Release date: 
Thursday, 5 November, 2015



Authors/Port authors:

"The UnixOS2 project points to create a common set to guidelines to make easier install and use applications ported from Unix to OS/2".

"Together with POSIX/2 and libemu, it will allow in the future the creation of a complete Unix-like subsystem for OS/2".

This was the original description of the UnixOS2 project.

This project is stopped since long (links are preserved for documentaton purposes) and there will be probably no more developments, because in the meantime something has changed, so...

... a bit of history:

In the first half of '90, before IBM stopped OS/2 development (2006), the ported software from the Unix enviromment to OS/2 run in the X Window graphic system and later in XFree86, and was mostly considered "additional software". In those years, X Window System and XFree86 were the graphic servers used by current Linux versions, now replaced by XOrg.

Born for an amatorial use, UnixOS2 allowed the first POSIX implementation for OS/2, that allowed to run almost any application in the graphic server on OS/2. The only available version of GIMP for OS/2 is a well-known example of UnixOS2 use and, still runs on all the OS/2 and eCS systems.

The project was based on the EMX developing environment, that included a GCC compiler implemented on POSIX specifics, so well suited to the needs.

Once development and support from IBM stopped, creating a POSIX subsystem for OS/2 was considered, to be able to reuse software coming from the UNIX environment, that have sources available under opensource licenses. OS/2 has now a rather solid "Unix personality".

As said, the original project stalled since long time, but thanks to the kLIBC/GCC libraries and the GCC compiler promoted by the Netlabs team, we did huge progresses. Replacing the EMX system, not updated anymore, the new libraries allowed porting on OS/2 programs like, just to name a few, Java OpenJDK, Odin, the QT4 framework, the Mozilla suite, OpenOffice, MySQL, VideoLAN VLC media player, Mplayer, FFmpeg, Imagemagick, GraphicsMagick, PHP, Apache Web Server, Python, Perl, Samba (file and print sharing system for TCP/IP) and eCups (that gives support for the latest generation of printers).

There is still lot of work to do, but is already available a package system - specifically adapted - that allows users to install, remove and update software coming from the UNIX world and that can be smoothly integrated  in any OS/2 or eComStation system.

This was in fact the main goal of the UnixOS2 project: to extend the operative system capacities adding a "Unix personality", giving all the tools needed for the development of applications easily manageable, updatable and in a coherent way.

The extraordinary longevity of OS/2 demonstrates how good this idea was. Also if UnixOS2 is not developed anymore, we have now an alternative choice: YUM/RPM, a packager software based on the latest GCC compiler and the new kLIBC/GCC libraries, alignated with most Linux distributions and that coexists without problems with the latest version of  XOrg available for OS/2.

To be able to understand the current situation and imagine a possible future, the users should keep in mind that all this software comes from the sustain that this "idea" has received.

We hope in fact that it will be possible supporting new hardware using opensource based drivers: lot has already been done for the audio subsystem (the ALSA based UNIAUD) and for several network adapters.

New drivers are currently under development at Arca Noae, a software house that is coordinating the work of different programmers.

The adoption of YUM/RPM is controversial, as lot of OS/2 users is used to the classical WarpIn or to manually dealing with the installation process, especially when you go to the system libraries - now mandatory to run updated sofware on OS/2 or eComStation - that, when not correctly managed, can prevent applications from starting and also cause system hangs.

Using the YUM/RPM packager, that inherited the UnixOS2 idea, helps maintaining stability and coherence, giving OS/2 users access to a wide amount of software.

Numerous trials and tests, are increasingly confirming that these ideas were correct, proving not only that OS/2, when integrated with the tools and the necessary programs, is perfectly able to be in step with times, but irony fate, that for the same workloads and running processes - on dedicated computing systems, for professional field of medium/high-end business - OS/2 systems this way configured, amazingly still today, are anyway more efficient, fast and competitive!

Looking to the future, then, combine and integrate the vast amount of open source software available today with the flexibility, lightness and above all the power of OS/2 graphic interface, will be a primary need and allow the operating system to be updated and perfectly in line with times and new technologies, guaranteeing that old, new and future software will run on past, modern and future hardware!

Thanks to the work of the Netlabs and Arca Noae developer teams, it is today still possible to use OS/2!

This software is distributed as compressed package. You have to download and manually install it; if prerequisites are required, you will have to manually install them too.

Manual installation

  • Preliminary instructions (UnixOS2): decide where to place the root folder for the unix subsystem ("UNIXROOT"), create it and unpack there the downloaded files, then run \install\doinst.cmd
  • Note that if you are using OpenSSH and see the following message error:
    "WARNING: cannot read terminal configuration file /etc/ssh/ssh_term./etc/ssh/ssh_term"
    you should move the configuration files from \MPTN\ETC\SSH to \UNIXROOT\ETC\SSH
  • For a more up-to-date "Unix Personality" for OS/2 or eComStation you can try YUM/RPM (available as optional installable package in eComStation2.0 and later).
Additional information:

UnixOS2 package is self-installing and the same is for YUM/RPM.

Following ones are the download links for manual installation:

YUM/RPM (26/8/2016)
XFree86 / XOrg server (1/3/2005)
UnixOS/2 (base) (1/5/2002)
UnixOS/2 (packages) (1/5/2002)
Record updated last time on: 09/01/2018 - 10:08


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