage in sync was really hard to come by).

          That would apparently be today. While Western Electric wowed people in the 1920s with sound synched to picture, that goal has apparently been discarded. Much of what I see today, either streamed or broadcast TV has mismatches of up to a few seconds, either way. It's like watching a badly dubbed foreign film.

          1. Charles 9 Silver badge

            Re: Major niche OS

            Video-audio syncing is one thing, and you can usually fix it if you take the time to change the delta.

            What I was referring to was video-to-video syncing: bringing together multiple analog video sources with their own timing crystals and idiosyncracies. Due to subtleties of analog physics (think of the speed of electricity, the differing electrical paths, etc), no two video sources tended to perfectly synchronize to each other on their own. A professional video studio of the day needed VERY special hardware to keep things from going out of sync, which would cause the final video to break up. That's where the GenLock (Generator Lock) came in: it was basically the coordinator to all the video sources, everything ran on the genlock's clock. The Amiga at the time was one of the most affordable sources of genlocks out there, The fact the same machine could do 3D rendering and compositing on top of the same genlocked video was a bonus.

  10. Primus Secundus Tertius Silver badge

    Real time

    The unique selling point of the OS/2 I once used was its real time capability: much better than Windows or Unix-based systems. So it would be a mistake to aim it at the desktop and data-processing markets.

  11. Mephistro Silver badge

    Going out on a leg here, but...

    ... there is a small chance that this Blue Lyon is the result of IBM preparing for the opportunity when Windows finally goes to shit.

    If it can run Win32 and Win64 apps. it'll have a good chance of success. Better yet if they can implement some means of using Windows drivers, through some kind of specialized VM magic. OS/2 Warp did more or less this and it worked fine.

    I for one would like an OS that keeps compatibility with vintage Windows software, while at the same time doesn't send tons of my private data to Redmond or to anybody else. I'd even pay gladly some more dosh for the OS.

    1. Voland's right hand Silver badge

      Re: Going out on a leg here, but...

      32 - yes. 64 - I doubt it.

      1. Wilco

        Security and Windows support

        How secure is this going to be? In the 90s security from malware wasn't really on the agenda. Surely both the apps and the OS are going to be riddled with the type of issues that get patched every day on the Windows. I did a lot of OS/2 programming back in the 90s and any of the web stuff I did would I'm sure be massively vulnerable.

        Adding to that is the fact that I would be astonished if the windows app support worked for 64 bit apps, and pretty surprised if any recent win32 app requiring windows 8 or .net framework 4.5+ worked on OS/2. The windows support was the result of a cross licensing agreements with MS that have doubtless long since expired.

        So although there will be fewer people trying, if anyone does it's not going to take them long to get in.

      2. CrazyOldCatMan Silver badge

        Re: Going out on a leg here, but...

        > 32 - yes. 64 - I doubt it.

        If it becomes (even vaguely) popular again then I suspect someone will port wine over to it.. (Port Wine.. hmmm.. Shame the diabetes limits heavily my intake!)

  12. TrevorH

    The guys behind Arco Noae are longtime collaborators with the people who previously produced Ecomstation and wrote much of the code that shipped with ecs. I doubt if they'll price themselves out of the market so it's likely to be affordable when it comes out.

    1. Roland6 Silver badge

      Re: eComStation

      Thanks, for a thumbnail sketch of the relationship with eComStation - shame Shaun Nichols didn't include this bit of background in his article.

  13. Mage Silver badge
    Windows

    But ...

    Weird. The OS that MS morphed into NT3.1 (there was no NT1.x or NT 2.x) and that was killed by Win95 having better driver support. There was the strange MS OS/2 + Lan manager in 1989 after IBM and MS split on the OS/2 deal. (sold for servers with win 3.0 workstations I think?)

    Does MS still have that source and a licence?

    Of course MS once sold a Unix too.

    I'm too old. I saw all these when they were new. Where did I put my Cromix and Minix discs?

    1. Richard Plinston Silver badge

      Re: But ...

      > The OS that MS morphed into NT3.1 (there was no NT1.x or NT 2.x)

      The first NT was numbered 3.1 because it had the Win 3.1 GUI.

      NT was a completely new development by Cutler based on the planned successor of VMS. It had no relationship to OS/2 except NT ran an OS/2 1.3 personality. Microsoft paid DEC $100million for stealing their ideas.

      You appear to have the mistaken idea that OS/2 1.x and 2.x led to NT 3.x. There is no basis for that idea.

      1. Roo
        Windows

        Re: But ...

        "Cutler based on the planned successor of VMS"

        A "successor of VMS" would have to support multiuser operation and NT fell a *very* long way short of being a viable multiuser OS.

        Talking of VMS replacement - what happened to the much hyped "Wolfpack" clustering tech MS pushed back in the day ? Did it actually work ?

        1. Richard Plinston Silver badge

          Re: But ...

          > A "successor of VMS" would have to support multiuser operation and NT fell a *very* long way short of being a viable multiuser OS.

          NT was originally designed by Cutler to be multiuser but Gates insisted that be removed. He wanted to sell a full Windows to each user not one copy per group.

          Citrix made it multiuser again, and then MS used that to make TSE. The main problem was making the applications (esp. Office) behave in a multiuser environment.

          1. Michael Wojcik Silver badge

            Re: But ...

            NT was originally designed by Cutler to be multiuser but Gates insisted that be removed. He wanted to sell a full Windows to each user not one copy per group.

            IIRC, even NT 3.1 had all the necessary kernel support and system APIs for multiuser use. It had per-thread identity tokens, support for multiple sessions and desktops, etc. All that was missing were userland programs to make use of it.

            Various UNIX-on-NT packages such as David Korn's UWIN and Microsoft's Interix / Services for UNIX eventually used those facilities to implement setuid functionality, though I think the earliest of those was OpenNT, which didn't come out until '96, so three years after the first NT release. (OpenNT was eventually bought by Microsoft and turned into Interix.)

            But if memory serves, it was possible to create primary tokens for different accounts with LogonUser; create additional desktops, sessions, and WinStations; and so on, even in NT 3.1.

            When I developed code under NT 3.51, I ran as a non-privileged user with an elevated command window handy for when I needed administrator privileges. I don't recall now how exactly I got that elevated command window. It was probably some third-party utility that prompted for credentials, created a token, and spawned a process with that token, since I don't remember writing it myself.

          2. Roo
            Windows

            Re: But ...

            "NT was originally designed by Cutler to be multiuser but Gates insisted that be removed. He wanted to sell a full Windows to each user not one copy per group."

            Sadly Cutler's intentions & design are totally irrelevant when it comes to actually deploying and using NT/Windows. According to some of Microsoft's bios on Cutler he designed RSX-11M & VMS by himself (clue: he didn't).

        2. Solmyr ibn Wali Barad

          Re: But ...

          "Talking of VMS replacement - what happened to the much hyped "Wolfpack" clustering tech MS pushed back in the day ?"

          Watered-down version was called MSCS and was included in the NT Server 4.0 Expensive Edition. Don't know if the rest was simply discarded, or was it re-used in later MSCS versions.

          "Did it actually work ?"

          Initially, for some very limited values of "work". Cluster services tended to cause more outages than they managed to avoid.

          2008 and 2012 are tolerable.

          1. Roo

            Re: But ...

            "Watered-down version was called MSCS and was included in the NT Server 4.0 Expensive Edition. Don't know if the rest was simply discarded, or was it re-used in later MSCS versions."

            Thanks for the update. :)

    2. x 7 Silver badge

      Re: But ...

      "Where did I put my Cromix and Minix discs?"

      10" floppies?

  14. tempemeaty
    Thumb Up

    Interesting news...and now for some wishful thinking...

    It would be amazing if this, after release, got enough traction for IBM to support OS/2 being modernized to run todays' 64bit windows applications. Oh please oh please oh please please please please please....

  15. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Good times...

    Where most of my friends ran Windows and Windows for Workgroups I simply ran OS/2 Warp (later 4; "Merlin") and kept Windows in its own sub-area. I clearly recall like yesterday: I had bought myself a Compaq Presario 486 which I really enjoyed. It came with a "Compaq personalized" version of Windows 3.1 / 3.11 which even replaced the Program Manager (progman.exe) with something else. I don't quite remember what, but it turned your desktop into some kind of notebook. Even allowing different pages with different icon groups. It was very easy and nice to work with.

    Best part? I got all of that working inside WinOS/2. Not all Compaq floppies picked up as they should, but even the Compaq's graphics driver for Windows could be used within WinOS/2 (in all fairness: given my Windows inexperience at that time it is possible that the drivers simply installed without doing anything).

    So my trusty Compaq fired up with OS/2 with all the native OS/2 software I had downloaded & purchased (Stardock's Object Desktop FTW!) and whenever I needed Windows I simply started it while all my OS/2 software just kept going. This became especially true when I discovered the Internet where I did most using Netscape on OS/2.

    Fun fact: the OS/2 image viewer I used back then (forgot the name) was nearly identical to IrfanView which I'm using now. Way ahead of its time.

    OS/2 was expensive, I remember buying a copy for approx. 400 or 500guilders or something, but it was worth every penny. Rock solid, never failed on me and it kept working. And native Java support! :)

    Honestly... If they could pull something off with a Windows stack which would allow Windows (7, 8 & 10) software to run natively within OS/2 like WinOS/2 did then it could be well worth the upgrade. Unfortunately I don't see that happening any time soon, but if only... One can dream, right?

    1. RAMChYLD

      Re: Good times...

      Dust off Odin and bring 64-bit support to it?

    2. Stoneshop Silver badge

      Re: Good times...

      Fun fact: the OS/2 image viewer I used back then (forgot the name) was nearly identical to IrfanView which I'm using now.

      PMView?

    3. Captain Badmouth
      Holmes

      Re: Good times...program manager

      As I recall it was a xerox prog. but I can't remember the name either - but the interface was similar to a card index file. Very neat. I think I may have the maintenance manual somewhere, thinking cap on...

      1. Captain Badmouth
        Pint

        Re: Good times...program manager

        It was a Xerox program called "Tabworks", it has it's own wikipedia page :

        https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/TabWorks

        I deserve a pint, later.

        1. Roland6 Silver badge

          Re: Good times...program manager

          Back then there was much 'real' UI innovation particularly around the office paradigm - making the interface both intuitive to the user and consistent with real-world artifacts.

          Suspect there are many concepts and ideas from back then (particularly from Xerox) that could be usefully resurrected for the modern office desktop...

          Thinking about it, there is probably a market for a resurrected Acorn RISC OS...

  16. regadpellagru

    "The focus will be on running a full OS/2 implementation on bare metal, not just in virtual machines,"

    Why ?? FFS, why ? Why on earth would anyone want this ? OS/2 or Amiga OS is totally OK in a VM, or emulation, but why on bare metal ?

    Are people not aware world has moved from the 80s and OS/2 on bare metal is not a thing ?

    Can't get this ...

    1. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      > Why ?? FFS, why ?

      An awful lot of the legacy uses for OS/2 are on embedded systems.

      Used to see a lot of photo finishing equipment running OS/2, it was pretty much an industry standard.

      Not a great example I know, what with the collapse of the photo finishing industry but you get what I mean :D

      1. regadpellagru

        "An awful lot of the legacy uses for OS/2 are on embedded systems.

        Used to see a lot of photo finishing equipment running OS/2, it was pretty much an industry standard."

        Well, fair enough. Get that emulated or virtualized then, and use it at will until the end of this century.

        No need to get the OS on bare metal ...

        As I said, any AmigaOS utility I still need is running this way ...

    2. wolfetone Silver badge

      "Why ?? FFS, why ? Why on earth would anyone want this ? OS/2 or Amiga OS is totally OK in a VM, or emulation, but why on bare metal ?

      Are people not aware world has moved from the 80s and OS/2 on bare metal is not a thing ?

      Can't get this ..."

      I can't work out if you're Bill Gates or Steve Ballmer (probably the later), but take your negativity and shove it up the tailpipe of Windows 10.

      Viva La Big Blue!!!!

      1. regadpellagru

        "I can't work out if you're Bill Gates or Steve Ballmer (probably the later), but take your negativity and shove it up the tailpipe of Windows 10."

        Uh ? None of them obviously. Just making the point that a dead OS needs to be used as a) emulated or b) virtualized. And not on bare metal, since it introduces some issues (OS from the 80s on 2015 metal is probably gonna introduce some difficult to come by problems or security issues).

  17. This post has been deleted by its author

  18. MikeHuk

    Oh happy memories!

    Just booted up my old 1997 Pentium 4 128Mb OS/2 Warp 4. Still boots in under a minute. Seeing that old familiar destop and realizing how ahead of it's time it was - Never crashed, speech recognition as standard, 4 virtual desktops, system restore, high security ring zero virus protection operating system - and almost as fast as my todays Windows 10 I5 2.4 4GB laptop. I wonder what it would OS/2 would have become if IBM had continued development. Trouble with IBM was that they were brilliant at technology but useless at marketing - the exact opposite of MS.

    1. Anonymous South African Coward Silver badge

      Re: Oh happy memories!

      You forgot to add that OS/2 does not report back to base on system usage as Wind00s 10 does...

    2. PhilipN Silver badge

      Re: Oh happy memories!

      Dare I say that IBM had to be ethical in its marketing?

      The OS/2 maestri at IBM were pushed aside by IBM Personal Computer sales reps who wanted to sell boxen and were blackmailed by MS in the same way they targeted WordPerfect by threatening to keep secret DLL's which were critical to the OEM. That risked giving Compaq an insurmountable head start over IBM PC division.

      What choice did they have? It would have cost IBM an absolute bleeding fortune to market and scrape their way back in, it might have failed, and as a senior IBM executive said at the time OS/2 was just "one of [their] operating systems". Big metal was where they were back then.

  19. Anonymous South African Coward Silver badge

    This brings back the memories of a 40Mhz 386SX (with 387 maths coprocessor) and 4Mb RAM.... monochrome VGA... and a 80Gb HDD.

    And, of course, DOS DOOM. Whereas Win3.1 could not run it, or kept on bombing out, OS/2 just keeps on working fine.

    If they price it right, and it works on both 32-bit and 64-bit bare-metal systems, then it will offer an alternative to Linux and Windoze.... I may get a copy for myself and play around with it...

    I sincerely hope they fixed the SIQ (single input queue) problem properly this time round. And allow you to boot to Safe Mode to edit config.sys, and also have multiple config.sys configurations... and allow on-the-fly screen resolution/color adjustment settings... and and and...

    Only time will tell.

    1. Ropewash
      Happy

      Wish I'd had the cash for that.

      "This brings back the memories of a 40Mhz 386SX (with 387 maths coprocessor) and 4Mb RAM.... monochrome VGA... and a 80Gb HDD."

      I'm certain it was a typo but...

      Holy Shit, 80GB on a 386.

      How many cylinders/heads did you have to assign to the drive?

      1. Voland's right hand Silver badge

        Re: Wish I'd had the cash for that.

        Hehe... 80G IDE was not that much of a "superdrive" at the time.

        I had a 80GB monstrous double height MFM seagate which blew two power supplies before I found a surplus server one somewhere. That was attached to a 25MHz Harris 286 clone. I ended up writing my own drivers for the part of the disk beyond cylinder 1024 because the retarded disk manager Seagate shipped was hopeless. They were only 3+ times faster than DOS on the first half of the drive despite using BIOS access (not even going for direct controller access). I remember I had a blazing row with my dad after I handed it down to his secretary: "You cut corners here, confess where" - "I swear I did not".

        I handed it down exactly so I can swap it for a U5 and a 40G IDE which ran OS2 with flying colors faster than any 486 on the market (it behaved way better than Linux on that CPU at the time). The BIOS and drive on that had LBA so size was not an issue (at least for OS2).

    2. ps2os2
      Megaphone

      I ran OS2 on a IBM PC and it never crashed in the 5 years I ran it. The only minus I could give it was there was a maximum cut and past size of 32K. Going back and rememberibng 20++ years ago I think this was a Windows issue. It worked nicely in non Win (IBM) code. But then I was never a win fan and went directly to OS9.

  20. John Styles

    The closest I ever got to throwing a PC out the window was trying to install OS/2 on one - every thing I tried it got that tiny bit less far. IBM just never got their act together with drivers etc. Plus of course there was the obfuscation over 'standard edition' vs 'extended edition' - the latter marketed as only running on IBM PS/2s.

    There is a fine chapter in a book called 'In Search of Stupidity' on OS/2.

    IBM were also extremely painful to deal with at that time (probably still are but fortunately I don't have to) - their attitude was always very clearly 'if you're not the CEO / CTO of a Fortune 100 company then we don't give a shit'.

    1. Primus Secundus Tertius Silver badge

      Installation problems

      I remember having to install OS/2 on 20 supposedly identical x86 machines we bought from a reseller.

      Every machine was different in some minor way, and therefore so was every instance of OS/2.

      This is a criticism of the market for x86 hardware, not of OS/2.

      1. Roland6 Silver badge

        Re: Installation problems @Primus Secundus Tertius

        >"I remember having to install OS/2 on 20 supposedly identical x86 machines we bought from a reseller. ..."

        Back then the IT company I worked for make a feature of their ability to do customer specific production runs of 100's of totally identical machines. It enabled them to win many very large (10,000+) deployments.

  21. Swarthy Silver badge

    Oooh..

    A return to the OS/2 wisecracks from the BOFH!

  22. War President
    Alien

    Finally, I can finish that Galactic Civilizations campaign! (Yes, I know there's a Windows version available).

  23. tekHedd

    I paid money to get the Warp beta. After my third failed several-hour-long attempt to install, I was overwhelmed by a dark vision that OS/2 was going to fail.

    I did eventually get it to run. I still like it. It did fail.

    1. Pompous Git Silver badge

      "After my third failed several-hour-long attempt to install, I was overwhelmed by a dark vision that OS/2 was going to fail."

      Sounds similar to my experience with Warp 3. It was years after purchasing it that someone explained that my hard disk was too big and I needed to install from floppy disk after downloading the images from IBM. I installed it into a VM but never found much use for it.

      Friend who is a developer told me that the reason OS/2 failed was IBM selling the SDK for ~$1,000. MS were giving away the SDK for Windows.

  24. Anonymous South African Coward Silver badge

    Still got my original copy of "Master of the Empire"....

  25. rjstep3

    Perhaps this is a jest - Arca Noae means Noah's Ark, indicating a dismissive attitude to their product as something out of the Ark!

    Anyway, how many floppies would you need to load this thing?

    All things being equal, count me in. A new installation of OS/2 would bring back many fond memories. Many, many of them.

    In any case - which is better: OS/2 or Windows 8? I know which I'd rather run.

  26. Edgar Scrutton

    Been running OS/2 since 1992 to do my company's accounting SuperCalc5 (Dos) > Lotus123 > Mesa2

    Mesa2 with its scripts and Rexx has provided 20 years of inexpensive, fast, reliable data. I have never lost a drive to HPFS and now JFS from Warp4 or eComStation2. I still prefer Lotus Smartesuite's AmiPro/WordPro to any other word processor. It's desktop publishing idiom weaned me away from WordPerfect (last used version WP6.0 run in a Dos session on OS/2). Currently running eComStation 2.2 beta on a Lenovo T400, and four other machines. Love the lack of worms, trojans, or other malware that security by obscurity provides.

    The Presentation Manager and Workplace Shell for OS/2 beats Windows or Linux for me anytime. Really intuitive and easy to learn and use. Too bad for those that never experience it.

    Current software: SeaMonkey for Mail, Browser, Html Composer, and IRC chat; Thunderbird; Open Office; PMView Image ; Mesa2 Spreadsheet; Samba;

    I am aware of the Araca Noae plan, look forward to their services, and wish them well.

    1. Anonymous South African Coward Silver badge

      Ooooh... SuperCalc5! Best of the best!

    2. bplipschitz

      The WPS and PM rocked! I still miss being able to use my desktop the way I could in OS/2. I could work faster and more efficiently with those tools in place. If this Blue Lion isn't vaporware (they've missed most of their deadlines so far, with no new release data AFAIKT), I'll buy a copy.

  27. Anonymous South African Coward Silver badge

    Will OS/2 eZine also be given a new lease of life?

  28. Howard Winter
    Go

    Some Answers...

    First I should declare an interest - you'll find me on the "About Arca Noae" page on www.arcanoa.com

    Secondly, I want to answer a few of the comments on this thread.

    Blue Lion will not be free, but it certainly won't be "very expensive" - it probably won't be "expensive" either! When we do release prices, I think a lot of people will be pleasantly surprised.

    Running current Windows software: Very hard, as MS have a lot of it very much locked in, using facilities in their operating systems that are not easy, or even possible, to provide in others without treading on IP issues.

    But a lot of modern software isn't "Windows software", it's written for other systems such as Linux, and is often open-source, so producing a version that runs under OS/2 is feasible, and to prove that my daily-use machine under eComStation is running Firefox, Thunderbird, OpenOffice 4.1, CUPS printing, and Lucide (.PDF viewer) as well as a lot of software written specifically for OS/2, such as ClipView (saves the last "n" Copies to the clipboard so I can go back to a previous one and paste it), PMView (picture viewer, converter, and simple image editor), EasySync (file synchroniser), LANscan (scans IP addresses so I can find where a device I've just connected to the network has ended up), OpenSSH (so I can communicate with my headless Raspberry Pis, for example) and lots of others.

    As for "why bare metal"? Because it's the best way! All the CPU cycles are doing what you want, not having to administer things "above" the operating system(s). When I go to the shops I drive my car, I don't get it towed there...

    As for time-to-boot, this may have been a problem in the '90s, but not these days.

    As others have said, in the early days OS/2 needed "a lot" of RAM - I think 4MB was stated as the minimum, whereas Win95 said it needed less, but now it's turned round - I am typing this on a machine running three major applications, and which has less memory installed than Windows XP needs just to load without any applications! I haven't run Win10 so I have no idea how that compares.

    Is Blue Lion going to replace Windows in the market? No of course not. Is it going to be popular with people who like OS/2 and want to run it, or who are curious to try something that isn't from Redmond? Certainly!

    Cheers,

    Howard

    1. Justin Clift

      Re: Some Answers...

      Any idea if modern Qt libraries work with it? With DB Browser for SQLite, the main the patch set needed for OS/2 compatibility was mostly to get things working with Qt 4.6.<something>. That was because Qt 4.6.<something> was the latest working version of the Qt libraries.

      There were later releases of Qt (4.7/5.x), they just didn't work on OS/2 at the time (a few months ago).

      I can dig up the specific's if that's useful... ;)

  29. Zippy's Sausage Factory

    Now I want to dig out my old OS/2 discs and create a VM... :)

    1. Anonymous South African Coward Silver badge

      I did already - created an OS/2 VM

      Was sorely disappointed to find out I could not run the latest iterations of Mozilla (thunderbird etc) due to the 16-bit tcp/ip stack... Work on fleshing out said VM stopped dead cold with that sad discovery.

      I got EscapeGL working, took me a while to remember the installation password... and I found out they released a free version...

      But a bare-metal OS/2 will be really nice, and a plus would be that it supports a wide range of hardware, including network cards etc.

      I will most certainly purchase a copy and run my old DOS applications (SuperCalc etc) in it. I don't need M$ office and nasty macro viruses, or CryptoLocker tomfoolery on my system.

      Only need to find a working copy of WordPerfect 5.1 and all will be well.

  30. Anonymous South African Coward Silver badge

    Anything happening here?

    Or was it just vaporware?

    1. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Re: Anything happening here?

      Ian?

  31. Oldboy

    ?????

    Has Blue Lion seen the light of day?

  32. Anonymous South African Coward Silver badge

    Also wanting to know what is going on here...

  33. John Savard Silver badge

    Glad to hear

    Glad to hear that this bare-metal OS/2 will be affordable when it becomes available.

    I know that a lot of Linux software was ported to OS/2 in the old days, so it doesn't surprise me that this will be possible again.

    Windows 10 has some issues that are making people think twice about staying with Windows; the fact that updating is compulsory is the one most obvious to me. None the less, it's sadly nearly certain that, indeed, Blue Lion will not be able to displace Windows on the desktop.

    What would be required, just as a matter of curiosity, for it to have any chance (still, admittedly, a very slim one) of doing that, though? What if...

    it included Open GL, in such a form that it was easy for both AMD and Nvidia to supply drivers for their video cards that worked on it, and they did so (or the Blue Lion people modified the Linux drivers if source is available)...

    and, say, two of the major video game companies started making OS/2 versions of their popular releases!

    Dream on. But that reminds me; there's this thing called Steam. They're making a version of Linux called SteamOS so that they can sell boxes that run Steam games downloaded from the Internet. If a capability of running Linux programs could be integrated into this version of OS/2, so that it could be hooked into the Steam network...

    Gamers would prefer a less limiting choice of games, I think, and so they would still stick with Windows. But whatever options exist to make it more usable should be explored...

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