Linked by Eugenia Loli on Tue 26th Mar 2002 20:24 UTC, submitted by Jean-Baptiste Queru
Syllable, AtheOS Bill Hayden did the obvious: He forked AtheOS (which is technically similar to BeOS) and used its app_server and Interface Kit (without the use of X11) and rest of its kits on top of the 2.4.x Linux kernel. While the AtheOS kernel has some very nice features, by being modular, semi-microkernel, with good preemptive/multithreading support etc., it lacks a solid VM and swap support and of course, it lacks a good driver support, things that the Linux kernel provides. Bill Hayden accounced his fork on the AtheOS mailing list and made known that the "Atheos API has been merged with the BeOS API, there is PowerPC support, gcc 3.0.X compatiblity and OpenTracker/Deskbar as the desktop manager".
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It's all about standards...
by P_Developer on Wed 27th Mar 2002 04:18 UTC

To the Atheos fork: Great Work. Very likely this will merge three streams necessary to get an open source alternative that will be able to compete with windows...

You have got the right idea, but try to understand why this fork is significant.

MS has incredible strength in the market place not because it is big & bad & can do what it likes, but rather it has forged a strong standard that developers can adhere to and get things to work. Admittedly, their APIs have problems, but they are standardardized. They are also standardized on a BINARY level which means that a developer can produce an app/driver or whatever without having to open up their software.

Now people in the open source movement say this is a bad thing because you can't see what's under the hood & fix it if it goes wrong. Not everyone agrees with this though, and there are many important commercial reasons why closed source is necessary. The side effect of closed source is that for the closed source to be useful, strict ABIs need to be defined and adhered to, and this is what MS has done. ABI's also imply a strong level of backward compatibility. Source level API's are far too flexible, are also subject to the whims of compilers and other tools, and indiscrimante changes by developers. The problem with open source is that it's very strength becomes its weakness at the same time. If the open source movement were much more strict about the standards of its APIs *AND* ABIs they would have a stronger chance of wrestling the desktop away from MS.

MS takes this a step further by using programs like the win95 logo etc. Here they standardize the look & feel of applications so that the end user can have a more consistent experience. Apple do much the same, and that is to their advantage too.

What I see from this latest announcement is that they've stumbled on what has been perceived to be a standard and adhered to it. Be designed yet another standard and it lives on regardless of the company going under. The BeOS experience is more than just an OS and a desktop - there are plenty of those already - it includes also the look & feel and other more esoteric features. If you all realize this and can stick to the standards, you will have a very strong chance of making an impact in the desktop world. Get that BeOS standard nailed down, and developers will flock. Whether it's Linux, Atheos or NewOS underneath is irrelevant, the standard that the app developer sees is much more important.