back to article BOFH: On the brink

“You don’t have to do this,” I say calmly to the PFY as the wind and rain washes and whistles around us on the roof of the building. “I do!” the PFY says. “I have to!” “You don’t – it’s not... necessary” I say. “It IS!” the PFY counters urgently. “I must!” “Let's just think about this clearly,” I say, speaking quietly so …


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  1. Tony Barnes

    OS2 warp....

    Damn, that's a phrase I've not thought of in many years.... Bought it back when I was a lad, the box weighed about half a tonne.

    After about a week I had finally got it to install properly, and then was rather bemused in not having a frigging clue what was going on with it. Suffice to say, I was glad the PC software refund policies back in the day were kinder than they are now!

  2. Dave
    Black Helicopters

    Basket Case?

    Oh dear, I've still got original OS/2 Warp install media on the shelf. Should I lock it up safely, assuming I can find it under the layers of dust? And what about the OS/2 machine running on the network (very reliably, I might add)? In case you want to send in the men in white coats, I should warn you that there are also Linux and Mac boxes present, but the only manifestation of Windows is in a virtual machine.

    Helicopters, because it isn't paranoia if they really are out to get you.

  3. Chris


    Another belter as usual Simon!

    Click next to continue >>

  4. TrixyB

    Great work Simon!

    Thanks for a great laugh on a boring Friday afternoon! 10/10

  5. amanfromMars Silver badge

    Loughside Holywood FutureVU.

    PFY on a Vendor Bender Agenda ..... AIGender Venture? Ca Ira!

    Ftao Royal Marines...... Cyber Division for Virtual Underground Support.

  6. Anonymous Coward
    Thumb Down



  7. Bob H

    Time Warp

    I've installed OS/2 Warp and SCO Unix, must be why I don't work in IT any more and occasionally feel pity for anyone who does.

    Burn, baby, burn!

  8. Bo Pedersen

    windows me

    Ah I think you just saved me, I was just digging out my old windows ME disc to install on my new Penryn Laptop with 4gb ram.....geforce 8800 etc etc.....

    was going to do a performance comparison with vista! :)

    .................never mind just found my amigados and kickstart disks

  9. Dave S

    OS2 Warp

    It's the future! - according to a misguided friend.

  10. Graham Dresch

    Why pick on SCO ?

    Although the company made some really stupid decisions, SCO unix was ( and still is ) far more reliable and stable than anything Microsoft ever released.

    Many ATM's still run OS/2, never hacked, no viruses. There are many images of ATM's showing the infamous BSOD, very few ( if any ) are running OS/2.

  11. Anonymous Coward

    Dear Simon

    I represent the Lawyers for SCO, We would like you to now pay us for unauthourised use of our tradename.

    Please send us money now.

    Please, oh go on, c'mon, £1...50p? 1p, pleeeeaasssee help us out here, we're desperate.

  12. max allan

    I thought warp was rather nice...

    I played with a free demo version of warp. Even though I think it was not full release quality code, it was a heck of a lot more reliable than the MS offering of the day. (Win95 I think we had). You could actually run OS2 as your main OS and run Windows and many games (that wouldn't run from windows) within it. And the games would run as fast as they did on DOS while stuff was happening in background.

    I also happen to rather like BeOS...

    I did install SCO at one stage, it wasn't as bad as Linux. At least you didn't need to recompile your kernel every time you wanted new software, which inevitably resulted in a non-bootable Linux with "failed to load" or something like.

    I haven't kept up with either flavour and I can easily imagine Linux has overtaken SCO who seem to be too busy with crazy lawsuits to innovate.

    Nowadays, I run XP when I have to (work and games) and Solaris (not Linux, I'm not a Linux fanboy)

    I think we need a "Geek Alert" to go with the "Joke Alert" pic.

  13. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward


    ... OS/2 Warp was actually not that bad once you got used to the odd tabbing. I would've had it running on a Twinhead 486SLC with 4 MB RAM in 1995 if they hadn't hard-locked the IRQ for the built-in SCSI port. *sigh*

    And perhaps then I would've switched to Mac by now... instead of Windows. ;-)

  14. David
    Thumb Up

    Absolutely Superb

    Honestly I think BOFH over the years I have reading it has on average been getting better and better, but this week was the first time I have been unable to hold myself back from laughing loudly... odd looks coming at me from all directions

  15. William Hart


    All your CP/M boot disk are belong to us.

  16. Anonymous Coward
    Black Helicopters

    OS/2 Warp... still in daily use at my office too. On the plus side, we managed to get rid of Win3.11 last year!

    Say a prayer for our damned souls.

  17. Andy Taylor

    Can't believe it

    The PFY has a girlfriend?!

  18. Anonymous Coward

    Too true...

    Having worked on SCO machines in my previous job makes my current job working with Windows seem like a joy. Ubuntu anyone?

  19. Mark Cooper

    The Nightmares Return

    I used to install SCO Xenix (thats right, XENIX) for a living in a previous life, followed by SCO System V Unix.

    I then spent a number of years working with OS/2 Warp (more DOS than DOS as the ads went). I've been in recovery for a number of years, and then I read this...

    GAAAH - Doris - fetch the appliance!

    Straight-Jacket anyone?

  20. Henry Henderson


    I still have a modified PS/2 model 70 running Warp 4, it sill works and does everything I need to accomplish.


    Lead follow or get out of the way!!!

  21. amanfromMars Silver badge

    Virtual Registered Bot..... Speedy PFY. A Suitable Case for Treatment?

    "The PFY has a girlfriend?!" ... with delicious vices, would be challenging and revealing and a boon to XSSXXXXual Scientists/XXXXPerimeterMentalists/Hot Cookies. :-)

    If you're addicted to IT you can have a Real Good Therapy Session here discussing what you don't know for Real. IT creates Facts from merely Ideas and the Mentorship of Supporting Imaginations. Clinic Bar Talk ...... the Nitty Gritty.

  22. Andy Enderby

    @Max Allan

    No you didn't have to recompile the kernel...... They called it relinking, oh and you had do it for just about everything. Change IP address, relink, install a maintenance pack - relink, blah...... I still keep my Opens(w)erver 5.0.4 and 5.0.5 media for historical (hysterical) interest. I reckon the funniest thing about it was the lisencing structure. You want to connect to the internet on dial up - mo' money for ppp, yoou want to fire up the second processor - mo money, you want...... gimmme. Kind of like getting mugged, but witout the physical aspect of getting stomped on in the street. In the old days of SCO Unix, if you wanted functional TCP/IP bejesus..... guess what ? another lisence, more money.

    On the upside, thanks to lxrun I used to run doom multiplayer with other members of the unix support department.

  23. red floyd

    SCO user in rehab

    I used to install and support both SCO OpenDesktop and Xenix/286 systems.

    Back in the pre-Caldera days, they were considered stodgy, but not evil.

    I had an OpenServer 2.0 box that ran for 10 years straight -- only reboots were hardware upgrades.

    On the whole, though, I'd say this was a rather weak effort... hang on, someone's at the door... No! No, Simon, NOT THE CATTLEPROD!!! NOO; &*^%&^#^*&--- NO CARRIER

  24. Andus McCoatover

    @Graham Dresch - picking on SCO (now SCOXQ.PK)

    "Although the company made some really stupid decisions, SCO unix was ( and still is ) far more reliable and stable than anything Microsoft ever released. Many ATM's still run OS/2, never hacked, no viruses. There are many images of ATM's showing the infamous BSOD, very few ( if any ) are running OS/2."

    Er - are you on sommat illegal? SCO Unix and OS2/Warp - two different animals, from totally different companies...

    Also, there aint many deveopers at SCO left. Lawyers, managers, sure, but 'farties' - nah. Oh, and you can see how many fine, upstanding companies value SCO from their share price at:

    (Dribble...Retard Icon required)

  25. Anonymous Coward

    What a risk...

    OMG! I have to lock up the old CD of OS/2 WARP that's been carelessely accumulating dust for almost 13 years now! Thanks for the warning! I might have been seriously injured!

  26. Trygve Henriksen


    Everyone KNOWS that OS/2 is alive and kicking @ss, but now under the name of eComStation, right?

    Should probably go over the old P133/96MB tower and clean out the gunk(failed Linux install; seems it doesn't like IDE Primary, SCSI secondaries setup I have) in preparation for eCS v2.

    Not only do I have the original install media for Warp 3.0(diskettes...) Warp Connect and Warp 4, but I even have a complete OS/2 1.3 with MS Lan Manager 2.2 and SQL Server 1.3...

    Now THAT is the path to madness...

    Back to playing GalCiv... One day I must be able to win, right?

    (Yes, I have galCiv II Gold for OS/2 package :-)

  27. Morely Dotes

    @ max allan

    "I did install SCO at one stage, it wasn't as bad as Linux. At least you didn't need to recompile your kernel every time you wanted new software, which inevitably resulted in a non-bootable Linux with "failed to load" or something like.

    I haven't kept up with either flavour and I can easily imagine Linux has overtaken SCO who seem to be too busy with crazy lawsuits to innovate."

    SCO hasn't innovated since the company was sold to a bunch of lawyers. I have a machine downstairs running SCO, and it's the "latest version" - identical to the version it replaced, except for the version number and the copyright date, as far as I can see. This time I insisted that we get a contractor in to install it, so I didn't have to touch the media myself. You can't be too careful.

    I've only ever compiled the kernel once in Linux; can't recall why I had to now, it was some years ago. Any time since when I've wanted new software, I've used apt or Synaptic to install it (for free, might I add) and "it just works."

    But my copy of OS/2 Warp is still sitting on the top shelf, in the original shrinkwrap. I used it when I lived in Houston to do some major bank upgrades. My gods, has it been 15 years? Time flies...

  28. James

    just found this on the SCO web site

    "We are pleased to announce that SCO has filed its plan for reorganization for coming out of Chapter 11. This is an important milestone for us and an important step to continuing our business of focusing on our technology and services. "

    Its almost back up and running...

  29. Steven Raith


    God, the memories.

    A failed install on a 486 SX 25 with 4mb of ram and a compressed 125mb hard disc [imagine the power!] caused it to brick the machine. Well, it was a brick to me at the time, I was twelve and wasn't too hot with file table stuff. I guess that ripping the partition table off and starting from scratch would have allowed me to put Dos 6.22 and Windows For Workgroups back on, but I just didn't know any better.

    I'm now tempted to fire up a VM session on my big box, and try to get a hold of the OS2 install media just for a laugh.

    Nice one Simon, that's my weekend out the window!

    Steven R

  30. Stuart

    The Richard Stallman story

    What a great way to start a Saturday morning! After years of flames in various Usenet groups and FOSS software fora whenever I dared to opt out of genuflecting at the mention of his name, today's BOFH was absolutely hilarious. Literally spork material as it happened. Keep up the very good work Simon, kia kaha!

  31. Rosuav

    PFY? Girlfriend?

    Yeah, the PFY has had love interests at times. He usually loses them to the BOFH's interaction or his own geekiness, and then has periods of time when he's sensible enough not to replace them. I've never yet seen two consecutive BOFHs with one girlfriend across them, at least, not that I remember.

    OS/2 lovers already know that eCS is alive and well; SimonT refuses to believe it. Situation normal, comments are as could be expected. :)

  32. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    SCO? OS/2?

    Screw that, I have a pair of AIX boxen in my bedroom, both running.

    One quad 332MHz PPC 604e with 3GB of RAM and 172GB in disks running AIX 4.1.2.

    One 12-way RS64 262MHz, 16GB of RAM and roughly 64GB in disks running AIX 4.3.2.

    To hell with the environment and electricity bills!!!

  33. mittfh

    Ancient kit

    At a former workplace I caught sight of a MS-DOS 3 manual...

    So the PFY's been released into the community with OS/2 Warp. It could be worse - he could have a copy of Windows ME...

    Then again, perhaps he'll rediscover his fondness for Acorn boxes...

  34. john trotter

    sco a friend gone bad

    I have used SCO for 20 years - I have had systems fail for hardware causes - but none that I could blame on SCO UNIX.

    I was willing to use it even tho the cost was high vs linux - the support pages were easy to use and I could answer clients questions easily. There are too many versions of linux to respond off the top of my head.

    The front office clowns that started the legal &^(@&#^(*&^@@ ( I doubt my opinion could be stated here in detail ) people and management who destroyed a good product and company.


  35. Anonymous Coward
    Paris Hilton

    PFY, Girlfriend, Floppies

    The PFY's girlfirend is either:

    a) Paris Hilton

    b) a mail order, self assembly job

    or c) imaginary

    Anyway, I still have (on 3.5" floppies):

    DOS 4, 5, 6, 6.2, 6.22

    Windows 3, 3.1, 3.11 (some even still sealed in original packaging)

    MS Office 4 (16 floppies I think)

    Corel Draw (v3 I think) (31 floppies)

    Those installs took a long time! I hate to think how many hours of my life I spent changing floppies while installing the above many many times!

    Now, who remembers all the fun with mscdex.exe? Yes, you used to need to install and manually configure a driver before you could use CDROM drive!!

    How long before they're worth selling on ebay?

  36. David Ross Smith


    SCO - Sue the Crap out of every One.

    Sorry, had to get that out of the way.

    Now, can someone explain it to me? I've only ever been "fortunate" enough to work with Windows, and a little of Mac and Linux.

  37. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Now I feel old

    CP/M, Apple DOS 3.2, 3.3 & ProDOS, OS/2, OS/2 Warp, Mac Finder v3 & v4, and the venerable MS DOS 2.1, & 3.1...

    Once MS went past DOS 3.x, shit started going down hill, fast.

    Was rummaging through my little corner of our warehouse the other day, I found a shrink wrapped copy of the original version of "Windows". If memory serves correctly, it had file manager, and about the only thing it did without hacking up errors, was display the directory contents... Half the time, when you attempted to launch an "application" (.exe, .com, .pif or .bat) things would crash and burn in a most heinous way... <sigh> what fond memories!

  38. Viet

    @steven : OS/2 on a VM

    Be careful. OS/2 makes extensive use of the ring 2 of the microprocessor. Not many VM are able to allow that. As far as I know, there's an old beta of vmware with OS/2 support. Qemu is now reported to work, but the process is not exactly straightforward. All in all, it's a lot more difficult than using windows or linux in a VM.

  39. Chris Clawson

    OS/2 on a VM

    I haven't checked in a couple years, but last time I tried running OS/2 in a VM it did not work in VMware, but it did work in VirtualPC (from Microsoft. Go figure.)

  40. daniel

    When I worked with IBM site support...

    in 1998, we had boxes of unused OS2 - v2.11 - installation diskettes... 2 plastic flatpacked bags of 19 diskettes of OS2 PM and system diskettes and 21 diskettes of drivers.

    With 80 sets of CD's per box and 2 boxes hanging around the support office, we never ran out of blank (blankable) diskettes.

    All were recycled for personal use and storing pr0n until we got our first CD writer...

  41. Michael Duke

    NT 3.1 on Floppies

    Now THAT was a painful install.

    Even more so when Disk 45 or 46 was corrupt :(

  42. Graham Lockley

    Is this piracy ?

    ' try to get a hold of the OS2 install media just for a laugh.'

    ...must resist...must not give in to the temptations of piracy...

  43. Mike Timbers

    SCO Engineer here

    Certified (1989) SCO Xenix Engineer here. It's very sad to see what has happened to SCO because the product was actually very good until they bought the rights from Novell and tried to make it all-singing all-dancing. As a multi-user platform for application deployment it worked very well and was extremely reliable. It was a damn sight easier to install than AIX on 6150s with the endless set of 5¼" diskettes.

    But why anyone would buy it today or even three years ago is a complete mystery.

    Oh, and I bought Warp when it came out too!

    (There's an awful lot of very old techies commenting on this story)

  44. Ben Lefroy
    Jobs Halo

    Enlighten me

    So, how many discs/how long was an OS/2 Warp install?

    I recall doing Windows '95 installs from backup floppy media which, if I remember correctly, was about 97 floppies. I also recall, somewhat more vividly, the feeling of despair when, on the final disc, the process used to regularly fall over.

    Still, at least it wasn't quite as frustrating as having to load software via cassettes onto my old Acorn each and every time I wanted to use it…

    (Jobs because I now exist in an OS X environment)

  45. Anonymous Coward
    Black Helicopters


    O.K. It's worse for me. I not only have a beta copy of OS/2 1.0 at home, but I've done over 3000 installs over a 6 month period as a test lab QA person. I even tested the MultiUser version of OS/2 by Citrix.

  46. William Hart

    Fond old memories

    My first 'business' computer was a TRS-80 mod 1 with 16K memory and a Radio Shack tape drive. I can not remember what operating system that clunker ran. I do remember my first software writing--a short program to calculate Chi-squares for some students--and that, if you put the tape drive on the right side of the monitor, the tape was erased by the poorly shielded monitor.

  47. Bruce Clare

    OS/2 Warp

    OS/2 Warp was usually on a CD but could be found on about 35 floppies as I remember, OS 2 2.x was about 30 floppies.

    I recently tossed the last of my 3.5" floppies including OS/2 2.11, MathCad, Novell DOS and other relics of the 1990s on the assumption they are no longer readable. Still have the CDs from that era, though. For some reason I have the OS/2 Warp Bonus pack without the main CD.

    Apart from it's own native capabilities, OS/2 Warp truly was a "better DOS than DOS" and it was a better Windows than Windows 3.1. Unfortunately it wasn't a better Windows than Win95, which came out around the same time. Microsoft always managed to keep its competitors one step behind in the compatibility and performance race back in those days. Lotus, WordPerfect and IBM all paid the price. Even now, Windows STILL doesn't have a decent, built-in shell scripting language. OS/2 had various flavors of REXX from the 1.3 days.

  48. Nathanael Bastone
    Thumb Up

    "blackadder reruns"

    Love it, brilliant, 1010/1010 - binary, for variety

  49. Anonymous Coward
    Thumb Up

    Here, here

    A good bout of Blackadder can cure most ailments

  50. Marlboro Lights

    RE: eCS @ Trygve Henriksen

    "... have a complete OS/2 1.3 with MS Lan Manager 2.2 ... "

    Mate, you need professional help ;o)

    I used to install RightFAX servers on OS/2 LAN Servers, back in the day... Configuring those sodding Brooktrout FAX card device drivers in CONFIG.SYS was my bread and butter.

    How many folks *truly* appreciate the USB / Firewire devices Plug'n'Pray we all have now.

  51. Richard Steiner
    Thumb Up

    Too funny! :-)

    Funny! :-) Of course, I'm still running FireFox 1.5.12 on Warp 4 here, which only makes it that much funnier. :-) :-)

    IBM IntelliStations rock!

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