The PC I use for stating some ancient stuff for work is one of those cool P4 motherboards with PCI and ISA slots. Yes, that's right in the real world I still get called on some shit that requires a custom built ISA card. Anyways my point being this is not an average P4 computer. It's more like the older machines than the newer ones. Don't expect this to work on your average P4.
I already have a 320gb western digital hard disk jumpered into `compatibility' mode so that things like MS-DOS can run on it without issues. I figured OS/2 wouldn't notice the difference, nor care. I also wanted to setup OS/2 to dual boot between OS/2 and MS-DOS. Since the version of OS/2 I have is 2.0 that means it comes with WinOS/2 built in, even though it's built around Windows 3.0. However, like in the good old days (were they?) I remember OS/2 being a better place to be doing DOS work, So I took my floppies, started the boot and it seemed like it was working until some random CONTRY.SYS error popped up.
Well I know this is a super weird issue, as I don't see how this file could be causing a crash. I did however remember that almost all PC's then required you to not only disable the cpu cache's (internal and external) and to additionally comment out the PS/2 device drivers. Now I know some people would think their PS/2 mouse that they are using is a PS/2 device, it is not, in the sense that these drivers are for micro channel peripherals.
So I removed the following lines from the config.sys on diskette #1:
I rebooted, and lo, it saw my C drive! So I figured I'd partition the disk later as I recall HPFS not being the fastest thing in the world to format. One word of warning floppies are SLOW and CUMBERSOME... Loading the OS took a while. Once the text mode of the install was complete it did have to remind me that I needed to fix the config.dos & autoexec.dos files for dual boot. I had to simply add
To the config.sys and:
To the autoexec.bat
So I took note of it, and let it reboot for the GUI portion of the install. The first thing that really surprised me is that once the BIOS had done it's reboot I was at the GUI install in a flash. Anyways as fast as that may have been time to shuffle MORE floppies.. It's slow. It's painful. Just as it was in 1992. Once the install is finished it's time to reboot. And again I'm just amazed at how fast this thing boots! I timed it at 3 seconds. But in all fairness it's a 3Ghz P4, with 1gb of ram. It's just a virgin install with nothing in the way of modern functionality. But is it ever FAST. I even checked the syslevel command to verify that 2.0 did indeed have a 16bit graphical subsystem, but it's just so.. responsive. Ok time to fix that.
The OS may have been from 1992, but in 2009 anything that isn't networked isn't worth much. I have an Intel Pro/100E network card (PCI) and I was hoping it would work. I dug back into my floppy collection and pulled out my TCP/IP for OS/2 2.0 & 2.1. Naturally this meant MORE floppy shuffling, and after starting the install the LAPS install (some IBM network card abstraction thing that we kind of take for granted today) comes with some predefined IBM network cards, but naturally no Intel PCI network cards. And much to my disappointment there is no option to `add' a new network driver into the mix. Shame on IBM here. I imagine that they later did improve that major shortcoming. In the interim I selected the 3COM Etherlink II card, bound TCP/IP to it, and let the install finish. Afterwards I was able to simply put in my Ethernet driver floppy and copy off the driver & nif file into the C:IBMCOMMACS directory. Then it was a matter of modifying the config.sys to point to the correct NIC, and massaging the protocol.ini .. Certainly NOT for the faint of heart. IBM really did drop the ball here, and while it's as cumbersome as the MS Lanman for dos client, it's so behind the Windows for Workgroups networking.
After loading TCP/IP I was saddened to see it easily adding a few seconds to the boot time. For some reason it was vital for OS/2 to display the fact that it's loading the network drivers. I have to admit at this point networking feels as integrated as it was in MS-DOS. Clearly IBM and Microsoft failed it here, and it's no surprise when Microsoft divorced IBM, they took control and made sure that OS components felt like they belonged.
One nice thing to say is the telnet client does work great, even if it is from IBM. The tn3270 seems functional but I don't have that much anymore in the way of a mainframe environment to worry about. Much to my amazement I was able to quickly find an IRC client. EzIRC ( http://ftp.undernet.org/clients/os2/ezirc/ ), and I even found service pack 2 for OS/2 2.0 still lovingly kept at IBM's old ftp site ps.boulder.ibm.com. (ps/products/os2/fixes/v2.00/xr06100a)
The sad thing about the fixpack was that it required MORE FLOPPIES AGAIN. What was it with the early 1990's? Why couldn't we service pack from a network directory? What if I didn't want to make 19 floppies? It was after the floppy shuffle to bring the release level up to something just prior to OS/2 2.1 when disaster struck. It seems the disk drives were reading the hard disk all wrong, and couldn't read my extended partition.. chkdsk even said it was unable to find the filesytem marker.. Luckily I just quickly booted off floppy (after disabling the cpu cache) and copied the disk driver from the 2.0 #1 diskette, and rebooted and all was well. Very strange.
At this point I was hoping for some web action. Sadly every browser thing is for OS/2 3.0 and above. The best I could come up with was lynx 2.8. What is more sad is that it its support for gzip'd pages is screwed up. It's enough to navigate google and some ftp sites, but not good enough for anything more. I feel bad for blind people on this, as it's got to be a major chore to figure out what's wrong with it.
It's worth noting that my Word for Windows 2.0 works under this setup. Its good to have the old thing going, as the 64bit windows editions have removed the old WOW 16bit compatibility.
My conclusion from the whole exercise is that it's amazing how FAST an assembly written x86 operating system is. You know it's funny how Microsoft sold us down the road of operating systems needing to be portable, the end of CISC, and the need for all this vaporware bullshit... And in the end it's only x86 cpus being sold (I guess nobody except NexGEN could have thought about a RISC cpu doing x86 in hardware...) in any number, and that for the most part, PCs have remained fundamentally unchanged.
Although I have to admit that over the years, WindowsNT has grown on me, in that I prefer its dynamic base for device drivers, and I actually like the idea behind the registry. This is where OS/2 is clearly derived from the concepts of MS-DOS with its archaic config.sys & startup.cmd files. It is interesting to think that OS/2 could have been kept mainstream, but of course there was the OEM issue. The bottom line was that as Windows 3.1 shifted to Windows 95, and IBM's source licensing was ending there was no way to guarantee compatibility with win32 applications.
I'm sure that even if IBM had relinquished control of the OS/2 GUI to Microsoft, and allowed the WLO project to move forward, Microsoft would have still dumped IBM.
But all this doesn't matter.
For what it is worth, in early 1990's (was it 1993?) I somehow managed to buy a 486/sx-20 for $20. The job was typical of even today, where the guy's PC was fucked up with a bad load of windows, and all this shitty software dragging it down. He had already "upgraded" to some AMD 486-40Mhz thing, and all I had to do was install Windows 3.1 and setup a printer.... Oh and the board came with 4mb of ram!
But I must admit, I ran OS/2 1.3 on it, 4mb of ram just wasn't enough for 2.0... I had just thought it was super cool to download shit @ 2400 baud, and play X-Wing at the same time.
Well there was that & and to run `large' programs with Microsoft Fortran 5.1 to do some work for school.. But truth be told, 16bit protected wasn't that much better then 16bit real.. Sure you get more segments, but they are all 64kb.
In the end it's always the same though, back to windows. Its too bad I never did get a copy of VirtualPC for OS/2... then I may have kept it around. But with no ability to get email, and the lack of a NetBIOS/TCPIP client working just shows how... lacking OS/2 was.
I guess the IBM people used tn3270 to talk to PROFFS. Who knows. I'm sure it was something weird before they absorbed Lotus.