OS/2 Warp Homepage
IBM then went along and released OS/2 2.0 in 1992, the first 32 bit version of OS/2, and the only operating system of its kind in that time. They also included Windows 3.1 code to make OS/2 able to run Windows software. OS/2 2.0 had problems, but it was the only beast of its kind. IBM quickly fixed OS/2 and released version 2.1 in 1993. Since everything was going well with OS/2 2.1, they released OS/2 Warp 3 as a consumer operating system in 1994, but due to mysterious reasons still being investigated at the DOJ, IBM started to drop OS/2 support after Windows 95 release. However, it didn't prevent OS/2 Warp 4 from being released in 1996, which contained major updates over Warp 3. OS/2 Warp Server for e-business released in April 1999 is based on Warp 4 plus some new features and many network based utilities.
OS/2 can easily run almost any DOS or Windows 3.1 program thanks to its great Virtual Dos Machine environment, although it is not as useful as it once were. However, what's more useful is that OS/2 is still compatible with most software and device drivers made for previous versions of OS/2 down to 1.0.
OS/2's Workplace Shell is unanimously the best work environment anyone could wish for. It was originally developped for OS/2 2.0 when IBM was still much into OS/2. However, it does not replace the fact that OS/2 is still very highly configurable using text files which gives the user much more control on the setup. Is it also makes OS/2 much more forgiveable on system recovery than Windows NT.
The kernel and surrounding core modules of OS/2 are very well suited to be used, as a desktop workstation, as a real time processing station, for multimedia and as a server. However, only the server part is still exploited by IBM.
Today's OS/2 community is very different than what it once was. It now has to rely on ports from other platforms such as Linux to get up-to-date software. It is also hosting projects such Odin which will let WinNT programs run in OS/2. Another projet named EverBlue will eventually make X Windows software compiled for OS/2 run directly on the desktop, and ultimately bring Linux binary compability. Another project which has already reached success is the port of XFree86 to OS/2. This currently allows OS/2 to run full screen X Windows programs that can be recompiled. Recompilation of these Unix programs is easily achieved through another package known as EMX. This shows that OS/2 just won't die as easily as IBM and Microsoft wants.
In second place, OS/2 also has its technical problems. The PMSHELL has a Single Input Queue. This was a design oversight of the first GUI for OS/2. The SIQ creates two problems. Applications jam the queue when opening or processing, even for very brief moments which can lead to a slow reacting interface. Another OS/2 problem is that applications can get stuck in the "exit list" which makes them unkillable. Combined with the SIQ problem, if an unkillable application jams the SIQ, a reboot is needed to gain back access to the interface eventhough OS/2 is still running fine. The desktop screen resolution also cannot be changed without a reboot. These three nuisances makes OS/2 less suitable as a workstation.
Another issue with OS/2 is that it is not a multi-user operating system. Resources cannot be protected to keep users from peeping at other users' data. There is also no easy way to manage different desktops for different users.
Although this problem has been fixed with the Logical Volume Manager in the latest OS/2 Warp Server for e-business, the lastest client version of OS/2 cannot manage drive letters like Windows NT or mount points like Unix like OS. It is at the mercy of automatic drive letter assignement just like DOS and Windows. However, OS/2 is not restricted to boot from drive "C:" like DOS/Windows.
Eventhough HPFS is a very reliable file system, it misses some of the new features out there like dynamic cache size. Having to use different disk cache for different file systems (like FAT and HPFS) also makes an inefficient use of memory. Disk access is therefore generally slower in OS/2 unless "a lot" of memory is locked for the disk caches. Note that this is not the case of JFS available with OS/2 Warp Server for e-business.