From the October 10, 1997 ComputorEdge (Issue 1541)
By Jim Trageser
Last week, we visited two sites that support alternative operating systems Geos (now New Deal) and GEM (now MagiC). This week, we continue the theme hitting OS-9, Amiga and OS2.
Microware is the company that publishes OS-9, another alternative to Windows. OS-9 has been around forever, originally running on old TRS-80 home computers in the late '70s. Today, in it's latest incarnations, it incorporates Java and Internet applications into its easy to use, Windows-like GUI.
OS-9 is more used for industrial applications than consumer, but there are also a lot of hobbyists who enjoy playing with it as well.
The site is pretty interesting, although a bit dry (as befits a corporate supplier). There are lots of FAQs here, and by browsing the site you can learn a ton about OS-9.
What you won't find here are screen shots or demos to give you a feel for what OS-9 is like to use frustrating for someone trying to learn more about the OS.
Two other sites not listed from the Microware site that also have good info on OS-9 are the OS9-L Discussion List Archive at www.it.pw.edu.pl/listserv/os9-l/ and the OS-9 Frequently Asked Questions List at www.cs.wisc.edu/~pruyne/os9faq.html. Both of these have hot links to many other sites, including lots of shareware for OS-9.
The Amiga is a true orphan computer; it's former manufacturer (Commodore) out of business and it's current owner not yet manufacturing (although new machines are supposed to be availble soon). And yet Amiga owners carry on with their old machines, loyal enough that new software continues to be written for the machine's Workbench operating system.
This site is run by the North Alabama Society of Amiga Users and is a treasure trove of Amiga goodies. There are links to shareware sites for programs, in-depth FAQ's for newcomers to the Amiga world, promos for upcoming Amiga trade shows, even a link to an outlet selling Amiga parts.
The Amiga was a fine machine, with its latter models supporting real-time multitasking (which was hardware channelled in the Motorola 68030 and up CPUs). Unfortunately, as with Atari (and, lately, with Apple) Commodore was a company run by dreamers very good at building machines, not so good at marketing them.
But for now the Amiga lives, still providing a useful alternative to Windows. A Web search for Amiga will bring up thousands of sites, meaning that if you pick up a used Amiga you'll find plenty of support.
OS/2 was originally a project to derail Windows and regain for IBM the control over the PC world it briefly controlled in the early '80s. Well, that obviously didn't work, did it? But it's a sweet little operating system, much better at multi-tasking than Windows 95, and fully supported by IBM.
IBM's Web site for OS/2 (which is not www.os2.com: That is a shareware site also well worth visiting) is a subarea off it's own site, but it's polished, smooth and informative. You can find out about software that is available (Netscape, for instance; a real Java editor that's been certified, unlike Microsoft's; voice recognition software).
It seems IBM is pushing OS/2 more for network client use than home PC use, but of all the alternative operating systems for the Intel-based machines, OS/2 Warp is the best supported with the most software available. For many folks, it is the only realistic alternative to Windows.
And this Web site is a good place to go to learn more about it.
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