Long Live OS/2. Why should you try ArcaOS?

Dmitry Yarygin
7 min readFeb 3, 2021
ArcaOS running in a Virtual Machine

Brief History

OS/2. The first time I’ve heard about this Operating System was somewhere in the late 1990s. I was a kid back in Russia and I’ve always had an eye on exploring different operating systems, including OS/2 and Linux. OS/2 was a stable and customizable alternative to Windows.

There is more to it and learning more about it gives a broader perspective on the market of operating systems in the 1990s. Initial versions of OS/2 were developed by both Microsoft and IBM. The “breakup” has happened around 1990 and between Windows 3.0 and OS/2 1.3 release. IBM continued to develop OS/2 until 1996 when Warp 4 was released. Afterward, it was clear that Microsoft took a lead and OS/2 can’t compete with it anymore. Only patches were released up until 2001 when it all stopped.

I was interested in learning more about it back in those days. There were some specific problems with it. It was much harder to obtain, it had more limited driver support and fewer applications worked there comparing to Windows. Much less.

Eventually, those were the primary reasons why the Operating System battle was lost in the favor of Microsoft and Windows. Oh, marketing was also not that great on the IBM side.

The idea of obtaining OS/2 never came to life to me until 2020. Since I’ve had more free time (and just returning from a trip visiting 16 countries) I’ve decided to give it another try.

Well… I thought I knew where to start from, but after getting OS/2 I’ve realized that the technology behind it is so old that I need to have multiple floppy disk images to boot into OS/2 Warp 4 (last version). While this could be emulated using a virtual drive in a Virtual Machine I was not particularly interested in it and thought there is a better solution in place.

I’ve researched more and realized that there are two Operating Systems available if you want to run OS/2 in the 21st century with more or less modern applications:

  1. eComStation
  2. ArcaOS

What are those, exactly? Well, at its core it’s just repackaged OS/2 with support for modern drivers and applications. Consider this as a distribution of OS/2 with additions and fixes. How does it look like…

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Dmitry Yarygin

Nomad lifestyle writer. Passionate about breaking software— QA Engineer. My Travel & Tech YouTube channel: https://www.youtube.com/c/nomadicdmitry