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eComStation 2.2 Beta, the Legacy of OS/2 Lives On 94

Posted by Unknown Lamer
from the ghost-of-systems-past dept.
An anonymous reader writes "Yes, those OS/2 Warp bastards just don't want to quit. Today the eComStation 2.2 beta live CD was released for public download. There is also this positive review from TechRepublic, and OS/2 Zelots partying/ranting at their community sites."
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eComStation 2.2 Beta, the Legacy of OS/2 Lives On

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  • by Chrisq (894406) on Friday March 01, 2013 @06:34AM (#43043935)
    HURD lives on in a half-life without ever being born. OS/2 lives on in a half-life without ever dying. You wonder why either of them still exist
    • Nah; I wish HURD would just hurry the hell up (I know, wishful thinking) and I wonder why the hell eComStation costs so damn much. It's no big deal though, nothing to be worried about... there are alternatives that exist right now, are useful and modern, and don't cost an arm and a leg. But it would be nice to be able to play around with something new for a change.

    • by smash (1351)
      I've seen ATMs still running OS2 / eComStation within the past couple of years.
      • I've seen ATMs still running OS2 / eComStation within the past couple of years.

        Probably, because they have been running for the past couple of years. They were started once and just kept running, and never needed to be rebooted.

        Warp, eh? I remember it when it was still called Cruiser . . . get off my lawn filled with stacks of OS/2 install diskettes . . . with unfeasibly long titles, that start with: "IBM SAA AD/Cycle OS/2 . . . "

        • by rpresser (610529)

          I call bullshit. I have definitely seen ATMs rebooting.

          • I call bullshit. I have definitely seen ATMs rebooting.

            Yeah, and slow ones. Those are now running WinCE instead. I noticed how much slower the ATMs became when they "upgraded" them to WinCE. You used to be able to hit the button and have the option come up right away but now there is a significant pause before it brings up your account balance.

            • by rpresser (610529)

              I have numerous times seen OS/2 ATMs REBOOTING. If they "were started once and just kept running, and never needed to be rebooted" then why did I see an OS/2 startup screen?

    • by CAIMLAS (41445) on Friday March 01, 2013 @06:49AM (#43043969) Homepage

      Those of us who do support on systems from many different clients really don't wonder why they still exist.

      HURD is one thing; we don't really wonder why it's stillborn. OS/2, or more specifically eComStation, is something else entirely. OS/2 has a history of commercial support, which means it's also got a history of applications with support. Support means that people used those applications, on the OS, in a business capacity. Think of OSes like: SCO, DOS, and yes, OS/2.

      Just because the OS, and application, support goes away doesn't mean those applications aren't still needed. There are a LOT of applications out there which were written one-off, for a single client in a specific role. The companies that wrote them may not even be in business anymore, but the application still works and the the cost of

      So people are running their applications on legacy operating systems, sometimes on some pretty janky hardware (I once saw an old box with IDE controllers on a proprietary IDE RAID controller - with half the RAID consisting of CF cards on adapters). Maybe they've managed to virtualize the platform, or partially virtualize it (such as when there's a hardware platform to the application, requiring COM port bridging to the guest so that a USB to COM adapter can be used to interface with a proprietary reader/etc. - you get the point).

      No, it's not an ideal business scenario, and there are certainly situations where a lot can go wrong, ruining your day. But There are a lot of these companies, which means there's a special use case for support. Or just in-house people needing to upgrade things to keep as much of their stack compatible as they can.

      So yeah, there is still a need for such legacy platforms. Just because it's not shiney and new doesn't mean it's lacking a valid business case.

      • by Lumpy (12016)

        Comcast still have NT 3.51 servers running in headends that are making them lots of money every day for Tv commercial insertion. IF you have halfway competent networking people, you can keep running an OS on legacy hardware forever safely.

      • by drinkypoo (153816)

        Just because the OS, and application, support goes away doesn't mean those applications aren't still needed.

        That's true. And what is needed is for those applications to be portable to begin with, so that when your OS or architecture dies you don't have to go vainly crawling after it hoping that it will come back to life, keeping it on life support and praying that it does not completely expire. And anyone who is now having to keep OS/2 going either fucked up or is following someone who fucked up, and didn't follow this simple principle. When you find out that the software only runs on one OS, you're supposed to t

  • I really hope that someday our community can have an open source OS/2 clone. We have several pieces, like WPS components, SOM, parts of Presentation Manager (PM), and some driver. But it still requires a lot of efforts to put it together and create an open source distro. We need more developer horse power, but skilled resourced on OS/2 architecture are hard to get on this days.
    • It's there - heard of osFree [sourceforge.net]? Essentially, it consists of the L4 microkernel, which has multiple personalities riding over it - a Presentation Manager personality, a win16 personality, a win32 personality and a neutral personality. The last one is the native personality that provides the microkernel services to all the overriding subsystems. This is somewhat similar to IBM's Workplace OS that they were trying to do in the 90s to give PPC a native OS of its own, except that instead of the slow Mach 3 micr

      • osFree needs more help and developers. If anybody wants to help please contact me. I follow that project very closely.
    • by dwywit (1109409)

      I dream of the day we can have an x86 version of OS/400 (or whatever they call it these days).

  • by MacTO (1161105) on Friday March 01, 2013 @07:25AM (#43044099)

    OS/2 was used by major corporations back in the day. Even though most of those installations have been replaced with Windows, a few of them remain because: the cost of replacing custom or specialized software can be quite high, and the cost of replacing equipment that is currently in service can be quite high. Serenity Systems (the people who maintain eCS) was created to service these installations.

    A nice benefit is that OS/2 remains (moderately) updated for other users.

    • by n0mas (2854737)

      A nice benefit is that OS/2 remains (moderately) updated for other users.

      There are more nice benefits. Like the unrivaled WPS, the unrivaled DOS capabilities, the ever growing linux friendliness (meanwhile we have CUPS, qt4, and rpm working).

      Best of all is the unrivaled peace of mind after 20 years of internet access without malware threat.

      And please don't believe the FUD about not running on modern hardware. The eCS 2.1 machine I'm writing this comment on consists of an N68C-GS FX mb with Athlon 64 X2, PCIe graphics, SATA and PATA HDDs, and 1600*1200 display. It also works with

    • by S.O.B. (136083)

      Back in the day I co-developed a set of tools that off loaded costly mainframe development to relatively inexpensive OS/2 workstations. Code was synchronized between the two platforms with a full execution environment for each developer rather than the single shared environment they had on the mainframe. For those of you interested in such things, it was a CICS/COBOL/DB2 application being developed.

      At the time, Windows 3.1 would have been the only alternative and it couldn't even come close to what OS/2 w

  • by Cornwallis (1188489) on Friday March 01, 2013 @08:13AM (#43044259)

    What the hell is a "Zelot"?

  • Apparently there was actual work done on this, and it was close to being a shipping product --- anyone have any details?

    William

  • Win7 doesn't really have any new features or improvements over XP in the scope of actual functionality. While Win8, is a short trip into the tall weeds and in between them all was Vista - again no actual new features or improvements just bloat and failure. So yes, OS/2 had some problems - not the least of which was it was by IBM which always knows best, better than any customers and IBM does things that IBM wants to do not what you want to do - but in terms of "this is old junk I don't know why people use i

    • by drinkypoo (153816)

      Win7 doesn't really have any new features or improvements over XP in the scope of actual functionality.

      It has better support for new stuff that XP couldn't support well or quickly. That's an important improvement.

      While Win8, is a short trip into the tall weeds and in between them all was Vista - again no actual new features or improvements just bloat and failure.

      Win7 has nearly no improvements over Vista. But Vista made numerous improvements over XP.

      So yes, OS/2 had some problems - not the least of which was it was by IBM which always knows best, better than any customers and IBM does things that IBM wants to do not what you want to do - but in terms of "this is old junk I don't know why people use it!" it's no better or worse than anything else.

      No, it's a lot worse. The interface is crap. It is different for the sake of being different, but actually no better. For some reason people love it, I have used OS/2 2.1 and 4.0 and I still don't know why.

      I have three Win7 Pro 64 installations running on three different laptops right now. They ALL behave subtly different from one another for no explicable reason at all.

      Without knowing what you're on about, it's hard to know what you're on about.

      • by eraccusa (1474293)

        While Win8, is a short trip into the tall weeds and in between them all was Vista - again no actual new features or improvements just bloat and failure.

        Win7 has nearly no improvements over Vista. But Vista made numerous improvements over XP.

        That "numerous improvements over XP" may be true in your world, but it is hard to see from an end-user perspective. I am looking at a just recovered "Vista Home Premium" Toshiba laptop with 1.73 GHz "Genuine Intel(R) CPU", 1 GB RAM and a 120 GB HD sitting on my desk running a defrag before being returned. This is a fresh install to "factory condition" with updates applied to clean it up for transfer to someone else from the original owner. It is DOG SLOW, even with a "factory condition" reinstall just compl

        • by drinkypoo (153816)

          That "numerous improvements over XP" may be true in your world, but it is hard to see from an end-user perspective. I am looking at a just recovered "Vista Home Premium" Toshiba laptop with 1.73 GHz "Genuine Intel(R) CPU", 1 GB RAM and a 120 GB HD sitting on my desk running a defrag before being returned. This is a fresh install to "factory condition" with updates applied to clean it up for transfer to someone else from the original owner. It is DOG SLOW, even with a "factory condition" reinstall just completed to a wiped HD!

          I agree with everything you said. Even after service packing, Vista uses too much memory. It was too much OS too soon. I too have a slow laptop (1.2 GHz amd64) but with 2GB RAM and a 160 GB or maybe even 250 GB slow as molasses disk and Vista is still the pits. If you're trying to run it in one gigabyte, I really feel for you. If I could run something else on this hardware, I would. Windows 7 actually would do better on your hardware or mine, and you might look into an upgrade license but in my case the dri

      • by Desler (1608317)

        Win7 has nearly no improvements over Vista.

        Runs faster, uses less memory, numerous improvements in the driver model, has better GPU acceleration support, preferching is better, caching is much better. I could go on. Basically, you're a moron.

  • OS/2 was XP a decade earlier, IBM just dropped the ball in their marketing department. I have fond memories of dual booting Warp with Slackware. Good to see eComStation is at it still. I might just have to pay the $159 or whatever it is for a personal license now that it can be ran inside VirtualBox.
    • by dryeo (100693)

      VirtualBox was originally written to run OS/2 by an OS/2 vendor, Innotek who amongst other things had previously fixed Virtual PC to run OS/2 and run on OS/2. Of course then MS bought VPC.
      VirtualBox ended up the fabled OS/2 killer app but backwards, running OS/2 instead of running under OS/2 and took off. Unluckily Sun didn't care much for OS/2 and now...

    • by rk (6314)

      I have fond memories of dual booting Warp with Slackware.

      So *you* were the other one. Nice to meet you finally. :-)

      • by Chainsaw (2302)

        I have fond memories of dual booting Warp with Slackware.

        So *you* were the other one. Nice to meet you finally. :-)

        Another one here actually, running a mix of Warp and Slack. Interesting, we all have UID:s below 10k. :-)

      • by Nick (109)
        I miss downloading "fixpack" disks onto floppies and inserting them one at a time... not really :P
  • It had its moments (Score:4, Insightful)

    by XB-70 (812342) on Friday March 01, 2013 @11:23AM (#43045893)
    I ran OS/2 for a couple of years during its heyday in our shop. The key was to put in lots of expensive RAM. When we did so, our users were actually running 3-4 apps at once. For the time, this was very powerful. Moreover, when one app crashed, it rarely took down the whole machine. At a time when lots of things crashed for a lot of reasons, I got my users' uptime to about 90%.

    In short, everyone in my office had higher productivity which more than paid for the expensive RAM: They were not constantly waiting for machines to re-boot.

    If ever there has been a case for a class-action lawsuit, it should have been against Microsoft for all the business hours lost waiting for Windows to re-boot due to a windows bug. If our cars ran the way Windows used to, we'd all have walked to work.

    • by King_TJ (85913)

      Yep.... Back in the day, I ran an OS/2 based bulletin board system. It handled multiple nodes with dial-up modems on one computer far better than anything else available at the time. (There was even a native OS/2 version of one of the "fossil drivers" the DOS guys typically used back then as the comm. driver for their BBS packages.)

      OS/2 was always one of those products you had a love/hate relationship with. It always seemed to be a few steps ahead of Windows, on the plus side. Especially when they released

  • Not entirely off-topic:

    I got curious again just the other day and tried to install OS/2 in a virtual machine just to experience it. However I was completely stymied by the fact that the floppy disk images are in some odd-sized proprietary "DSK" format that neither VirtualBox nor Parallels seem to be able to read, and the CD images are apparently not bootable. I googled for half a day unsuccessfully looking for some way to convert the the floppy images into a compatible format. There was no way that I could

    • by Anonymous Coward

      in Windows, mount a Virtual Floppy with 1.44MB size (use any floppy virtual tool available). Download LOADDSKF.EXE from hobbes.nmsu.edu (The OS/2 CD included it too). In command line, run

      LoadDskF imagefile.dsk floppydriveletter: /F

      The floppy images are in native binary format (hence the size is bigger than 1.44 MB). LOADDSKF will transfer it to real (or simulated) floppy disks.

    • OS/2 2.11 (boot diskettes), Warp 3 (boot diskettes), Warp 4 (boot diskettes) and Warp 4.52 (Bootable CD) runs very well on VirtualBox. The host machine need to have a processor with VT-x support (i3, i5, i5 or the AMD stuff for virtualization).

      If you want to convert the .dsk, use WinImage (http://www.winimage.com/download.htm) and convert the .dsk to .ima. VirtualBox can run them fine.

      VirtualPC and Parallels can also run OS/2. VMWare not.
  • From the website:

                  'The current Demo CD is based on the eComStation 1.2 product and does not reflect the current state of the eComStation 2.0 product."

  • ECOM station won't actually boot on any PC you have either :).

  • I worked for a company that went Big Blue (desktops, mainframe and OS/2). Overall I liked OS/2 although the Windows 3.1 (WinOS2) emulator had a few issues.

    IMO the thing that killed OS/2 was the success of Windows. If Windows hadn't made enough improvements to be acceptable then OS/2 would have had the edge and kept on growing market share. They had some advanced functions for the time and with a larger support base they would have kept on growing.

    When Microsoft had a viable product they stopped supportin

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