Linked by Eugenia Loli on Wed 1st Sep 2004 19:01 UTC, submitted by Michael Saunders
Syllable, AtheOS The August edition of the Syllable Development Newsletter is now available, nutshellising the OS' progress over the last month. Highlights include a website redesign, driver updates and VMware images. Additionally, LinuxBeta.com has assembled a superb slideshow running through Syllable's new desktop and apps.
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Screenies
by Man-At-Arms on Wed 1st Sep 2004 19:06 UTC

I prefer the original BeOS theme over this garish look. The only part of those screenshots that look great are the Red Hat Bluecurve icons.

RE: Man-At-Arms
by Michael Saunders on Wed 1st Sep 2004 19:08 UTC

Well, it's themeable so you can choose something like this:

http://msa.section.me.uk/syllable/beish-testing.gif

I'm still working on the BeOS-esque style, and that screenshot is a bit old -- now the titlebars always match the text width making it almost identical to BeOS!

...
by Thom Holwerda on Wed 1st Sep 2004 19:11 UTC

Mmm the window-decors are from QNX' PhotonUI, and I've seen screenshots with the BeOS look as well. Is there any initiative in Syllable to design their own?

Other than that, this looks really great. Even though I'm a SkyOS-supporter myself, I still see that Syllable is doing a great job, comparable to SkyOS. Same goals (sort of), but different means and approaches.

I promised a Syllable "fan-boy" (haha) that I'd try their new version out (the 'old' Syllable releases wouldn't boot, it was actually the only OS that wouldn't boot on my x86). Looking forward to it!

RE: Thom
by Michael Saunders on Wed 1st Sep 2004 19:24 UTC

"Is there any initiative in Syllable to design their own?"

There are about 8 decorators, some of which are unique (or at least not based on anything common), but I haven't got any screenshots to hand. Besides, making decorators isn't difficult; other things are taking priority at the moment.

I'm working on a couple of new decorators, and if they're finished by the end of this month, you might see a screenshot in my next newsletter :-)

Can someone explain more about Syllable?
by none on Wed 1st Sep 2004 19:50 UTC

From the screenshots it pretty much looks just like an average Linux desktop, and I don't mean that in a negative way. I guess the thing is, it looks pretty much like what's already out there so graphically its not doing anything that gets me excited about using it. Is the goal speed or multimedia etc? Is there really something these people hope to shine at that nobody else can do?

I currently run both Linux and WIndows XP at home but for a while there I did run BeOS. The lack of hardware support, games, and 3rd party apps did BeOS in IMHO. Won't this just be the same problem with Syllable? Kind of a "hey I'm using an alternative OS...now what can actually do better here than in XP or Fedora?". btw again I'm not poking fun here. I think alternative OS's even small hobby ones are really neat. I just don't set why I'd people would be interested in using this as a primary OS and not just something to play around on. Thanks.

Does it also run in other VMs?
by dpi on Wed 1st Sep 2004 19:58 UTC

E.g. Bochs?

Re: Can someone explain more about Syllable?
by Charlie on Wed 1st Sep 2004 20:10 UTC

"The lack of hardware support, games, and 3rd party apps did BeOS in IMHO. Won't this just be the same problem with Syllable?"

But Syllable is not BeOS. It's Free Software, and anybody can contribute to it. At one time, everybody said what you just said about Linux - but not anymore. It's a matter of gathering momentum, and it looks like Syllable is gathering pace as a community.

Put another way, if Syllable can become as popular as BeOS once was, it'll absolutely blossom and such support will be provided by the community. Out of all the "hobby" Free Software OSes, I think Syllable is the one to watch. It's looking like it has a bright future if current progress is maintained.

RE: Can someone explain more about Syllable?
by Vanders on Wed 1st Sep 2004 20:10 UTC

I guess the thing is, it looks pretty much like what's already out there so graphically its not doing anything that gets me excited about using it.

The look isn't the important bit at the moment, so I can understand why just looking at the screenshots arn't all that exciting. You need to use Syllable and understand the architecture to really get excited about it.

Is the goal speed or multimedia etc? Is there really something these people hope to shine at that nobody else can do?

The goal is to be the best possible Open Source operating system that normal everyday users can and would use on their desktop. In other words; not Linux. That's really the goal right now; to create an OS that is actually suitable for use on your desktop computer or laptop. Myself and the other Syllable developers and supporters pretty much feel that Linux as a desktop OS is a dead end, so we're designing and building Syllable as a suitable replacement instead.

I just don't set why I'd people would be interested in using this as a primary OS and not just something to play around on.

Right now Syllable is at release 0.5.3, which isn't even Alpha status, so I wouldn't seriously expect anybody to be using Syllable as their primary OS now or even next year. Features are missing, code is not complete, API's are liable to change, things are likely to break. The people who should be interested in Syllable will be other developers and interested geek types who appreciate what we're trying to achieve and whom will maybe lend a hand. At this particular stage in development, we are our own users.

RE: Does it also run in other VMs?
by Vanders on Wed 1st Sep 2004 20:14 UTC

Syllable will run on Bochs very, very slowly. From the Qemu mailing lists I can see that some users have successfully installed and booted Syllable on the latest releases of Qemu. Syllable is known to work well on Virtual PC (Tested on Virtual PC 5.2 on Windows 2000) and if you want to run Syllable on VMWare a pre-built disk image is available and Syllable supports accelerated rendering for VMWare. The rest of the VMWare hardware is supported by the standard Syllable drivers.

RE: Can someone explain more about Syllable?
by Goblin of Oyeyama on Wed 1st Sep 2004 20:23 UTC

"Features are missing, code is not complete, API's are liable to change, things are likely to break."

Heh, sounds like a lot of modern day OSes. Doesit work well enough to surf the web and do basic tasks? It looks like a nice mixture of KDE and BeOS from the screenshots.

RE: Can someone explain more about Syllable?
by Goblin of Oyeyama on Wed 1st Sep 2004 20:26 UTC

"Myself and the other Syllable developers and supporters pretty much feel that Linux as a desktop OS is a dead end."

This is interesting, seems to be a common line of thinking among the BeOS crowd. Is it because of X Windows or of the kernel, itself?

RE: Can someone explain more about Syllable?
by Michael Saunders on Wed 1st Sep 2004 20:53 UTC

See here for more information:

http://www.osnews.com/story.php?news_id=7900

I'm being picky...
by Luke McCarthy on Wed 1st Sep 2004 22:32 UTC

The buttons and menus look a bit small and fiddly. Just a thought. I like big menu fonts, menus that are simple white sheets, like Mac OS X and RISC OS. Sky OS also has this problem. Windows is "average" in this sense.

Now, I know you can probably configure this. But good default settings are critical. "Let's talk about the users", as you say.

Linux as a desktop OS is a dead end
by Luke McCarthy on Wed 1st Sep 2004 22:36 UTC

This is interesting, seems to be a common line of thinking among the BeOS crowd. Is it because of X Windows or of the kernel, itself?

The idea that you can put an interface layer above the gas refinery, and the foul-smelling problems beneath it will never percolate to the surface is just that -- an idea -- a seductive one without foundation in observed behavior.
--Jean-Louis Gassee

That pretty much sums it up.

Syllable looks great, but...
by opa on Wed 1st Sep 2004 22:47 UTC

I'm eager to have a closer look at Syllable; it seems to me to have the ease-of-use of earlier Mac OS versions, but on x86.

However, and this is a big however, there needs to be applications. Since they're not using X, or a popular toolkit for easy ports, I'm not sure there will be many. Syllable looks like the perfect OS for my mother's old PC, but without a word processor, a spreadsheet app, and web browser that isn't a 5-year old port, it sadly can't happen.

Also, if it is the easy to use free OS, why not make the directory structure more sane? Sort of like OS X, have /Applications, /Users/*user*/ (with Documents, Audio, Images directories within) and a /Media and hide everything else from the user in the file manager.
Also some sort of metadata searching, using something along the lines of libextractor would be cool.

RE: Can someone explain more about Syllable?
by Vanders on Wed 1st Sep 2004 22:47 UTC

This is interesting, seems to be a common line of thinking among the BeOS crowd.

Very few of the core Syllable developers, myself included, are not ex-BeOS users. I once booted a LiveCD demo of BeOS 4.5, but that's about it. Not that I don't admire its design and elegance.

Is it because of X Windows or of the kernel, itself?

The whole package. The problem is that there is no such thing as a "standard Linux distribution". There are all these different little bits, all largely developed in isolation, and brought together in a loose-knit sort of mishmash by the distribution maintainers. To borrow a phrase, it's like making bookshelves from mashed potatoes.

Some Linux advocates call this a strength, but then they're delusional.

RE: Can someone explain more about Syllable?
by Vanders on Wed 1st Sep 2004 22:51 UTC

Doesit work well enough to surf the web and do basic tasks?

Yes, Syllable has basic applications available including the ABrowse web browser, Whisper email client and Chat Jabber client. The multi-media framework can play back audio and video in a lot of common formats. We have a decent development toolchain, and Rick has been working on the Sourcery IDE for quite some time. All basic stuff that you'd expect any OS to be able to do.

RE: Syllable looks great, but...
by Vanders on Wed 1st Sep 2004 22:57 UTC

Syllable looks like the perfect OS for my mother's old PC, but without a word processor, a spreadsheet app, and web browser that isn't a 5-year old port, it sadly can't happen.

We figure there is little point in spending valuable time and energy on porting and writing applications while there are still gapping holes in the OS itself, so apart from basic functionality and stuff we need to support development, applications have to take a back-seat at the moment. Once we have things more complete and stable then we will concentrate one providing all those sorts of applications you'd expect to find on your home computer. It all takes time, and Syllable is only going to be of interest to other developers and geeks at this point.

Also, if it is the easy to use free OS, why not make the directory structure more sane? Sort of like OS X, have /Applications, /Users/*user*/ (with Documents, Audio, Images directories within) and a /Media and hide everything else from the user in the file manager.

We already do, but because Syllable is a POSIX OS we also must have a minimal POSIX style filesystem hierachy as well. Syllable applications go in /Applications but stuff ported from *nix usually goes in a package directory in /usr/ It's about the only sane way to manage things.

Also some sort of metadata searching, using something along the lines of libextractor would be cool.

You're applying Linux style solutions to a non-Linux problem ;) Syllable can and will have far more elegant ways of handling meta-data than that, relying on things such as arbitary file meta-data and indexing.

RE: Can someone explain more about Syllable?
by Goblin of Oyeyama on Wed 1st Sep 2004 23:00 UTC

Thanks Vanders. I'm planning on buying a copy this weekend.

RE: Vanders
by Thom Holwerda on Wed 1st Sep 2004 23:15 UTC

Okay Vanders, I just posted all this on the eXpert Zone (SkyOS Community Site, http://expert-zone.vze.com/ ) showing to all SkyOS and Syllable can get along ;) .

I really hope to see some 'native' window decors soon, and a decent installer. Other than that, great work, and keep it up!

RE: applications
by spikeb on Thu 2nd Sep 2004 02:32 UTC

Well, most core syllable developers (all two of them ;) are working on the OS itself, but I will probably start working on applications if I ever get syllable installed on the computer I built for it. I had been working on updating the applications that do exist to use the BlueCurve icon set (and will likely go back to doing that once i have a working install, as well.)

spikeb

I tried Syllable 0.5.3...
by andrew on Thu 2nd Sep 2004 02:54 UTC

or rather, I tried the liveCD based on it...It refused to boot on one machine, but it booted sucessfully on another. GUI worked too - so far, so good. However I quickly found I had no network. It looked like my NIC (intel pro) was recognised, but DHCP didn't work, and any attempt to enter the network info by hand through the GUI widget resulted in a crash that only reboot could fix... I haven't tried using the command line yet.

Otherwise, it seemed pretty cool and responsive, even from a liveCD. I'll try the next version when it comes out - perhaps the network problems will be fixed then?

The biggest problem I see from the user's point of view is the lack of a web browser - Abrowse does not count, links2 is not really what I mean either. If I were developing an 'alternative' OS, I would make porting of Firefox (and maybe Thunderbird as well) *the* absolute highest priority...

RE:andrew
by spikeb on Thu 2nd Sep 2004 04:14 UTC

it might be a priority once the rest of the system is more stable (such as that networking widget you mentioned) ;)

Personally, I would not port firefox - I would port gecko and write a native front end to it, but that is just me.

spikeb

RE:Decors (to micheal saunders)
by spikeb on Thu 2nd Sep 2004 04:16 UTC

I really do think that the rest of the UI needs some attention after your beish decor is finished, rather than new window decorations. Now that beish and photon have been fixed, we need to work on the buttons and stuff. Just my opinion, anyway.

spikeb

wow
by johnMG on Thu 2nd Sep 2004 04:24 UTC

Wow. I'm stunned. I didn't realize Syllable had come so far. Way to go Syllable team. You folks seem to be making all the right moves.

Uh oh. Wait. One question: Does a current version of Perl currently come with Syllable? Unfortunately, I don't seem to be able to search the forum postings or news archive (?!) (and searching the sourceforge ML archives doesn't seem to be very useful...).

@spikeb
by Jonathan Thompson on Thu 2nd Sep 2004 04:28 UTC

The API for the GUI and a huge portion of the system in general is very Beish, to the methods of the kits, to the overall structure of the API. The biggest visible differece (without going into gory detail) is that there's no B prefix on the method and class names ;)

Thus, probably the fastest port would be to port the BeOS FireFox version. If I can get Syllable to run on my machine(s) I might even port my Project X to it (see URL) but I won't make a promise at this time, since it seems some of my most vital hardware doesn't have drivers available (I wish to boot from my dual channel Adaptec UW2 SCSI controlled hard drives, and is the old Matrox Millenium 1 supported??? I can't afford to upgrade right now).

yes, but...
by Evert on Thu 2nd Sep 2004 07:37 UTC

all great, but i still can't install syllable on any of my three (!) test PC's :-(

should be quite basic - vesa driver, IDE/ATA, ps/2 keyb+mouse ... should just work, at least show me something instead of dying soon after the kernel is initialized...

RE: wow
by Vanders on Thu 2nd Sep 2004 07:41 UTC

One question: Does a current version of Perl currently come with Syllable?

Syllable does not include Perl in the basic installation but we do maintain a binary package. You can find it on http://kamidake.other-space.org

I wish to boot from my dual channel Adaptec UW2 SCSI controlled hard drives, and is the old Matrox Millenium 1 supported???

You might be able to use the BIOS drivers to access your SCSI drives, but Syllable does not have any "native" SCSI drivers. Just ask on the Syllable forums and we can help you set up Syllable to do that.

The Millenium I is supported, and I even have one in the machine next to me, but some revisions have display problems (Green vertical strips) which I have not been able to identify. At the moment 2D accellerated rendering is also only available on the Millenium II and up, so scrolling and dragging windows can be slow. If I find some time I'd like to re-write the rendering code so it will work on the Millenium I but I don't know when that might be.

Kamidake
by Vanders on Thu 2nd Sep 2004 07:48 UTC

Sorry, I forgot to mention Kamidake might be unavailable for a few days while Brent moves his servers. Silly me. Try http://prdownloads.sourceforge.net/syllable/ for that Perl package (But Kamidake is the No. 1 place for Syllable software!)

@Jonathan Thompson
by tqh on Thu 2nd Sep 2004 09:06 UTC

>Thus, probably the fastest port would be to port the BeOS FireFox version.

I'm not sure it would be the best way to go though.

NSPR is better to do an Syllable implementation from scratch, although looking at the BeOS port might answer some questions. Library loading under BeOS for instance is done in a way that we hopefully never have to do with Haiku. (Creating stubs of libraries that links to the original libraries and loading the stubs. This is due to some memory issues/limits under BeOS). The NSPR havn't seen many updates since it was first ported.

The Widget/Gfx code in BeOS has some flaws and is probably not that good to base a Firefox port on. It has been around since the first try at doing a BeOS port and some choices are suboptimal today. We have much code in nsWindow that probably should be in nsWidget, also nsWindows is seperated from native windows making locking quite cumbersome.



that gui needs better fonts!
by andi on Thu 2nd Sep 2004 09:29 UTC

the GUI suffers from the problems most linux-desktops have: bad fonts, suboptimal hinting, mediocre nearly non-consistent apparance.

All in all, the inconstistent-font use and rendering are one of the big problems of linux battle for the desktop IHMO.

I rarely have seen a linux desktop showing good fonts, bitmaps or anti-aliased, both need perfect hinting, AA-Fonts need perfect rendering too, while bitmaps need EXACT placement and display (e.g. no scaling of perfect bitmaps, that's a sin :-)

re. Kamidake
by johnMG on Thu 2nd Sep 2004 13:59 UTC

Sorry, I forgot to mention Kamidake might be unavailable for a few days while Brent moves his servers. Silly me. Try http://prdownloads.sourceforge.net/syllable/ for that Perl package (But Kamidake is the No. 1 place for Syllable software!)

Thanks. I see a Perl 5.8 there. Sweet. Can't wait to try this out!