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IBM Operating Systems

After 25 Years, 'Lost' OS/2 2.0 Build 6.605 Finally Re-Discovered (os2museum.com) 93

"In a fascinating example of poor timing, disk images of OS/2 2.0 pre-release level 6.605 from July/September 1991 were missing for over 25 years, only to show up literally one day after after the 25th anniversary of the OS/2 2.0 release," writes the site OS/2 Museum. An anonymous reader writes: It's the last OS/2 2.0 pre-release which didn't use the Workplace Shell (WPS), but "instead utilized the same old Desktop Manager as OS/2 1.2/1.3, which makes it the closest surviving relative of the Microsoft OS/2 2.0 SDK." Featuring a 16-bit/32-bit hybrid kernel and a "DOS Window" icon (as well as a few games like Reversi and Klondike Solitaire), "the look and feel was not quite the same as OS/2 1.3 and in fact was a cross between OS/2 1.3 and Windows 3.1."
The elusive 6.605 pre-release fell between 6.149 and 6.167 -- and "It is not known what possessed IBM to assign it a completely out-of-sequence number."
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After 25 Years, 'Lost' OS/2 2.0 Build 6.605 Finally Re-Discovered

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  • by SensitiveMale ( 155605 ) on Saturday April 08, 2017 @12:45PM (#54198657)

    build, I'd appreciate it. I'd love to have an os/2 virtual machine.

  • by Anonymous Coward on Saturday April 08, 2017 @12:51PM (#54198669)

    I was doing some house cleaning a few months back, and I found some old installation media for OS/2 Warp 4. I must have bought it 20 years ago. The media was still readable, so I installed it in a VM.

    I was flabbergasted by it. Despite being around 20 years old, it still offered an experience just as good, if not better in some ways, than modern systemd/GNOME-3/Linux distros do.

    The installation process was pretty trivial. Going through it again reminded me of when I had installed it the first time, years earlier.

    It booted really fast. It's about as close to instant-on as I've seen an OS. And it booted properly right away, without any of the peculiar sorts of problems that I've had with systemd.

    Although I hadn't used it in years, the desktop environment was efficient and enjoyable to use. It wasn't like GNOME 3, where I can't figure out how the hell to do even simple tasks a lot of the time. The OS/2 UI was very intuitive and easy to work with.

    It took a little bit of effort to get the networking working. But once that was done, I was able to find an old version of the Mozilla Suite browser that would run on it, so I was able to at least do some basic web browsing.

    Honestly, if modern software ran on OS/2, and if it had a better underlying UNIX-type experience like macOS has, I would totally consider using it as my everyday operating system.

    It's quite sad that an obsolete OS from 20 years ago can still challenge a modern systemd/GNOME-3/Linux installation. I don't think it's that OS/2 was ahead of its time, like BeOS was. Instead, it's just the Linux workstation environment that hasn't progressed well at all.

    • In a former job I worked with OS/2 and even then you'd need a very special kind of intuition to find it to be intuitive.

      • Re: (Score:3, Informative)

        by Anonymous Coward

        What part of OS/2's user interface isn't intuitive? Here's a sample screenshot for reference. [os2museum.com] It's very clear what's a window, what are buttons, what are menus, and what clicking on the various buttons or menu items will do. It's a clean, sensible UI. Anyone who could use Windows XP or Windows 7 would have no problem with OS/2.

        • by dryeo ( 100693 )

          What part of OS/2's user interface isn't intuitive? Here's a sample screenshot for reference. [os2museum.com] It's very clear what's a window, what are buttons, what are menus, and what clicking on the various buttons or menu items will do. It's a clean, sensible UI. Anyone who could use Windows XP or Windows 7 would have no problem with OS/2.

          Using the left mouse button to highlight and right mouse button to drag screws up many people. Luckily OS/2 is very configurable, including which mouse button does what.

          • by Gr8Apes ( 679165 )

            Using the left mouse button to highlight and right mouse button to drag screws up many people. Luckily OS/2 is very configurable, including which mouse button does what.

            Actually, it might be stated that it's only not intuitive by MS "standards". MS abandoned CUA92 a long time ago, as one of its efforts to make itself stand out or at least lock users in via retraining costs.

            • by dryeo ( 100693 )

              That's the problem, MS embraces and extends and changes existing standards. Other examples include changing from Ctrl+Ins, Shift+Del and Shift+ins to the Apple standards for copy, cut and paste though the former do still work on Windows and even much of Linux's various desktops.
              USB is another one. IBM faithfully followed the standard when implementing USB support on OS/2 while everyone else used the MS version, which is of course basically undocumented. Took years to adjust the various USB drivers to correc

    • Re: (Score:2, Funny)

      Oh please!

      OS/2 Warp is a better version of NT with a 1990s era kernel and usage. True Linux Desktop #### royally with the desktop and I gave up on it at home.

      However, outside of the gui Linux has SMP scalable for 64 to 128 cpus, SATA, software raid, high end QOS networking functions, advanced power management and sleep, .NET, python 3, java, and api SDKs, oh and APPS!

      Os/2 is not for modern age with support for 8 core 16 thread Ryzen or Xeon CPUs, modern mobile environments, HTML 5 app and browser support, o

      • by johanw ( 1001493 )

        I remember having crashed OS/2 only once: when I deliberately ran it out of memory to see what would happen.

      • by dryeo ( 100693 )

        True that OS/2 only supports 64 cores and is generally only licensed for one physical CPU so only whatever number of cores is in one chip. Of course it supports SATA and AHCI, though maybe a modern computer needs legacy mode enabled in the BIOS, only supports 2TB disks/partitions as well. No software RAID. The ACPI support (needed for SMP) is under development and sleep and such can be hit and miss on modern hardware. Firefox is only currently at 38ESR so not quite the latest HTML5 and depends on FFmpeg for

        • by Gr8Apes ( 679165 )

          True that OS/2 only supports 64 cores and is generally only licensed for one physical CPU so only whatever number of cores is in one chip. Of course it supports SATA and AHCI, though maybe a modern computer needs legacy mode enabled in the BIOS, only supports 2TB disks/partitions as well. No software RAID.... Memory above 4GBs is only useable as a ramdisk as well. For a 25 year old OS...

          Let's review that - this OS has not had a release since roughly 97, 20 years ago. Yet it supports 64 cores and 502GB disks (pre 2000)? SMP support was introduced in 2.11, btw. IIRC, quad servers were the biggest around pre 2000, memory was limited in MB, not GB IIRC, and consumer hard disks had only recently crossed into GB range. So for its time, I think we can excuse it's 32 bit limits since 64 bit processors didn't make it into IBM until around 2000 for mainframes, and PCs in 2003, thus OS/2 was still fa

          • by dryeo ( 100693 )

            Last release was in 2001, the 2nd convenience pack, OS/2 4.52 with the last fixpak released (actually leaked as it wasn't quite finished when support was ended) in 2005. OS/2 2.11SMP supported 64 cores though only tested on 32 cores. The DASD drivers have been updated over the years, including a complete open source replacement (Danis506.ADD) to support 2TB disk/partition (1TB if you want it to be compatible with other OSes) though the last IBM DASD driver supported 504MB disk/partition. A filter is being w

            • by Gr8Apes ( 679165 )
              Although we can quibble, that's an update, not a release. There's a distinct difference. However, that aside, it's still amazing how technically forward it was compared to, say, Windows NT.
          • But if OS/2 was capable of so many things and was so good, why didn't IBM port it pretty early on to the POWER architecture - be it RS/6000, PowerPC or any of their successors? I dunno about RS/6000, but PowerPC had the PowerPC 620 in something like 1997. Granted, it's performance was really poor, but it could certainly have been a test bed for a 64-bit OS/2, assuming that there wasn't a 64-bit version of POWER2 available

            Instead, by doing a completely new project - Workplace OS, or OS/2 on a Mach 3.0, I

            • by Gr8Apes ( 679165 )
              If, if, if.... I obviously cannot answer any of those questions, other than IBM had already thrown in the towel by 96. MS's 2GB memory request in Office 95 pretty much killed off any chance OS/2 had in the market.
          • by tlhIngan ( 30335 )

            and I seriously doubt anyone will ever update the system to 64 bits.

            One of the reasons why OS/2 runs so well on x86 is it's heavily tied to the i386 CPU. It's one of the few OSes that actually uses multiple rings of protection. Linux, NT, etc, use ring0 and ring3 (for "kernel" and "user" mode) while OS/2 uses ring0 for kernel and device drivers, ring2 for privileged applications, and ring3 for everything else.

            And it's also very adept - driver support for OS/2 comes in both 16 and 32 bit varieties - the 16

            • by Gr8Apes ( 679165 )

              IIRC, OS/2 actually used ring0 for kernel only, as all drivers were moved to ring1. I remember some issues with that back then, when they forced drivers out of kernel space. It's what allowed all that modularity to occur. Again, it's what I vaguely recall. I didn't write drivers back then. :) Or maybe that was undertaken for the Workplace Shell OS that was only demoed and died?

              As for the pre-emptive bit, OS/2 truly was preemptive. One thing I really liked was the way you could tweak thread priorities and

      • by ogdenk ( 712300 )

        Hey CPM is fast to boot too but unpractical.

        Impractical on what?! Let me see you run WinNT or Linux in 64K of RAM on a 1-5MHz 8-bit CPU with useful productivity applications including word processing, database, spreadsheet, C-compilers, PASCAL environments, etc, etc.

    • by johanw ( 1001493 ) on Saturday April 08, 2017 @02:28PM (#54199049)

      > systemd

      Well, that's your problem. Try a Linux distribution that isn't systemd infested like Slackware. That's where I went after working some years with OS/2 2.1 - 3.0 on my home machine, after I realised that I was tuning the OS/2 setup more and more in the direction of Linux.

      But OS/2 was fun compared to DOS, I could run the simulation programs I used in my graduation work in 4 DOS screens simultaneously at night and ahve them all be finished in the morning.

    • It's quite sad that an obsolete OS from 20 years ago can still challenge a modern systemd/GNOME-3/Linux installation.

      The problem here is that you're using that bloated resource-hog of a DE, Gnome3. Get rid of it and try something lightweight, such as Xfce, and you'll be surprised how much better things are.
    • So it booted right away into an unusable state given that it had no networking running and no modern usable apps, and you consider that "challenging a modern" system?

      Kids don't VM on drugs.

      • yes, and it really tells a lot about modern linux. wps on warp 4 really is way better than any linux desktop environment. also had voice recognition built in 20 bloody years ago.

        • also had voice recognition built in 20 bloody years ago.

          Yep, and it was garbage.

          Now take off the rose coloured glasses. Any Linux distro installed in the GP's VM would boot up flawlessly despite his assertions that systemd or some other garbage will be a problem. Not only that it'll be ready to go with networking and usable apps capable of a modern workload straight out of the box.

          But really nothing was as awesome as the Analytical Engine. It didn't need to boot up at all, and certainly it never had issues with Firefox versions. It just worked. The true pinnacle

          • What is the matter with your strange obsession with networking "out of the box"? The only reason it needs setup in OS/2 is because a 20 years old operating system doesn't have drivers for network interface cards released much later. Install the drivers, configure the network and it will work. And here is the thing: even a driver written for OS/2 2.0 will do. There is no need to edit shell scripts or several text files hiding all over the file system.
            Take Linux and you will need a different driver for every

          • by Gr8Apes ( 679165 )

            also had voice recognition built in 20 bloody years ago.

            Yep, and it was garbage.

            Having used the voice recognition 20 years ago, I was hugely surprised that it worked as well as it did. It was one of the things I was sad to let go of. Tried several version of Dragon over the years, none were any better than the OS/2 version, even with a decade plus of newer hardware to run on. Give it its due, it was a pretty good system if you trained it properly.

    • by drewsup ( 990717 )

      I ran into OS2 doing a printer install for a clothing store chain back in the late 90's, I had never seen it before, there was no support available from the company, but it didnt take long to figure out, was quite intuitive. My sister worked for IBM for a bit and had quite a few OS2 manuals, which I borrowed to learn the system. Seems it was a victim of MS heavy marketing and the hardware prices at the time, seemed like a solid OS for sure.

    • Re: (Score:3, Informative)

      by Solandri ( 704621 )

      Although I hadn't used it in years, the desktop environment was efficient and enjoyable to use. It wasn't like GNOME 3, where I can't figure out how the hell to do even simple tasks a lot of the time. The OS/2 UI was very intuitive and easy to work with.

      OS/2 is based on IBM's Common User Access [wikipedia.org] guidelines, which laid out standardized keyboard and mouse user interface inputs for various operations. It was developed based on years of research and human trials to figure out what did/didn't work. Unlike GNOM

    • Better than modern Linux? Does modern Linux give a single program the ability to freeze the entire system?
  • I was an avid user of Os/2 and certainly used its included Windows 3.0 or was it 3.1? IIRC, IBM had the code for Windows and recompiled it using their own compiler and it worked faster and maybe better than Microsoft's product. It also had a neat terminal program - can't remember its name - that was produced by a company near my post office on Centennial Blvd in Colorado Springs. Can't remember its name either. Things have changed. Would things be better if OS/2 development had prevailed instead of develop
    • by yuhong ( 1378501 )

      OS/2 2.0 shipped with Win3.0. OS/2 2.1 shipped with Win3.1. I think yes both was based on source code from MS.

  • by ITRambo ( 1467509 ) on Saturday April 08, 2017 @01:02PM (#54198701)
    I bought OS/2 Warp with the intention of loading it on the 20 PC's at the company I worked for. The problem is that when issues occurred and I called IBM support, they were out of the office. They only worked one shift, five days a week. Do, any real work on weekends or at night couldn't have supplier support ASAP. I dumped it after a couple of weeks, on the sole machine I had it on, mine, due to growing crashes that IBM support, when I did get a hold of them were like "get start over" Nope. OS/2 deserved to die due to corporate suckage. I installed Windows 95 beta and that's when we went with. The Windows 98 beta, when it became available, ran so well that it was installed on most PC's before being finalized. This is only the story of one company with very specific software needs that IBM screwed up and Microsoft did a great job on. Note that I dislike Microsoft these days, due to the final QA layer they pushed on Windows 10 Home and Pro users.
    • I loved the permacrash feature. Crash. Reboot. OS remembers the exact state you were in at the time of the crash, dutifully restores the state. Crash. Reboot...

      I admire that they were able to recreate the state with that level of detail bit godDAMMIT that was frustrating.

      • Mea Culpa (Score:5, Interesting)

        by mykepredko ( 40154 ) on Saturday April 08, 2017 @02:53PM (#54199117) Homepage

        I, along with a few people I worked with, can take some credit/blame for that.

        IBM Toronto Manufacturing in the early-mid '90s was building memory SIMMs for PS/2s running OS/2. IBM, at the time, had a standard set of seven memory tests but they didn't catch problems in a multi-tasker like OS/2 running on a 286/386 with memory management with multiple processes running so the memory was heavily used - so we booted OS/2 and started up a number of processes, each one accessing memory continuously and see if there were any defective memory chips on the SIMM that only failed during very heavy usage.

        The issue was trying to figure out if the failure was caused by an instruction or data operation and where exactly it was in the address space which was problematical because the actual page where the failing bit/data was obfuscated due to memory management paging. When a SIMM failed the OS/2 test, it would be brought to a debug station where attempts would be make to recreate the problem and, using a custom OS/2 build, return to that sequence where the problem lay and, using a processor emulator, determine what the address was failing.

        As a side note, memory at the time cost $150/Mbit, so it was worth the time and effort to find and replace the defective chip on a 1-2 Mbyte SIMM.

        I'm not sure exactly how our code got into the main branch, I suspect it was because there were other things that were fixed in that recovery code and situations where there was a failure resulting in the loop of death wasn't part of the test sequence.

        I do remember that there was a fairly simple way of cold booting the system from so that you could avoid this failure loop (we called it the "loop of death") - If memory serves correctly it was pressing 'F8' when the OS/2 logo comes up and then selecting a cold boot from a menu (this is going back more than 25 years ago so don't shoot me if I'm wrong). OS/2 support at that point in time was pretty good, they would have explained how to get out of the loop of death as it was a pretty common problem, especially with badly behaved Win 3.11 apps.

        • "If memory serves correctly it was pressing 'F8' when the OS/2 logo comes up and then selecting a cold boot from a menu (this is going back more than 25 years ago so don't shoot me if I'm wrong)."

          If only I had internet back then, to find this critical tidbit. As it was, all I could do is rage, rage at the night.

          Great story though!

        • Blimey The OS/2 memory test. I worked in IBM Greenock and I that was part of the box test process as well.

        • by yuhong ( 1378501 )

          I think it costs $12-$14 per 4Mbit chip back in 1993-1995.

    • by Greyfox ( 87712 ) on Sunday April 09, 2017 @01:06AM (#54201013) Homepage Journal
      Apparently the support line was the top rated one in the industry early on, but the penny pinchers started pinching pennies. When I got there, they would pretty much support you for life if you'd ever bought OS/2 or an IBM PC. They started out with screeners taking the call initially and then transferring it to level 1 support, but they did away with the screeners and added that responsibility to the call center guys. They also got a lot more picky about you having a set amount of support per license key and they started enforcing that. And they also added a 900 number, which apparently got a fair bit of traffic. They did have a network support team as well, and that covered all the shifts. Those questions were queued up and answered as they came in, and the guys who answered them were considered to be "level 2 support" if I remember correctly.

      Around the time Windows 95 came out, there was a push for all the people in the call center to get the "OS/2 Certified Engineer" rating, but IBM shut down OS/2 before anything much came of that. I got mine at the '95 Comdex, while doing volunteer support for Team OS/2. Still have the little plastic card...

      But yeah, most of the level 1 guys didn't have any experience with OS/2 and a few didn't have any experience with computers, when they started. About 90% of the problems that came in were for similar issues though -- printer stuff and video problems seemed to be the most of them. I still have the command line command to reset the video drivers to VGA burned into my brain. I could actually fix your shit for a wider range of problems, if you were lucky enough to get me, but fixing your shit is time consuming and I was frequently in trouble for not answering as many calls as I was supposed to be. A lot of the techs just wanted to throw a reboot-requiring command at you and make you go away so they could keep their numbers up.

  • The entire OS/2 2.0 fiasco is one of my favorite topics. Remember MS's attempts to attack OS/2 later on, some of which was unethical I think?

    • I did not use OS/2 until 2.1. It was my impression from other folks that any release prior to that were not stable and quite a bit of hardware was not even supported. That is the time frame that I went exclusively with AMD hardware. Did not have a lot of problems, but a couple.

      What really screwed me up was when win32 binaries came out. The only reason I left Warp was when Blizzard released Diablo and it only ran on Win 95 and above.

    • Yeah, basically IBM paid for Microsoft to develop NT. If you look like MS's history, it's filled with them doing unethical things. IBM should have known better after the whole DOS fiasco.
      • March 1989: "Nearly four years have elapsed since the initiation of our Joint Development Agreement .. Now, we need to focus on .. establishing OS/2 as the next standard in personal computing."

        Aug 1988 [edge-op.org]: "I think we need to think very carefully about how much we want Windows to compete with OS/2 in the OEM channel and for the ISVs attention".

        "In December, OS/2 shipped initially from IBM .. I was super enthusiastic [edge-op.org] that we shipped OS/2"

        June 1991 [slated.org]: "I have written a PM app that hangs the system (someti
        • by yuhong ( 1378501 )

          One of my favorite is PX00307 [groklaw.net]. Notice that it is about "PM vs. Windows" as it was about API calls only, which was the wrong way to make the decision.

          • 'One of my favorite is PX00307 [groklaw.net]. Notice that it is about "PM vs. Windows" as it was about API calls only, which was the wrong way to make the decision.'

            See here someone trying to revise history to show Microsoft in a more favourable light: "For Microsoft, the development of Presentation Manager was an opportunity to clean up some of the design mistakes of Windows" ref [wikipedia.org]

            Also get a load of the weasle words where they try and excuse the historically horrible track record regarding Windown NT
  • The elusive 6.605 pre-release fell between 6.149 and 6.167 -- and "It is not known what possessed IBM to assign it a completely out-of-sequence number."

    Maybe they had parallel development paths for a while, before deciding which way to go. That would make it being "half an OS" literally true.

  • Hi. I'm still looking for developer warriors to help the OS/2 community to clone the CPI, PM, SOM and WPS API of OS/2 Warp. http://www.edm2.com/index.php/... [edm2.com]
  • by dohzer ( 867770 )

    "It is not known what possessed IBM to assign it a completely out-of-sequence number, but without a doubt there is a patent behind it."

  • But I still have the OS2 CD given out just before Windows was first released

    • But I still have the OS2 CD given out just before Windows was first released

      Nope not the right one, from the CD:

      JUST ADD OS/2 WARP ----- FREQUENTLY ASKED QUESTIONS
      November 14, 1995

Be careful when a loop exits to the same place from side and bottom.

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