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OS/2 comes back from the dead

by on30 May 2016

Big Blue Zombie

Arca Noae, which is behind a revival of OS/2, has attended a convention of OS/2 users to spill the beans about the Blue Lion project.

I know what you are thinking, but apparently there is an OS/2 conference which is requires space larger than a phone box and Arca Noae was determined to get its new old OS out there.

IBM stopped principal development of OS/2 with the release of Warp 4 in 1996, maintenance releases continued until 2001 but really it was a poorly made up extra from Zombie Dawn of the Dead at that point. I attracted some negative blogs in the late Nineties when I suggested it was all over and people should do something better with their time. I am old enough to remember the Warp 4 launch party but it was eclipsed by Windows 95 at that point so I never even installed it.

The Blue Lion project has now become the ArcaOS 5.0 which means that it is following the old IBM name pattening. The last IBM OS/2 was 4.52. It is supposed to be released in the fourth quarter of 2016. A roadmap is still being constructed for future releases of ArcaOS, with version 5.1 bringing support for additional languages – French, Spanish, Italian, German, and Dutch.

There will be two flavours of ArcaOS. ArcaOS Commercial Edition is intended for mission-critical environments, and includes 12 months of updates and priority support. ArcaOS Personal Edition will include six months of updates and support, and will be a bit cheaper.
Arca Noae is not mentioning prices yet as the OS includes software from third-party vendors and there is still some haggling to do over those components.

This software includes support for modern ACPI versions, USB 1.1 and 2.0, AHCI support needed for Serial ATA disks, the Multimac driver suite for network cards (wireless support is forthcoming), and Uniaud, an ALSA-compatible sound driver. ArcaOS will also support CUPS, as well as Kerberos authentication.

For systems running on modern processors, a symmetric multiprocessor (SMP) kernel is available, in addition to the classic Warp kernel, though this is not available as a unikernel design. As OS/2 is a 32-bit OS, there are structural limitations to achieving full RAM support, though support has been added for creating RAM disks up to 4 GB.

One of the most important things to be fixed is the god-awful OS/2 installer which was the freshly scrubbed Justine Bieber of its day but has unfortunately aged as well as Keith Richards. It even required to booted from a floppy disk before it can even look at a CD drive.

The new installer is capable of using a network connection to download the latest packages from Arca Noae, using the standard yum/rpm package format, allowing updates to be installed along with the rest of the OS. The installer can boot directly from optical media, as well as from a USB stick.

Last modified on 30 May 2016
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