Developer declares shipping version of OS/2 Merlin 'bug-ridden'

A long-time developer of applications for OS/2 Warp says the Merlin version of IBM's desktop operating system, set for release next week, has a serious bug in the final code.

A long-time developer of applications for OS/2 Warp says the Merlin version of IBM's desktop operating system, set for release next week, has a serious bug in the final code which causes it to crash.

According to Californian company Sundial Systems, applications taking advantage of OS/2's multithreading ( a process which lets users carry out multiple operations simultaneously within the same application) feature may encounter problems, depending upon the way the code has been written.

Tests carried out by US @IDG affiliate Infoworld have revealed the problem is not so much a bug as a side effect of incorrect programming, a result of omissions from early IBM programmers' reference documentation.

Infoworld discovered that if threads are not initialised properly using a function called WinInitialize, the problem will appear. Latest copies of the documents include the information necessary for developers to write accurate code.

The problem surfaced after IBM made changes to the graphical programming interface between the beta and gamma releases of the operating system.

This situation has led to a number of applications, which have run fine in the past, encountering problems with the release version of Merlin.

Sundial says that while IBM is aware of the problem, and the two companies are working together to resolve the situation, it felt the announcement was necessary to ensure customers were forewarned.

"With less than a week to go before the launch of Warp 4, we felt a need to let our current and future customers know about the problem, since we have now verified that it can happen with several applications, including some of ours, that appear on the Application Sampler CD included in the Warp 4 package," Sundial president Randell Flint says.

Kerry Dukie, managing director of Dunedin-based Quantum Computer, disagrees with Sundial's branding of the anomaly as a "bug", but concedes that in the past programming documentation was not as tight as it could have been.

"I would go as far as to say that the early IBM programmers' documentation was a little bit erroneous, but the sample code that came with it was very concise. It's becoming apparent that as operating systems mature and develop, some of the things you used to be able to get away with will begin to cause problems of this nature.

"I think it would be very difficult for someone to be pointing the finger at IBM and mentioning the word 'bug' in the same sentence. It just looks as if this latest version of OS/2 has become less tolerant of poor programming practices," says Dukie.

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