OS/2 and AS/400
Some years ago, IBM created a wonderfull operating system for the PC, known as OS/2. It came in a handfull of
versions and families, but what was characteristic of the operating system was its great stability and its
innovative user interface. Let's see what some of the impressive stuff was:
Naturally, IBM was scared away from promoting this splendid operating system by MicroSoft and conservative business
partners that didn't believe that the system would be any good. After all, it required massive computer power to run.
We are talking of requirements of 12 MB of RAM, a pure 386 Intel compatibel CPU and no less than 350 MB free space on
the harddisk. Naturally, this was a massive hardware investment. Better stick to Microsoft, then...
- Installation was smoother that some of the other operating systems
- It used 32 bit address space, in a time where most people thought that 8/16 bit was enough
- It allowed 3 native types of application families (OS/2, MS-DOS and WINDOWS 3.1) to run on the same platform
- It offered real multitasking between the processes, no matter what the application family
- The performance was better than other operative systems, due to efficient usage of ressources
- The user interface provided context sensitive anything, because it was dones as a real object oriented
- The object oriented user interface used the facilities of the impressive high-performance file system
(HPFS), allowing up to 64 KB of extra attributes to be assigned to each file entry
- A multitude of bonus programs was delivered by IBM for instant productivity - including Internet access
In 2004, I got hold of an old Toshiba Tecra 730 CDT laptop. It have a harddisk of 2 GB and some 32 MB of RAM. I have
tried several times to find an operating system other than Windows 98 to run on this thing, and I was also interrested
in testing the Linux environment, because of all the good stories about it. One of the myths of Linux is that it is
able to run on all hardware, even down to some 4 MB of RAM. Hmm....
... In short, trying FreeBSD gave the best result, but Red Hat, Ubuntu and Debian didn't even wanted to install,
due to the fact that I have only 32 MB of RAM. The FreeBSD could be installed, if I gave up a lot of options,
but I ended up with using a lot of hours for basically nothing more than a command prompt operating system. If I
wanted that, I would have installed MS-DOS! I laid the laptop aside, waiting for better days.
In March, 2006, I got hold of a used AS/400 from my company (dirt cheap, I gave only some 15 Euro for the machine and
all manuals!). Realizing that to run an AS/400, some kind of a terminal or the like is needed, I remembered the laptop,
and my first though was to install Windows 98 + ProComm for the thing (or perhaps some other software). Then the
thought clicked: "AS/400 and OS/2 - they were meant to join each other, right...?"
So: I have now retrieved my old version of OS/2 Warp 4 (also known as Merlin), and on the pages
here, I share my experiences with the OS/2 and AS/400 world!