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Developer volunteer community
OS family OS/2, L4
Working state alpha
Source model Open source
Latest release / August 26, 2011
Kernel type Microkernel
License Various open source licenses
Official website

The osFree Project is an open source operating system based on the L4 microkernel, and is intended to be binary compatible with application software made for OS/2 version 4. After several false starts in the first decade of the millennium, the project finally gained some traction in 2008.



Users and fans of the OS/2 operating system had discussed the possibility of creating an open source workalike of OS/2 ever since IBM announced that it would not be supplying another client version of the OS in 1996. The name OS/3 was considered, but IBM held a trademark on that name[1]. The trademark lapsed in 1996, but the project moved forward with the soundalike "osFree".

OS/2 OEM code release[edit]

The project's goal is to replace all of OS/2's closed source subsystems with open source equivalents. The OS/2 API lists the functions that the operating system can perform for software developed for the platform, so programmers can reproduce the functionality of each API call in the same way that the Wine team uses the Windows API to reproduce the functionality of Windows API calls.

Creating a stable kernel is difficult, so using an existing kernel as the basis for the operating system would eliminate a major element of the project's development. Two open source operating system projects, Voyager[2] and ReactOS, were considered as the potential basis of osFree, but Voyager was ultimately vaporware. A poll was held in 2005, and ReactOS was the most popular option.

first versions booted in 2005 [3] using the L4 kernel but at that time it was still a module replacement

Adaption of L4 kernel[edit]

that the choice of kernel was a mistake, and

The OS/2 for PowerPC was based on a variant of the Mach microkernel that IBM and Digital Equipment had developed together[4] work had started on moving to the L4 kernel in early 2007[5]

specifically the L4 Linux variant

takeover in early 2009 of the freePM project [6]

will probably always be a bit

Current status[edit]

As of August 2009 in addition work had been completed on making portions of the Open Watcom compiler SOM compatible use the Netlabs Object Model


  1. ^ USPTO Trademark 74157588
  2. ^ "Voyager main page". 
  3. ^ OSNews: osFree Publishes First Screenshot 2005-11-24
  4. ^ Quinnell, Richard A. "Microkernel and Modular OSs". EDN Magazine. Retrieved April 9, 2013. Digital Equipment Corp and IBM are also in the running. The two have teamed to develop and promote an open microkernel based on the Mach technology. 
  5. ^ L4 mailing list: 16-bit code and L4 2007-06-20
  6. ^ Sourceforge: freePM takeover announcement 2009-04-08 (Note: Originally referenced to freePM forums but that forum has been deleted)

External links[edit]

Category:OS/2 Category:X86 operating systems Category:Free software programmed in C Category:Free software programmed in C++ Category:Free software operating systems