Linked by Thom Holwerda on Mon 10th May 2010 10:03 UTC, submitted by robertson
BeOS & Derivatives Two news items about alternative operating system news in a row? What is this, Christmas? In any case, the Haiku project, the darling of OSNews (hey it's okay now), has released its second alpha release. This new stable development release contains some serious improvements over the first alpha.
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RE[2]: Making progresses, but...
by Neolander on Mon 10th May 2010 19:58 UTC in reply to "RE: Making progresses, but..."
Neolander
Member since:
2010-03-08

Single group of developers
I like the way everything works together in a desktop operating system where the kernel, GUI, and API have all been designed together. It has a sort of "solid" feel to it. One example of this is, I can click and drag almost anything onto anything in Haiku and have the expected result. (file onto application icon, selected text into another application window, image onto the desktop...) Hmm... I realize I'm not making a very good point, but anyway, that's how I feel when using Haiku. ;)

I can understand that. GUI developed separately from the kernel on Linux feels just horrible. I've learned programming with Delphi (RAD development on top of Windows API), and have been the "unified" feeling of it ever since.

Free and open source
Also, free and open source software is important to me, so even though Windows and Mac OS X are made by single companies, I am not interested in them.

I agree that the issue is relatively important. That's not a major selling point for most users however, and won't make any difference for a Linux user.

User in control
Haiku does does not have the concept of being "busy". There is nothing equivalent to the Windows hourglass, the Mac OS X pinwheel, or the (rarely seen) Linux hourglass. Haiku doesn't even have a mouse cursor for that. The user is always in control.

Well, on VirtualBox at least said user has to wait from time to time. ;) But I suppose that you talk about the hourglass without the mouse pointer attached to it, the one that forbids you from doing anything, and then you're totally right. No program-accessible functions should *ever* allow slowing down the UI to the point where it does not respond to user input. User control is more important than performance on a GUI system.

There's one area where Haiku does this the wrong way, though : startup, where the mouse pointer is already there while you can still do nothing useful and have to wait for some time before UI gets actually loaded.

Nice user interface
I found the GUI to be very pleasant to look at and easy to learn. The major different I found was how the deskbar works, but you can click and drag the little "handle" to make it look like GNOME or Windows if you want.

Didn't know about that. The Windows/GNOME way of doing things is a waste of space, though, so I'll keep it as a vertical panel. What I found while playing with the deskbar, however, was an option that I was deeply missing : always on top. For the user to stay in control, the deskbar must stay easily accessible. With always on top, it feels clunky though (windows are not resized in order to stop going behind the deskbar), it's clear that it's not the developer's preferred options. It's sad, I think it should.

Other things which I dislike about Haiku's UI...
-> The tabbed windows border. It would become something useful if I could move the tab all around the window (including around the left, right, and bottom borders) and create tabbed windows in the way the newer KDE 4 does, but at the moment it's just harder to grab windows border with nothing in compensation.
-> I miss windows grabbing with Alt + Click in the middle of the window. It's one of the few powerful and distinctive features of Linux's window management.
-> I dislike the ways file browsing and management is done currently, because...
1/I get tired of seeing "mount" menus everywhere. Is mounting and unmounting really such an important task ?
2/The current way of managing file icons is not Fitts-friendly. To make file management an easy task, icons must be bigger, so that they can be targeted easily even when you move the pointer with little precision. Use of list views does not allow that. 16x16 icons have very low readability and are hard to target (especially in 1280x1024).
Moreover, icons in folders are a mess as soon as you stop using list view, just like in older releases of Mac OS... And just as annoying. Last issue with icons : apparently, you can't have a global setting for all folders, which means that if you want to get rid of the list view, you must go into each and every folder, one by one, and change this settings. This is horribly bad.
3/Spatial file browsing is bad as a default settings. It fills your desktop with loads of windows that you don't care about, and once you've done with it you must close all those windows, one by one. That mistake was introduced by older Mac OS too, if I remember well... Some people like it, most do not, hence don't make it the default.

Good default settings
I like how the default settings are very nice. I find that Haiku has a good balance of "setup everything nicely for me and don't let me mess it up" and "give me the power to do whatever I want on my computer". I am often tweaking Linux, or in other words, working ON Linux instead of working IN Linux. I don't find that to be the case in Haiku. (Or Mac OS X)

I tweak Linux and Windows more than Haiku myself, that's true. But I've still some issues with default settings, as shown above...

Good default API
As a software developer, I like the standard API that is included on all Haiku installations, which includes widgets, graphics, and sound.

That's one of Haiku's selling point as a developer, sure ;) But it does not improve everyday user experience...

"Clean" software packages
There are philosophical differences in how software is packaged and run. There isn't really a concept of an application being "installed". Instead, all of the files for an application just sit in a directory. To "uninstall", just delete the directory. You could put all of your Haiku applications on a USB drive, stick it in any Haiku computer, and just run the applications right off the drive. I know Linux software can be setup to run like this, but in Haiku it is expected.

It's true that it's simpler. But I wonder if this behavior is here to stay when Haiku devs begin to have security in mind. Good security without some kind of installer is difficult. I'm personally a packet advocate : it allows caring about security and centralized software management, without introducing some "next" hell...

Edited 2010-05-10 20:15 UTC

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