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IBM snubs OS/2 open source plea

A Warped view of history

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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? ®

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