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Open source and OS/2 : An unfamiliar partnership

When you're in danger of losing a cherished one, when everything seems lost, who do you call? Open source of course.

IBM may have lost faith in OS/2, the once formidable challenger to DOS and Windows operating systems, but thanks to the work of a handful of OS/2 fanatics, the community is still surviving and possibly growing. OS/2 may seems to be dated by today's standards but, like BEOS, some of its features are still unheard of, even on Windows Vista and the latest Linux distributions.

The 20 year old operating system has been abandoned by Big Blue for various reasons which are familiar to open source proponents. But open source is always welcoming abandoned software and OS/2 would join the ranks of Solaris and others if it was finally released to open source. More than 11,000 people signed a petition demanding its release but IBM has yet to respond.

After all, if several hundred millions dollars have not made OS/2 a success, IBM would certainly be turning from blue to pink if the open source movement decided to make OS/2 a viable alternative to Linux and Microsoft. Clearly, keeping a potential third actor out of the field is for IBM's own sake.

Apart from the fact that it is always a healthy sign when there is some competition existing, albeit, a small one, it is also good to see that people are putting the money and their effort where their mouth is, even if it is for the defence of a tiny fraction of the operating system market. That in itself deserves to be recognised.

You can try a demo of OS/2 here or request a download at ecomstation.

Désiré has been musing and writing about technology during a career spanning four decades. He dabbled in website building and web hosting when DHTML and frames were en vogue and started writing about the impact of technology on society just before the start of the Y2K hysteria at the turn of the last millennium. Following an eight-year stint at where he discovered the joys of global tech-fests, Désiré now heads up TechRadar Pro. Previously he was a freelance technology journalist at Incisive Media, Breakthrough Publishing and Vnunet, and Business Magazine. He also launched and hosted the first Tech Radio Show on Radio Plus.