Author Topic: Benefits, purpose for OS/2/eComStation, and Serenity's vision  (Read 24419 times)

lmotaku

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It's cool to see something new being renewed and added to, however I can't help but wonder what would be the benefits of installing OS/2 or it's derivative?

By the looks of things it'd be great for nostalgia purposes and testing, but it doesn't seem to have a logical purpose other than that in the Operating system world.
To explain, it's just recently or subsequently achieved full 32bit support, when we are in a 64bit computing world. The only benefactor or use OS/2 would have is on an older server/PC.
But the question is who would run a server with a 133mhz processor? I'm sure it's good for students and people looking to fiddle around with, but as for general purpose "who" would benefit from OS/2?

It appears they're also trying to sell eComStation. I wouldn't buy it, it should be GPL for the purposes I labeled above. Unless I'm not seeing something.
« Last Edit: March 16, 2013, 05:12:51 pm by Larry »

Martin Iturbide

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Re: Benefits, purpose for OS/2/eComStation, and Serenity's vision
« Reply #1 on: March 16, 2013, 07:16:20 pm »
Hi Larry, welcome.

From a Business point of view, eComStation is being sold to the companies that requires to run OS/2 legacy application, and that will be too expensive to migrate to other software or platform. So Mensys strategy is to update OS/2 to run on newer hardware for that customers.

From the community point of view, we like OS/2, we have been using it from a long time and it is our personal preference. Maybe I will be lying if I say that eComStation is the best of all operating system, but I'm not lying when I say it is my personal choice.

I understand that it is very hard to attract new users to this community with the costs that eComStation currently has, but it can not be free of charge. The code still belongs to IBM and Mensys has to pay royalties. I even tried to convince Mensys to make an eCS VM free of charge, without support, AS IS, and only for non-commercial use, but they told me they can't.

I hope that someday we can have an open source clone of OS/2, but that something that is going to take time and we require a lot of help (If you want to help coding, documenting, testing you are welcome). OSFree (www.osfree.org) is trying to build this clone but require more resources and developers.  From the other side, any GPL software that can be included on eComStation will also be a step further on this dream.

Regards
Martin
« Last Edit: March 16, 2013, 09:37:06 pm by Martin Iturbide »
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lmotaku

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Re: Benefits, purpose for OS/2/eComStation, and Serenity's vision
« Reply #2 on: March 16, 2013, 07:53:27 pm »
Thanks Martin, I appreciate the thoughtful and thorough response. I am 24, about 15 years ago I started dipping into linux operating systems such as Knoppix and FreeBSD. By that time OS/2 had lost all of it's momentum, for the generic consumer anyway. Started with Windows 3.1 I think it was in public school, then Windows 95/98se in my early teens. Not to go off topic too much about my history, I'm always excited to try and experiment with operating systems as you can tell. OS/2 has always been something of slight interest to me, but it was so severely outdated before I became mature enough to comprehend the vast operating systems available to me.

You have said that OS/2 or eComStation is a personal preference to you. It's a feel thing, and I understand that. I'm sitting on Windows 7 at the moment and handle many linux servers, I became a web developer, PC technician and various of things over the years. So I know what benefits me, and what is more beneficial for server systems. What to you personally sets OS/2 above say any Windows/gui environment? Is it look, or is their something under the helm(inside the kernel) that makes it better for your everyday use?

Doug Bissett

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Re: Benefits, purpose for OS/2/eComStation, and Serenity's vision
« Reply #3 on: March 16, 2013, 09:07:53 pm »
One of the main reasons why I like, and use, eComStation, is that there are zero viruses that affect it. Other advantages are that I don't need to update all of my programs, just because there is a new version of eCS., and it will do most of the useful things that can be done in other operating systems. I realize that if you want to make a living at servicing, and supporting, operating systems, those are distinct disadvantages.

It is true that eCS is not as flashy as some other operating systems, but as they say "if you can't make it work, make it look good". Unfortunately, the "make it look good" crowd also wants to complicate life by changing a lot of the rules, for no good reason. That makes it difficult for those who use a rock solid OS to keep changing what needs to be changed because somebody else decided to do something in a different way. Even to find out what has changed, is difficult. Then, it takes a lot of work to make changes to the OS, to accommodate what somebody else decided was a good idea. The source for most of OS/2 is not available, but OS/2 will still run circles around windows on the same hardware. For instance, I still have, and use, an old IBM ThinkPad A22e, with 256 meg of memory (max). It will run eCS 2.1 pretty well, until I have to use a bloated program like Firefox, with complicated web pages. Then, it runs into trouble because the machine doesn't have enough memory, and it ends up swapping constantly. If that thing could handle a gig of memory, eCS would do fine. It has Win98 on it, and it would probably run Win2K okay, but I don't think it would work very well with WinXP, even if it did have a gig of memory.

The way that I prefer to think of it, is "If you want to play games, get windows. If you want to get some work done,  get eComStation."

Martin Iturbide

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Re: Benefits, purpose for OS/2/eComStation, and Serenity's vision
« Reply #4 on: March 16, 2013, 09:13:46 pm »
Well, betwen the benefits/features I can tell you:

  • Once it is tunned is very stable. I had seen systems running since Warp 3 and Warp 4 that the only reasson to have problems is because the hardware started to fall into pieces. ATMs used OS/2 a lot, turned on 24/7 and didn't give software problems.
  • Not native virus
  • The kernel is "microkernel", it means the device drivers are not in the kernel. I think the kernel was so good architectured that it is the reasson why it keeps running today. For new hardware you just require to develop a new driver and just works together with the kernel.
  • I think that the OS/2 architecture is amazing, At 1994, it was outrageus to have so many layers that asked for 4MB of RAM, but today that same architecture keeps running.

Sure, other users has their different points of views, lets see if someone else posts something :)
« Last Edit: March 16, 2013, 09:38:03 pm by Martin Iturbide »
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lmotaku

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Re: Benefits, purpose for OS/2/eComStation, and Serenity's vision
« Reply #5 on: March 16, 2013, 09:50:55 pm »
Hey Doug, thanks for that addition. Wouldn't you say that no-viruses is because it's such a foreign OS? Not language wise, but in terms of use? It's very sparingly used by anyone, and the market share is so low that no one writes viruses for it? Same goes for linux and Mac OS? Mac OS and iOS is becoming used more, but not at the extent Windows is, to my knowledge. When you said "If you wanna play games use Windows, if you want to do work use eComStation", I was heavily reminded of the Mac VS PC commercials. Any OS can be used for gaming, provided someone writes software for it, or so I thought? The OS isn't the limitation, it's the developers for the system that create limitations, correct? If someone made a Win32 directx library that ran virtually or parallel in OS/2, couldn't it play games too? Also, if eComStation or OS/2 has support for GCC, couldn't it also install linux software(games), with some sort of driver manipulation for OpenGL?

Back to Martin. Yeah, for a lot of people stability is very important. But how much tuning is actually required, what's the learning curve on doing such tweaks? Would someone have to go out of their way and read an OS/2 for dummies book? :P That "microkernel" part I agree seems like a nifty thing to have. I guess that means anyone can write software-based drivers and not have to hook into the kernel or different security rings? I'm not 100% knowledged on "rings" or anything like that, but it seems like that's what it would be optimized for.  But they should support enough out of the box to actually do work, and do they? I mean, I see that they finally have support for Athlon 64, which is a decently old CPU. I'm running a modest Phenom II x6 1045t, with 10GB ram. Would eComStation actually work out of the box for my system?
« Last Edit: March 16, 2013, 09:56:50 pm by Larry »

melf

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Re: Benefits, purpose for OS/2/eComStation, and Serenity's vision
« Reply #6 on: March 16, 2013, 10:14:58 pm »
I use eCS of the same reason as Doug I think, productivity reason. I don't play games but write a lot, do presentations and posters. eCS is fast and responsive - for me Windows is quite slow. I use the wonderful feature "work area", i.e you can assign a folder to be a work area, by just checking a square in Folder properties. Then when you open that folder everything you put there pop up and places itself just as when you closed the folder; e.g. a video, a pdf, a text document,  and so on. It is just to continue working (However, open office does not behave like that, which I have bug-reported, this is a feature to preserve!). Furthermore the excellent virtual desktop feature is so easy to use. Place several documents in different virtual desktops and easily shift between the with the keystrokes of your choice (e.g. Alt+arrow left/right). I have used Linux but don't find its virtual desktops half that easy to use.

Also if you use really native programs; with this I mean those that are written for eCS from source , you'll notice that they are extremely fast and stable. Today we have to rely a lot on ported software, which is good in one sense, but which also do not take full advantage of eCS. Today I bought Maul Publisher, a small, fast and excellent desktop publishing program. I am quite fond of Scribus, which is a Linux port, but there are nearly always some point where it crashes.

I think that eCS would be a competitive force if we developed special WPS packages able to tailor the WPS for specific productivity needs. 
« Last Edit: March 16, 2013, 10:16:44 pm by melf »

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Re: Benefits, purpose for OS/2/eComStation, and Serenity's vision
« Reply #7 on: March 17, 2013, 02:00:15 am »
I've been using OS/2 since warp 3 in 1995, before windows 95 cam on the market. Before that I used DOS with Desqview because that was stable and win 3.1 was not. Warp did all win 95 did and a lot better, so I never looked back and kept using and upgrading it. I do almost all my PC work and entertainment with eCS, except Skype, because it's not available. That I use on my Win 7 notebook.
One of the reasons I like eCS is that I am used to it and familiar with it. And system maintenance is much easier and faster than with windows computers. The huge amount of temporary files and directories in several locations on the win7 notebook keeps amazing me. No 'cleaning' program ever removes it all. Has to be partly done by hand.
For someone new to eCS I can recommend the use of FC/2, a Norton Commander style file browser. Makes it really easy to browse and manipulate files, directories and archives and will give you a good insight of what is on the disk, i.e. what the OS consists of. The learning curve wouldn't be very steep if you have hardware that is completely supported. Chances are, it is not... On the bright side, that will give you an excellent opportunity to learn a bit about the workins of the OS:-)

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Re: Benefits, purpose for OS/2/eComStation, and Serenity's vision
« Reply #8 on: March 17, 2013, 08:07:50 am »
Hey Doug, thanks for that addition. Wouldn't you say that no-viruses is because it's such a foreign OS? Not language wise, but in terms of use? It's very sparingly used by anyone, and the market share is so low that no one writes viruses for it? Same goes for linux and Mac OS? Mac OS and iOS is becoming used more, but not at the extent Windows is, to my knowledge.
Not Doug but...
While OS/2 resistants to viruses is partially due to it not being very common it does have very high payback. Rooting a bank is much more profitably then rooting Joe User. The advantage is the IBM culture. While MS seems to have a culture of "it compiles, lets ship" IBM had a culture of "there is still some compiler warnings, we better fix them before shipping". This leads to less holes for virus writers to take advantage of.
 
When you said "If you wanna play games use Windows, if you want to do work use eComStation", I was heavily reminded of the Mac VS PC commercials. Any OS can be used for gaming, provided someone writes software for it, or so I thought? The OS isn't the limitation, it's the developers for the system that create limitations, correct? If someone made a Win32 directx library that ran virtually or parallel in OS/2, couldn't it play games too? Also, if eComStation or OS/2 has support for GCC, couldn't it also install linux software(games), with some sort of driver manipulation for OpenGL?

Of course OS/2 is just as capable of running games as Win32. At that Odin (think Wine) was originally written to run Quake III. And funny enough, directx was a direct ripoff of OS/2 DIVE. The problem now is hardware support for OpenGL, software emulation is just too slow for most games. Perhaps by leveraging LLVM but no-one has the interest in doing the work.
Note that most of Windows is a direct ripoff of OS/2. Even the naming. Internet Explorer is based on Web Explorer which shipped with WARP 3 in '94, mostly as a system DLL so any program could link against it to get HTML functionality.

Back to Martin. Yeah, for a lot of people stability is very important. But how much tuning is actually required, what's the learning curve on doing such tweaks? Would someone have to go out of their way and read an OS/2 for dummies book?

There's a learning curve though much is simple drag'n'drop. The problem now is that people are used to the Windows way (or Linux or MAC) and OS/2 is different. Thing is once learned it is learned. I'm writing this on an install done in '97. Through multiple hardware upgrades this install has kept working. I used to migrate to Linux regularly but it just became so frustrating as every time I learned the system, it would change. It started as fun but with time it was like "how to fix the sound again"

:P That "microkernel" part I agree seems like a nifty thing to have. I guess that means anyone can write software-based drivers and not have to hook into the kernel or different security rings? I'm not 100% knowledged on "rings" or anything like that, but it seems like that's what it would be optimized for.  But they should support enough out of the box to actually do work, and do they? I mean, I see that they finally have support for Athlon 64, which is a decently old CPU. I'm running a modest Phenom II x6 1045t, with 10GB ram. Would eComStation actually work out of the box for my system?

Martin exaggerates a bit. The OS/2 kernel is closer to a microkernel then lets say Linux but is really more of a hybrid. For a true microkernel you'd have to go to the PPC port of OS/2. A true microkernel (Mach based) and the system that IBM should have open sourced, ideally as LGPL. OS/2 device drivers are somewhat a bitch as they still have to interface with the kernel on the 16 bit level.
As for support for an Athlon 64, that was old (non-smp). The odds are that OS/2 would boot up on  your Phenom II system and given the right network and video chips would work fine though only using 4 GB of your memory.

My take, OS/2 has one of the best graphical shells ever written (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Workplace_Shell), even more amazing as it was optimized for 4 MB of memory (really needed at least 8MB), had a very good scheduler especially for a desktop system. Giving the foreground app a priority boost as well as an IO boost which made it a nice to use (and it could be optimized as a server). It had very good DOS support, even running DOS drivers and also very good Win 3.1 support where you could run multiple win3.1 programs in separate sessions so that if one crashed the rest continued on. The advertised better DOS then DOS, better WINDOWS then WINDOWS was true, even if only because you could use a superior file system. The scheduler was much better then Windows, I remember magazine comparisons where basically they'd test an OS/2 version against NT. After failing to get SMP working on OS/2 they'd declare NT the winner even though OS/2 was faster on one core then NT on two. NT won because it ran slower with 2 cores but used both <GR>
At this point most OS/2 users are using it from momentum as most other systems have caught up over the last decade though the interfaces seem to be taking a step back (look at Win8)

lmotaku

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Re: Benefits, purpose for OS/2/eComStation, and Serenity's vision
« Reply #9 on: March 17, 2013, 03:40:32 pm »
Based on what I can see of the OS/2 UI they were ahead in the times of Windows 98se, (active desktop?). Remember when that bugger used to crash all the time? Haha. I'm not sure where XP was, but I think it was then they got full PNG support and a few other things. How customisable is the UI on OS/2 Warp? And, if it's programmable, how hard would it be to learn how to program for OS/2? Are icons interchangeable? I'm like Curious George, I've bounced around and used everything like a crazy monkey over the years, haha. I'm saddened I haven't used OS/2 yet. OpenBSD was fun. I wanna know the UI stuff a bit more, because if I were to use it, I wouldn't want 16bit icons, haha.
« Last Edit: March 17, 2013, 04:01:36 pm by Larry »

Doug Bissett

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Re: Benefits, purpose for OS/2/eComStation, and Serenity's vision
« Reply #10 on: March 17, 2013, 05:17:30 pm »
Hey Doug, thanks for that addition. Wouldn't you say that no-viruses is because it's such a foreign OS? Not language wise, but in terms of use? It's very sparingly used by anyone, and the market share is so low that no one writes viruses for it? Same goes for linux and Mac OS? Mac OS and iOS is becoming used more, but not at the extent Windows is, to my knowledge. When you said "If you wanna play games use Windows, if you want to do work use eComStation", I was heavily reminded of the Mac VS PC commercials. Any OS can be used for gaming, provided someone writes software for it, or so I thought? The OS isn't the limitation, it's the developers for the system that create limitations, correct? If someone made a Win32 directx library that ran virtually or parallel in OS/2, couldn't it play games too? Also, if eComStation or OS/2 has support for GCC, couldn't it also install linux software(games), with some sort of driver manipulation for OpenGL?

Lack of viruses is partly because OS/2 (eCS) is not used by a lot of people, and that is mostly because it is not pre-loaded on computers. Hackers usually just play around with what they have, and don't buy other things. Companies (which are, apparently, the main driver behind keeping eCS alive) don't tend to write viruses. So yes, it is partly lack of availability. However, it also takes more programming knowledge to be able to work a virus into something running on OS/2. Anybody with that kind of knowledge will be working as a software developer, not playing around as a hacker.

True, eCS can be used for games, IF somebody would write them, or port them, along with a LOT of supporting software (much of which is copyright by Microsoft). There are, in fact, a few very good games, but nothing that interests "kids".  OpenGL exists, and there was a project, discussed here some time ago, to update that stuff, but it has been "dead" for a while now.  The biggest problem that OS/2 (eCS) has right now, is that there are not enough programmers willing to work on it, and paying them is more or less out of the question, in most cases. The second biggest problem is that the source is not available, for most of it. Those who do know something about it, are very busy just trying to keep eCS working on new hardware. No time for anything more.

GCC is available, and it is used by a lot of ported software. It is also used for some of the very few original programs, but it seems that most programmers find it much easier to port a program, than to write a new one. That isn't all bad, because we actually end up with lots of useful programs that were developed for other platforms (mostly Linux). The biggest "problem" there, seems to be converting the required libraries to be able to compile, and run, those programs. Just because a program uses GCC in Linux, doesn't  mean it will just run in OS/2 (eCS).

OS/2 (eCS) can run VirtualBox (although the current port is now ancient), so a user can run windows in that, to play games, or do other things that can't be done in OS/2 (eCS), Of course, there is the performance hit from running in a virtual machine.

Quote
Based on what I can see of the OS/2 UI they were ahead in the times of Windows 98se,

Yes it was. Windows NT was based on OS/2. 95, 98 and ME were still DOS programs. Microsoft never really got NT to work, until they got to WinXP. Still OS/2 (eCS) will run circles around the 32 bit windows versions, simply because it has a lot less junk running in the background (including antivirus programs). Microsoft also stripped out a lot of the security stuff that OS/2 has, in a feeble attempt to speed up windows. Going to 64 bit software has finally accomplished the speedup, but they never put any of the security stuff back in (I suspect that they just never understood it, and didn't believe that it was necessary anyway). OS/2 (eCS) is still well ahead of windows, in some ways, but the gap is closing, simply because eCS is having a tough time trying to keep up to the new tricks that are being introduced by hardware manufacturers, and most of that seems to be coming from Microsoft. Linux is having an easier time keeping up, because they have a LOT more programers working on it. MAC, of course, has more control over the hardware, and they have lots of paid programers, so they can also keep up.

I can see the end of OS/2 (eCS), one of these days, simply because it is being overwhelmed by new stuff, and understaffed in the programmer area to keep up. However, it still runs well in the latest VirtualBox implementation for windows, and (I assume) in Linux and Macs. It will also continue to run in older hardware (which is generally available on the used market, at a big discount). It is just another case of a technically superior product being abandoned by it's creator, in favor of making a few extra bucks (IBM is probably the biggest beneficiary from windows viruses because their consulting arm gets to fix a lot of the damage that is done).

lmotaku

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Re: Benefits, purpose for OS/2/eComStation, and Serenity's vision
« Reply #11 on: March 17, 2013, 07:41:23 pm »
It's fun to talk with knowledgeable people such as yourself, Doug. Do you see eComStation working up to 64bit in the next 2 - 4 years? Or maybe even sooner? Also, don't worry, it's not all for naught telling me all of this stuff. I'm installing Virtualbox right now and going to try out OS/2 that way. I'm a PC Guru, and it would be shameful for someone to ask me "Hey, have you used OS/2?" and I would have to say No. Yes, I'm a technophile. lol
« Last Edit: March 17, 2013, 08:00:50 pm by Larry »

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Re: Benefits, purpose for OS/2/eComStation, and Serenity's vision
« Reply #12 on: March 17, 2013, 08:06:31 pm »
OS/2 / ECS is a 32-bit system and it will never be a 64-bit OS. Without the source code, there is no possibility to recompile it to 64-bit. As long as hardware manufacturers enable 32-bit systems to run, ECS can be maintained to support modern hardware via new drivers.

Greetings - Jan Waliszewski

lmotaku

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Re: Benefits, purpose for OS/2/eComStation, and Serenity's vision
« Reply #13 on: March 17, 2013, 08:12:13 pm »
But I thought eComStation was the rebirth of OS/2? Doesn't that mean they have the source code? How are they supporting newer hardware if that isn't the case? That's a tad confusing. So you're basically telling me when we start doing 128bit computing and only have backwards compatibility for 64bit, no 32 bit software will work? I thought eCS already made it translate 32bit to 16bit(kernel) stuff?

Dave Yeo

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Re: Benefits, purpose for OS/2/eComStation, and Serenity's vision
« Reply #14 on: March 17, 2013, 08:45:20 pm »
Based on what I can see of the OS/2 UI they were ahead in the times of Windows 98se, (active desktop?). Remember when that bugger used to crash all the time? Haha. I'm not sure where XP was, but I think it was then they got full PNG support and a few other things. How customisable is the UI on OS/2 Warp? And, if it's programmable, how hard would it be to learn how to program for OS/2? Are icons interchangeable? I'm like Curious George, I've bounced around and used everything like a crazy monkey over the years, haha. I'm saddened I haven't used OS/2 yet. OpenBSD was fun. I wanna know the UI stuff a bit more, because if I were to use it, I wouldn't want 16bit icons, haha.

The Work Place Shell (WPS) is object orientated so you can just subclass various classes and extend the shell. One example is here,  http://svn.netlabs.org/wps-wizard where the programmer added Cairo to the UI to enable things like transparent PNG support.
OS/2 is layered, text mode which is much like text mode on Windows. The Presentation Manager which is the graphic layer, similar to Windows with very similar functions for drawing windows etc, and the WPS on top which I understand is harder to program for.  Need to write IPL interfaces and I believe you need special compiler but I'm far from expert so perhaps someone more knowledgeable can chime in.