22 December 2005

One Door Closes, Another Door Opens

Tomorrow is the end of an era - though you might be forgiven if you failed to notice. Back in July, IBM announced that it was ending support for its OS/2 operating system.

Now, for younger readers, this may not mean much: after all, few today use OS/2. But once upon a time, OS/2 was the Great White Hope - not just for IBM, but apparently for Microsoft too. Both positioned it as the "serious" version of Windows, which was merely a kind of mickey-mouse entry-level system. Of course, it didn't quite work out that way.

What's amazing is not so much that Microsoft managed to outwit IBM (again - after doing it for the first time with MS-DOS), but that IBM stuck with its poor old OS/2 for so long. What's also interesting - and yet another straw in the wind - is that in its migration page, IBM suggests GNU/Linux as the most natural successor.

But it is much more than merely a make-do substitute. OS/2 being closed, dies tomorrow. The open GNU/Linux can never die (though it might go into hibernation). A similar observation was made by this perceptive story on lwn.net in the context of browsers, rather than operating systems.

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