OS/2 (Operating System/2) is the OS co-developed by IBM and Microsoft between 1985-89. After a disagreement between the two companies, Microsoft got out of the project and focused on Windows NT. IBM continued developing OS/2 until 2006. Today, if you have OS/2 software, you can run it under the ArcaOS.

Arca noae

My interaction with OS/2 was quite limited back then when IBM tried to raise the awareness of their OS among SMBs and power users. Not successful at all. I believe that I installed it twice for the needs of a paper I was writing on multi-OS boots and uninstalled it immediately after. And to be honest, that was enough for me. However, recently, a good friend of mine – a mad retro-gamer – asked me if I knew how to install OS/2 in a VM. I was wondering why? Why waste your time with OS/2 first, and why should this be problematic? His answer to the first question was nostalgia (he worked at IBM when OS/2 was a thing inhouse). His response to the second question was, “it fails, and the tutorials available on the web doesn’t work for me.” His answers piqued my curiosity, and I swiftly downloaded ISOs for OS/2 Warp 4. I suspected that modern VMs would indeed choke on OS/2, so I decided to work with Virtual PC. Microsoft – who bought VPC from Connectix – makes it available on the Web even today (version 2007). But VPC doesn’t work on recent versions of Windows, so I decided to run an experiment: install Windows XP in a Hyper-V VM, install VPC 2007 in the VM, and create a VPC VM to install and run OS/2. Should work, right? Wrong! Not really surprisingly, the VPC VM doesn’t like the Hyper-V HW abstraction, and I got a lovely BSOD.

OS2 - (1)

OS2 - (2)

Ok, I tried. Luckily, I just finished building my I/O PC, which is running Windows XP Pro SP3. I decided to try the same experiment, but skipping the Hyper-V and Windows XP step. VPC installed like a charm on the real HW/OS, and I could install OS/2 in a VM without any issues. I think that most are thrown off because they do not create an active primary partition for the virtual HDD. Indeed, the OS/2 installer complains that there is not enough space available to install the system, and requests 120 MB minimum. With a 2GB+ sized default virtual HDD, many get lost. But in fact, what OS/2 says is that there are no partitions at all! Just boot the VM on a DOS virtual floppy – or capture a Windows 9x installation CD – and use fdisk. Once done, the install goes smoothly, as mentioned above. Stephan, Enjoy!