IBM snubs OS/2 open source plea
A Warped view of history
IBM has dashed the hopes of a bunch of software nostalgics by refusing to open source its coulda, woulda, shoulda OS/2 platform.
Online OS/2 community OS/2 World.com first petitioned IBM to throw open the OS back in 2005, when the firm stopped selling the product. It gained just over 11,600 signatories. It followed up last November, with a letter reminding the firm that there were still OS/2 diehards out there who wanted to continue using the operating system for legacy applications (and presumably playing chess).
IBM finally replied this week, saying, in short, “Thanks but no thanks”. Yvonne Perkins, vice president at IBM’s Enterprise Platform Software unit, told the holdouts that “for a variety of business, technical, and legal reasons we have decided to not pursue any OS/2 open source projects”. Just to rub salt in the wounds, Perkins added: “We would like to ask you to encourage any customers who are still planning their migrations or who have other technical requirements to contact their IBM representative to discuss how these assets and services could be leveraged.”
Interestingly, the first petition stated that: “Development is far from dead when it comes to OS/2 and eComStation. It would be great if we could achieve to get (parts of) the OS/2 source code revealed and sincerely hope that this petition at least will open up a dialog with IBM regarding this topic.”
By November, the tune had changed slightly. “OS/2 is an important part of the history of the Operating System, and furthermore, it still contains values that the computer science field considers unique.”
Well, most people were pretty sure that, as a desktop OS, it did what it was supposed to. That was certainly historic, and some might argue, still is.
The idea that people are still banging the drum for an OS that hasn't had a major refresh for almost 15 years might seem quaint. Still, think forward to 2022 - how many of us will still be dodging Vista 1.0.1 and running XP? ®
Triumph of Marketing over Substance
Ahh -- the days of OS/2. I was introduced to it when we purchased some Ambras and they booted OS/2 (along with Windoze). I was won over doing PC-CARD development. At that time, the drivers were really DOS drivers. If something went wrong under DOS, you lost a lot. If something went wrong in a virtual DOS-box, you just opened another one. That was bliss. (Also amusing was when some Windoze fan in the office created a huge MS Word document that would crash Word whenever he tried to reload it. I was able to load it running Word under OS/2.)
Once again, superior technology lost out to marketing muscle.
Where are all the aspiring OS developers when you need them? Write an open source clone of the thing a la ReactOS. Call it Linos/2, FreeBS/2 or HAL9000/2. Write drivers. Write secure code. Generations to come will thank you.
As we like we say down here: "uMchini Wami" -- Bring me my machine (gun).
Seconding, and thirding, Fraser above ...
When I left it, about three years ago, every single terminal in every single branch of the bank I worked for (one of the "Big Five") was still running OS/2.
Maybe, and I stress maybe, excepting the Manager's PC. But more likely that PC would still be an OS/2 box but running a Citrix ICA client to get a remote Windows session.
Given that the speed of any significant technological change in said bank makes the geological progression of glaciers look positively whizzy! - I suspect that the planned replacement (by web-based front-ends) is still proceeding at a leisurely pace.
And even then it may very well be running in IBM's own OS/2 port of Mozilla/Firefox, on the same old kit, even where it has been rolled out!
Furthermore, the same bank [appears to] staff its IT Security dept solely with people who have been turned down from jobs as traffic wardens, wheel-clampers and tax men - on the basis that they're too paranoid , obstructive and just plain ornery!
I'd pay my life savings to be in the same room as them if IBM made the hoped-for announcement!