BBS down. again.

LOL Maybe I’m just cursed at this point.

This is an email to follow up on the update on our social network accounts (twitter and facebook: @hosthatch) that we are investigating an issue on SSDNode15. Instead of fixing this server, we have chose to restore from 1 hour old backups to some of our other stable servers running for 3+ months with no downtimes. SSDNode15 has unfortunately had very bad luck and has failed 3 times in the past month, which is why we are going to take it out of production, replace most of the parts, burn test it and then put it back into production.

Although I had time to check the log, it turns out I had over 250 users, but a good 150 of them couldn’t figure out the synchronet mandatory send a letter to sysop thing so they abandoned the process.

I don’t know why, but I still liked the idea of being the last OS/2 sysop on the planet, but this year has been ridiculous.  Now that I have it running on VMWare, maybe it’s time I just buy a UPS, and run it on ESX from now on.  But at the same time, I did like the idea of it running in a datacentre.

OS/2 2.0 on VMware Player

Well this has been driving me crazy for the longest time.  The ‘latest’ drivers for the AMD Pcnet card I can find for VMware is 4.08.  They load up on VMware like everything is normal but it doesn’t work.  But now I have my super awesome GNS3 test bed, so I can take a deeper look.

December 2000
NDIS2 driver for OS2 – Readme
Version 4.08

Changes made in this version 4.08:
The receive buffer size has been increased from 1518 to 1536.
Changes made in this version 4.07:
Slow network performance when using Interrupt Sharing has been fixed.
After heavy stress for a few hours, a drastic reduction in data transmission was observed. This problem has now been fixed.
The maximum number of Transmit Buffers that the driver can support has now been increased from 16 to 32.

I’m using OS/2 2.0 with the XR06100 fix, along with TCP/IP 2.0 with UN64092 fix and MPLS WR06000 (I never did find a fixpack for this).

I installed AMD’s MSLANMAN OS2 driver, as MPLS picks this up, and lets me use the nice UI to add in the network card.  But it never seemed to matter, as the blasted thing didn’t work.

MPLS all configured

Which is a pretty simple configuration.  It’s just a simple lan adapter with TCP/IP.  I’m not even going to try to do anything fancy, like trying to get the wildly incompatible NetWare client working


Now much to my surprise the machine does send gratuitous arp on the wire, to assert it’s ip address.  Well that is interesting.

Pinging the gateway
Pinging the gateway

And as you can see, there is no ARP reply. Very strange.

Broken Arp
Broken Arp

So messing around with every possible option, I tried changing “PermaNet Server feature” in the network card settings.

Set PermaNet Server feature to TRUE

And much to my surprise, it worked!



So yeah, this is pretty awesome!  Now I just have to decide what to do with my BBS, maybe bring it home, and run it on ESXi.

Talking to the SIMH Vax through GNS3
Talking to the SIMH Vax through GNS3

As a strange update, I upgraded from OS/2 2.0 to 2.11 and then applied XR_B108 update to OS/2 2.11, and amazingly the value psfeature in protocol.ini had to be set to false.  Obviously this later kernel in the XR06200 fixpack better supports PCI hooks.

I updated OS/2 because things like Qbasic were able to hang the system.  I even tried the MS-DOS version of Qbasic thinking that somehow it was trying some weird hook to the BIOS for ROMBASIC, but that wasn’t the case, as both Qbasic from MS-DOS 5.0 and 6.22 hung the system by hitting alt+f.  So with the upgrade in place it seems to be working fine now.

A sneak peak at Microsoft OS/2 2.0

No really!  It’s an article from PC Magazine, 29th of May, 1990.  And it’s authored by Ray Duncan, before the infamous split.

Of course the thing that stands out from the screen shot is that OS/2 2.0 looks more like OS/2 1.2.  And of course it’s ability to run two MS-DOS VDM’s in a window at the same time!

Flight Simulator, in a Window!
Flight Simulator, in a Window!

Although this was a feat that Windows/386 was capable of doing, going far back as far as 1987.

Windows 2.1/386 running Flight simulator 3.0 in a window
Windows 2.1/386 running Flight simulator 3.0 in a window

But as you can see, OS/2 did it better.  Windows/386 was unable to run EGA graphics in a window, instead I was forced to run Flight simulator 3 in CGA mode.  While the OS/2 2.0 beta could give over 620kb to a MS-DOS session, Windows/386 could only give me 550kb.

And when it came time to ship, well here is IBM OS/2 2.00 0xr6100 running Flight simulator 3.0 in a window, and showing a MS-DOS box with about 600kb free.

IBM OS/2 running Flight Simulator 3.0
IBM OS/2 running Flight Simulator 3.0

The real shame is that MS OS/2 2.0 was looking really promising in 1990, but thanks to the split the world didn’t get to try it out until 1992.

The article is a good read to get an idea of the state of development back in 1990.  And of course all of PC Magaine’s 1990’s magazines are up on google books.  I’ve managed to find 2/3rd of the Beta since I started looking (from 1990… been looking a long long time), and I have reviewed the SDK/toolkit earlier, and here.

PC Magazine, May 29th 1990
PC Magazine, May 29th 1990 Pages 387-388
PC Magazine, May 29th 1990
PC Magazine, May 29th 1990 Pages 389
Power Programming part 2
Power Programming part 2
Power Programming Part II, contd.
Power Programming Part 2, contd.
Power Programming pt3 1-2
Power Programming pt3 1-2
Power Programming pt3 3-4
Power Programming pt3 3-4
Power Programming pt3 5
Power Programming pt3 5
Power Programming pt4 1-2
Power Programming pt4 1-2
Power Programming pt4 3-4
Power Programming pt4 3-4

Microsoft OS/2 2.0 SDK Beta

Something interesting crossed my desk today.  The much fabled Microsoft OS/2 2.0 SDK beta.

OS/2 2.0 SDK in action
OS/2 2.0 SDK in action

Sadly this does *NOT* include the operating system, just the C compiler and the SDK bits.  As you can see, the C compiler is version 1.00.075, a full year+ before the WindowsNT 3.1 1991 pre-release which had 6.00.080.  An interesting thing is that the C compiler can be run from 16bit OS/2.  Unfortunately, the EXE’s produced by the SDK will not run on a production OS/2 system.  The fault lies with the linker & resource compiler.  However swapping those two components out for production versions seems to remedy this and produce working executables.  The only SDK examples that don’t work correctly involve the creation of DLL’s.  I’m sure it is again related to either the linker again, or from some gem I saw in the SDK saying you should always link by ordinal, and never by name.  Apparently a bunch of function calls were going to change name from OS/2 1.2 to 2.0.  It is interesting to me that going from the old Windows 3.1 to NT days we always had so much issues with people calling by ordinal vs the function name.  It broke all the time, but it is funny to see possibly where this bad habit started.

Import and link by Ordinal? What were they thinking!?
Import and link by Ordinal? What were they thinking!?

For those who don’t know DLL’s contain a table of functions sorted by NAME, and NUMBER.  The names have to be unique but the number depends on the order in which the DLL is linked together.  And it is very easy for someone to accidentally change the link order, and next thing you know the ordinal are all wrong.

Otherwise, yeah the tools from the MS OS/2 2.0 beta working in 2013.  I do believe that the object files can also be strung together with some DOS Extenders from the era to produce DPMI exe’s.

But I’ll save that exercise for later.

So I managed to score 2/3’rds of the most rare version of OS/2 ever

Thats right I’m talking about the Microsoft OS/2 2.0 beta.

This is the badboy that cost some $2,600 back in 1989/1990 and its stall basically split up the IBM Microsoft OS/2 alliance.

Sadly I don’t have volume 1 (although the binder spine says so, I have to wonder if the binders were reorganized) so I don’t have any media, nor the overview stuff, just the API’s for the UI & Networking and some general API stuff.  There is no mention of SOM or Workplace shell, so clearly this is stuff IBM added on their own.

It seems if MS & IBM had not dragged so slowly with 2.0 it really could have been pushed out in 1990, instead Microsoft basically gave up on Cruiser and pushed forward with Windows 3.0 which it controlled all the way.  And of course if IBM had allowed Microsoft to control the GUI side, OS/2 would have been far more NT’ish from the getgo.  Oh well instead we were denied any decent OS until what? 1994 on the Microsoft side with NT 3.5 although of course it was closer to 1996 with NT 4.0 did it even matter by then.  OS/2 was quite usable at the 2.0 level, but it was delayed with the advent of Windows 3.0 and OS/2 HAD to run Windows apps or it’d never go anywhere.

So here is some camera phone pictures of what materials I have on this rare version.  Naturally if anyone actually has Volume 1 or the media set feel free to contact me!!!


The binders
Operating System/2 Programmer’s Reference Volume 3 version 2.0
SY13869-0590 / May of 1990

I’ve also found these snippits from Infoworld going back to 1989..

One interesting thing seems that once Microsoft abandoned OS/2 2.0 the kernel never seemed to have changed as you still can load 16bit device drivers so it feels as if all development in that space froze until the ill fated botched port to L4.

PC Plus magazine reviews OS/2 2.0

June 1992

I thought this was cool, PC Plus magazine is doing a best of, 25 year retrospective, and up there is of course, the release of OS/2 2.0!

It really is an in depth look, and a great job for a magazine!  I’ve always like the UK based stuff, nice glossy photos, etc..

But even at the end it was the same old same old, installation issues, and speed..

I remember OS/2 2.0 on a 386sx 16 with 4MB of ram was unusable, while OS/2 1.3 was great… But like everything else that was involved at the time, keep in mind they had not reviewed NT yet… Although the pre-releases were floating around.. Naturally they have both Windows 3.1 & Windows 95 launches..

20 year old OS/2 sales video…

lol the fun starts some 3.5 minutes in.

And true to IBM’s poor sales skills they go on and on about it, without SHOWING it.. I mean it took up to 8 minutes in to get a glimpse of OS/2.  Its like they were scared of it for some reason.

Maybe OS/2 2.0 would have had a shot, if Windows 3.1 wasn’t released on its heels.

QuakeWorld for OS/2 2.0

Not sure why its suddenly working…. but I suspect it may be either updates to both OS/2 base OS & TCP/IP or…. it is because I’m using the QuakeWorld server code that matches the client…. Anyways I’ll upload a binary and the rest later as it is super late.  But for those of you who want to see it…

Yes it really is an OS/2 exe built with EMX!

I’ve updated the sourceforge page to include an exe, and a copy of the updates that I’m using to OS/2.. Oddly enough my OS/2 install with Virtual PC no longer works… The NIC isn’t found anymore, must be some update?  I’ve got, although I know for a fact that this image used to work…

Broken driver

Further update, turns out I’m retarded the AMD PCNet driver is for VMWare/Qemu … Virtual PC emulates a DEC 21140a, which I downloaded a NDIS2 driver from Intel which works great.  I do have to turn off hardware assisted virtualization otherwise OS/2 won’t boot at all from the hard disk..  I’m not sure if it is because I’m now on an AMD computer, or if it is the matched QuakeWorld server/client but it works fine… in Qemu & Virtual PC.