OS/2 -- the Goldilocks of Operating Systems
June 1999

The old story about the 3 bears illustrates a fine point about the IBM OS/2 operating system: there's a point to do everything "just right." By just right, I mean not too hard and not too easy; not too graphical and not too text-oriented; not too power-hungry and yet able to use new technologies.

OS/2 runs just fine on a 486 with 16 MB of RAM. But it really flies on a Pentium II with 64MB. On the other hand, I've seen people literally burn up 486 motherboards trying to install the Windows98 Upgrade edition -- and these same people suffer PC lockups running Windows95 on a 400MHz Pentium. It's nice to actually have one operating system that spans the entire range of PC hardware from the last 4 years -- and the next 4 as well. This way, I don't have to start over and redo my software just because I upgrade my motherboard & CPU every few years.

It's also nice that OS/2 Warp 4.0 has a great command-line interface that lets me do DOS commands for file searches, copying, moving, deleting, etc. in the background while other things are occurring such as file downloads or printing. I can do the same things with the WPS (WorkPlace Shell) GUI, also, if I choose. That means I can be fully graphical or do everything with textline commands -- or any combination in between. This is great, because the same OS can be used by command-line "junkies" and graphical "newbies" at the same time. Nobody has to play second fiddle here; OS/2 does both types of user interface superbly.

OS/2 has some plug-and-play capabilities, but it does not go overboard and try to lock-in a single architecture. Since OS/2 works best with real interrupt-driven modems, for example, I can change modems at will without worrying about device driver conflicts -- there are *no modem drivers required*. On the other hand, it's a little harder to change VGA cards because OS/2 doesn't default to 16-color mode unless I tell it to manually at bootup (similar to using Windows95's "safe mode").

So while there are occasional "gotcha's," OS/2 has the best possible combination of features, capabilities, and user interface designs. There is something for everybody in this world-class operating system.

Most recent revision: June 25, 1999
Copyright © 1999, Tom Nadeau
All Rights Reserved.

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