Linked by Thom Holwerda on Tue 10th Feb 2009 18:31 UTC
BeOS & Derivatives Back when it was becoming clear that the time of the BeOS had come and gone, enthusiasts immediately set up the OpenBeOS project, an attempt to recreate the Be operating system from scratch, using a MIT-like license. The project faced difficult odds, and numerous times progress seemed quite slow. Still, persistence pays off, and the first alpha release is drawing ever closer. We decided to take a look at where Haiku currently stands.
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But why?
by Greuceanu on Wed 11th Feb 2009 12:17 UTC
Greuceanu
Member since:
2007-09-27

In today's world, besides nostalgia, why would I want to use Haiku? I'm sure BeOS was a great OS, unfortunately I hand't the opportunity to test it back then, but today we have MacOS X, Vista, Win7 and a plethora of (good) Linux distribution, plus various BSD and OpenSolaris operating systems.
So, again, besides nostalgia, what would haiku bring new in this world already full of choices? Will the Haiku developers be enough to sustain this project and make Haiku an OS for the masses?

Reply Score: 1

RE: But why?
by dragossh on Wed 11th Feb 2009 13:05 in reply to "But why?"
dragossh Member since:
2008-12-16

Speed. I don't understand why I still have to wait 5 seconds for an app to open.

Edited 2009-02-11 13:06 UTC

Reply Parent Score: 3

RE: But why?
by NexusCrawler on Wed 11th Feb 2009 13:19 in reply to "But why?"
NexusCrawler Member since:
2009-02-11

As very well highlighted by the article, BeOS was well ahead of its time back in its days.

And today... Well, there is still a lot of splendid ideas and design choices in BeOS/now Haiku that makes Haiku competitive towards other OSes.

For instance, give me an OS that combines at least these features:
* less than 10-sec boot time
* no lagging, no latency in user interactions
* small hardware requirements, small footprint on CPU and RAM usage, very light HDD usage (both OS and other software are very small)
* easy to use and efficient GUI yet still appealing
* never crashes, eventually part of the OS crashes but you just need to restart this part, not the whole OS -- same for device drivers installation, just restart some part of the OS, do not reboot the whole computer
* easiest software distribution model (in my opinion): no enforced package manager, no unmaintanable registry base, just unzip where you want and it works
* virtual desktops with independent resolutions
* real shell (bash) with all the power of UNIX (including easy scripting)
* powerful and efficient file-system
* well documented and well defined stable API

Plus some other features which are quite unique to BeOS/Haiku, as far as I know, for instance the "translators". This is a bit like codecs but for any type of files and which works with any application. Just install the "MP3" translator and voilĂ  every application just knows how to play and record MP3 files. Now just install the "PNG" translator and you can display and record any graphics in PNG format with any graphic application. And so on with any data format. Do you see the beauty of this?

But I agree that it's somewhat difficult to imagine what is so extraordinary here if you never tried BeOS/Haiku before. :-)

However like you and others, I'm not sure that Haiku will succeed because of the smaller software base. But this may not be an issue... People just "need" to port all of the free open source software that made Linux famous and the software base should be there. So why not? :-P It's a bit like an ARM port of Ubuntu. If the software base for ARM Ubuntu is fine, then it should be for any OS thanks to the open source model. :-)

Reply Parent Score: 2

RE[2]: But why?
by Greuceanu on Wed 11th Feb 2009 13:28 in reply to "RE: But why?"
Greuceanu Member since:
2007-09-27

* less than 10-sec boot time
No one really cares about this since no one really resets his computer 10-20 times a day to see the difference.

* no lagging, no latency in user interactions
Linux/Vista feel fast on Core2 Duo with 4GB of RAM... MacOS X is fast too.

* small hardware requirements, small footprint on CPU and RAM usage, very light HDD usage (both OS and other software are very small)
(Some) Linux distroes? (Slackware, Zenwalk, but there are more).

* easy to use and efficient GUI yet still appealing
Any OS with KDE?

* never crashes, eventually part of the OS crashes but you just need to restart this part, not the whole OS -- same for device drivers installation, just restart some part of the OS, do not reboot the whole computer
Again, Linux?

* easiest software distribution model (in my opinion): no enforced package manager, no unmaintanable registry base, just unzip where you want and it works
MacOS, maybe Linux?

* virtual desktops with independent resolutions
Besides multiple monitors, who need independent resolutions for different virtual desktops?
Again, any KDE/GNOME based Linux has irtual dekstops. Even MacOS, nowadays.

* real shell (bash) with all the power of UNIX (including easy scripting)
Uhm, Linux?

* powerful and efficient file-system
Linux? OpenSolaris?

* well documented and well defined stable API
I'm not a programmer, so I won't digg into this.

That translator stuff are really nice, I haven't heard about them until now.

Reply Parent Score: 0

RE[2]: But why?
by NexusCrawler on Wed 11th Feb 2009 13:31 in reply to "RE: But why?"
NexusCrawler Member since:
2009-02-11

By the way, there were some wonderful demos of BeOS that should be still amazing to watch today. It was something like that :

(1) Open a video in a media player. (opens quickly and plays flawlessly, of course)

(2) Drag the image of the video on the desktop: a shot of the video at that moment has been taken and recorded in a file stored in the desktop.

(3) Now select some portion of the video and drag it: this time you got some audio of the video, just the part you selected.

(4) Instead of dropping on the desktop, you can drop into another application and the other application directly works on the tidbit you selected.

(5) Of course all these applications runs together with no lag at all. Especially none in user interactions.

I remember playing simultaneously ten or twenty MP3 files at the same time on some Pentium 120MHz with 24Mo. No problem at all, while it was quite impossible with any other OS. (not to mention that at the time these other OS couldn't even play simultaneously several wave sounds but hey...)

It's just... So easy, so natural, so efficient. It's not about something that other OSes cannot do, it's about how things should be done.

Well, whatever. I'll stop bragging for now and we'll see in one year or two where Haiku will be then. :-)

Reply Parent Score: 4

RE[2]: But why?
by silix on Wed 11th Feb 2009 14:33 in reply to "RE: But why?"
silix Member since:
2006-03-01

As very well highlighted by the article, BeOS was well ahead of its time back in its days.
[...]
But I agree that it's somewhat difficult to imagine what is so extraordinary here if you never tried BeOS/Haiku before. :-)
i agree with you on this, but...(cont.)

However like you and others, I'm not sure that Haiku will succeed because of the smaller software base. But this may not be an issue... People just "need" to port all of the free open source software that made Linux famous and the software base should be there.
... i'm afraid you're overlooking the fact that existing userland software written to run on linux or to be multiplatform, is implemented in a way that results from the relative scarcity of assured high level facilities in the main platform - resulting in the rise and use of complex, large, all- encompassing toolkit libraries, that in turn need further code layers (themes, wrappers or "engines") to adapt to the specific platform they are deployed to, or appear adapted while not really being so
porting existing applications like KDE ones or openoffice would require porting their base framework for the most part
the problem is, merely doing so would result in applications that would exploit little to no native feature (distinguishing ones like the translators you mentioned, in particular), would feel evidently "alien", and worse, would defy the goal (minimalism and efficiency) of the system they're ported to (due to the unnecessary layers - own framework plus "native look" skin engine - they'd retain between the app's main code and haikuOS native gui library)

in order to avoid the bloat resulting from this, differentiating (branching) the application main code, instantiating native classes instead of, say, OOo ones in platform specific code paths, would be a sensible approach from a SW design point of view
but it would effectively be the same as redesigning the application from the inside, i suspect it's unlikely it will ever be done for large applications (paradoxically often the most useful ones)

So why not? :-P It's a bit like an ARM port of Ubuntu. If the software base for ARM Ubuntu is fine...
in Ubuntu's case is fine because you already have an all - linux software base, and problems would only come from architecture dependent software ... with porting (better, converting) linux SW to other OS platforms (even on the same architecture, say X86) that may have their own special features or idiosincrasies, it's the other way around

, then it should be for any OS thanks to the open source model. :-)
the open source model concerns distributed development and code sharing
it doesnt say anything about the elegance and cohesiveness that goes in the *design* of code and in the management of a project, or the skills of people designing code, or that people tasked with porting a package will choose the best overall approach *for the target platform* (and not just for the application, or for themselves)

Reply Parent Score: 3

RE[2]: But why?
by rcsteiner on Wed 11th Feb 2009 18:12 in reply to "RE: But why?"
rcsteiner Member since:
2005-07-12

BeOS had some very nice things going for it (and I still boot into an R5 desktop from time to time), but most of the things BeOS did were also being done by OS/2 at roughly the same time. And OS/2 did many things BeOS could not.

I think people are overstating BeOS's capabilities and level of innovation here, but OSNews has always been very much biased towards that OS for reasons I don't completely understand...

Reply Parent Score: 3

RE: But why?
by Valhalla on Wed 11th Feb 2009 13:22 in reply to "But why?"
Valhalla Member since:
2006-01-24

Why? Simple, the developers have found that none of the existing operating systems fulfill their vision of the os they want to use. It doesn't have to be an OS for the masses. If it is then great, but for all intents and purposes it only has to satisfy it's creators.

There are no shareholders lurking in the shadows waiting for a return of their investment. The investment here is the spare time (as in time with which you do what you please) of the developers and the return is the OS itself, hence it cannot fail unless the developers call it a day and abandon the project.

Now as for Haiku's future, there's a huge difference between what one would wish for and what one expects. What I wish is that Haiku does really well and claims the throne as the open source desktop OS. What I expect is that Haiku will gain enough of a following to ensure a healthy community and also attract enough developers for vital ports and native applications. I also believe there will be some commercial possibilities for Haiku that hopefully will involve opportunities for atleast some developers to make money while working on Haiku.

People really need to stop being so anal about success and failure, particularly when we are talking about spare time projects. Like other projects of it's kind, Haiku doesn't need to make excuses for it's existance.
It's free to use, so take it for a spin and make up your own mind.

Reply Parent Score: 4

RE: But why?
by BiPolar on Wed 11th Feb 2009 13:55 in reply to "But why?"
BiPolar Member since:
2007-07-06

So, again, besides nostalgia, what would haiku bring new in this world already full of choices?


Simply put: an OS experience that none of the other OSes you mention has.

Unfortunately, no one can be told what the BeOS/Haiku is... you have to see it for yourself.

And regarding the question
But why?
...

- Why the hell no?
- Because they can.

Reply Parent Score: 1

RE[2]: But why?
by dragossh on Wed 11th Feb 2009 14:39 in reply to "RE: But why?"
dragossh Member since:
2008-12-16

Unfortunately, no one can be told what the BeOS/Haiku is... you have to see it for yourself.

So true, so true... just like LOST: if you tell someone about an invisible island in Pacific on which a plane crashed and has polar bears, a smoke monster, a group of hippie scientists that did time travel experiments called DHARMA and a group called Others that kill everyone who wants to harm the island, they'll think you're crazy for liking the show. Only when they see it, they're ... uhm, converted.

Reply Parent Score: 1

RE: But why?
by TQH ! on Wed 11th Feb 2009 14:33 in reply to "But why?"
TQH ! Member since:
2006-03-16

For one thing, there is no wait cursor!

Beos/Haiku believes that the user should control the OS, not the other way around.

Reply Parent Score: 2

RE: But why?
by StephenBeDoper on Wed 11th Feb 2009 19:42 in reply to "But why?"
StephenBeDoper Member since:
2005-07-06

In today's world, besides nostalgia, why would I want to use Haiku?


The only one who could really answer that question is you. Hypothetically, it would probably be because aspects of the OS appeal to you. If that doesn't apply, then it's probably a case of "move along, nothing to see here."

As you've pointed out in other posts on this topic, there is a lot of overlap between Haiku and Linux - and in terms of raw functionality, I can't think of anything that can be done in Haiku/BeOS that cannot be done in Linux or other modern OSes. But, speaking for myself at least, the appeal isn't the raw functionality - it's the particulars of how that functionality works.

Personally, I see the main appeal being that Haiku is the only (relatively) modern OS I've used that extends the whole "UNIX philosophy" to GUI. By that I mean the concept of "do one thing, but do it well" - small, apps that rely on standardized means of communication so that they are separate, but can work together. And that's in contrast to the more application-centric model, where most applications are essentially walled gardens, so they need to be complete end-to-end solutions.

Will the Haiku developers be enough to sustain this project and make Haiku an OS for the masses?


They have done a fairly good job of sustaining the project up until now - and if anything, I would say that the development has been steadily picking up speed (and new developers), especially in the past year or so.

Reply Parent Score: 5

RE[2]: But why?
by ari-free on Thu 12th Feb 2009 17:03 in reply to "RE: But why?"
ari-free Member since:
2007-01-22

"Personally, I see the main appeal being that Haiku is the only (relatively) modern OS I've used that extends the whole "UNIX philosophy" to GUI."

actually I think the appeal is the opposite: that Haiku is one unified system and not a collection of different parts cobbled together from different places with different agendas (kernel from here, X from there, Gnome from somewhere else, a zillion distros...) to make up a system. There is one bug tree, one vision, one point of contact for developers and users.

But it's open source so you can still do anything you want with it. Haiku is special because it is an OS that is open-source AND unified.

Reply Parent Score: 2

RE: But why?
by geleto on Wed 11th Feb 2009 20:51 in reply to "But why?"
geleto Member since:
2005-07-06

In today's world, besides nostalgia, why would I want to use Haiku?

While on the surface both Windows and Linux look quite nice - under the hood we have one big mess. Layers upon layers of APIs, libraries, services, frameworks and subsystems.
On Haiku - you have a beautiful and consistent API, well defined kits (app/interface, filesystem, input, kernel, media, network, translation, etc). Everything is modular, integrated and consistent - it's so much easier to understand what's going under the hood. Even browsing the source code - it's sooo much less intimidating than looking at the Linux Kernel or X.Org sources.
This results in greater stability, responsiveness and speed. Extending Haiku and adding new features will be much easier and faster, even with less developers.

Reply Parent Score: 2