Rediscovering OS/2

Last Updated on September 30, 2010 by Dave Farquhar

So I picked up a surplus computer from work this week. Honestly, I bought it more because it was cheap than because I needed it. But it was a giveaway price for a good-quality system. Micron’s Client Pro line (its business-class line) is as well-built a PC as I’ve ever seen. The machine didn’t come as advertised, but it was still a good price for what I got: a 266 MHz Pentium II, 64 MB of RAM, a 4-gig Maxtor hard drive, a Lite-On CD-ROM drive of unspecified speed (it seems to be at least 24X), an Intel 10/100 PCI NIC, Nvidia Riva-based AGP video, an ISA Sound Blaster, and an ISA US Robotics 56K faxmodem.
Of course my first thought was to put Linux on it. But I have better machines already running Linux, so what’s the point, really? Then a few things sent me hurtling down the roads of my oldschool retro computing past, and a thought hit me: OS/2!

What I consider my first real job involved installing OS/2 literally a couple hundred times. That was version 3, on 50 MHz 486s. But by the time a Pentium-166 was a hot machine, I wasn’t using OS/2 much anymore. I realized I’ve never really seen OS/2 on something as hot as this P2-266 before. And I used to know how to optimize the living daylights out of OS/2, so this could turn into the best computer I’ve ever owned.

I had to patch my OS/2 v4 installation disk 1 to deal with the drive in the machine (download IDEDASD.EXE and unzip it, then follow the instructions in the README file) but once I got that going, installation was smooth. I need to track down device drivers for the NIC and video card yet. But I got a basic system up and running in about 35 minutes. That’s not bad.

I can’t wait to see Mozilla Firebird on this thing.

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16 thoughts on “Rediscovering OS/2

  • September 25, 2003 at 2:38 am

    so what do you plan on running on this machine, other than Mozilla Firebird?

  • September 25, 2003 at 8:09 am

    A friend at work did the same thing some time ago with a 450MHz PII and Windows 3.11 for workgroups. His curiosity was mostly to figure out how fast it would be on such a machine. It was pretty funny to see how fast it would bring up windows at startup 🙂 However, he got bored with it after a short while. I think using OS/2 would be a more productive choice. Please let us know how things turn out for you!

    /Dave T.

  • September 26, 2003 at 12:32 am

    Speaking of picking up old hardware on the cheap – I’m looking for a new AMD processor – A1200AMS3B – 1,200 MHz Athlon “Thunderbird” 200 MHz FSB Socket A. Anybody got one they’d like to sell?

    Now that I’m compiling stuff again, an upgrade from my 800 MHz Athlon would be nice if the price is right (hint: between $0 and $20).

  • September 26, 2003 at 8:53 am

    I’m actually involved in a project to refurbish Pentium-class machines as dumb Xterms for schools (K12LTSP). Amazing how this “obsolete” hardware can be useful again.

    And running WFW 3.11 machine on a Pentium II is madness. 🙂

  • September 27, 2003 at 4:18 pm

    So Dave, where is OS/2 v4 compared to OS/2 Warp ? (I have an unopened Warp box at work)

    Good luck!

  • October 2, 2003 at 5:03 am

    This [] would probably interest many of you.

    It’s a multi-tasking operating system developed to run on an unmodified and unexpanded Commodore 64. Features include a web browser, telnet client, and a web server.

    It’s getting quite mature (currently at 1.1rc0), and it runs on a lot of old 8-bit systems (including the NES).

  • October 4, 2003 at 9:19 pm

    Is it working yet?

  • October 5, 2003 at 1:58 pm

    If you’re asking about the Contiki OS for 8-bit systems – yes, it works.

    Go to the site. There are a few screenshots.

  • October 8, 2003 at 12:38 am

    Are you alright?

  • October 9, 2003 at 1:34 pm

    Dave? You OK?

  • October 9, 2003 at 4:58 pm

    never mind – it’s disabled. 🙁

  • October 10, 2003 at 11:02 am

    I have seen Dave twice in the last couple of weeks here at work in passing, although I didn’t have opportunity to talk to him. Usually we are located in different buildings. Perhaps he has found a distraction. Hopefully it’s a good distraction.

  • October 10, 2003 at 11:07 am

    Thanks for the update, Murel. I agree with you, I hope it’s been an enjoyable distraction.

  • October 11, 2003 at 3:00 pm

    I had lunch with Dave yesterday, and it’s mainly been a matter of being up to his gills at work lately. Just a busy time.

  • October 11, 2003 at 6:06 pm

    Thanks Steve and Murel.

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