ArcaOS 5.1 gives vintage OS/2 a UEFI facelift for the 21st century

Trending 3 weeks ago

In nan OS/2 world, ArcaOS 5.1 is simply a long-awaited merchandise which enables this 32-bit OS from nan precocious 20th period to tally connected modern PC hardware.

The first type of Arca Noae's distribution of OS/2, ArcaOS 5, was released successful 2017, and 5.1 is nan ninth merchandise since then. The erstwhile update, version 5.0.8 came retired successful May, and was nan first since December 2021.

5.1 is simply a important bump because for nan first clip it adds autochthonal support for PCs pinch UEFI firmware alternatively than bequest BIOS, which includes drives walled pinch GPT, nan much modern replacement for MBR which allows drives of complete 2TB successful size.

We chatted pinch Lewis Rosenthal from Arca Noae early past year, discussing nan modernization of this venerable OS.

ArcaOS is based connected nan kernel from nan past IBM type of OS/2, IBM Warp Server for e-Business version 4.52, which was released successful 1999, positive each of its later bug fixes and updates. For context, this is nan aforesaid clip framework arsenic Service Pack 6 for Windows NT 4 – erstwhile nan guidelines strategy requirements for Microsoft's highest-end professional-level OS were an Intel 80486 astatine 33MHz aliases faster, 16MB of RAM, and 110MB of disk space.

ArcaOS 5.1 is simply a unusual operation of aged and new

ArcaOS 5.1 is simply a unusual operation of aged and new

ArcaOS is nan 2nd reboot of OS/2, nan 32-bit OS which came retired of IBM successful nan 1990s aft its business pinch Microsoft collapsed up. OS/2 1 was developed jointly by nan 2 companies, but OS/2 2 and onward were developed by IBM connected its own. OS/2 2.0 came retired successful 1992, a period earlier Microsoft released Windows 3.1, and astatine nan time, it was an astonishing merchandise – a autochthonal 32-bit OS, which could usage each 4MB of RAM successful a high-end PC, had its ain desktop-oriented GUI, and could tally DOS aliases Windows 3.0 successful a window, alongside its ain autochthonal command-line aliases graphical applications, which included big-name apps specified arsenic WordPerfect, CorelDraw, and Lotus 1-2-3.

It was followed by OS/2 Warp 3 successful 1994, which had a revamped desktop pinch a CDE-like launcher, and successful 1996 by Warp 4, nan last desktop type from IBM, pinch a loosely Windows 95-like desktop. In 2001, Serenity Systems released an updated and modernized type called eComStation, based connected codification licensed from IBM. The last type of this, 2.1, came retired successful 2011.

ArcaOS is simply a successor to eComStation. It's still OS/2 Warp 4.52 underneath, but pinch a caller installation program, comprehensively updated drivers and tools, a much modern web browser and email client, and more. It supports overmuch much modern hardware, immoderate via generic drivers for nan astir caller sound and graphics chips. It has powerfulness management, multiprocessor support, USB support, and truthful on. Alongside OS/2's ain HPFS filesystem, it besides supports IBM JFS, which allows volumes of complete 64GB.

Obviously it tin tally OS/2 apps, but not only those. There are existing subsystems to support DOS apps, 16-bit Windows ones, and Java programs. It has a package manager, YUM, derived from nan 1 formerly utilized successful Fedora Linux, and a POSIX-like situation called kLIBC. Alongside integrated Qt4 support, this intends that immoderate Linux devices person been ported across. There's besides a WINE-like instrumentality called Odin that allows immoderate Win32 package to run.

Saying each that, though, it's a 32-bit OS. That intends that it suffers from immoderate of nan aforesaid limitations arsenic Windows XP did successful nan precocious 32-bit era, of which nan astir important is that it tin reside a maximum of 4GB of RAM. For machines pinch complete 4GB, there's a driver which tin usage Intel's PAE to move further representation into a RAMdisk.

  • antiX 23: Anarchic for sure, but 'design by committee' isn't ever nan champion for Linux
  • With type 117, Firefox yet speaks Chrome's translator language
  • USENET, nan OG societal network, rises again for illustration a text-only phoenix
  • FreeBSD tin now footwear successful 25 milliseconds

The Reg FOSS table was an OS/2 2 personification erstwhile it was new, and backmost successful nan era of Windows 3 it stomped each complete Microsoft's offerings arsenic good arsenic nan then-infant Linux. It was a existent 32-bit OS that could multitask respective ample apps broadside by side. In its day, it was overmuch much unchangeable than classical MacOS, and dissimilar nan caller Windows NT 3, it could tally connected overmuch lower-end hardware and yet had a weird but tin desktop GUI.

We've been playing pinch ArcaOS for a while and we scheme to travel backmost and do a overmuch much in-depth reappraisal soon. It's been very interesting, pinch immoderate ups and downs.

On nan positive side, it's substantially easier to instal than eComStation was. It supports USB peripherals, modern displays and onboard sound chips, plug-and-play peripherals, and truthful connected pinch aplomb. We precocious amazed ourselves by really overmuch nosy we had pinch XP connected a 2008 Thinkpad, which was acold much responsive than immoderate type of Windows has been for 20 years now. Well, ArcaOS is lighter-weight than moreover Windows XP. We've tried it connected a Thinkpad X200 and an X61, some powered by Core 2 Duo processors, and it made them very accelerated and responsive. We've upgraded a mates of them pinch aged SSD drives, and nan consequence is that it boots successful seconds connected astir 15-year-old hardware. It puts nan skinniest Linux to shame. There aren't galore autochthonal OS/2 apps these days, but it's happily tally each DOS package we've tried.

But location are downsides too. It is extremely finicky astir disk partitioning, truthful you tin much aliases little hide astir dual-booting it pinch thing other isolated from DOS. Don't effort partitioning a disk pinch Linux devices specified arsenic GParted – do it wholly successful ArcaOS. Either dedicate a instrumentality to it, aliases put FreeDOS successful a mini C: partition and thing else. We've besides had nary occurrence pinch Wi-Fi. On astir machines, it tin spot nan wireless controller, and possibly database disposable networks, but we've not yet sewage it to link to a azygous one. With wired networking, it's perfectly happy. It comes bundled pinch Firefox 45, which useful very well, but nan snag is that nary later releases activity because they incorporate codification that requires compilers that don't support OS/2.

It's awesome fun, albeit challenging, and makes old, low-end kit accelerated and responsive again. Compared to immoderate 21st period OS, it's mini and amazingly snappy. There is simply a batch of DOS freeware and FOSS package nowadays without nan murky semi-legal world of "abandonware" – for instance, nan FreeDOS repo has a broad selection. If you tin unrecorded pinch conscionable a action of DOS applications, past connected ArcaOS they're moving very adjacent to nan metal, and you tin multitask distant to your heart's content.

The Personal Edition is priced astatine $139 (£110). For owners of older versions and licensed copies of eComStation aliases IBM OS/2, update packages are available. ®