posted by Anthony Hicks on Tue 8th Apr 2003 16:17 UTC

The BeOS system is still around in several forms, but it is no longer actively maintained (As much as I like them, Hobby releases of BeOS, and promises of Zeta do not have the same affect as a company collectively making all of the decisions relevant to building a cohesive OS). I used it for a while, and still do on occasion, but the lack of support for modern technologies has kept me from staying in BeOS for too long. BeOS still has some features I'd love to see in my dream OS though.

BeOS plus's

  • It's fast! Very fast!! In fact BeOS is the speed by which others are still based in my case. I figure that if an unsupported OS on unsupported hardware can be this fast, that there really isn't an excuse for other GUI's to crawl on this same system.
  • Meta-Data: BeOS's meta-data is still talked about in geek circles. I never used it to the extent that others have, but it was always nice to know that I could tag any file with any meta-data I wanted to, knowing that I could quickly query for the file later via BeOS's built in search/query capabilities.
  • The ability to quickly drill down to files: With the BeOS, you could simply right click any folder, whether it was on your desktop, or in Tracker, and a popup menu would appear allowing you to both browse, and drill down into the folders contents. No other OS has achieved this level of integration yet, and this is one of the things I miss most about the OS.
  • Resolutions specific to virtual desktops: This one is one of those features, which I loved. As a Web Developer, I need to not only test my code on different machines, and operating systems, but also at different resolutions on those machines. In Windows, this requires a trip into settings to change my display mode, and every time I do this, I end up resizing my desktop, and the icon placements on that desktop.

    With most OS's, it's a similar process: Switch resolutions system-wide, and then deal with the ramifications.

    With BeOS though, one can assign resolutions to specific desktops. So when clicking "Virtual Desk #3", for instance, I can work on a 800x600 screen, whereas "Virtual Desktop #2" might give me a 1280x960 resolution, and "Virtual Desktop #1" might provide me with a 1024x768 setup. It couldn't be easier, and I really wish this feature were supported on more OS's.

BeOS's Minus's:

  • Lack of Programs: There's no company backing BeOS any longer. It has only recently received a JavaScript capable browser, via the BeZilla project, and such items as JavaScript, Java, and CSS are all important elements to my being a Web Developer. These things are starting to trickle in, and there's always those who are trying to resurrect the platform, but an OS with no support and a dwindling number of users is not a viable choice for my dream OS.
  • Lack of modern features: This kind of ties in with my previous point about web support. Quite simply, PC hardware is still moving forward at quite a fast pace. However the BeOS is stuck in 1997, give or take a year. There are 3rd party drivers and apps popping up here and there, but in general, as you upgrade your PC, you're more and more likely to be adding a piece of equipment which the BeOS simply won't recognize.

    I am glad to see that some independent developers are adding new drivers, but this by no means something that one can rely upon. I don't really care if there's no parent company behind an OS, but building my dream system around an outdated, and un-supported OS would be kind of stupid on my part. I plan on this system growing with my PC as new hardware's added and old components are upgraded. I'd hate to be in a situation in a year where I souped up my computing capabilities, only to find out that I can no longer use my OS due to the upgrade, and unfortunately that's what would happen with the BeOS in its current incarnation. I really hope that some of the open source attempts at building a BeOS clone succeed, but even then, I have to wonder if such efforts will always be playing "catch up", as far as hardware and drivers is concerned.
Table of contents
  1. "Intro, Windows"
  2. "BeOS"
  3. "Mac OS X"
  4. "GNU/Linux"
  5. "Linux Minus"
  6. "Linux Distros: Yoper"
  7. "Linux Distros: Redhat 8.x (Phoebe)"
  8. "Linux Distros: Mandrake 9.1 RC2"
  9. "Linux Distros: Ark Linux"
  10. "Linux Distros: Vector Linux (Soho 3.2)"
  11. "Linux Distros: Gentoo Linux (and other source based distros)"
  12. "Linux Distros: Suse Linux, Conclusion"
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