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IBM Won't Open-Source OS/2

kdawson posted more than 6 years ago | from the big-blue-meanies dept.

IBM 394

wikinerd writes "Following an online petition in November 2007 by members of an OS/2 online community to open-source OS/2, IBM answered by sending a letter via FedEx making it clear that OS/2 is going to remain closed-source, citing business, technical, and legal reasons. An earlier petition in 2005 that had attracted over 11,000 signatures met a similar response. Both petition letters to IBM Corp. can be viewed at the library. The End of Support period for OS/2 passed by in December 2006, and the given IBM's response the future for OS/2 doesn't look bright, unless re-implementation projects such as Voyager or osFree attract the necessary critical mass of operating system developers."

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Nigger Day is Almost Over (-1, Offtopic)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#22134640)

Have some affirmative action and welfare, you worthless nigger.

Now get you ass to the back of the bus.

Fuck you too, spick.

Re:Nigger Day is Almost Over (1, Funny)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#22134664)

I'm Ron Paul, and I approve this message.

Please ban this racist. (0, Offtopic)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#22134892)

As an African American I find this extremely offensive.

To have such vile things said on a prominant website on MLK day is unconsionable.

You should be ashamed of yourself for posting this garbage, vermin. Ban this hate speach. Banish it from the internet.

We won't be free until every racist is silenced.

Re:Please ban this racist. (1)

legallyillegal (889865) | more than 6 years ago | (#22134928)

you are new here! you haven't even created an account yet!

Re:Please ban this racist. (2, Insightful)

MightyMartian (840721) | more than 6 years ago | (#22134944)

As much as I admire freedom, demanding censorship as the path to freedom is like demanding that people starve so that they may be nourished.

Freedom is a chaotic, and at times terrible and insulting entity. I'm afraid you'll just have to live with the trolls. I like my Internet free, and not constrained, not even by those who seek to do good.

Re:Please ban this racist. (-1, Offtopic)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#22134992)

I like my Internet free, and not constrained, not even by those who seek to do good.

So why do you come to slashdot?

The slashcode mod system was designed explicitly to constrain the socially-unacceptable, albeit using more flexible and tolerant means than, say, Hitler.

Slashdot is inherently anti-freedom, and there is no good reason to refrain from banning those who, using the community groupthink, have determined are worth less than nothing (-1).

lolwut (-1, Offtopic)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#22135098)

The slashdot mod system was enacted to enable the reader to choose what they wanted to see.

Re:lolwut (-1, Offtopic)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#22135184)

The German concentration camp system was enacted to enable the Germans to choose which races they wanted to see

Re:lolwut (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#22135236)

Actually, it took away people's choice. If you kill all the members of a particular race, people are no longer able to choose whether or not to see them, are they?

Re:lolwut (-1, Troll)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#22135310)

Actually, it took away people's choice. If you kill all the members of a particular race, people are no longer able to choose whether or not to see them, are they?

True, but irrelevant. The German concentration camps were labor camps, not death camps as they have been mythologized as. The facts are clear on this matter. The only "proof" of the existence of death camps are pictures with misleading captions.

Let's not be uppity today (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#22134980)


IBM vs. Sun? (1, Insightful)

BrainInAJar (584756) | more than 6 years ago | (#22134662)

Seems to me that IBM's reputation as being the friendly giant to open source is unfounded, particularly in light of how much many members of the open-source community hate Sun.

Whereas Sun gave away their crown jewels, IBM won't even give away their garbage

Re:IBM vs. Sun? (5, Insightful)

harlows_monkeys (106428) | more than 6 years ago | (#22134708)

IBM cannot make OS/2 open source, as they do not own all of it. Parts were developed by Microsoft, and are owned by Microsoft. Many of those parts were rewritten by IBM for later versions of OS/2, but at this late stage, it would likely be a difficult task for them to determine whether or not everything in there is free of third party licenses, and if they can't clear everything, no way in hell are their lawyers going to approve.

Re:IBM vs. Sun? (2, Insightful)

BrainInAJar (584756) | more than 6 years ago | (#22134724)

Meanwhile Sun spent a few years leading up to the OpenSolaris project fixing those exact same issues...

Re:IBM vs. Sun? (3, Insightful)

ari_j (90255) | more than 6 years ago | (#22134794)

Meanwhile, Solaris still had enough sales to not only justify such a task but also to pay people to do it.

Re:IBM vs. Sun? (5, Insightful)

bm_luethke (253362) | more than 6 years ago | (#22135276)

Yes, but then again they weren't trying to be clear of *Microsoft's* IP - and that is whole different story. At least, as far as I know Sun wasn't - they were trying to be clear of a somewhat OSS friendly (or at least OSS dependent) community/company. Microsoft is not going to handle anything that might maybe possibly in some way infringe upon their IP being out in the wild in a OSS project from an actual company that they can litigate against. Heck they funded an obviously sinking company with obviously no case whatsoever in an attempt to just discredit OSS, this would be a slam dunk compared to that.

IBM is big enough to fight it, no doubt, but they aren't going to make anywhere close to enough for it to be worth it from a business point of view. As much as I see IBM as a traditional corporation that only really sees OSS as a way to save money (why not have competent volunteers develop everything and only pay a few to vett the changes to make sure they are what you want?) I'll even bet they wish they could justify it - after all a "win" would probably boost shareholder confidence and most large companies generally like to stick it to their competition.

Then, of course, it may not be simply a case of "might maybe possibly in some way infringe upon their IP" and in fact totally 100% infringe upon it. In which case IBM isn't *ever* going to find it in their best interest do release it.

I, and the vast majority of people that read Slashdot, don't really know either (someone from IBM who worked on the project would need to weigh in). In any case if it were to make them money then they would do it. Given their past history I would guess if they felt they could get away with it they would (said "Good Will" has made them quite a bit of money). In fact I would also say the way they said "no" was an attempt at saying they wish they could - after all unless they wanted to send another message the easiest way to say "no" was to ignore it.

Re:IBM vs. Sun? (4, Insightful)

lpontiac (173839) | more than 6 years ago | (#22135326)

The open sourcing of Solaris also involved Sun throwing a chunk of money at SCO. SCO were eager to take Sun's money because it bought SCO some momentary credibility, and they needed the cash.

I can't see IBM throwing money at Microsoft to open source their code, or Microsoft taking the money.

Re:IBM vs. Sun? (4, Insightful)

harlows_monkeys (106428) | more than 6 years ago | (#22135068)

Solaris was not a joint project with Microsoft. OS/2 was.

Solaris has remained a viable product under active development, allowing any code that Sun might not have had full rights to to be rewritten during the ordinary course of development. OS/2 has been effectively dead from a development standpoint for a long time. There has been no opportunity to write it away from outside code. Taking an existing, thriving, project (Solaris) and making it open source is orders of magnitude easier than pulling dead code from a long disbanded development group out of the dungeon and digging up from the grave people who remember what was what, in order to figure out how to open source it.

Re:IBM vs. Sun? (4, Insightful)

dryeo (100693) | more than 6 years ago | (#22135176)

No but they could open source the parts that they do clearly own. They've done exactly the opposite. They rewrote JFS for OS/2 then forked it with a GPL version for Linux. Our JFS is still closed source though the Linux fork is getting ported back. The IP stack is ported from AIX and based no BSD code, I'd imagine they could open that up.
When they open sourced Object Rexx there was no OS/2 code included. Rumour has it that when Sun open sourced Staroffice IBM asked them to rip out all the OS/2 code. Luckily the code was left making it much easier to port OpenOffice. I'm sure there are more examples.

Re:IBM vs. Sun? (2, Interesting)

bit01 (644603) | more than 6 years ago | (#22135232)

IBM cannot make OS/2 open source, as they do not own all of it.

No, this sort of FUD keeps resurfacing. If they didn't own it they couldn't have sold it to Serenity Systems.

This is no different whether closed or open source and FUD'ers who claim that something "can't be open sourced" are usually just bullshitting. It's almost the exactly the same as saying "can't be sold".

Open sourcing is the equivalent of a normal sale but for zero dollars. I hope you're not going to to try and claim that IBM can't sell OS/2, source and binary, for whatever price it likes?


Open source software is everything that closed source software is. Plus the source is available.

Re:IBM vs. Sun? (2, Insightful)

packeteer (566398) | more than 6 years ago | (#22135358)

This is no different whether closed or open source and FUD'ers who claim that something "can't be open sourced" are usually just bullshitting. It's almost the exactly the same as saying "can't be sold".

There are plenty of things that can be sold that cannot be open sourced. Think of all the software that is written with a legal agreement about who owns what. There is plenty out there and its being sold.

"." vs. IBM? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#22135360)

"No, this sort of FUD keeps resurfacing. If they didn't own it they couldn't have sold it to Serenity Systems."

That depends on the terms of the contracts they have with the IP holders, now doesn't it?

"This is no different whether closed or open source and FUD'ers who claim that something "can't be open sourced" are usually just bullshitting. It's almost the exactly the same as saying "can't be sold"."

Ni, it means that it can't be sold under YOUR terms. Which isn't the same thing as "can't be sold".

"Open sourcing is the equivalent of a normal sale but for zero dollars."

Well except for that pesky GPL.

Re:IBM vs. Sun? (1)

pegdhcp (1158827) | more than 6 years ago | (#22134758)

I seem to remember, they had some Microsoft code embedded into critical locations (albeit OS/2 is the fork attempt of IBM from MS OS base). If that is still the case, they might be bound by some eternal license agreement. I agree with your point (especially "garbage" part), but if they say "business, technical and legal problems", it basically means, "we do not want to spent technical, marketing and PR man/hours to clean up a mess we made some 15+ years ago" (when it was really? We are all getting older).

Re:IBM vs. Sun? (1)

Kjella (173770) | more than 6 years ago | (#22134764)

IBM has committed many critical features to the Linux kernel, which would be the gems from the crown jewels. Quite probably a lot of the code is tied up in agreements that just wouldn't be worth bothering trying to untangle. And unless you're looking for a binary-compatible copy of OS/2, I hope we've come a few steps further than the early 90s. As for Sun, they're just the outlet for my annoyance with all java apps that are memory hungy, slow and look completely out of place. And they still do, I'd rather take a Win/Mac/X11 C++/Qt application over Java any day.

Re:IBM vs. Sun? (0, Troll)

BrainInAJar (584756) | more than 6 years ago | (#22135120)

When IBM open-sources AIX, I'll call them an open-source friendly company.

Until then, they're just not actively hostile.

Re:IBM vs. Sun? (1)

Skuld-Chan (302449) | more than 6 years ago | (#22134802)

A lot of commercial OS's have a lot of proprietary software in them. OS/2 I know uses a lot of Adobe software (OS/2 uses exclusive postscript fonts...), a lot of Microsoft software (for those know don't know - OS/2 will run Windows 3.1 apps seamlessly - and Microsoft originally wrote OS/2) not to mention probably a lot of stuff IBM still licenses to partners and licensee's to this day.

I remember that was a similar concern when the petitions came around to open source Amiga DOS - same thing - bunches of patented, licensed, commercial software that would take an army of lawyers to extract from the code base to make it legal.

Re:IBM vs. Sun? (5, Interesting)

MightyMartian (840721) | more than 6 years ago | (#22134828)

Oh for fuck's sake. OS/2 is filled with other folks' IP, particularly Microsoft's. Big chunks of it were largely written out of Redmond. Yes, in-house teams took over starting with version 3 (Warp), but all that Lanman code and many of the 16-bit APIs are all at least in part Microsoft's. IBM can't open source it.

About the only thing in this day and age that I'd like to see would be the Workplace Shell ported to X. It still makes Windows look like its inbred retarded cousin. As for everything else, the operating system is old, and I don't think there's much in it that hasn't already been done elsewhere anyways.

Re:IBM vs. Sun? (4, Interesting)

dryeo (100693) | more than 6 years ago | (#22135148)

While OS/2 is old it still feels better then Linux or Windows.
Anyways the Workplace Shell (WPS) is still ahead of any other operating shell I have used. And it is supposedly IBMs IP. Some years ago there was a rumour that IBM was going to open source the WPS. Shame it didn't happen.
With things like Cairo getting integrated into the WPS it is still quite nice and Cairo allows the eye candy that people nowadays seem to demand.
Current screen shots of the WPS are available here, [] and here [] .
Of course this just shows how it looks, not how it functions.

Re:IBM vs. Sun? (1)

Jackie_Chan_Fan (730745) | more than 6 years ago | (#22135238)

This is the real reason. You're correct. Its the old MS code that is in there for the windows stuff etc.

OS/2 was great for its time. I enjoyed running it but its days have come and gone.

Re:IBM vs. Sun? (0, Redundant)

bit01 (644603) | more than 6 years ago | (#22135304)

Oh for fuck's sake. OS/2 is filled with other folks' IP,

Nonsense. If IBM didn't own OS/2 they couldn't have sold it to Serenity Systems. Open sourcing is the equivalent of selling the source for zero dollars. IBM can set whatever price they like.

FUD about problems with open sourcing gets tiresome after a while. Open source source licenses are no different from closed source licenses; it all depends on the particulars of the individual licenses as to whether software can be on-sold.


Integrated software = marketing buzzword for "we own all the pieces" = we own you.

Re:IBM vs. Sun? (1)

MightyMartian (840721) | more than 6 years ago | (#22135370)

What FUD? The 16-bit API was written by Microsoft. Lanman was written by Microsoft. The Presentation Manager code was written by Microsoft. The original font-rendering was by Adobe. The only way IBM could open source OS/2 is by getting Microsoft, Adobe and who knows who else to agree to the change in licensing. The odds of that happening are slim to none.

Re:IBM vs. Sun? (1)

EvanED (569694) | more than 6 years ago | (#22135382)

Nonsense. If IBM didn't own OS/2 they couldn't have sold it to Serenity Systems. Open sourcing is the equivalent of selling the source for zero dollars. IBM can set whatever price they like.

What if IBM's agreement with MS included additional restrictions? For instance, that IBM could sublicense OS/2, but only under an agreement that required royalties to be paid to MS for each copy distributed. Is Serenity Systems paying royalties to MS? Maybe the license only allows certain other kinds of redistribution. You certainly couldn't add a "if you copy this software you need to send $1 to Microsoft" clause to any license and have it accepted by the OSI, accepted by Debian, or combined with any GPL'd software.

I have no clue what IBM's agreement with Serenity Systems said, but somehow I doubt you do either, and your post leaves an awful lot implicit.

There's a trip down memory lane... (1)

thecountryofmike (744040) | more than 6 years ago | (#22135260)

I was doing support for OS/2 in Ottawa (for the government....I was kinda paying myself to be there I figure).

Anyway, I remember installing OS/2 Warp on the smokin' fast 486/100's there. They had at LEAST 16 MEGS(!!) of ram, and were dual booted with windows95. The OS/2 was for the processing intensive RDBMS stuff.

That was when I was working (kinda) for a 60 year old lady who couldn't use a computer. Every month she'd tell me to get her a new mouse. The first couple times (after which she hated me) I showed her how to clean it. After that, I just rotated 2 of them with her, replacing them without a word :)

Those bastards! (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#22134672)

How dare they not make available for free the product of shareholder investment?

Re:Those bastards! (4, Insightful)

aussie_a (778472) | more than 6 years ago | (#22134762)

Copyright was created so that people could have a limited period in which they would be able to make commercial gain from it. Now its perpetual, often long beyond the product's commercial life, so it certainly is reasonable for people to ask the copyright holders of abandonware to free up their source code.

Re:Those bastards! (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#22134786)

Reasonable to you, or to IBM's shareholders?

Re:Those bastards! (1)

Planesdragon (210349) | more than 6 years ago | (#22134852)

Now its perpetual, often long beyond the product's commercial life
Every time Disney goes and gets the copyright term extended, the argument becomes just a little bit harder. Eventually, they'll be unable to make the argument, and we'll start to see copyright terms slowly slide back -- likely when it's easier to get the law changed than track down the company that owns a century-old copyright it doesn't know about.

Personally, i have no sympathy. Software should be covered by patents, not copyright -- if that were the case, OS/2 would be essentially public domain by now.

(And, fwiw, IBM would free up OS/2 if they could. They can't without significant expense, and there's no gain to justify the expense.)

it seems pretty important to note (5, Funny)

deft (253558) | more than 6 years ago | (#22134676)

"IBM answered by sending a letter via FedEx."

It was then opened with a #2 pencil, and read sitting at a desk by office depot. They examined the contents of the letter while sipping on some folgers coffee.

I just thought we should have all of the important facts of the story here.

Re:it seems pretty important to note (1)

Idiot with a gun (1081749) | more than 6 years ago | (#22134716)

Negative. It was a HB, they're classy like that.

It's just interesting... (1)

SanityInAnarchy (655584) | more than 6 years ago | (#22134854)

Physically mailing a letter in response to an online petition suggests one of two things:

  1. They are showing they care by spending extra effort on us. Maybe it was handwritten, and someone drew hearts on it or something.
  2. This came from a part of the corporate machine that is rusty and creaking. Probably some lawyer had their secretary print out the petition for them, read through it with a highlighter, then typed up a response on a typewriter.

I'm betting on #2, based on my experience with ludicrously large companies -- often, they take an "ain't broke" attitude with respect to various departments. Some departments are broke, and so get fixed. Other departments ain't, and don't.

But I'm too lazy to get a free registration to view the original PDF. Anyone else want to confirm?

Re:It's just interesting... (2, Funny)

MeltUp (633868) | more than 6 years ago | (#22135242)

Well, we ordered some trial CD's from IBM a while back, and they arrived yesterday. They came in a box. A cardboard box of about 40x40x50 cm (that's about 15x15x20 inch). It contained a lot of packaging paper, and there was a smaller box in it. In that box where some CD's, and a 300 page book titled "license". We needed just one CD. Just one. Worst part: I'm not making any of this up. So I'm betting on #2 as well.

IBM (-1, Troll)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#22134678)

Intellectualproperty Be Mine

Those fucking niggers (-1, Offtopic)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#22134686)

What a bunch of cunts.
Anyone with me on this?

Ron Paul will force IBM to open-source OS/2 (-1, Troll)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#22134694)

He will also re-enslave all niggers if elected.

Vote Ron Paul!

Pollute the world with more open-source garbage? (0, Flamebait)

The_Abortionist (930834) | more than 6 years ago | (#22134702)

There are plenty of problems with Linux as it is right now. Next thing we'd know, someone would bring the OS2 scheduler into Linux under Linus' nose... That's not really needed right now, with all the current instability issues...

Re:Pollute the world with more open-source garbage (1)

dryeo (100693) | more than 6 years ago | (#22135202)

Actually having the OS/2 scheduler as an option would be great for Linux on the desktop. The OS/2 scheduler (in client mode) is great for giving the user the feeling of responsiveness without starving background tasks.
The foreground application gets a priority boost and an IO boost giving a great feel.


Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#22134710)

WTF? What a vulgar subject. What an inappropriate post. Really, Princess Diana? Was that necessary?

Can someone please ban parent poster?


Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#22134896)

Hey, I'm a nigger and it took me three hours of searching for the parent poster to realize you're making this up! I want my three hours back!

Strike an effective blow against the enemy. (-1, Troll)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#22134720)

R to P.
Vote Ron Paul.
Stop the niggers.


"Oh, the Humanity!" (-1, Offtopic)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#22134732)

"It's burst into flames! It burst into flames, and it's falling, it's crashing! Watch it! Watch it! Get out of the way! Get out of the way! Get this, Charlie; get this, Charlie! It's fire--and it's crashing! It's crashing terrible! Oh, my! Get out of the way, please! It's burning and bursting into flames. Crashing, oh! Four or five-hundred feet into the sky and it's a terrific crash, ladies and gentlemen. It's smoke, and it's flames now and the frame is crashing to the ground, not quite to the mooring-mast. Oh, the humanity!"

Bets anyone? (4, Insightful)

s4m7 (519684) | more than 6 years ago | (#22134738)

citing business, technical, and legal reasons.

anyone wanna bet that IBM has some sort of outstanding contract that does actually prevent this? IBM is awfully friendly to OSS. I can't think the other two reasons matter that much in their eyes.

Microsoft (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#22134792)

There was still a lot of Microsoft code and IP in OS/2, even in later versions.

Re:Bets anyone? (1)

uofitorn (804157) | more than 6 years ago | (#22134812)

Perhaps they don't want to be embarrassed by the quality of the code.

Re:Bets anyone? (3, Informative)

slittle (4150) | more than 6 years ago | (#22135074)

Aside from reasons already mentioned (non-exclusive ownership and other unknowns or ambiguities), OS/2 is still a commercial product under the eComStation [] brand by Serenity Systems. I'm sure their contract with IBM has something to say about exclusive distribution rights or some such.

IBM themselves have finally moved on, though. Their hardware management consoles still used OS/2 until a few years ago, but they're all Linux now.

Re:Bets anyone? (1)

fm6 (162816) | more than 6 years ago | (#22135140)

As always somebody sees a conspiracy. It's much likely that it's the usual issue: getting permission from all the people you licensed code from. That can be expensive and difficult.

Supporting OS is a business decision, not an act of corporate niceness. IBM has been OS-friendly because it's helped them keep alive software products that still had some profit in them, in the form of hardware sales and support contracts. OS/2 is too far gone to be kept alive that way, and even if it could be revived, it wouldn't make IBM enough money to make it worth the hassle.

I find it (1, Insightful)

Idiot with a gun (1081749) | more than 6 years ago | (#22134740)

funny that IBM claims Open Source is more secure, and financially viable, then cites security and business reasons for not opening the source up. Don't get me wrong, I'm a huge Open Source fanatic (Note the capitalization), but it makes me doubt where IBM's allegiances lay.

Re:I find it (1)

MightyMartian (840721) | more than 6 years ago | (#22134850)

Why? Because it won't open source a thirteen or fourteen year old version of an operating system which has been in decline for most of that period, is chalked full of Microsoft's IP, and thus would be a nightmare for the technical and legal teams to disentangle, when everyone at Big Blue has moved on. Why the hell would IBM, or anyone with half a brain expend that much effort?

Re:I find it (4, Insightful)

IWannaBeAnAC (653701) | more than 6 years ago | (#22135030)

At this point, OS/2 is obscure enough that systems still using it really do get security from that obscurity. The only OS/2 installations still around are likely embedded systems (eg, old ATM's) that are not easily updated. If the source was released, there may be some obvious exploitable flaws. True, those flaws (if they exist) could be found without looking at the source, but the source makes it much easier. For example, instead of having to spend thousands of hours banging away at an ATM or reverse engineering binaries, a cracker could just run a code verification tool over the sources and immediately see any potential buffer overflows.

The security benefit of open source is that it is easier to find and fix security flaws. This is fantastic for incrementally improving and evolving systems. I don't think that helps much for old systems that can't be easily updated.

Re:I find it (1)

geekoid (135745) | more than 6 years ago | (#22135078)

A) The may not actually have the full copyright.
B) They have licensed to a different company to handle the future support.

Any one of those is a perfectly good reason for this decision. IBM has backed OS with Billions of dollars. Keep that in mind.

Can you hear the crickets chirping? (-1, Flamebait)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#22134742)

*chirp* *chirp*

"HAL" from 2001 and IBM (-1, Troll)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#22134744)

A little-known fact:
If you character-shift by 26, "HAL" spells "NIGGER".

True fact!

Martin Luther FILTHY BIG LIPPED NIGGER King, Jr. (-1, Troll)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#22134754)

Respect to this great hero on this his day of honor.

Ron Paul, MD

Re:Martin Luther FILTHY BIG LIPPED NIGGER King, Jr (-1, Flamebait)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#22135034)

All joking aside, and no racism intended:
MLK, Jr. really did have some enormous smackers.

He was quite a dapper gentleman, but I mean, woah! []

He tops Angelina Jolie!

Windows NT (2, Interesting)

Arkaine101 (591667) | more than 6 years ago | (#22134766)

Wasn't Windows NT spawned from IBM's OS/2? I assume that contractual obligations between IBM and Microsoft may be involved. Would this be one of the legal issues of which they speak?

Am I wrong in this thought?

Re:Windows NT (2, Informative)

MightyMartian (840721) | more than 6 years ago | (#22134886)

There are some big similarities. CMD.EXE was taken from OS/2. NTFS was in its beginning an HPFS variant (I believe you could still mount HPFS drives in NT 3.51). But under the hood, they were two different architectures. NT was heavily inspired by VMS.

Re:Windows NT (1)

dabraun (626287) | more than 6 years ago | (#22135142)

Wasn't Windows NT spawned from IBM's OS/2?

If anything, Windows NT was spawned from Microsoft's OS/2. IBM was effectively rebranding OS/2 prior to the split and only began to develop "IBM's OS/2" after Microsoft and IBM parted ways.

Re:Windows NT (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#22135160)

Back in the before-time, OS/2 1.x was a joint venture between MS and IBM. When the 386 came out, OS/2 2.0 was supposed to be the 32-bit version, mostly done by IBM. MS set to work on OS/2 3.0, which was supposed to be not just 32-bit, but portable also.

NT was written from scratch, sharing no design similarities with the old OS/2 codebase. The intent was that it be a drop-in replacement for OS/2 and be POSIX compliant, only later to have Windows added to its feature list. While it ended up being compatible with OS/2 1.3 (the last version MS had the source for), odds are the only code it shares with the real OS/2 is the compatibility layer that no longer ships with Windows.


OS/2 Bled to Death (1)

RAMMS+EIN (578166) | more than 6 years ago | (#22134768)

As far as I am concerned, OS/2 bled to death. When I first experienced it (this was, I think, OS/2 Warp, version any rate, shortly before Windows 95 was released) I really liked it a lot. It was a huge step from DOS, yet managed to stay compatible with it, and it had all kinds of technical improvements. Then came Windows 95 and I watched in agony as that piece of junk took over the world. It was like OS/2, only bad. Crashed all the time, etc. Those who lived through it probably know what I mean. Windows 95 is what got me to Linux. One day, it crashed and failed to come up again. I said "there must be something better". I knew OS/2, but couldn't get my hands on a copy. I searched and found Linux. I've been using it ever since.

Meanwhile, IBM did update OS/2, but I never saw it anywhere. Some open source projects sprang up around it, but I still couldn't find the actual OS anywhere. Then IBM announced it would be end of lifed, and I finally managed to pick up a copy of OS/2 Warp from a store that sold old junk. I couldn't get it installed on either real or virtual hardware (I think the problem was with hard disk support).

I don't know why OS/2 failed. Fact is that many people liked it but didn't manage to get a copy. By now, I would be very surprised to find people wanting to run OS/2 for anything other than backward compatibility or geeky curiosity. I don't think OS/2 still has much to offer on a technical front, and whatever UI benefits it had have likely been duplicated elsewhere. Of course, I could be wrong...not having seen a working OS/2 instance for years.

Re:OS/2 Bled to Death (1)

kestasjk (933987) | more than 6 years ago | (#22134818)

You must have been using Windows 95 for quite a while before Linux came onto the scene.

Re:OS/2 Bled to Death (2, Informative)

RAMMS+EIN (578166) | more than 6 years ago | (#22135200)

``You must have been using Windows 95 for quite a while before Linux came onto the scene.''

Actually, Linux is older than Windows 95.

Re:OS/2 Bled to Death (1)

PReDiToR (687141) | more than 6 years ago | (#22135280)

Some of us were using Win95 a long time before Win95 came out.

At the time DOS was better than Win 3.11, Win 95, OS/2 Warp or Linux, when Doom and Quake were big on PCs.

Piracy was the death of OS/2 (4, Interesting)

SmallFurryCreature (593017) | more than 6 years ago | (#22134864)

But not in the way the BSA would have you believe, the simple fact was that like you, people like me couldn't get their hands on OS/2 through copyright infringement. For the record I stayed with DOS for far longer and later W95 (wasn't till the early parts of W2K that I learned about unix and later linux) but the simple fact is that MS has had a simple advantage, its software is available to those who for what ever reason don't buy their software in boxes.

I did have my hands on a trial of OS/2 Warp, but I never managed to install it on my PC. Another advantage to W95 which was buggy as hell and often had problem during install BUT did eventually run.

A similar problem is happening right now with Vista, hard to pirate, so I haven't tried it.

So what you ask? Well like many here I am the IT support guy in my social circle and I can't support Vista because I don't know it. How are you going to answer a call asking how to change a setting when you have no idea what is where? I am not going to claim that people I know stay with XP because they can't get support from me otherwise but it is a simple choice, learn windows Vista when you never learned/wanted to learn Windows in the first place, or stay with XP I will be happy to hand you a copy off.

QUESTION: I don't know why OS/2 failed.

ANSWER: Fact is that many people liked it but didn't manage to get a copy.

Piracy has been a critical element in MS rise to fame. With Vista they are taking a gamble, has their lockin become powerfull enough they can now survive without it? Personally I think it has, but you never know. MS might soon face a real nightmare, being beaten NOT by a competitor they can out advertise or EVEN outperform, but beaten by their own product.

Or not, Vista ain't a ME yet and ME never threathened their business model.

Re:OS/2 Bled to Death (1)

MichaelSmith (789609) | more than 6 years ago | (#22134948)

I don't know why OS/2 failed.

For much of the 1990's OS/2 was the standard desktop OS provided by IT (as opposed to engineering) in a state Government owned company where I worked. It was eventually replaced by Windows98 around 1999 or 2000.

I wasn't an OS/2 user but I did notice a few things which people hated about it:

  • It took more than five minutes to boot up from the token ring LAN in the morning
  • Users were required to use an in house resource management application on OS/2 which sucked
  • When it created icons on start up it would sometimes stack them at exactly the same x,y coordinate in a folder so you had to manually rearrange them.
  • The desktop had a sickening pea green colour scheme.
  • Lotus notes kept crashing

Now a lot of the above had nothing to do with OS/2 but the OS got blamed for it because that was the thing people interacted with. I left around the time they rolled out win 98 and a year later when I was contracting for them there were signs around the office joking about how many minutes windows could stay up without crashing.

I think IBM could have put a little bit more effort into satisfying the end users and a little bit less satisfying the PHB's. Maybe it would have been nicer to use if they had done that.

Re:OS/2 Bled to Death (1)

dryeo (100693) | more than 6 years ago | (#22135340)

Sounds like the IT department had it pretty locked down. Out of the box icons stayed where ever you put them (as long as you did a proper shutdown). The desktop background could be changed by simply opening up the solid colour palette and dragging which ever colour you wanted to the desktop. Same with folders, at that the desktop was just another folder and all folders could have different backgound colours or even different wallpaper.
And of course shitty apps can be written for any OS

Re:OS/2 Bled to Death (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#22135072)

I loved OS/2 and spent a lot of time doing Dev work for apps on it. But the simple fact is that while it was better than windows 95 in so many ways, it was worse than windows in the things that really mattered at the time, OS/2 used significantly more resources than a windows machine, I remember the pain and paperwork and justifications I had to make to my management at the time as why it was justified to put 4MB more memory into a workstation and then later how I could justify an 8MB to 16MB jump. It hurt us and made it an unviable option for many of our clients at the time as the resource hog that was OS/2 back then was bloody expensive on the hardware side.

Re:OS/2 Bled to Death (1)

dryeo (100693) | more than 6 years ago | (#22135298)

Yea the old store bought OS/2 won't install on a hard drive over 4 GBs without updating the disk driver. If you'd like to try it go here, []

OS/2 still has Jews kill. (1)

agent (7471) | more than 6 years ago | (#22134778)

IBM won't? IBM CAN'T! (4, Informative)

Trenchbroom (1080559) | more than 6 years ago | (#22134780)

How can they open source OS/2 when a large percentage of the code is still under Microsoft's copyright? I'm sure Microsoft would have NO problem with this--seeing as they are all open source friendly and all. No issues using their own code to dethrone Windows, naturally.

No news here people. Only common sense needed.

eComStation (4, Informative)

hpa (7948) | more than 6 years ago | (#22134800)

IBM has already licensed off OS/2 to another company, Serenity Systems, who is continuing to support it under the name eComStation [] . This might have been an exclusive agreement. There is again, of course, all the issues with whether or not the actually own all the stuff.

Re:eComStation (2, Insightful)

JPriest (547211) | more than 6 years ago | (#22135258)

Another reason (there were multiple) may be that they would prefer to move customers to other (Linux based) solutions and ensure OS/2 die a proper death. Perhaps they fear that making OS/2 OSS would also help keep it alive for longer than they want it to be.

what is wrong with you people (-1, Troll)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#22134820)

So many trolls today.

Why do you NIGGERS keep posting all this racist inflammatory shit about NIGGERS all over the place?

What the fuck is wrong with you, can't you let the NIGGERS have Martin Luther King Jr. day? I mean fuck the dude has four names and he's not Mexican, that has to count for something.

In conclusion stop being NIGGERS about this holiday. Quit posting jokes about NIGGERS on this holiday. Let the NIGGERS have this holiday. You NIGGER.

I mean uh you jiggaboo. Yeah, you coon. Yes, you porchmonkey.

You know theyre improving the transportation in Harlem? Yeah, they're planting the trees closer together.

Why does San Francisco have so many gays and Harlem have so many NIGGERS? San Francisco had first choice.

Re:what is wrong with you people (-1, Troll)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#22135248)

+1, Interesting

MS Code issues I'd gather (4, Interesting)

Vskye (9079) | more than 6 years ago | (#22134824)

I beta tested all of the OS/2 releases and the MS license / patent issue is the only reason I don't think this will ever be released. IBM is a okay company when it comes to Linux, (specs, drivers, etc) but I'd never expect to see OS/2 offered as open source, due to the above mentioned restrictions.
In retrospect I do believe that MS pulled the plug simply because of the "lock-in-factor" on their OS. (they don't share well with others) OS/2 was a very nice OS back in the day. And yes, it ran well.. was better than DOS and made Windows look like crap back in the day. (if ya never ran it, then mod yourself -1)

Variety of business, technical, and legal reasons (4, Insightful)

Zakabog (603757) | more than 6 years ago | (#22134830)

"...a variety of business, technical, and legal reasons..."

Business - We're sorry, some businesses are still using OS/2 for some mission critical stuff, we've reviewed the code and it's got some major security flaws. By making it open source, these companies who still use the software will be open to all sorts of attacks as we've stopped supporting the software and won't be releasing any new patches.

Technical - We want to fix all the flaws but it's not worth our time, we could release the code and have the community do it but most of these businesses lack the IT guys to do the massive updates on all their systems (otherwise they'd be using something other than OS/2) so they'd be open to attacks of anyone who cares enough to try.

Legal - We didn't write all of our own code, we borrowed from a few places and signed some agreements that say we can't show anyone else the code. We could make half the project open source but that'd be pretty useless and people will get on our case about not releasing all the code, then there's the whole exposing all the flaws problem, which leaves no one happy in this scenario.

Yes I know security through obscurity doesn't usually work, but this product has reached it's end of life, there won't be any more updates. IBM realizes they have some big customers using OS/2 for some pretty major stuff and if they were to just show the world OS/2s exploits, it might end badly for a company still relying on OS/2. They're probably not going to trust the community submitted patches (they can't afford to have the systems go down, and as far as they know the systems are rock solid so why chance bringing everything down to close a hole that someone MIGHT use to cause damage.) Then when something happens and someone causes some damage exploiting a hole, the company is going to sue IBM for releasing the code and making the attack possible.

Anyway, that's just my opinion, I could be wrong.

Re:Variety of business, technical, and legal reaso (1)

dryeo (100693) | more than 6 years ago | (#22135372)

Where would the major flaws be? OS/2 installed without any services running. Networking used straight NETBEUI so was unroutable and now a days simplest to use Samba. The stack is ported from AIX and is considered very solid and the current browser is Firefox which is also considered secure.
Of course the client was single user so if you had access to the machine you could do damage but I have yet to hear of an ATM being hacked little well any other system running OS/2.

IBM the Proprietary!!! (-1, Troll)

RobBebop (947356) | more than 6 years ago | (#22134838)

Time to adopt the SCO tactic and sue IBM for ownership of OS/2!!! How dare IBM have proprietary software.

In all seriousness, I recall reading that besides Microsoft, that IBM is the world's largest software companies (as measured by employees on the payroll) and thanks to acquisitions such as Tivoli, Rational, and Telelogic they own a TON of proprietary software franchises.

That said, this is a non-story. Failed petitions are a dime-a-dozen. The only thing that *might* develop from this story is the motivation to get a petition signed by 100,000 people and see if IBM will take *that* seriously. In the end, they won't. If they are letting OS/2 die, then they are doing it for a reason. If they are simply relegating it to the back burner for a few years so they can modernize and re-introduce it later, good for them.

Maybe there is something that I am missing which would make it beneficial to be able to run OS/2? Wouldn't it require special hardware and/or many software changes before I could run it in my living room? Isn't most of the hardware so ancient that you can't find it anymore? Are there people who actually want to port OS/2 so that it will run on a Dell?

Aside from "Geek Value", there doesn't seem to be a compelling reason to me for having access to the OS/2 code (and for real geek value, I would prefer being able to read System V [] sources by Thompson and Ritchie (though, for all I know that is available somewhere and I just don't know where to look)).

Re:IBM the Proprietary!!! (1)

MightyMartian (840721) | more than 6 years ago | (#22134858)

I doubt there's very much in the code that would be all that valuable. I suspect anything that is unencumbered from Microsoft IP and is useful has probably already made its way through the channels and into the Linux kernel. About the only thing that I think might be valuable is the Workplace Shell, which, despite the major failing of a single synchronous message queue, still stands as one of the most inventive GUIs out there. But I suspect there's a good deal of Presentation Manager code in there, and that again means Microsoft IP.

No big loss (2, Informative)

MemoryDragon (544441) | more than 6 years ago | (#22134946)

IBM cannot OSS OS/2 parts of it are owned by third parties, lots of the code comes from Microsoft. There also is eComStation for companies who have to use OS/2 onward. But besides that there is nothing in OS/2 which is interesting anymore. While being very sophisticated for its time, there is no part in OS/2 which has not been covered better nowadays. Decent multitasking (Basically every OS currently in existence) OO Desktop, KDE definitely has 10 years more sophistication than OS/2 ever had Decent C++ class libraries as core APIs for the OS, again look at KDE! The rest is an out of the mill os, with a flakey 16 mode and a decent 32 bit mode. The only interesting thing is the small resource footprint which would make it a nice cellphone and PDA os noawasays, but that Window was missed by IBM! Id say let it commercially live on as eComStation and once its times are over, let it die!

VMware - abstract it (1)

flyingfsck (986395) | more than 6 years ago | (#22134972)

Just run your old OS/2 schtuff on VMware. Abstracting it will keep the old crap going as long as needed till you can phase it out.

enough OS/2 already (1)

velen (1198819) | more than 6 years ago | (#22135054) [] I loved OS/2 a decade ago. IBM got the short end of the stick in the whole divorce with M$ with regard to OS/2 and never recovered. The operating system is fast (MS-DOS will be faster on today's computers), but there is a reason why people moved on to more mature environments and kernels. Even IBM recommends people migrate to Linux. Sure WPS is good and yes, I miss work area templates, but enough already. Let it go...

sold (2, Informative)

marafa (745042) | more than 6 years ago | (#22135076)

moderate me a troll but i could have sworn ibm sold os/2 to a german company that makes POS solutions: []

Wistful Sigh.... (2, Interesting)

bmo (77928) | more than 6 years ago | (#22135118)

Yes, I was a big fan of OS/2.

I briefly went to Windows95, after my install disks died (bloody weird format, too). That didn't last long, and in a fury of frustration, I decided to look at Linux again.

I never looked back. Oh yes, I miss some things. I miss Workplace Shell most of all, but then KDE does most of what WPS did. Indeed, having Linux gives me a lot more useful stuff that I never even had with Warp or any other OS. I don't miss it so much anymore.

IBM had something great but didn't defend it very well in the marketplace. I'm probably better off having gone the Linux route.


I know IBM has its reasons. Still, a comparison... (1)

blind biker (1066130) | more than 6 years ago | (#22135152)

..with Sun comes naturally. Sun has opensourced three crown jewels: the newest Ultrasparc core (opensource HW), Java and Solaris - together with their most advanced disk resource management system, ZFS.

Somebody care to remind me which products of similar strategic importance to IBM, did IBM opensource?

They won't open-open source it, eh? (2, Funny)

iminplaya (723125) | more than 6 years ago | (#22135164)

Then let's claim eminent domain. We can have the property condemned as a public hazard... oh, wait...maybe we should save that for windows :-)

Obtaining OS/2 (1)

secolactico (519805) | more than 6 years ago | (#22135208)

Is it possible to obtain OS/2 legally for free? I'm just asking out of curiosity since I'd like to give it a try. I remember seeing all those ads in the early 90s (or was it late 80s...) on magazines (mostly Byte) but I never really had a chance to try it.

Is there maybe a repository of "abandonware" software, such as Desqview and the like? I'm feeling a tad nostalgic tonight.

Re:Obtaining OS/2 (1)

Anne Honime (828246) | more than 6 years ago | (#22135356)

Even if you could, you'd certainly enter a world of pain. Plain OS/2 has always been very tricky to install on "everyday" hardware. It doesn't run very well in emulators either because of extensive use of x86 features (ring 2 for instance) that no other OS makes use of. To have a good experience of OS/2 requires in fact a true IBM PS/2 computer, with a lot of memory (a lot means "more than 32 Mb", but we're speaking legacy here, and at the time it was a huge quantity of RAM, and it's unlikely you'd find that much installed in a system of that era - good luck finding more).

This said, OS/2 is a pretty snappy system (given enough RAM), with a good connectivity, and a wonderful true object oriented window manager. DOS compatibility is 'apt' (lots of tweaking ahead), win16 support is better than original ; there is a rare win32 (windows 95) beta layer, never officialy released, don't know if it ever escaped IBM.

I still keep a system with warp 4, but I feel less and less the need to boot it ; as some others mentionned, Linux+KDE makes a good enough OO desktop today.

OS/2 is awesome (4, Interesting)

jsse (254124) | more than 6 years ago | (#22135292)

Well hold your flamethrowers a bit...

In 1994, I worked for IBM and involved in testing of OS/2 (pre-warp time if my memory serves) in Hong Kong. I mainly helped testing business applications, especially Chinese apps. There's another team who were testing games(dream job right)?

The game team always invited me for 'professional opinions' because I were like a profession gamer to them. I managed to run 4 sessions of Ultima 8 in a 386. The gameplay play was smooth, even the opening video was being played without hiccup. Awesome. Imagine it's during the period when its top competitor Windows 95 would crash from time to time running one sessions of Ultima 8. I don't want to bore you with the details how great it run other applications, but I can tell you it can run more than one session of Windows 95 full-screen and windowed. (I heard Microsoft had some legal questions with that later on.. but still, OS/2 could really do that).

Don't laugh at OS/2, it sold, millions copies; some came along with PS/2, some were embedded in ATMs and cashiers. They stopped update and development since 2006, but still, OS/2 installed machines generates revenue for IBM, even today.

Where OS/2 failed was some top boneheads in IBM asked their major software competitor, Microsoft, to develop the initial OS/2 1.x. Microsoft still owns many of the royalties inside OS/2. The more OS/2 sold, the more Microsoft got. I've been told later IBM had difficult time in negotiations with Microsoft on lowering the royalties fee in new contracts, because, obviously, crushing OS/2 benefits Microsoft more than letting it survive.

A wasted effort (-1, Troll)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#22135322)

You are kidding aren't you? Are you saying that this linux can run on a computer without windows underneath it, at all ? As in, without a boot disk, without any drivers, and without any services ?
That sounds preposterous to me.
BM tried, and spent a huge amount of money developing OS/2 but could never keep up with Windows. Apple tried to create their own system for years, but finally gave up recently and moved to Intel and Microsoft.
Its just not possible that a freeware like the Linux could be extended to the point where it runs the entire computer from start to finish, without using some of the more critical parts of windows. Not possible.
I think you need to re-examine your assumptions.

Re:A wasted effort (1)

MightyMartian (840721) | more than 6 years ago | (#22135406)

I think this is just about the most bizarre and most confused post I've ever read. I hope the next time you see mushrooms growing in your back yard, you don't eat them.

OS/2 printer drivers (1)

r0b!n (1009159) | more than 6 years ago | (#22135332)

Anyone else remember this announcement from about 2000? "Mark VanderWiele then presented his project, which frankly took most of us by surprise. IBM has over the years written printer drivers for essentially all printers to support OS/2. They are porting this project to Linux and releasing it as free software: probably GPL or perhaps LGPL." []

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