The big new thing in 1.5 is of course the support for multiuser. Contrary to poular belief, BeOS was not a strictly single-user operating system; for POSIX compliance, a rudimentary form of file permissions was included. However, every file was always owned by 'Baron' (you). PhosphurOS, an illegal dano distribution, offered multi-user on BeOS in 2004, and now, Zeta offers the same functionality. Sadly, though, it does not seem to work as it should.
In the Preferences application, you can create new users, which will have their home directories in
/boot/users. You can then log out and log in as the newly created user.
There are numerous problems though. The file properties panel of a file created and owned by root says the file is owned by 'thom' (the new user) while this is in fact not true. There are more things that do not seem to make any sense. When you click the 'home' shortcut on the new user's desktop, it will take you to root's home, instead of the new user's home directory in
/boot/users (see the screenshot).
There are things that do work, correctly. The desktop of the new user is indeed personalised, and the same goes for the Tracker and Deskbar settings. You also cannot edit/write outside of the new user's home directory, but no messages appear when trying to do so; it will just not work. An alert of some sort would be appreciated.
In other words, multiuser in Zeta 1,5 still needs quite some work. This is certainly understandable (it is the first release, after all), but still, I do experience it as a slight let-down. A slight one, only, because I never really needed multi-user anyway. I mean, I am the only person who uses this computer.
General impressions and conclusions
Overall, stability has improved in ZETA. Especially Firefox does not crash every ten minutes anymore. The new applications are all stable (no crashes yet); the black sheep, however, of Zeta 1.5 is the Preferences application. In my Zeta 1.0 review I already complained about the fact that yT had chosen to create one Preference application, instead of the several individual panels used in r5. In Zeta 1.0 and 1.21, Preferences was fairly stable, but in 1.5, it crashes. A lot. Especially the Keyboard and Backgrounds sections are crash prone.
Slowly but surely, it feels as if Zeta is coming together. With each release, it is getting better, with better drivers and improved stability. Magnussoft and Bernd Korz are obviously listening to user feedback (the Communicator and multiuser being the prime examples of this), and on top of that, they are finetuning the amount of applications installed by default.
They are really trying to make the system as user friendly as possible, evidenced by the fact that even a major update such as 1.5 can be installed on an existing installation, without the need for a fresh installation. The service pack which upgrades zeta from 1.5 to 1.51 also installed in a breeze.
Is Zeta 1.5 a worthy upgrade over 1.0 or 1.21? I would say yes; the stability improvements, the multiuser support, and the new applications all add up to added value over previous releases. I would advice Magnussoft to make a full release available as soon as possible, instead of only the upgrade release. After the big ones (Windows, Linux, Mac OS X, BSD) Zeta certainly is the most viable alternative operating system.
If you would like to see your thoughts or experiences with technology published, please consider writing an article for OSNews.
- "Introduction; Installation; Applications"
- "Multiuser; Conclusions"