posted by Andrew Hudson on Mon 20th Jun 2011 17:19 UTC
IconHaiku Alpha 3 has been in development for more than 14 months. In that time more than 800 bugs have been identified and fixed, major sections have been updated, applications have been added and updated, and great progress has been made in supporting additional hardware. Here is a summary of updates, more details can be found here. Also inside, interviews with some core Haiku developers.

Haiku Alpha 3 OS Highlights

  • Supported file systems now include: BFS, btrfs, exFAT, ext2, ext3, ext4, NTFS, and UDF.
  • Gutenprint was ported and now provides support for more than 700 printers, thanks to Michael Pfeiffer.
  • Improved hardware support for ACPI, video card drivers, network drivers, USB, and IO-APIC. Thanks to Michael Lotz for ACPI, USB and IO-APIC work.
  • Addition of Stack and Tile window management, thanks to University of Aukland.
  • Support for numerous scanners through the SANE/BeSANE library and GUI, thanks to Philippe Houdoin.
  • Updates to 3D functions in OpenGL, thanks again to Philippe Houdoin. User interface updates for BootManager, DiskUsage, MediaPlayer, ShowImage, and ReadOnlyBootPrompt.
  • A major refactoring of the Media Server for improved audio and video support, thanks to Stephan 'Stippi' Assmus.
  • Addition of a general MIDI sound font, enabling many classic BeOS MIDI applications, thanks to Tim Brechbill.
  • Big improvements to the Locale kit, enabling international language and font support.
  • Addition of WiFi with WEP encryption. Thanks to Axel Dorfler.
  • Ability to install to and boot from USB flash drive. OK, it’s not new but it’s very cool and very useful. More here on Haikuware's wiki.

The First Independent Haiku Distribution

Provided by Haikuware, Senryu is based on the latest svn version (not forked), and brings the best quality applications and libraries from the Haikuware community. The goal of Senryu is to provide a friendly installation of Haiku with configuration and applications pre-loaded. Thanks to Karl vom Dorff and Michael Vinícius de Oliveira.

Applications New and Updated Since Alpha 2

TAXACCTS TAXACCTS is a single entry bookkeeping system designed for sole proprietorships, partnerships, and tightly held corporations. TAXACCTS is ready to run upon installation with no lengthy account set-up required. With TAXACCTS, simply enter the data and print the reports.
RelatedMail This application emulates a replicant view on Desktop, where you can drag & drop an e-mail or person file onto it and quickly have a query for any email that shares the attributes you selected. Updated.
Windows Decor Window Decor is a simple program to change the Window look in Haiku without having to remember the sneaky key combination that puts Window Decor on the Haiku menu. Updated.
Vacuum IM StreakX says this is the best IM for Haiku. Updated for Qt 4.8.
SDLGameLibraries Now in GCC4, with include files and many updates! This suite will enable you to play the most modern SDL-based games!
Genealogie MyFamily A Zeta genealogy app updated for Haiku. In German.
Caya A multiprotocol chat client for Haiku.
robotfindskitten A mellow rid game.
XvideoServiceThief 2.4 Program for downloading streaming video from popular video sites. Updated for Qt 4.6.
PSI+ IM Jabber client. Updated for Qt 4.8.
Cherokee A very fast, flexible and easy to configure Web Server. Updated.
EiskaltDC++ A cross-platform program that uses the Direct Connect and ADC protocol. Updated for Qt 4.8.
Corkboard A proof-of-concept effort to emulate MacOSX Dashboard functionality.
Lelldorins Backup Saves the settings of Haiku, before you reinstall it. You don’t need to change settings in your new Haiku install, just unzip the packages created by LBackup.
Run Programs A quick command launcher that lets you run just about any app quickly from the command line -- Terminal app, Deskbar apps, etc. Inspired by the Windows Run command, works with preferences.
Paladin The best replacement for the BeIDE development environment. Numerous updates, including the ability to read legacy BeIDE project files. Highly recommended.
Bochs New and Improved x86 emulator.
Arora A free and open source lightweight cross-platform web browser. Updated.
MPlayer A free and open source media player. MPlayer supports a wide variety of media formats and can also save all streamed content to a file. Updated.

For a list of recommended Haiku applications look here.

Interviews with Core Haiku Developers: Michael ‘mmlr’ Lotz

What is your role?

Well, my contributions mostly revolve around the core system, drivers and other infrastructure and less around apps.

Can you give us a description of some development you worked on?

I've recently worked on IO-APIC support (see Haikuware interview for more details), usb_hid extensions for joysticks/gamepads as well as tablet-like input devices (including absolute input devices as found commonly in virtualization software) and completeing the usb_serial work I've started some years ago.

In your opinion what were some of the biggest bugs you worked on?

Implementing IO-APIC support and its dependencies (PCI Interrupt Routing) was probably the work with the most important impact on hardware support. It solves various issues due to non configured hardware devices. It was one of the larger hold-ups for hardware support on modern systems.

What are some new features you think users will appreciate?

Well, broader hardware support. The usb_hid changes, while nice, won't affect quite as many right now (due to there being a limited amount of software around to actually make use of the new features). Also the usb_hid changes are more "nice to have" than critical because their absence don't prevent you from using a system.

What are some of your favorite Haiku apps and why do you like them?

Ehm, I usually use Mail, WebPositive and the Terminal to work on Haiku. Those usually work well, at least good enough for my usage pattern. Since I'm mostly doing "plain text" work, I don't have too high a demand on these applications. For example I don't really care that I can't do youtube or that some more exotic websites aren't displayed correctly. So I'm not so good a reference for "end user" experience. On the mediacenter PC the MediaPlayer is the most important. I'm really glad that I don't have to use any external media players anymore as the format support has been very good.

Any additional thoughts on Hiaku you wold like to share?

As a general note from for Haiku users: if you find bugs, report them! I'm often and increasingly confronted with the situation that someone complains in IRC or in some random forum that things don't work and Haiku "is not ready", "fails completely" or "doesn't even support bla bla". It is very frustrating to hear those things when there are no bug reports to go with them.

As a developer you implement stuff and get things working, most often features that you personally need or hardware support for devices you have access to. Since there are nearly endless combination possibilities of hardware (and to some extent software) we can't possibly test our changes for every combination. As a result there's a high chance that something works perfectly well for the hardware or software the developer has available, but doesn't on other such combinations (like similar but ever so slightly different hardware or software that does things just that bit different). Without bug reports the developer can only assume that "it probably works" even if that is not the case. So if you see issues with something not working right or not working at all, the only right thing to do is file a bug report or add your findings as a comment to an already existing report. Otherwise us developers have a really hard time moving things forward.

Interviews with Core Haiku Developers: Adrien ‘PulkoMandy’

Can you give us a description of some development you worked on?

I for myself didn't do much, as I had little time because of school. Other devs started to work on the Locale Kit and it's living it's own life as part of Haiku now. The improvements are listed in the release notes that I linked above.

If you want to know what I did, I think the latest interesting piece of code was the driver for usb-floppy drives. I needed it, so I wrote it. But I don't think many other people will have an use for it...

In your opinion what were some of the biggest bugs you worked on?

mmlr did a great work on improving the ACPI support, which means Haiku should now be compatible with a lot more hardware. We are looking for reports on that, to know what is the status, of course.

There was a lot of improvements on stability ; and a lot of fixed bugs, both in the system and in the bundled applications. Localization is now much more complete, up to items in the deskbar and tracker.

What are some new features you think users will appreciate?

Stack and Tile is now included in the images. It is not enabled by default, but you can switch it on. It makes managing your windows a lot easier, and is also one way more to impress people with what Haiku can do, alongside with live queries and playing 10 video at the same time.

What are some of your favorite Haiku apps and why do you like them?

The apps I use more are Caya, Beam, Web+ and development tools. I'm not sure I have anything special to say about them, however, they just get the job done. The world of Haiku applications is just starting to live, I hope we will see more and more quality applications developped for it. The system allows for a great integration of the various apps that could really show it's power with an office suite or similar tools (with drag'n'drop integration accross the system, and the very reactive user interface we all got used to). Unfortunately, the core Haiku developpers are busy with other things.

I'd also like to have an electronic circuit design application on Haiku, since that's one of the few reasons that makes me boot other operating systems. I guess it's the same for most people, Haiku is great for basic computer use but it lacks apps dedicated to many specific stuff. Time will solve that, I guess.

Are there any additional comments on Haiku you would like to share?

Haiku is making great progress across releases. After Alpha3, we are going to start planning the roadmap to R1 more clearly, and try to set the schedule for the first beta. The big missing part is the package manager, I hope we can get that working soon.

We have some other things to sort out, for example making sure Haiku works well in languages using a different font. Currently, Japanese does work, but Chinese doesn't. I think a lot of other languages are broken too. But it's not easy to fix without a developer knowing how it should look.

We have a lot of other things to solve before R1. But it may be a good thing, since we're not really ready for starting the work on R2 either.

Looking Forward

  • Haiku still lacks a decent word processor. Rumor has it that there is work being done on KOffice.
  • The VLC media player has been stalled at v.86 waiting for support for optional POSIX signals. There may soon be some progress to report on.
  • Gene Ragan, formerly of Mediapede, has donated the source code for UltraDV.
  • UltraDV is a BeOS video editing application. It is not yet open sourced and there is a fair amount of porting work to be done. The project currently needs a dedicated developer. UltraDV offers the promise of a native video editor to make use of Haiku’s awesome Media Server. Any takers?
  • It would be great if someone could identify and resolve the GCC issues that prevent OpenJDK from running on Haiku.
  • Haiku development is the result of many people working together and not everyone who did great work is mentioned here. For that I apologize.

About the author

Andrew Hudson is a technical project manager living in Maine, USA. He is currently working on non-profit software infrastructure, data mining projects, and loves the band Camera Obscura.

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