lunes, 25 de marzo de 2013

OS/2 Architecture - Where to start?

Maybe we should take a look at OS/2 Warp 4.5x architecture first.  (at a high level)

(I understand this graphics is not perfect)

There are two ways on how I see it to try to make an open source clone of OS/2 Warp.
1) Bottom-Up
2) Top-Down. 

Bottom-Up is the way every developer wants to approach to create an OS/2 Warp clone. Lets start first with the more low level stuff and keep raising the level from there.  So lets start with the kernel, OS2Loader and keep building in top of this.

Pitfall: No user understand/supports this project. Regular users sees OS/2 kernel, loader and other components working fine. So, if you replace them the loader or kernel for an open source alternative (even that it is better to have the source code) they do not see it as a advantage.

Pitfall: If, as a developer,  you see on the OS/2 kernel and loader something that is old, the developer fall into the temptation to fix it or use a newer/better practice, that may turn the kernel incompatible with OS/2.

Top-Down is a way to replace the things on top of OS/2 Warp. OS/2's architecture has many layers, so going from replacing Workplace first, later SOM and PM it is also a good idea. But sometime it is not preferred by developers.

Pitfall: There are some strange behavior that needs to be replicated just to have compatibility with the things on their base. For example, WorkplaceShell (WPS) coding depends on SOM, if there is a strange behavior in SOM, a work around most be coded on WPS. When the day comes to replace SOM, it will have to be done re-work on WPS to fix the strange behavior.

So, what to do?

I personally like the idea to go after an open source clone "Top-Down" since we still have in the market eComStation and Mensys is open to include components in top of OS/2 architecture in their product. But what about a both side approach?

Joking aside it may work but I don't think we have enough resources on the community to go both ways the same time, but it looks like if we put focus on WPS, SOM and PM clones first, there can be more options on which things to mount the platform (kernel/architecture).

For example there are ideas of mounting WPS, SOM and PM on a Linux kernel, or following the idea of IBM's Workplace OS.... but wait, I can no longer dream on this direction since we don't have an open souce clone of WPS, SOM and PM.

eComStation 2.2 Beta relased

Today Mensys relased eComStation 2.2 beta (ISO, not the demo LiveCD).

I'm very happy that Mensys keeps embracing open source software inside eComStation. Qt4, OpenJDK, AHCI drivers are some of the projects that Mensys had supported under this platform.

This are very valuable assets to reach the open source OS/2 clone goal eventually.

jueves, 14 de marzo de 2013

Stripping OS/2 Warp

IBM OS/2 Warp cames with many things. Some are important for the OS, some are nice to have, and some are things that used to be interesting time ago, but now are irrelevant.

So I decided to make a little exercise and run OS/2 Warp 4.52 on a VM and see all the stuff I can remove from it, and just have base OS, running with GUI.  So I removed TCP/IP, MPTN, network support, a lot of the software that cames to the platform and did a little inventory and which files remained in the OS.

Here it is the spreadsheet. 

On that list I marked what can be easily replaced (green) and what currently have a replacement. OSFree project has produced some open source binaries that can replace some files. 

viernes, 8 de marzo de 2013

...but why?

When they ask me what is the benefit of open sourcing OS/2, or what I'm going to win, I show them the following business case:

miércoles, 6 de marzo de 2013

What do we have?

Some time ago I started to list all the open source OS/2 software we have available for OS/2 and eComStation.

A partial list was created (sorry, I'm missing a lot of the Qt4 ported apps).
Check it out.

On the EDM/2 wiki I'm also trying to rebuild this list. For the moment it had listed the OS/2 Drivers that we have as open source software:

(EDM/2 might be slow since this days netlabs is switching servers)

martes, 5 de marzo de 2013

but... I'm the last link in the chain, how to do it?

In my efforts to have an Open Source OS/2 clone someday, and since I do not have software developer skills anymore (I haven't code anything serious since 2001), I started to think where I can help.

My choices were:
  • Publicly supporting Open Source (as the open source definition) projects for the OS/2 and eComStation Platform. 
  • Trying to contact former OS/2 developers and ask them to open source their software. 
  • My last, improving the EDM/2 wiki which is a OS/2-eCS software developer resource wiki. 
The EDM/2 update had brought me great satisfaction. A lot of former OS/2 developers are just happy to publish their articles on the wiki. And since the license is Creative Commons it allows to create derivative works. So what were static articles has now the possibility being improved in the future and being enhanced and corrected according any change. 

I had been working on EDM/2 for a year now and it is incredible how many material I was missing, and how much the wiki grown up.  I'm trying to link every source and try to contact every contributor to have the permission to move it to the wiki.

In general the authors that I was able to contact are very amazed that their articles remain current today and are happy to help with the community. I want to thanks them all for making EDM/2 greater.

I'm welcome to receive any help, if anybody wants to help me on the EDM/2 Wiki. It does need to have a lot of time, or know much about programming. Anybody can help me on their free time, correcting the site, fixing any typo or text inconsistency on the wiki. It is not hard at all.

Washing the OS/2 shame

Believe it or not. There is a psychological shame be washed first.

IBM OS/2 Warp has a shame involved on it. It is referred as the project where IBM (giant) failed against Microsoft (little one). IBM does not want to talk about it, or spend any time on it anymore.

I talked to an ex-IBMers that calls it "the OS/2 fiasco" and remembered being laid off once IBM unplugged the project.There were also thirdt parties that made hard investment on this OS/2 trying to being part of the ecosystem. Software developers that created tools, publishers that created magazines and people that focused to give services with this operating system. All of them finished dropping the platform and moving on. Some of them understand it as the laws of supply and demand, other just leaved without understanding why IBM quit on them.

"The market became a community" said Stardock's CEO Brad Wardell, being one of the last important companies to jump out of the OS/2 ship. 

Today, like 15 years ago from the era when IBM unplugged OS/2 (the last OS/2 version was released on 2001, but the management decision to unplug it was years before), I noticed that the almost all the shame had been washed. The developers that I had contact remember those days like "the good days" and told me about  the efforts they put on this project and even believed that they were helping to change the world at that time.

So today there is no shame of being or remaining an OS/2 user. Windows is in the road becoming as legacy as OS/2 compared to iOS and Android, and Microsoft has grown a bad reputation of being a patent troll against Linux, Android and open source. Linux installations has grown a lot and they understand the days when they where a minority. So today it does not hurt anymore if someone makes fun of you for using a different technology in comparison of the 90's.

The shame is washed today. The history speaks for itself and it is not necessary to bring back old wars memories anymore.

lunes, 4 de marzo de 2013

¿Where to start?

This is hard.

When you have a dream like this the doubts always show up:
  • Why you want to do this? We have Linux, Windows, MacOS?
  • What is your business plan? how are you going to turn this into an ecosystem?
  • IBM OS/2 is working fine as it is right now why do you want to clone it ? 
  • Another operating system?
  • You are not a developer
  • It is too hard to do this, IT IS IMPOSSIBLE.
Maybe if it wouldn't be hard I wouldn't like this idea.

I had been inspired by projects like Haiku OS which tries to clone BeOS, and ReactOS which tries to clone Windows 32bits. Both projects today has virtual machines and alpha level code. I'm also inspired by the Linux and FreeBSD, which between order and chaos can produce a solid operating systems.

I really hope that with community teamwork this dream can be accomplish someday. It is not going to be "one man effort" for sure, and the results of have an OS/2 open source OS will benefit the entire community at the end.

I think that George Harrison song's can resume the efforts of this dream:

But it's gonna take money
A whole lotta spending money
Its gonna take time
A whole lot of precious time
Its gonna take patience and time, ummm
To do it, to do it, to do it, to do it, to do it,
To do it right child