I was an idiot and went with the beta of Windows 95 (Chicago) in 1994, and I’ve been kicking myself for not seeing what OS/2 was truly about. Not too much was said about OS/2 in the public, since it was geared mostly to corporations that IBM contracted to. It was really revolutionary for it’s time, with a user interface that felt like what Unix, Mac, and Windows would feel like if they melted together.
Since I dove into the Unix world shortly after Windows 95 came out and have been into Linux almost entirely, my time was wrapped up in learning it inside and out… never quite going over to see what OS/2 is all about fully. Well, I figure why not start 2-3 years after IBM officially said they aren’t supporting it? So, being the ever dashing lancer of perfection, I pulled down an ISO of OS2 Warp 4, and off to virtualize it I went!
My base OS is CentOS 5.2, which really doesn’t mean anything when talking about this but hey. I pulled down the QEmu emulation software a long time ago, since I’ve been running Windows 95 & XP on it as a guest OS. 2 GB of ram is so yummy…. So yes, I used QEmu and had to massage things a bit to make OS/2 warp 4 install without any glitches. We shall go through the things necessary for completion.
Step 1: Create a disk image for it
Example: qemu-img create -f qcow2 os2warp4.img 512M
This will create a disk image of 512 megabytes called os2warp4.img, in qcow2 format. QEmu likes qcow2 format. It saves disk space, and it’s friendly to the environment.
Step 2: Acquire the boot disks from the CD Image
OS/2 came out in 1994, before El Torito CD booting was part of the BIOS. Sooooooo… let’s pull the floppy images out of the CD and store them for later use.
Make a directory called “floppies”, and just for giggles so we have something to mount off of, make a directory called “temp”. Excellent.
Now let’s mount the image, I’ll assume the image is called OS2W4_CD.iso, IBM was keen on that name.
Now to mount it. As root, type: “mount -o loop OS2W4_CD.iso temp” without the quotes. Oh yeah, hit enter also.
Let’s copy the images out. Take the images from “temp/DISKIMGS/OS2/35” and they’re names are DISK0.DSK, DISK1_CD.DSK, & DISK2.DSK. Let’s slap them into the “floppies” directory.
example: cp temp/DISKIMGS/OS2/35/DISK[0,2].img temp/DISKIMGS/OS2/35/DISK1_CD.DSK floppies/
(which will copy the 3 files)
Step 3: Let’s get prepped and crank her up. Open another console as root, we’ll do some file switching as needed. Go into the “floppies” directory, and copy DISK0.DSK to disk.dsk which will act as our intermediate drive file for floppies. What this will do is allow us to “change floppies” as needed by copying over disk.dsk with another file.
Example: cp DISK0.DSK disk.dsk
NOW, let’s pop ‘n lock. Let’s crank this beast up! CD out of the floppies directory, then do: qemu -m 128 -localtime -fda floppies/disk.dsk -cdrom ../OS2W4_CD.iso -hda os2.dsk -no-kqemu -boot a
This uses 128 megabytes of ram, and tells it the floppy, cdrom, and harddisk image to use.
Copy DISK2.DSK over top of disk.dsk when asked for disk 2. then hit enter to continue.
Now, You will hit a welcome screen which you hit enter through, falling into a screen asking if you want Easy Installation or Advanced Installation. Choose Advanced, and on the screen right after choose the first selection which is “accept predefined installation partition”. Immediately after, we are back to where we were before with floppies!
Copy DISK0.DSK to disk.dsk and hit enter in the screen telling you the partitioning is complete. Run through DISK1_CD.DSK & DISK2.DSK when prompted for disk 1 & 2.
The first screen which requires input is telling you it will be installing on drive C. Select Option 1, which is “accept the drive”. Of course, the next screen being what file system, choose option 1, High performance file system (HPFS).
Now, get your yo yo out and doodle around with it while files are copied for a minute or two. Also enjoy the text based moving bars 🙂
The next screen requiring your attention is our important one. It’s saying to remove floppies and reboot. Close the QEmu by hitting the X in the corner of it, which will kill it.
We will restart it, but first take off the end of the command which is ‘-boot a’. This will make booting go directly to the harddisk.
As your nifty OS/2 screen is up comforting you for installing something cutting edge, you will wait a minute or so as graphics happen in front of you.
And now to exercise your fingers! A system configuration screen will appear asking you questions, click next. and ‘next’ on the second screen.
Third screen will ask you about printers, leave it on “do not install default printer” and click “ok”.
On the Advanced options screen next where it has a couple of click boxes selecting things, unselect everything and hit “OK”.
Right after that, you will be presented with networking options, select TCP/IP Services and hit ok.
You will be prompted with an error almost immediately. This is a virtualization problem during install, and all we can do is hit OK… this will cause some redraw issues through the rest of the installation but let’s deal with it. Sit and watch the scrolling progress bar go by, along with files transferring to your hard disk and updates objects and configuration.
A screen will finally come up that takes up most of the screen, but looks unfilled in. Hit ctrl-alt-del to flip away and back and it usually redraws. Either way, this will be kludgy but OS/2 doesn’t want to reboot this time around properly so hit the square in the upper right hand corner to minimize it, right-click on the desktop appearing, and select “shut down”. A menu will pop up that is almost impossible to see, click on the far left of it to hit the OK button. It will tell you shutdown is completed, and it’s safe to turn off your computer. Click the X in the corner of the qemu box to kill it.
A restart of the instance will take you right into your first live desktop of OS/2, congrats. You have a first screen of “OS/2 Basics” to walk you through things, so have fun for the next couple hours.