Installing OS/2 4.52 (Warp 4) on VMware ESXI

Installers with floppy disk boot images require swapping the disk images which is tedious. Find ISO images with 1 boot CDROM ISO and 1 install CDROM ISO – this is a much easier approach for installing. The Boot ISO and English ISO from this collection on work well.

Create a VM with:

  • 1 vCPU
  • 32MB RAM
  • 500MB disk

In ESXi this looks like:

Attach the iso boot image and boot the VM:

Remove the boot ISO cdrom and switch to the English language cdrom the press Enter:

F5 to switch to Physical View:

Tab to the [free space] in the second section, press Enter for Options, and create new Primary partition:

Press F5 to change back to Logical View, press Enter for Options:

Haven’t created or selected a logical volume, this forces you back to the Logical Volume Manager:

Choose the physical partition we created:

Now this looks like:

Set the volume to be installable:

Switch the ISO image back to the boot ISO and restart the VM.

On restarting the VM, with ESXi for some reason it changes the boot order at this point to the HD first, CDROM image second, so you’ll get a blank black screen on startup.

Power off the VM.

Go into your VM options and check the option to force boot to BIOS on next start:

Power on again.

When the BIOS menu comes up, go to Boot and change the CDROM entry to it is first in the list with the + key, then Save and Exit:

When booted, swap CDROM ISO image to the second install ISO when prompted.

You’ll now see the Welcome install screen again. Enter through the next few screens until you get to the partition selection screen, Accept the partition we created earlier and do a ‘Quick format’ when prompted:

Select HPFS:

The install from the ISO image goes pretty quick, then you’ll see this screen:

Followed by a reboot. You’ll now see the first of the config option dialogs:

You can leave the graphics as default, or press the button and switch the the GRADD drivers (which from memory are the better drivers to use):

Next/Ok through the the next few screens, then you’ll get to the optional installs:

I left the selected options, press Next:

Complete the registration screen, and then you get more options, I unchecked File and Print Sharing, and left the other pre-selected options:

Press Next, if there’s anything that needs additional config it will be flagged here, otherwise press Install:

The install goes pretty quick from here and will reboot at least once:

“IBM Means 3 Things”:

After another reboot if you get a blank screen with network card info, press Enter to continue then you’ll get to your desktop with more options – I selected Java 1.3 to take a look, and the IBM Web Browser:

At this point the installer doesn’t see my CDROM image even though it’s attached, but pressing Exit take me to the desktop.

Welcome to OS/2 Warp 4:

The network adapter wasn’t configured with DHCP by default, so from the TCP/IP folder on the desktop, find TCP/IP Configuration (Local) and enable the first interface and DHCP:

You’ll be prompted to reboot again, but now you should have an IP, and if you open Netscape, you’ll be able to browse the web, although with some rendering issues for sites using features not supported in this older version of Netscape.


USB bootable OS/2?

OS/2 was technically far superior than any other desktop OS available at it’s time. The fact that it continued to be used in ATMs by banks, ticket machines, voice mails systems, PABXs and various other systems for years after IBM sales and support was discontinued says everything. Even though it was discontinued by IBM in 2006, it is still sold as eComStation, packaged with updated drivers for common hardware available today. According to eComStation’s site, it’s still in use by a number of major corporations.

I’ve spent probably too much time recently installing and playing around with OS/2, especially since ISOs of the install disks became freely available on the Internet Archive. This article about eComStation looking for help to build a version of OS/2 bootable from USB flash drives caught my attention. Interestingly though, from my experience recently trying to install OS/2 Warp on fairly recent PC hardware, I’d rather prefer to see updated drivers for today’s CPUs, motherboards and hard disks.

Upgrading OS/2 Warp 4 to the latest fixpack14 (and other useful stuff)

Windows 10 is on the way. So I spent the weekend installing and configuring OS/2. 🙂

Since OS/2 was recently released into the public domain, you can pick up copies of the install disk images from As you work through the install, at some point you realize you need to convert or find out how to use the floppy disk image files. When installing to a VirtualBox VM, I found I couldn’t get the disk images to work from, but the ones in the format from WinWorld here work flawlessly.

WinWorld has iso images for 4.0 and 4.5x but I could only get 4.0 to install to a VM disk. That’s not an issue as you can download and install FixPack15 with takes you to the latest (and last) version of OS/2.

Most of the updates I found I needed were covered in the extensive instructions on this site here. I found I didn’t need everything though (I skipped the USB mouse drivers as it seems running in VirtualBox takes care of making sure the guest OS sees the touchpad and keyboard on my MacBook).

Along the way there are a few utils that you need to gather to help with the install of the other steps, in particular:

  • diunpack (used to unpack the fixt144.dsk disk image in MPTS8620)
  • dskxtrct (used to extract all other .dsk images for the MPTS fixpacks)
  • unzip utils, most would work but I used this one, unzip 5.51
  • fastkick141 – I used this to install MPTS8620 – more below

So here was the list I narrowed down to:

  • Fixpack 15 – can be found in other places, but this zip on Hobbes contains everything ready to go. Unzip and run install.cmd
  • gengradd drivers for supporting higher display resolutions. I used gradd083.exe from here, Unzip it by running it and passing options ‘-dir -over’ to preserve the subdirs. Then start the install with: ‘setup gen’
  • MPTS8610 – fixpack for network driver stack. Prereq for 8620. Use dskxtrct to extract all the .dsk images to a temp dir and then run service.
  • MPTS8620 – this provides TCPIP32.dll that is needed for most of the more common browser releases (Firefox, Seamonkey etc) and other network tools. This one didn’t have a script to self-install. Use dskxtrct to extract all the .dsk images to a temp dir, apart from fixt141.dsk which I found would only uncompress using diunpack. To install, fastkick141 into the same dir as all the uncompressed disks, and then run (I think) fix.cmd.
  • A number of later apps, Firefox and Seamonkey, require a version of LIBC (you’ll get an error saying LIBC065 missing if you try to run without it).You can pick up a zip with just the DLLs from here, click the ‘just kLIBC’ link to get the zip. Copy the *.DLLs to c:\os2\dll
  • There are two additional dependencies for the latest browsers linked from the top of the page here – fntcfg and pthread. Download and copy the DLLs to c:\os2\dll

At this point I think you’ll be setup to run most of the more recent apps, including latest versions of Firefox and Seamonkey built for OS/2.  Enjoy!

Mounting iso disk images on an OS/2 guest running on Virtual Box

After installing OS/2 Warp 4 I never did get round to installing the latest Fixpack15 or the updated gradd display driver. I’ve just been playing around with it this evening though and made some progress.

First, the version I installed had a default UK keyboard layout which got in the way of trying to type any path locations as I couldn’t find where the backslash was 🙂 I fixed this by editing config.sys and changing this line:


to this:


I then worked out a way of creating iso disk images of the files I wanted to transfer across, mount them as as CD image in VirtualBox, and then access the files from the OS/2 guest.

On my Mac, I used Disk Utility to create a new disk image with the following settings:

diskimage for os2

After creating the image it is automatically mounted in Finder. Once done, unmount it, and then from Terminal, convert it to a .iso with:

hdiutil makehybrid -iso -joliet -o [filename].iso [filename].cdr

I got this from this post. I also found this works if you create the first disk image as a Mac DMG image too. I suspect you still need to create it with the correct CD size and FAT format though.

From this point I started working through the steps here, and got FP5 installed ok using the SimplyFix41 utility, and next I’m going to jump up to FP15 and also install the gradd display drivers. Also will be trying out the last version of Netscape for OS/2 and see if that works ok. Fun times!