The timing was especially apt because I had to recently give up my iBook (wasn't actually mine) so I'd just gone back to my PC running BeOS (The dodgy Dano and a perfectly legal BONE 7a).
I nearly didn't go this time after I checked the cost of the train fare but luckily myself and Francois Revol managed to get a lift from Jerome Duval who was driving. Francois came complete with a full PC in a handy (not) carry case. These days almost everyone uses lap tops, in the earlier BeGeisterts I went to (4 years ago!) it was mostly desktop PCs.
As per usual I arrived late after everyone had already gone for food but we managed to bump into most of them on their way back while we went. I think it was the first time I've been in a German restaurant without someone who speaks German so that proved to be an interesting experience.
After that it was back to the hostel to catch up with everyone and drink plenty of Alt while doing so. Alt is an interesting beer and a pretty amazing "digestive aid" but I'll not go into details of that aspect...
As usual everyone sits around to all sorts of strange hours on Friday night catching up on the news and general goings on. I haven't really been following the goings on in the BeOS world for some time now so there was a lot to catch up on - and boy did I catch up!
The BeOS world has had some problems of late and I heard various bits about this, it seems there is a lot of misinformation and rumours going around so, given what I've learned, before I go into the main review I'll comment on this.
Some seem to think this enhanced version of BeOS PE (Personal Edition) is illegal which is a highly questionable view. At most it may be in breech of the PE license but since that license is with Be inc - a non-existent company - it's difficult to do anything about it. PalmSource may be able to do something but since it's not interfering with their business I doubt PalmSource could justify the cost of doing anything about it. If it was being sold (it's a free download) and thus potential source of revenue they might do something but even then they wouldn't do anything until it made some real money.
In any event all the author needs to do is split the distro in two, installing BeOS PE first then in a separate step installing the changes. I'm not a lawyer but this should clear up any potential license problems.
I have been aware of the Zeta project for some time but this time has been something of a revelation. For some time there has been an apparent split forming in the BeOS community with some strongly against Zeta. This seems to be based on rumours such as the following:
Even my own opinion of Zeta was that it was a BeOS Dano with extras and like many I assumed they would eventually base the system around OpenBeOS. However the rumours have grown to such an extent that some people have turned against it with quite some real zealotry, when bebits recently added outside moderators to remove broken or old links some took it upon themselves to remove some of the Zeta compatible software (Bebits has since suspended the outside moderation program).
I do not understand what people have against YellowTab, they are after all trying to further the platform. Do the detractors seriously think attacking YellowTab is going to do any good? I can only assume the people perpetrating such actions are actively trying to ensure BeOS (and variants) remain dead. It wont have any good effect: When the Amiga community started diverging a lot of (still ongoing) arguments broke out and it drove many users away from that scene.
As I said this time was something of a revelation, Zeta is not what people think. I can say with absolute certainty that zero of the above rumours are true. They have quite simply no basis in reality whatsoever. They are either false assumptions, malicious gossip or both. I think one might have been true at one point but I'm not sure about that and I know it's not true now.
I have no reason to believe anything of Zeta is illegal or that they are missing anything. In fact I have several very good reasons to believe the complete opposite. I can say this because of things I seen, things I heard and conversations I had. The YellowTab people are notably evasive when you ask direct questions but there are always ways and means of finding things out if you really want to.
It may sound like I was doing some form of investigative journalism but I'm neither an investigator or a journalist, I was just trying to find out more for myself and in doing so heard a lot of stuff which all pointed irrevocably to the same conclusion.
YellowTab will most likely neither confirm nor deny my comments here but there is a good reason for this. You can pretty much bet there's an NDA been signed somewhere. Business people understand this but many consumers don't get it, having singed a few NDAs myself I fully understand their predicament they must be in.
I asked about Zeta making use of OpenBeOS code in the future but I was quite surprised that YellowTab don't intend to make much use of it. Much of the community assumes Zeta would switch over to OpenBeOS based code at some point so again this was something of a revelation. This is another case of a rumour being completely wrong, YellowTab are working on what is going to effectively be BeOS R6, with OpenBeOS working on a replacement for R5 using OpenBeOS would be going backwards.
I admit I'm being evasive in reporting exactly what I've heard but this is a dead giveaway. If YellowTab didn't have code or were missing anything of significance they would by necessity have to switch to the OpenBeOS source base, in fact they would probably work on it themselves to speed it's development. However since they are not doing this and have no intention of using significant parts they obviously don't have those problems.
I for one expect Zeta R1.0 will be nothing less than what I would have expected from BeOS R6. I also expect it (or subsequent versions) will be able to handle larger memory sizes - without hacks - and indeed solve the other internal issues present in BeOS.
Perhaps some of those who don't like YellowTab should be looking at the system rather than making up rumours, they're in for a surprise. If they don't like what YellowTab are doing then they can try developing a commercial OS themselves, it's a very difficult and very expensive business. At the same time I also think YellowTab need to work on their PR if they are to get the existing community behind them (they need developers). They are allowing a lot of patently false rumours to circulate but by not addressing them they are at least complicit in the negativity which has developed. That said they are apparently doing quite well in business circles and outside the BeOS community.