With all all the talk around here lately of MacOS vs. Linux vs.

Windows, it got me thinking lately about my old Microsoft Alternative

OS Of Choice – OS/2. Long ago having lost the desktop war with Windows,

OS/2 quickly faded to obscurity. Even IBM announced earlier this year

that it had decided to stop selling it.


that didn’t keep me from firing up the old OS and seeing if it would

still work as an alternative. To that end, I loaded up FireFox 1.5 for OS/2. With a little bit of help from Innotek’s Font Engine and Java,

I got the machine mostly updated to a level where it’s actually running

fairly well and reasonably up to date for daily use. This particular

post is being written on Firefox 1.5 and OS/2.

I’ve been able

to do most of my work today on OS/2. It’s been at least as stable and

efficient as my SuSe Linux 10 test machine, and in some cases even more

so. For example, I’ve discovered when I open a multiple set of

bookmarks as tabs under Firefox on Linux, Firefox becomes good for

nothing else until the tabs have mostly all finished loading. On OS/2

(as under Windows), you can continue to do other things.

Can I do everything

under OS/2? No. There are still a few holes that make it a little less

than a 100% desktop replacement mostly for software reasons. Until

OpenOffice 2.0 appears for OS/2 early next year, I’m stuck using

StarOffice 5.2 or an old version of Microsoft Office for basic

wordprocessing or spreadsheets, creating a bit of a compatibility

problem more so than a functional problem. For most things however,

there’s usually an OS/2 workaround if you’re REALLY a diehard user.

IBM may be halting the sale of OS/2 but you can still buy a new version of it called eComStation.

This is a licensed version of OS/2 that is sold by Serenity Systems. It

includes updates and new commercial programs that may make OS/2 an even

more viable Microsoft alternative. I’m thinking about giving that a

look at this point.

Is OS/2 as fast as Linux or Windows? Hard to tell really. My OS/2

machine is an old 450Mhz Pentium III with 320Mb of RAM. My Linux test

machine is over 1Ghz and my production XP box is 2.8Ghz. By raw

horsepower, naturally this box is going to be left in the dust no matter what OS you put on it.

However, OS/2 was designed to run in 8Mb of RAM on a 486, so it should

be a LOT more efficient overall. I’ll have to put it through some

actual tests and let you know.


moral to the story however is that sometimes when you’re trying to

decide between two things, sometimes the actual answer comes from a

third – and sometimes unexpected – alternative.