Information for Developers

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There are quite a few compilers available for OS/2. A few are listed here.


OpenWatcom is the recommended compiler for all device drivers and new applications. OpenWatcom can be downloaded here. OS/2 is one of OpenWatcom’s supported platforms and it builds native “OS/2 like” applications. The OpenWatcom package contains everything needed to build applications, including the compiler, assembler, linker, librarian, headers, runtime, debugger, etc.

IBM VisualAge C/C++

The IBM VisualAge compiler is another tool chain that is available for OS/2. Like OpenWatcom it is made for OS/2 and builds native “OS/2 like” applications. Two versions are available v3.08 and v3.65. Both are quite old and not as capable as OpenWatcom. The IBM VisualAge compiler also comes with everything needed to build applications.


Recommended for porting applications already written for gcc. Not recommended for new projects unless the new project is going to use other gcc compatible toolkits. Gcc is ported from the unix/linux world and comes with many quirks that are not very “OS/2 like” and can actually cause problems on OS/2 systems in rare cases. Not recommended for device drivers. Not recommended for programs that manipulate system files on the boot volume.

Building Device Drivers

To build device drivers for OS/2 you will need the OpenWatcom compiler and the IBM DDK. You will also probably want to use one of David’s device driver kits. (See his Software Downloads page.) These kits make building device drivers as easy as writing a “hello world” application.


For device drivers, the IBM Device Driver Kit for OS/2 (DDK) is no longer available from IBM, and Arca Noae does not have distributable copies of the DDK. The DDK (including a license for perpetual use) was originally distributed as part of the Developer Connection for OS/2 CD subscription.

For applications, the IBM OS/2 Developer’s Toolkit (OS2TK45) is not shipped with ArcaOS, and is not available from Arca Noae. It is, however, available as a series of RPM packages (os2tk45*) in the Netlabs repository, installable via Arca Noae Package Manager (ANPM).

Sources for Other Information

This entry last updated: by David Azarewicz