I just managed to resurrect an old 80286/10MHz PC with 2 MB of RAM that had died from an expired PSU capacitor. I am looking for an operating system that could run on that hardware. Preferably something with networking capabilities, since I have an old ISA NE2000 card installed. No graphical interface needed, but multiple user support would be nice.
I am aware of quite a few historical OS that I could try, such as:
- MS-DOS + Windows 3.11 - the popular choice of the time that still has me running screaming after all these years.
- Coherent - I actually had the chance to use this once back then, before Mark Williams Co. went belly up.
- Minix 2.x - I had this on a virtual machine for some time.
- ...and a significant number of other commercial Unix variants for the 80286.
While these OS are interesting from a historical standpoint, I am more interested in something that would be more "useful" (or as useful as anything on a 80286 can be) these days. More specifically I am interested in finding an OS that has seen some development in, say, the last decade.
That requirement has significantly limited the potential choices:
- FreeDOS - a very nice effort that is still quite active, one that I actually use routinely.
- ELKS - this one seems abandoned and will probably have quite a few rough edges.
- Minix 2.x - an OS that I am somewhat familiar with and has a relatively full set of features, but the 80286 support was dropped during the move to Minix 3.
Are there any other operating systems that I could look into? Perhaps some NetBSD derivative stashed somewhere?
PS: Before people start screaming, I am not going to turn an 80286 into a 24/7 server. I am interested in the possibilities on what I can do with it, not in making the power company happy...