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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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.

On the old AthlonXP 2800 that I use for Haiku and BeOS (not exactly a powerhouse machine), the mouse cursor is visible for maybe 2-3 seconds before the desktop appears.

What I found while playing with the deskbar, however, was an option that I was deeply missing : always on top.

Haiku Menu > Deskbar Settings > Always on Top.

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)

Not sure I see the utility to moving it elsewhere on the Window (on the left or right sides, the text label would become vertical - and therefore much harder to read quickly).

but at the moment it's just harder to grab windows border with nothing in compensation.

Even without stack-and-tile, the title tabs are still useful - mainly because they make it possible to have a group of arbitrary windows that overlap, but are still easily-accessible because the tabs are visible.

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'm fairly certain that someone released an input_server plugin to implement Alt-drag a few years back, but sadly I can't remember the name.

1/I get tired of seeing "mount" menus everywhere.

"Everywhere"? By my count, the "Mount" menu exists in exactly one place: Tracker's right-click menu.

Is mounting and unmounting really such an important task ?

Sure, if you have multiple drives/partitions, or regularly insert & unplug removable media.

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).

Honestly, I can't say that's ever posed a problem for me in a decade-plus of using BeOS and Haiku. Files can be dragged by the text label too, as with just about every other GUI filemanager in existence.

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.

That "problem" is a side-effect of a intentional feature: namely, the way that Tracker preserves folder window size & display settings. But yeah it would be nice to have an "Apply to all folders" option.

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.

There are 2 keyboard shortcuts & 1 modifier that make that issue trivially-easy to avoid.

Ctrl-Opt-Up: open parent folder & close current folder
Ctrl-Opt-Down: open selected sub-folder and close current folder, double-clicking a folder with Option (Win-key) held down accomplishes the same thing.

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.

Spatial file management has been the default in BeOS/Haiku since long before the term "spatial file management" was even coined. Given that most current Haiku users probably former BeOS users, that default makes sense.

Maybe that will change in the future, but even then I still think there's a benefit to exposing new users to a file management approach they may not be familiar with. Sure, some will hate it and immediately change to single-window mode (which takes all of 5 seconds). But there will also be people who come to prefer "spatial mode" and appreciate having been introduced to it (speaking as a spatial file management "convert" who used to prefer 2-pane/single-window file managers).

But it [good default API] does not improve everyday user experience...

True, but a good API can enable/ease the development of software that DOES improve everyday user experience.

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