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February 07, 2007

Something for the Computer Geeks

I'm looking at some of my usage stats, to see what browsers people are using (Mozilla: 39%; IE: 33%; Opera, Netscape, Safari: <4% each) and OS's (Windows: 85%, Mac OS: 9.5%, Linux: 5%), and in the latter category I discover that here in 2007, there has been a single visit from someone running OS/2. OS/2! Man, it's like getting a phone call from 1992 and listening to the guy on the other end of the line talk you about that awesome new grunge music scene. There were also about 100 visits from people using Lynx, which I think is actually kind of cool. Possibly one of those was from the guy running OS/2.

And, hey, if you're the OS/2 guy: Qua, dude, qua. I think you owe us all an explanation.

Posted by john at February 7, 2007 07:24 PM

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Chang, father of pangolins | February 7, 2007 07:34 PM

Os2??? Holy frigging crippity-crap! I remember some guys way back when raving about it even as the writing wasn't just on the wall - it was on the Windows!

Seriously, dude! Speak up! Lemme buy you a beer!

Alex S. | February 7, 2007 07:49 PM

Just remember that 'Mozilla' is sort-of a catch-all - some Netscape browsers, a couple of IE, and Thunderbird email/rss/news clients all give Mozilla as their client id - in addition to Mozilla, Firefox & Iceweasel.

Stephen G | February 7, 2007 08:00 PM

Man, there's an OS from the past that I loved and clung to for years and years. It's not me any more, though.

Christian | February 7, 2007 08:06 PM

John -

Have you taken Google Analytics for a spin?


A most excellent tool!

My guess is that your OS2 user is probably coming in from the 3rd world, using outdated equipment, and obviously an outdated OS and browser. He/she is undoubtedly using Warp 4 (circa 2000) or so, the last stable web enabled version.

John Scalzi | February 7, 2007 08:09 PM


"Have you taken Google Analytics for a spin?"

Yes. It's fine. My host provider's suite of analysis software is robust enough, however.

JonathanMoeller | February 7, 2007 08:10 PM

I've hit this site while using Windows and OS X and several different variants of Linux, so I'm skewing the results.

Pablo Defendini | February 7, 2007 08:17 PM

OS2?!?!?!? That's awesome. Yeah, I'm curious too. Who are you?

MWT | February 7, 2007 08:31 PM

Drat. I need to show up here from the solaris side of my workstation at work. I'm probably being lumped in as Windows at the moment.

Matt Ruff | February 7, 2007 08:40 PM

Does anyone remember what the OS for the Radio Shack TRS-80 was called? If someone managed to look you up with one of *those,* that'd be...well, a violation of the laws of physics, probably.

Alex Avriette | February 7, 2007 08:44 PM

Given "Mozilla" is very generic, I'd be curious to know what versions of Mozilla are being used. There are many different versions and platforms available. For example, I'd expect to see a substantially higher proportion of people using Mozilla or Linux, but I am curious as to whether more Windows people are using Mozilla versus IE.

Huh. Upon rereading, I am also curious whether it is possible to differentiate between "Mozilla" and "Firefox" for the purposes of statistics.

Alex Avriette | February 7, 2007 08:45 PM

edit: For example, I'd expect to see a substantially higher proportion of people using Mozilla on Linux, but I am curious as to whether more Windows people are using Mozilla versus IE.

Dan | February 7, 2007 08:49 PM

Whoa. Set the Way-Back machine, Poindexter. The oldest I've seen on my stats is someone using Windows 95.

I think you should give that person a free book or something just because. That's awesome.

Miko | February 7, 2007 09:03 PM

OS/2 guy might have been me on my mother's computer.

No, she's not using OS/2 because she's an old-fashioned mom type, but because her favourite coding-oriented text editor is OS/2 only and she gives not a hoot about any other apps, also objecting violently to any kind of 'multimedia frippery' such as sound, or more than 256 colours on screen at once.

Chris Love | February 7, 2007 09:09 PM

Looking through stats is always fun. I've never seen anything like OS/2 show up, but I did see a single user show up every month from WebTV. It was completely ridiculous.

Through some totally bizzare coincidence, I found out who the guy was via some message board. He was incredibly amused to find out that he'd become some bizzare mystery that had amazed and confused me for nearly a year; because seriously, WebTV?

Owlmirror | February 7, 2007 09:12 PM

OS/2 is quaint, but not entirely archaic.

daruku | February 7, 2007 09:13 PM

Any hits from the Wii?

Dane | February 7, 2007 09:13 PM

Guy who asked about TRS-80 OS:

Circa 1981, I had a VIC-20 (similar to the TRS-80) and it came from Radio Shack with "Basic Level 1" as its operating system. I opted for the expansion memory cards (that plugged into it's exterior game port) and had a whopping 19,000 bytes....yes bytes. I loaded my longest program, a game called Rescue at Rigel, off of a standard cassette tape in my detachable tape deck drive. If I remember correctly it took five minutes to load.

Hobbyns | February 7, 2007 09:16 PM

IE... feh!

I'm sorry, been staring at lines of web code for days now, putting together a commercial website. I wanted to do a pure CSS site with all the bells and whistles, but find myself constantly thwarted by the shortcomings of IE.

Firefox on Linux... for all. Now there's a happy thought.

Patrick Nielsen Hayden | February 7, 2007 09:21 PM

Lynx? Lynx is merely the rough draft of the truly great text-only console web browser, "links." Just for you, I'm posting this comment with it right now.

Dan Bailey | February 7, 2007 09:24 PM

Baha. I should dig out my old BeOS machine, network it, and pay you a visit, just to add another 90's-era OS to your list.

Owlmirror | February 7, 2007 09:38 PM

Speaking of BeOS, I was quite surprised to learn that the there was a BeOS-clone project in the works. Behold:


Elyse Grasso | February 7, 2007 09:42 PM

I use Konqueror on Linux, which is more or less Mozilla-based (or maybe Mozilla-descended: I'm not sure how far it has diverged over time) and tends to report as such.

Actually, it reports as:

Mozilla/5.0 (compatible; Konqueror/3.5; Linux) KHTML/3.5.5 (like Gecko) (Kubuntu).

And I can guarantee you've got a bunch of these in your stats :-)

I get a few in my stats that aren't me.

And I've gotten a few Wii entries in my stats. Wii shows up as Opera.

Matt | February 7, 2007 09:52 PM

I suspect that anyone hitting here with a Wii will just show up as Opera.

However, I am quietly hoping that someone will hit the site with an Amiga, somehow, just to see the reaction.

clvrmnky | February 7, 2007 09:57 PM

The OS/2 user found a way to sneak around the firewall on the POS terminal at the bank where she works.

She'll never own up to it. It could go donw on your permanent record.

Colin | February 7, 2007 10:01 PM

I normally read via Google Reader, almost never directly from a browser. How does often does Google show up? Hmmm, must skew your readership stats, too.

David | February 7, 2007 10:11 PM

Matt, that was TRS-DOS.

Doctor Memory | February 7, 2007 10:25 PM

Matt Ruff: Radio Shack actually sold a couple of different OSes with their computers. TRS-DOS was the main one, but the TRS-80 Model 2 could also run a very stripped-down version of Xenix, and the "TRS-80 Color Computer" actually ran a surprisingly full-featured (by modern standards) multitasking OS called OS/9 (not to be confused with MacOS 9, which was a completely different beast).

Dr. Matt | February 7, 2007 10:26 PM

Re TRS-80: It depends on which model and when, actually. TRS-DOS was the standard one (for those models that had disks, of course). LDOS (later LS-DOS) was a common alternative; I think TRS-DOS 6 was actually based on LDOS, sort of like Mac OS X has more to do with NeXTstep than previous versions. And then there was CP/M, of course.

(My family's first computer when I was a kid was a Model 4. I have fond memories of it.)

Owlmirror | February 7, 2007 10:30 PM

I doubt that too many users use Google Reader, since this is the first I've heard of it, and I see that it's a beta service anyway.

It looks like an RSS (and other type of feed) reader - is that what it is?

I suppose there are quite a few RSS reader hits of various types on the Whatever; I know I usually read that way. But then, my RSS reader is inside the browser.

Nick Fagerlund | February 7, 2007 10:44 PM

Elyse, Konqueror doesn't actually use Gecko, though the way it reports itself is a bit confusing. It is, however, very closely related to Safari, since Apple's WebCore is basically a fork of Konqueror's KHTML renderer.

Jenny | February 7, 2007 10:44 PM

Owlmirror--I use Google Reader to read most of my feeds. When I first came across it, I decided to give it a shot--hadn't previously had a feed reader. Seems fine for me :) of course usually I click through for Whatever to read the comments

Simon Haynes | February 7, 2007 10:47 PM

Can't you modify the reported OS/Browser string using a firefox extension? I clearly remember setting my OS to 'ZX Spectrum' a couple of years back.

Stephen G | February 7, 2007 10:50 PM

(My family's first computer when I was a kid was a Model 4. I have fond memories of it.)

Mine as well. Until I eventually moved to a second-gen Tandy 1000 and could play King's Quest II in 16-color glory.

Nathan Zumwalt | February 7, 2007 10:58 PM

I'd be highly suspicious of the random visit from a person sporting an ancient browser/OS. It's just a little too easy to change the useragent:


As far as you know, I just visited your site using the Zumwalt5000 browser running under the very svelte TRS-80/Dr-DOS combination.

Andrew | February 7, 2007 11:06 PM

Konquorer is based off of the KHTML engine, which is not Mozilla derived or associated in any way that I know of. KHTML is also the base of Safari, Apple's web browser. It's substantially smaller and cleaner than Gecko, the Mozilla/Firefox rendering engine is.

I have a CP/M system but I'm sure it doesn't have any web browsers released for it. I may be able to get a browser for Mac OS 6, though.

Matt | February 7, 2007 11:17 PM

Anyone still interested in a TRS-80 with a cassette tape drive and/or 8" floppies?

How about some UNIVAC punch cards?


another steve | February 7, 2007 11:57 PM

I googled trs80 and found two sites that still are sure trsdos will survive. This I would not mind. I really liked playing Robocop on my coco3. It is a shame the coco4 never evoled because the Tandy 1000 could come to the Christmas season easier. The coco4 imitation fat mac finished last in that race.

-et- | February 8, 2007 12:23 AM

I'm not the OS/2 user that you spotted, although I might have been if my primary application were available on OS/2. I reluctantly gave it up, only because IBM made it clear they were not going to support it in the consumer marketplace, which killed almost all third-party software development for use under OS/2.

For my purposes, the application(s) drive the choice of operating system, and my one "gotta have" application is available only with Windows as the OS. This is a shame, as I still like most aspects of OS/2 better than anything I have seen from Microsoft. No flames please - YMMV.

FWIW, I happen to use Opera as my browser, but probably show up as an IE user in your stats. Far too many web sites check for the browser being used, and then bounce you if you are not using the "correct" browser. Accordingly, I normally have Opera falsely identify itself as IE to compensate for brain-dead webmasters.

With best wishes,
- Tom -

Brian Greenberg | February 8, 2007 12:39 AM

Another vote here for Google analytics - I'm a big fan (my full review is here). Anyway, just to compare:

For the month of January, browsers:
IE: 74% (v6.0 = 67%, v7.0 = 33%, + a few 5.x stragglers)
Firefox: 20%
Safari: 4.6%
Opera: 0.6%
Netscape: 0.5%
Konqueror: 0.1% (from Helsinki, Finland)
SAMSUNG-SGH-I607: 0.1% (from somewhere in the US)
Mozilla Compatible Agent: 0.1% (version 5.0)
Mozilla: 0.1% (version

Operating Systems:
Windows: 91%
Mac: 7.75%
Linux: 0.6%
FreeBSD: 0.2% (from Edmonton, Alberta, CA)
(unknown): 0.2%

Different crowds, different market share data, I guess...

Omaha Lisa | February 8, 2007 12:44 AM

Ah... the Vic20... and the Commodore 64.

I remember them well. Yes, I think I still have a Vic20 and a couple of C64s down in the basement packed away in boxes for who knows what reason.

Hey, it's how I refined my basic programming. It's also how I learned that I'm really a user, not a programmer. My programming was like taking a sledgehammer to kill an ant. My brother would come in, look at my code, laugh, and then slash the program down by half. We had some interesting programmer vs user arguments.

Metal Fatigue | February 8, 2007 01:02 AM

Oh yeah, the C64. Now there was a machine made for assembly-language programming. 'Cos you sure couldn't do crap with it otherwise.

cephyn | February 8, 2007 01:49 AM

I often read via google reader as well. I read almost everything I can via google reader. Bookmarks are so yesteryear. Might as well be running OS/2...

Timothy McClanahan | February 8, 2007 02:00 AM

Don't be hatin' on the OS/2. While I use Win XP now (switching to Ubuntu Linux soon), OS/2 is still a more reliable OS than anything MS has put out. Having been forced to format a, *gasp* floppy disk a few weeks ago, I can also attest to the fact that even the Amiga was a better multitasker than Win XP is now, which is pretty pathetic considering how long ago I used an Amiga. *sigh*

Patrick in the Philippines | February 8, 2007 02:36 AM

Never ever got to use OS/2 or BeOS or NextStep for i386 and until I switched to Win95 I didn't use an MS OS.

I would use one of the non-MS DOS alternatives to run DOS and/or Win3.1 programs. In particular I used NDOS from the guy who did Norton Utlilites.

Nikitta | February 8, 2007 03:56 AM

Boingboing did a similar survey, only a bit more detailed. They found that a lot of people use IE duing weekdays, but during the weekend, the number drops while the number of people using Firefox rises. They figued that people read the site with IE at work (often because they have to use that browser at work. No choice) and Firefox at home when they have a choice.

That's definitely me, that.

Timothy McClanahan | February 8, 2007 03:59 AM

Hey - I decided to try out ye olde Navigator 3.04. Interesting. Sure is fast!

I had to turn off javascript, though, as lots of sites don't know how to code well enough to do object detection. *sigh*

Apparently Netscape has turned off all the stuff for the directory buttons "What's New", "What's Cool", etc. Shame, that.

John F. Opie | February 8, 2007 05:00 AM

Hi -

A colleague of mine has up on his door at work a timeline of when OS/2 was to have been phased out at a number of our customers. The phase out was to have been completed in 2000.

We still are supporting it today.

In Germany, where I am, OS/2 is **still** being used by some banks, basically as a thick client to access the mainframe databases and process transactions securely.

There is a slow transition, though, and the ATMs at my local bank are now running customized Win2000 applications (how do I know? They crash occasionally and that's when you get to see the error messages).

Never, ever underestimate the power of the bottom line: at some banks, nothing gets replaced until the depreciation process is completed, and even then only with great resentment...

John O'Neill | February 8, 2007 06:27 AM

TRS-80? C64? Pah! I log on using a TI 99/4A hooked up to my color television, and with dozens of cassette tapes of data at my beck and call. And I even have some of the cartridge games and programs for it, too. However, I believe it shows up as "Mozilla". And in actuality, it's all in a box in my basement, though it does still work, all of it. Except for the cassettes, I used those years ago to tape music.

Anyone ever have a casette of data, and play it as "music", to hear if you could make out some sort of perceptible signal or pattern? Ah, wasted youth.

dave | February 8, 2007 06:55 AM

Interesting: my palm TX reports as:

"Mozilla/4.0 (compatible; MSIE 6.0; Windows 98; PalmSource/Palm-D050; Blazer/4.3) 16;320x320"

even if the screen is 320x480.

It can't completely handle many websites, though, as it appears to be based on quite an old browser.

I am *so* looking forward to newer mobile versions of Firefox emulating the iPhone's shrinking pages to fit on first view.

Dan Bailey | February 8, 2007 07:06 AM

In the spirit of ancient browsers, I have now modified my browser to report back as Apple Lynx 2.35 running on an Apple //e, AppleDOS 3.3.

Because I have nothing better to do at four in the morning after waking up and being unable to return to sleep.

Q | February 8, 2007 07:22 AM

Ah, the C64...

One of my fondest memories of my Mom growing up... the Christmas I received my Commodore64... My uncle gave me some floppy disks for Christmas (yeah we had the high end C64 with the giant toaster floppy drive instead of the tape drive) and of course they turned out to be incompatible with my C64 (I think they were IBM or something). So we try to take them back to Radio Shack, where the sales person refused since the packaging was open... and was fairly rude about it. As we turn and are walking out of the store my Mom asks me "Are these any good to you at all?" I reply that unfortunately, no, not really. At which point she walks back to the counter and says to the sales guy, "Well, you keep em then!" and throws them into his chest across the counter and turns on her heal and marches out...

Man I love my Mom.

Jamie | February 8, 2007 08:00 AM

While I still have my OS/2 Warp blue spine box on a shelf at home, it's not currently installed anywhere, and I don't have any hardware that it would support, but I'm upgrading my desktop at home to a multi-core processor system Real Soon Now, and virtual machines are wonderful things.

I loved OS/2. IBM had an eight month lead and a superior product over Windows 95, and they still couldn't figure out how to sell it to anyone who wasn't a bank.

Jim Wright - who is NOT spam | February 8, 2007 08:56 AM

Weird, just got dropped into the moderation queue, never had that happen before. Must have been the reference to Windows-286, that could certainly have been confused for a male enhancement device. Yep.

Steve Buchheit | February 8, 2007 09:21 AM

Matt, (Punchcards) one of my Xmas presents this year was my wife had some of my old punch cards made into art and framed. I was touched. I still have some lying in a box.

And for old time sake I may just have to fire up the Atari800 and connect in at the amazing speed of 300 baud (I used to be able to read at that speed).

Ray | February 8, 2007 10:31 AM

Now you also have a Sun Surefire V100 running FreeBSD 6.2-RELEASE via links that you can add to the list. :))

Drew Johnson | February 8, 2007 11:03 AM

I use Lynx quite a lot. Very useful for a quick how's-your-father of something I'm looking for. No waiting for CSS, no big images, just signal.

Patrick Shepherd | February 8, 2007 11:13 AM

I finally let go of my C64 (and my Digital Group Z80, a true dinosaur) when I moved to my new house last October. But it wasn't a bad little machine, and you didn't have to program in assembly language (though I did for most things). I actually had a fairly reasonable C compiler for it that produced some halfway efficient code, though nothing like the monsters I use today (which are certainly notefficient). For its day it was one of the best game environments around.

Jim Harris | February 8, 2007 11:39 AM

Some of the Lynx users may be blind. I've worked with special education teachers and they told me Lynx was easier for screen readers to handle. But that was years ago and I'd think there would be better technology for the sight impaired. However, Lynx is a good tool for getting an idea of how a blind person must navigate a web page or even the usability index of a web site.

-et- | February 8, 2007 12:20 PM

"In Germany, where I am, OS/2 is **still** being used by some banks, basically as a thick client to access the mainframe databases and process transactions securely.

There is a slow transition, though, and the ATMs at my local bank are now running customized Win2000 applications (how do I know? They crash occasionally and that's when you get to see the error messages)."

You have just identified the primary reason why OS/2 is still alive. The folks in Redmond *still* don't program at the same anal-retentive level of security and stability as the IBM geeks. For the IT people at banks, and other industries where real money is involved, that is a powerful reason to stay with an "obsolete" OS in spite of advertising campaigns by Microsoft.

FWIW, there is still a hard-core group of OS/2 enthusiasts at the consumer level. For example, take a look at the web site at:


Personally, I think that one of the more entertaining pages on their web site is the article by the guy who has his computer set up to let him choose to boot into OS/2, Linux, or Windows XP, depending upon his desires at startup.

With best wishes,
- Tom -

John E. | February 8, 2007 01:28 PM

I use plain old IE 6.0 at work and on my work-issued laptop at home, both of which run Windows XP. (As with most companies, mine won't upgrade to Vista for at least a year and probably longer.) I surf via Firefox on my home desktop PC, which runs Windows 98. I rarely use that PC, as you can imagine; we really need a new one.

Down memory lane, my first computer was a Timex Sinclair 1000, which came loaded with a whopping 2K of RAM. I bought the 16K expansion pack and wrote a text-based adventure game in Basic. Good times.

Metal Fatigue | February 8, 2007 01:52 PM

Man, my Atari 130XE disappeared during a move at some point. I'm still upset about that. It was a much better computer in almost every way than the C64; the exception was sprites, which Commodore's video chip did way better than Atari's--"player/missile graphics"! Ha! But ANTIC display lists rocked (especially display-list interrupts), and the C64's hires graphics memory layout was perfectly stupid.

I'd love to find one of those (and the requisite documentation) and hack on it again. I even had a C compiler for it (or was it Pascal? I forget), though really the only way to get anything done with those 8-bit machines was assembly language.

I would also kill to get my hands on a cherry PDP-8/e. (Retrocomputing rules!)

Patrick in the Philippines | February 8, 2007 03:03 PM

Topic drift starting:

Found a link to a piece of tech that is literally making me drool.

It is from a company called Perceptive Pixel and it is a multi-touch interactive display.


Dr. Phil | February 8, 2007 03:41 PM

I periodically skew some browser statistics because I use my HP iPAQ 4705 PDA for webbing, particularly late at night after I've put the big iron to sleep. Windows Mobile 2003 Second Edition, WinCE 4.02 or something like that, running Pocket Internet Explorer 4.02.

It's fast, it uses my WiFi network to DSL, and for sites like the Whatever, I can switch to Desktop mode and scroll around horizontally and vertically to read many complex web pages. The only drawbacks are: my university's dreadful webmail uses Java craplets which won't work on my PDA and Gmail will sometimes think I am using a Phone and go from the usable HTML display to the anemic phone display.

Used to use Lynx a LOT back in my phone modem days -- fast compact and didn't waste bandwidth on unnecessary graphics. (grin)

Still have the install CD and the mostly current patches for NeXTStep 4.0 which had a very nice browser.

Dr. Phil

MWT | February 8, 2007 05:13 PM

*pops in on a Sun running solaris 9*

The browser isn't that interesting, alas. It's just Mozilla again. ;)

Liz Case | February 9, 2007 03:43 AM

I'm now very curious what the blackberry (7280) browser shows up as. Unfortunately, I'm not nearly geeky enough to figure this out myself.

Today, I'm viewing from Firefox at work - yeah I have to use IE for some of the corporate apps, but I refuse to use it more than necessary. In the evenings (Germany time), yours is one of the few blogs that displays very nicely on a blackberry. With the exception of being able to post comments.

h | February 9, 2007 10:57 AM

Liz Case, to find your user-agent string, go here: http://www.webprodevelopment.com/Web_Toys/What_Is_My_User_Agent/

Liz Case | February 9, 2007 11:30 AM

h: Thanks!! Neat.

I'm coming from BlackBerry7280/4.0.0 Profile/MIDP-2.0 Configuration/CLDC-1.1
Whatever that means :)

Scott Elyard | February 9, 2007 03:48 PM

Ah, BeOS. Hands down the best OS almost ever. Small, fast, responsive, and as a result utterly unlike any modern OS from Microsoft or Apple.

I still have an install on my morphing machine (PPC Mac Clone).

Alex S. | February 9, 2007 11:02 PM

Quoth Simon: Can't you modify the reported OS/Browser string using a firefox extension?
Yep. Also, Opera allows you to do it without an extension.

Some people have reported viewing 'broken' pages that magically work properly if they ident as an IE browser.

MWT | February 10, 2007 02:51 AM

*pops in again on PalmOS*

This is from my Alphasmart Dana wireless. :) Running DanaWeb as the browser.

Mike | April 22, 2007 11:16 PM

I ran into this a bit late but I bet my browser reports:

Mozilla/5.0 (OS/2; U; Warp 4.5; en-US; rv: Gecko/20070307 SeaMonkey/1.1.1+

But is the OS/2 follow on:


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