Author Topic: Building an OS/2 system from the ground up, what would it look like?  (Read 2928 times)

Andi B.

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Re: Building an OS/2 system from the ground up, what would it look like?
« Reply #15 on: March 27, 2020, 11:21:16 am »
Code: [Select]
So, I thought if we can't at this moment make the OS fit the hardware, why not make the hardware fit the OS?  Anyone tried running it on the 486FPGA?Running an OS needs more than a CPU. If the 486FPGA emulates a real 486 CPU well enough then it probably will run. But I see no benefit in using a FPGA instead the real chip. What Southbridge do you want to wire to such FPGA? Another FPGA? And which Northbridge? And which .... Do you know all the components which makes up a standard PC and will you pack all of them into one or more FPGAs? If yes, the first question would be, which 'standard' PC. The 486 systems from IBM, with our without Microchannel? Or the ones from Compaq, or?

If you want to put something into an FPGA why not emulate an ATI X300 but with two working DVI outputs as we have a multihead driver for this chip.

Neil Waldhauer

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Re: Building an OS/2 system from the ground up, what would it look like?
« Reply #16 on: March 27, 2020, 02:58:20 pm »

I see you're point, but I'd really like a machine that runs OS/2 like it was made to do.  The video works, the sound works, the VDMs work.  And while I admire people working through the software to find workarounds for modern systems, they are just that...workarounds.  I have a VirtualBox with OS/2 set up to a reasonable level of functionality (thanks to the help of many here), but it is no fun to use.  The sound stinks, the VDMs are slow and buggy, a lot of the older OS/2 software doesn't work right (missing icons, etc) and the new stuff is usually some unix port that I have a heck of a time getting to work.  I don't think there will be any real improvement in the software until there is control of the source code.  Everything else is a hack.

So, I thought if we can't at this moment make the OS fit the hardware, why not make the hardware fit the OS?  Anyone tried running it on the 486FPGA?

I see you as trying to recreate some kind of "golden age OS/2". I think making hardware to support Warp 3 might do the trick. DOS would work well, and so on. There would be no modern browser or any of the other toys. But 1994 programs would work well.

Actually, thinking back to 1994, OS/2 programs wouldn't work as well. IBM non-gradd video drivers were pretty buggy.

Is it better DOS than DOS that you are looking for?
« Last Edit: March 27, 2020, 03:05:04 pm by Neil Waldhauer »
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Doug Bissett

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Re: Building an OS/2 system from the ground up, what would it look like?
« Reply #17 on: March 27, 2020, 10:05:10 pm »
This was discussed, a few years ago. Nothing came of it (as expected).

IMO, trying to build retro hardware is certainly possible. The cost would be far more than anybody would ever consider paying. None of the required hardware is currently in production, so it would mean paying manufacturers to retool to produce ancient hardware. They would do it, if you pay them enough, but I guarantee they won't do it for small lots. The benefit of making retro hardware is far from certain too.

Better to put the money into making current hardware work. Arca Noae (and partners) is the only company in a position to be able to do development, but they are under funded, and under staffed, so development is far slower than what most people want. The important stuff does happen, eventually.

Quote
I don't think there will be any real improvement in the software until there is control of the source code.  Everything else is a hack.

IBM has made it very clear, that there will be no source code (for many reasons). They too would release it, if somebody wants to pay them to do it (probably a billion dollar, 3 year project, with very questionable results).

OS/2 is what it is. IMO, it is still more capable than win 10, if win 10 had the same restrictions (32 bit, lack of drivers, etc.). The biggest "problem" is that very few, if any, developers are doing native OS/2 programming, and software from other sources has become so bloated that it doesn't work very well (even on the native platform).

Support the developers, and we will have OS/2 around much longer than many people seem to believe. One advantage is that you can buy surplus, or used, hardware off the bargain shelves, and it is likely that OS/2 will work. Of course, you do need to be careful what you buy, and paying good money for some exotic video adapter is not smart.

Sergey Posokhov

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Re: Building an OS/2 system from the ground up, what would it look like?
« Reply #18 on: March 28, 2020, 09:31:10 pm »
None of the required hardware is currently in production, so it would mean paying manufacturers
No, no, no, it's better to achieve the same goal via FPGA, such as Altera.
Verilog and VHDL can describe any hardware.

Travis Thoms

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Re: Building an OS/2 system from the ground up, what would it look like?
« Reply #19 on: March 29, 2020, 05:32:08 am »
Is it better DOS than DOS that you are looking for?

Simply put, yes. There is not much in the way of native software that I use in OS/2. If it was my main system again, I'd use the web browser, and Libre Office.  But there is no Blender, Gimp, Vegas Pro equivalents that I use for my work.  But I do miss  multitasking the DOS games and utilities that I enjoyed using back in the day.

Travis Thoms

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Re: Building an OS/2 system from the ground up, what would it look like?
« Reply #20 on: March 29, 2020, 05:53:22 am »
Code: [Select]
So, I thought if we can't at this moment make the OS fit the hardware, why not make the hardware fit the OS?  Anyone tried running it on the 486FPGA?Running an OS needs more than a CPU. If the 486FPGA emulates a real 486 CPU well enough then it probably will run. But I see no benefit in using a FPGA instead the real chip. What Southbridge do you want to wire to such FPGA? Another FPGA? And which Northbridge? And which .... Do you know all the components which makes up a standard PC and will you pack all of them into one or more FPGAs? If yes, the first question would be, which 'standard' PC. The 486 systems from IBM, with our without Microchannel? Or the ones from Compaq, or?

If you want to put something into an FPGA why not emulate an ATI X300 but with two working DVI outputs as we have a multihead driver for this chip.

I think as Sergey points out, FPGAs can emulate an entire system-Bios, CPU, soundcard, video card, the works, depending on how complex it is. 

P.S. Thanks Dave for taking the time to explain PSD to me.

I'm not trying to knock the software efforts toward improving OS/2.  Maybe I am. I don't know. I used OS/2 in the '90's to 00's because it was lean (compared to Win'95), multitasked like a champ, and allowed me to use some of the DOS molecular modeling programs I needed at the time (not to mention many DOS games and Programs). I felt very cutting edge. A lot of those advantages have disappeared with time, but I'd still like to see it shine as a cool Retro experience while the community decides where it going to go.   That's what prompts my interest in finding a hardware set-up that will offer the full functionality of the OS as it is today.  Maybe its a pipe dream.

Dave Yeo

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Re: Building an OS/2 system from the ground up, what would it look like?
« Reply #21 on: March 29, 2020, 06:20:38 am »
Perhaps the simplest would be to find some old hardware. Basically anything with ISA slots should be good enough for what you want. I have an AMD K6-3 computer in storage which would probably do exactly what you want if it still runs. Supported PAS16 sound card, ATI Mach64 graphics card, USB ports IIRC. Can't remember how much ram but probably enough. OS/2 was always ram hungry.
I also have a T42 Thinkpad, basically the last that IBM supported for OS/2. If the sound drivers from Lenovo work in DOS, it would also likely do what you want. Unluckily I never could install the native sound drivers due to lack of a floppy drive on A: with a 1.6 Ghz Pentium M and a Gig of memory, it works with modern software too, though Firefox takes a long time to start and Youtube videos can be choppy.

Dariusz Piatkowski

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Re: Building an OS/2 system from the ground up, what would it look like?
« Reply #22 on: April 06, 2020, 10:59:34 pm »
So instead of building NEW stuff how about just defining a 'best-fit' combination of hardware we can all source today (may not be brand spankin' NEW off the shelf components, but still can be found in the channel) instead?

My point being the following: my current hardware is pretty robust. After all, I have a working SMP config here, out of the box audio, NIC and USB (non 3.x). Dual-head 1920x1200 display supported through SNAP drivers. SDD support with both IDE and AHCI drivers (AHCI switch just having happened recently, like a week ago).

What would I like to improve? Sure, the standard stuff, modern CPU, UEFI support, etc., but that's not the focus of the thread.

So here is my combo:
1) MSI 880G-E45 motherboard
SPECS => https://www.msi.com/Motherboard/880GE45/Specification

ALTERNATIVE => MSI 890FXA-GD65, which has SATA3 support out-of-the-box
SPECS => https://www.msi.com/Motherboard/890FXAGD65/Specification

2) CPU - AMD Phenom II X6 1100T
Easy to find on eBay, etc.

3) RAM - 8 Gig
4 regular OS/2 use
4 RAMDISK

4) STORAGE - SSD & HDD
SSD => Samsung 850 Evo
HDD => WD Raptor and Caviar Blue (nothing fancy here, although the Raptor was a screaming BEAST way back when, 10k RPM still kicks butt...LOL)

5) VIDEO - ATI X860 XT PE
SNAP => 1920x1200 support for multi-head displays, only coveat is that SNAP will only drive 1 panel through DVI, the 2nd panel has to go through RGB converter

Now I would tell you that is under $500 USD modern day spend, heck, shop around smartly and this could be under $300.


Dave Yeo

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Re: Building an OS/2 system from the ground up, what would it look like?
« Reply #23 on: April 06, 2020, 11:44:12 pm »
@Dariusz, the problem that Travis is looking at is DOS support, including sound. The sound is the tricky part.

OS4User

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Re: Building an OS/2 system from the ground up, what would it look like?
« Reply #24 on: April 07, 2020, 06:19:32 pm »
So here is my combo:
1) MSI 880G-E45 motherboard

How much RAM is available below 4Gb border ?

Dariusz Piatkowski

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Re: Building an OS/2 system from the ground up, what would it look like?
« Reply #25 on: April 11, 2020, 05:41:07 am »
So here is my combo:
1) MSI 880G-E45 motherboard

How much RAM is available below 4Gb border ?

Theseus tells me: "RAM available to OS/2 = CFF0B000 bytes (3327.043M)", I think this is a good amount of RAM, by the time WPS comes up and all my stuff starts up I usually have about 2970M left with about 210M of free shared memory (this is really the biggest problem actually as it routinely gets exhausted after a couple of days of steady FF use).

Dave Yeo

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Re: Building an OS/2 system from the ground up, what would it look like?
« Reply #26 on: April 11, 2020, 07:39:38 am »
Theseus tells me: "RAM available to OS/2 = CFF0B000 bytes (3327.043M)", I think this is a good amount of RAM, by the time WPS comes up and all my stuff starts up I usually have about 2970M left with about 210M of free shared memory (this is really the biggest problem actually as it routinely gets exhausted after a couple of days of steady FF use).

I've been getting a week plus before I have to reboot for a different reason or the power flickers by loading the DLLs high and keeping them loaded with the turbo programs.

OS4User

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Re: Building an OS/2 system from the ground up, what would it look like?
« Reply #27 on: April 11, 2020, 08:42:02 am »
Theseus tells me: "RAM available to OS/2 = CFF0B000 bytes (3327.043M)", I think this is a good amount of RAM,

True - that is very good amount (max what I have seen is "RAM available to OS/2 = DFE6D000 bytes (3582.426M)")

Unfortunately, some of the latest Intel based mobos have less than 1Gb  and this issue cannot be solved (AFAIK). 1Gb is too little - and thus swap is inevitable.

If I choose mobo, the first thing I will be interested in is how much memory will be available for OS/2.


by the time WPS comes up and all my stuff starts up I usually have about 2970M left with about 210M of free shared memory (this is really the biggest problem actually as it routinely gets exhausted after a couple of days of steady FF use).

Amount of available phys mem does not have any influence on free shared (high) memory.
« Last Edit: April 11, 2020, 01:01:06 pm by OS4User »

Neil Waldhauer

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Re: Building an OS/2 system from the ground up, what would it look like?
« Reply #28 on: April 11, 2020, 03:54:47 pm »
Seeing as the thread has drifted quite a bit, I'm kind of interested in the idea of building your computer from parts.

I gave up on buying motherboards and parts a few years ago. I found that buying a standard manufactured computer was half the price of buying parts and building your own. Now from this thread, I can see that the built from parts systems have as little as half the performance of the whole systems.

In any business, there is a make vs. buy decision. What made you makers rather than buyers?


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ivan

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Re: Building an OS/2 system from the ground up, what would it look like?
« Reply #29 on: April 12, 2020, 12:24:11 am »
For me it was/is cost and I get what I want to my specification.

For example: my MSI A320m PRO-VD PLUS with Ryzen 3 2200G CPU, 8 GB Memory, 2 TB FireCuda HD, DVD -RW, USB 2 addin card and case cost £379.  The equivalent as a bought system with only a 1 TB HD cost £579 to £629 depending on supplier, and I didn't have to clean off any windows OS.