What is OS/2 Warp?
Welcome to the world of OS/2 Warp! IBM OS/2 Warp is an
inexpensive, full-featured, operating system for PC's using Intel compatible
A long time ago, IBM and Microsoft still were great pals. At first, Microsoft developed DOS for IBM PC's, and later on, the company started - again by order of Big Blue - the development of OS/2, or Operating System 2. Bill Gates once said: "OS/2 is destined to be the most important operating system, and possibly program, of all time. As the successor to DOS, which has over 10 000 000 systems in use, it creates incredible opportunities for everyone involved with PCs." But all fairy-tales come to an end: Microsoft and IBM split up a long time ago. That was because Microsoft started to develop its own graphical operating system: Windows, and that during the development of the joint-venture between IBM and Microsoft. IBM felt deceived and decided to continue development of OS/2 itself. Debugging and rewriting large portions of OS/2's source code led to a new 32 bit operating system that was rock-stable. When both operating systems appeared on the market, Microsoft and IBM faced each other. With the popularity of Windows and OS/2, the competition between the two former pals grew. The final collision had place in 1995. OS/2 Warp 3.0, a powerful upgrade of OS/2, had just appeared, and after some months, Microsoft introduced its Windows 95. Though OS/2 had been released some months earlier, and seemed extremely fast and stable, most PC users decided to wait to see which way the cat jumps. Next, Windows 95 was released with such a great advertising campaign that mankind spontaneously forgot about the existence of other alternative operating systems. In 1996, Warp 4.0 (aka Merlin) was released, but in fact, Microsoft had already won. Today, Windows is considered to be the standard, but OS/2 is definitely not extinct! There are still a whole bunch of people who use this OS. People who claim not to be brainwashed by Microsoft's propaganda. In 2001, OS/2 Warp version 4.52 was released, which was just an updated version of OS/2 Warp V4. In the same year Serenity Systems International released eComStation, which is in fact the same as Merlin Convenience Pak, but is much cheaper because it is an OEM-product. IBM already announced not to release any future version of OS/2 :( For more information about the history of OS/2, see http://www.os2world.com/cgi-bin/news/viewnews.cgi?category=33&id=1021470437.
At first sight, there are scarcely any resemblances between OS/2 and Windows. Yet, a lot of things are similar. For instance, the usage of folders, contextual roll-down menus, boot method et cetera. As an OS/2-newbie, you'll get used to this exciting operating system in a couple of days. Something very interesting is the resemblance of a System Registry Editor in OS/2 and Windows. This is a really powerful utility that makes both OS'es more compatible and enables the user to adapt system setting. OS/2 Warp 4.0 has some very cool extra features. For example, the VoiceCommand-function with which you can control your computer by voice. With VoiceType, you can also dictate letters so you needn't use the keyboard. Help is available anywhere, at any level. OS/2 is user-friendly, fast and above all very stable. The system will run DOS and Windows 3.11 applications, and of course OS/2 will run its own native 16 and 32 bit OS/2-apps. 32 bit Windows applications are not natively supported, though some projects (like Project ODIN) enable running some Win32 apps. OS/2 is the best in multitasking, because it has its own very good scheduler and is a real multithreading operating system (in contrast with Windows). In addition to running native OS/2 applications (both 16 and 32 bit), OS/2 Warp 4.0 can run 16 bit DOS and Windows 3.1 applications. And with the use of VirtualPC for OS/2, you'll even be able to run Win32 and Linux applications right on your OS/2 desktop! With OS/2, you can run DOS, Windows, Java and OS/2 applications simultaneously, without losing performance nor stability! With CrashProtection a bad-behaving program that generates an error, will automatically be closed so a computer crash can be avoided. But, no operating system, nor OS/2, is perfect: a bad behaving driver can get OS/2 on its knees. When this appears, the system reboots and conveys an automatic disk check. Finally, the PC will boot nicely.
Isn't OS/2 Dead?
No! OS/2 is far from dead! OS/2 outlived many death sentencies
and operating systems that were supposed to 'kill' it or make it obsolete, to
name Windows 3.1 and Windows NT only. OS/2 was designed as multitasking protected
mode OS from the beginning (1987) and was upgraded to 32-bit architecture seven
years ago. Multitasking, protected mode and 32-bit computing is still the topmost
operating system design concept in PC industry, and OS/2 is, even if we count
out it's other advantages, distinctive by it's maturity.
IBM has already accepted that Windows is the dominant standard. OS/2 Warp 4.0 was the last major upgrade of this fabulous operating system. Happily, IBM has developed an excellent JVM - Java Virtual Machine, so the operating system can run Java applications without problems. IBM hopes this will keep OS/2 compatible with other operating systems. Of course, not all programs are written in Java. On the Internet, thousands of native OS/2 programs are available for download as shareware or even freeware. In general, OS/2-users are very content people. The system is fast and stable, IBM regularly releases Fixpak updates, and the Net is full of OS/2 apps. OS/2 is mostly used in business world, like ATM and banking, aviation and on-line transactions. Of course, a lot of people still use this OS because they can experience every day that OS/2 delivers far more than what Windows XP can only promise. But, OS/2 development is dawdling. You won't be satisfied with an OS/2-version other than the Convenience Packages or eComStation. And with people like NetLabs, drivers and other utilities like the new LookOut/2 e-mail client we continue to use modern applications. So, conclusion: as long as we, OS/2 users continue to use OS/2, OS/2 is alive!
OS/2 is a solid, mature operating system. It's still being used in almost
all ATMs and in other mission critical systems such as nuclear reactors, airport
controllers and pace makers. OS/2 is most probably the best multitasker
available for the x86 computer family. Its multithreading support is remarkable,
making multithreading programs more efficient than on any other platforms.
HPFS is one of the most reliable file systems known even though it is not a
journaling file system. You can make OS/2 crash as often as you want using
devious device drivers, HPFS partitions will never get corrupted. HPFS
is also fragmentation resistant. This makes OS/2 very suitable as a server.
Note that JFS (AIX's journaling file system) has been added to the latest OS/2
making partitions recover from crash much faster.
Where to get OS/2?
You can choose for the regular IBM OS/2, or for the eComStation product of Serenity Systems Intl. eComStation contains all the latest drivers, files, ... included in IBM's latest OS/2, plus some extra utilities.
If you want the regular IBM OS/2, you should purchase an IBM SoftWare Choice subscription, which is available under the IBM PassPort Advantage program. Please visit http://www.software.ibm.com/os/warp/swchoice/ for more information;
If you want eComStation, the following companies and distributors are available:
Last modified: 2004/08/31, 20:38 | This site is sponsored by Mensys B.V.