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German railway seeking Windows 3.11 admin!
Pengling Feb 23
Via This Week In Retro 157, I just heard about this somewhat astonishing story: A German rail company is seeking an administrator for Windows 3.11, because their mission-critical systems still run on it!

I get that systems like this very often end up stuck far in the past, but surely there's a case to be made for modernising when you're reliant on a decades-old proprietary OS for public services? I mean, even if it's not connected to any networks (goodness I hope it's not!), there's going to be equivalents to the Millennium Bug coming up sooner or later, right?

And not only that, but most people who have Windows 3.11 administration experience will have retired already!

Last edited by Pengling on 23 February 2024 at 6:59 am UTC
Quoting: Penglingbut surely there's a case to be made for modernising when you're reliant on a decades-old proprietary OS for public services
They will be updating the system in 2030....... So only 6 years away...... And in a closed environment I dont see it being that much of an issue...... Since we only JUST learnt about this because of a job advertisement means they arnt having many issues...... Or would have been all over the tech news years ago......

Quoting: PenglingI mean, even if it's not connected to any networks (goodness I hope it's not!), there's going to be equivalents to the Millennium Bug coming up sooner or later, right?
Being German I reckon they would have spent a lot of time looking at other such issues when working on the Y2K bug back in the day....... Such as the 01.01.2022 bug...... And I believe there are other dates that will still cause issues for these types of systems in the future......

But thats why we have admins and tech teams....... It keeps people in a job....... Yay economy!.....

Quoting: PenglingAnd not only that, but most people who have Windows 3.11 administration experience will have retired already!
While its true most would be retired by now...... Its still being used so there are probably more young-ish 3.11 Admins than you would think....... The German Rail Company would not be the ONLY ones using Windows 3.11..... A lot of closed ecosystems would be using very old hardware and software.......

And do we really want perfectly good working hardware thrown out and creating even more e-waste in this day and age???.......
Pengling Mar 4
Quoting: StoneColdSpiderThey will be updating the system in 2030....... So only 6 years away...... And in a closed environment I dont see it being that much of an issue...... Since we only JUST learnt about this because of a job advertisement means they arnt having many issues...... Or would have been all over the tech news years ago......
We hope it's a closed environment, at least. That issue with a water-plant running Windows being remotely attacked a few years back didn't make the news as much as it should've, either, I feel.

Quoting: StoneColdSpiderBeing German I reckon they would have spent a lot of time looking at other such issues when working on the Y2K bug back in the day....... Such as the 01.01.2022 bug...... And I believe there are other dates that will still cause issues for these types of systems in the future......
I certainly hope so!

Quoting: StoneColdSpiderBut thats why we have admins and tech teams....... It keeps people in a job....... Yay economy!.....
Very true.

Quoting: StoneColdSpiderWhile its true most would be retired by now...... Its still being used so there are probably more young-ish 3.11 Admins than you would think....... The German Rail Company would not be the ONLY ones using Windows 3.11..... A lot of closed ecosystems would be using very old hardware and software.......
Yeah, part of the downfall of an amusement centre I used to visit on vacations came down to this, and it ended up closing down after a lack of maintenance on the attractions drove people away. I saw some pictures of it in a news-article a while back, and it was downright sad to see!

Quoting: StoneColdSpiderAnd do we really want perfectly good working hardware thrown out and creating even more e-waste in this day and age???.......
Definitely not, but there's only so far that it can be fixed up and kept in line with current energy requirements - though admittedly it's the software side that concerns me more, especially if it actually is network-connected.

Last edited by Pengling on 4 March 2024 at 6:59 am UTC
This shit is why COBOL is in demand again. All the people who know it are kicking off or retiring.

Hell, the US government has only recently taken their bloated nuclear arsenal off of 8" floppies. So this Windows 3.1x thing isn't that shocking. Plus isn't the stereotype that Germans are cheap anyways? Why spend the money if it's still working? lol

If your co-workers are like these Germans, then it'd be worth it. (Also, the song in that scene is awesome.)
denyasis 8 years Mar 6
My last employer, to this very day, still runs on a DOS based records system using a variant of SQL from the 1990's.

Part the problem of replacing it is not just that it works, but after 30 years of tweaks and customizations, there's really no commercial drop in replacement. Every time they looked to replace it, the replacements ended up costing a ton of money and had a loss of features.
Quoting: denyasisMy last employer, to this very day, still runs on a DOS based records system using a variant of SQL from the 1990's.

Part the problem of replacing it is not just that it works, but after 30 years of tweaks and customizations, there's really no commercial drop in replacement. Every time they looked to replace it, the replacements ended up costing a ton of money and had a loss of features.
You know, that reminded me that at one of my old jobs back in 2015 they had an automatic parts washing machine that ran embedded DOS. The only computer that could interface with it was an old ass ruggedbook laptop. One time one of the engineers there in their infinite wisdom misplaced it, and of course the machine started having issues. 🙄

It was funny, it had old UAW logos on it from a former Delphi facility, and I joked with people that I was really surprised that they didn't cover them up as to not give anyone any ideas. Since they loved making you slave away there as a contractor.
Yeesh, I'll never forget that Windows 3.1 was my second OS on our second computer. I still have nightmares.

All of either seven or eight, I could not for the life of me figure out why it booted in monochrome half the time, but otherwise perfectly fine. Of course, I know now that the NOT OK symbol means that something in memory was corrupted. Doesn't make it worth the mental gymnastics my mind went through trying to "fix" it as a kid.

Slightly off-topic ramblings, below.
Spoiler, click me


The first running some version of PC DOS (MS-DOS in all but name until 1993) that I can't remember. I remember it had a frontend with a graphical menu of five items, the ones I can remember being:

1. (that blasted game I can't remember --- see below)
2. WordPerfect 5.1 (1989, That gray on blue makes me nostalgic, sometimes.)
3. Card Sharks (CGA, 1988)
4. Classic Concentration 2 (CGA Warm/Cold hybrid palette, 1989)
5. Jeopardy (CGA Warm/Cold hybrid, 1987)

Whoever OEM was really loved game shows.

There was also this early platformer that I cannot, for the life of me, remember the name of. All I remember is it had a really simple 2-color palette, purple and green (and I mean green, not cyan). That and spike pits, lots of spike pits.

I was around four when we got that computer second-hand. I wish I could remember that one game. It's irked me for the last ~28 years (when I really got into computers) that I can't.

Pengling Mar 7
Quoting: redneckdrowThere was also this early platformer that I cannot, for the life of me, remember the name of. All I remember is it had a really simple 2-color palette, purple and green (and I mean green, not cyan). That and spike pits, lots of spike pits.
That description does more-or-less match a game I know of: Arctic Adventure by Apogee Software. But its palette is purple and cyan, rather than green. The very first room is one massive spike-pit, though, and there seem to be plenty of spikes thereafter, too.

Last edited by Pengling on 7 March 2024 at 12:22 pm UTC
denyasis 8 years Mar 7
Quoting: Linux_Rocks
Quoting: denyasisMy last employer, to this very day, still runs on a DOS based records system using a variant of SQL from the 1990's.

Part the problem of replacing it is not just that it works, but after 30 years of tweaks and customizations, there's really no commercial drop in replacement. Every time they looked to replace it, the replacements ended up costing a ton of money and had a loss of features.
You know, that reminded me that at one of my old jobs back in 2015 they had an automatic parts washing machine that ran embedded DOS. The only computer that could interface with it was an old ass ruggedbook laptop. One time one of the engineers there in their infinite wisdom misplaced it, and of course the machine started having issues. 🙄

It was funny, it had old UAW logos on it from a former Delphi facility, and I joked with people that I was really surprised that they didn't cover them up as to not give anyone any ideas. Since they loved making you slave away there as a contractor.

If it comes up when dealing with older systems, I do mention I'm semi-fluent in SQL '92 along with modern variants (and pray these use something modern).

We used to have a Delphi plant in my town... It may have indeed given some ideas as the labourers and clerks in my current job just voted to unionize, lol.
Quoting: Pengling
Quoting: redneckdrowThere was also this early platformer that I cannot, for the life of me, remember the name of. All I remember is it had a really simple 2-color palette, purple and green (and I mean green, not cyan). That and spike pits, lots of spike pits.
That description does more-or-less match a game I know of: Arctic Adventure by Apogee Software. But its palette is purple and cyan, rather than green. The very first room is one massive spike-pit, though, and there seem to be plenty of spikes thereafter, too.

Praise be to the Lord, that's it! Perhaps our monitor replaced part of the CGA palette.


You've scratched the nostalgia itch enough that I can stop thinking about it, now. Bless your little bomb-plantin' .
Pengling Mar 8
Quoting: redneckdrowPraise be to the Lord, that's it! Perhaps our monitor replaced part of the CGA palette.
Haha, awesome!

Quoting: redneckdrowYou've scratched the nostalgia itch enough that I can stop thinking about it, now.
If you want to play it again, go and grab DOSBox-Staging, because it was released as freeware in 2009.

Quoting: redneckdrowBless your little bomb-plantin' .
D'aww, thankyou!
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