posted by Thom Holwerda on Sun 17th Jul 2005 18:09 UTC

"Zeta R1, page 3/3"

My Flash-based MP3-player, SanDisk's Sansa E140, works fine in Zeta. All I had to do was plug the USB cable in, and the Sansa appeared in the Mount menu (which is located in the desktop's context menu in BeOS). I could then drag/drop songs and normal files onto it.

Printing panel yellowtAB has put significant effort into supporting printers; now was my time to test this. I plugged in my HP Deskjet 3520, and opened the Printer panel inside the preferences application. My printer was in the list, and it correctly found the printer on the USB port. Zeta also supports IP printing, and you can also print to PDF.

Next up was my Canon CanoScan LIDE 30. This scanner was a pain to set-up in OS X, so I hoped this would be easier on Zeta, but obviously, I had my doubts. The Scanner utility is located in the '/boot/home/Pictures' directory, or in the Graphics section of the Be menu. This application (Sanity) is a front-end to SANE, and this is what worried me; as you can read in the blog entry I just linked to, my scanner did not work with SANE on OS X. Unfortunately, the same applies to SANE for BeOS. My scanner isn't found, end of story. Too bad.

Queries & BeFS

BeFS 1 I wanted to pay special attention to BeFS' capabilities in this review. With Apple, Microsoft and Linux putting so much emphasis on search tools lately, claiming innovation all over the place, it is always fun to be reminded of the fact that BeOS had all those capabilities even before Apple started working on OS X. I'll try to explain some scenarios in which BeFS plays a major role.

BeFS 2 First of all, let's say I'm having a discussion via email with Eugenia. Because each email is stored as a single file, I can easily set-up and save a live query with all emails from Eugenia, sorted with newest on top. If the discussion continues to develop, I can refine that query even further, by adding a query on the subject of the emails. All that without ever starting an email client. Remember, these searches are instant; a lot faster than Spotlight. Also, they are 'live' queries, which means that they are updated automatically and instantly. You can save those queries as if they were directories. Again, this requires no extra applications or whatsoever.

Another interesting scenario to use BeFS is when you are putting songs on your MP3 player. Want all music from Bruce Springsteen? Or all songs from the Devils & Dust album? All songs from the 'rock' genre? You can do that without ever touching a music player or other specialized applications.

You are only limited by your imagination.

Conclusion

In this review, I have hardly addressed all aspects of using an operating system. Still, I have a clear-cut impression of what Zeta R1 is: it is by far the best 'distribution' of BeOS currently available. The hardware support is, when compared to r5, significantly better. Stability-wise, Zeta R1 is a huge leap forward when compared to older versions. Some areas still need work; but they are mostly minor things, nothing that will stop you from using this operating system as your full-time, primary system.

Also as a secondary system, on an older computer, Zeta is a good choice. It delivers much more functionality on low-end hardware than any other operating system. yT lists as minimum specifications a 200Mhz processor with 64 MB RAM. I tested it on a PII 400 with 192 MB RAM, and it flew.

The gist: a complete, stable release, with good hardware support and amazing capabilities, that does require some minor tweaking here and there. For only 99,- Euro, a bargain.

--Thom Holwerda

PS:
This review was perfomed on an AMD Athlon XP 1600+ / 512 MB RAM / Ati Radeon 9000 128MB.


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Table of contents
  1. "Zeta R1, page 1/3"
  2. "Zeta R1, page 2/3"
  3. "Zeta R1, page 3/3"
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