Linked by Thom Holwerda on Mon 10th May 2010 10:03 UTC, submitted by robertson
BeOS & Derivatives Two news items about alternative operating system news in a row? What is this, Christmas? In any case, the Haiku project, the darling of OSNews (hey it's okay now), has released its second alpha release. This new stable development release contains some serious improvements over the first alpha.
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RE: Making progresses, but...
by drcouzelis on Mon 10th May 2010 18:57 UTC in reply to "Making progresses, but..."
drcouzelis
Member since:
2010-01-11

I have been using Linux as my only OS for many years, until I recently started dual booting Haiku. I can tell you the reasons why I am interested in using it. By the way, I have never used BeOS, and didn't know anything about it until after I started using Haiku.

Single group of developers
I like the way everything works together in a desktop operating system where the kernel, GUI, and API have all been designed together. It has a sort of "solid" feel to it. One example of this is, I can click and drag almost anything onto anything in Haiku and have the expected result. (file onto application icon, selected text into another application window, image onto the desktop...) Hmm... I realize I'm not making a very good point, but anyway, that's how I feel when using Haiku. ;)

Free and open source
Also, free and open source software is important to me, so even though Windows and Mac OS X are made by single companies, I am not interested in them.

User in control
Haiku does does not have the concept of being "busy". There is nothing equivalent to the Windows hourglass, the Mac OS X pinwheel, or the (rarely seen) Linux hourglass. Haiku doesn't even have a mouse cursor for that. The user is always in control.

Nice user interface
I found the GUI to be very pleasant to look at and easy to learn. The major different I found was how the deskbar works, but you can click and drag the little "handle" to make it look like GNOME or Windows if you want.

Good default settings
I like how the default settings are very nice. I find that Haiku has a good balance of "setup everything nicely for me and don't let me mess it up" and "give me the power to do whatever I want on my computer". I am often tweaking Linux, or in other words, working ON Linux instead of working IN Linux. I don't find that to be the case in Haiku. (Or Mac OS X)

Good default API
As a software developer, I like the standard API that is included on all Haiku installations, which includes widgets, graphics, and sound.

"Clean" software packages
There are philosophical differences in how software is packaged and run. There isn't really a concept of an application being "installed". Instead, all of the files for an application just sit in a directory. To "uninstall", just delete the directory. You could put all of your Haiku applications on a USB drive, stick it in any Haiku computer, and just run the applications right off the drive. I know Linux software can be setup to run like this, but in Haiku it is expected.

...That's all I can think of now. It may not be enough to "convert" many people, but I think Haiku is different enough from other operating systems that some people will find it to be what they want in an OS.

Reply Parent Score: 1

Neolander Member since:
2010-03-08

Single group of developers
I like the way everything works together in a desktop operating system where the kernel, GUI, and API have all been designed together. It has a sort of "solid" feel to it. One example of this is, I can click and drag almost anything onto anything in Haiku and have the expected result. (file onto application icon, selected text into another application window, image onto the desktop...) Hmm... I realize I'm not making a very good point, but anyway, that's how I feel when using Haiku. ;)

I can understand that. GUI developed separately from the kernel on Linux feels just horrible. I've learned programming with Delphi (RAD development on top of Windows API), and have been the "unified" feeling of it ever since.

Free and open source
Also, free and open source software is important to me, so even though Windows and Mac OS X are made by single companies, I am not interested in them.

I agree that the issue is relatively important. That's not a major selling point for most users however, and won't make any difference for a Linux user.

User in control
Haiku does does not have the concept of being "busy". There is nothing equivalent to the Windows hourglass, the Mac OS X pinwheel, or the (rarely seen) Linux hourglass. Haiku doesn't even have a mouse cursor for that. The user is always in control.

Well, on VirtualBox at least said user has to wait from time to time. ;) But I suppose that you talk about the hourglass without the mouse pointer attached to it, the one that forbids you from doing anything, and then you're totally right. No program-accessible functions should *ever* allow slowing down the UI to the point where it does not respond to user input. User control is more important than performance on a GUI system.

There's one area where Haiku does this the wrong way, though : startup, where the mouse pointer is already there while you can still do nothing useful and have to wait for some time before UI gets actually loaded.

Nice user interface
I found the GUI to be very pleasant to look at and easy to learn. The major different I found was how the deskbar works, but you can click and drag the little "handle" to make it look like GNOME or Windows if you want.

Didn't know about that. The Windows/GNOME way of doing things is a waste of space, though, so I'll keep it as a vertical panel. What I found while playing with the deskbar, however, was an option that I was deeply missing : always on top. For the user to stay in control, the deskbar must stay easily accessible. With always on top, it feels clunky though (windows are not resized in order to stop going behind the deskbar), it's clear that it's not the developer's preferred options. It's sad, I think it should.

Other things which I dislike about Haiku's UI...
-> The tabbed windows border. It would become something useful if I could move the tab all around the window (including around the left, right, and bottom borders) and create tabbed windows in the way the newer KDE 4 does, but at the moment it's just harder to grab windows border with nothing in compensation.
-> I miss windows grabbing with Alt + Click in the middle of the window. It's one of the few powerful and distinctive features of Linux's window management.
-> I dislike the ways file browsing and management is done currently, because...
1/I get tired of seeing "mount" menus everywhere. Is mounting and unmounting really such an important task ?
2/The current way of managing file icons is not Fitts-friendly. To make file management an easy task, icons must be bigger, so that they can be targeted easily even when you move the pointer with little precision. Use of list views does not allow that. 16x16 icons have very low readability and are hard to target (especially in 1280x1024).
Moreover, icons in folders are a mess as soon as you stop using list view, just like in older releases of Mac OS... And just as annoying. Last issue with icons : apparently, you can't have a global setting for all folders, which means that if you want to get rid of the list view, you must go into each and every folder, one by one, and change this settings. This is horribly bad.
3/Spatial file browsing is bad as a default settings. It fills your desktop with loads of windows that you don't care about, and once you've done with it you must close all those windows, one by one. That mistake was introduced by older Mac OS too, if I remember well... Some people like it, most do not, hence don't make it the default.

Good default settings
I like how the default settings are very nice. I find that Haiku has a good balance of "setup everything nicely for me and don't let me mess it up" and "give me the power to do whatever I want on my computer". I am often tweaking Linux, or in other words, working ON Linux instead of working IN Linux. I don't find that to be the case in Haiku. (Or Mac OS X)

I tweak Linux and Windows more than Haiku myself, that's true. But I've still some issues with default settings, as shown above...

Good default API
As a software developer, I like the standard API that is included on all Haiku installations, which includes widgets, graphics, and sound.

That's one of Haiku's selling point as a developer, sure ;) But it does not improve everyday user experience...

"Clean" software packages
There are philosophical differences in how software is packaged and run. There isn't really a concept of an application being "installed". Instead, all of the files for an application just sit in a directory. To "uninstall", just delete the directory. You could put all of your Haiku applications on a USB drive, stick it in any Haiku computer, and just run the applications right off the drive. I know Linux software can be setup to run like this, but in Haiku it is expected.

It's true that it's simpler. But I wonder if this behavior is here to stay when Haiku devs begin to have security in mind. Good security without some kind of installer is difficult. I'm personally a packet advocate : it allows caring about security and centralized software management, without introducing some "next" hell...

Edited 2010-05-10 20:15 UTC

Reply Parent Score: 2

Neolander Member since:
2010-03-08

have been missing*

Reply Parent Score: 1

cb88 Member since:
2009-04-23

You can slide the tab on the window press shift or control don't remember which also you can drag windows by thier borders...


Another thing Alt+click is an X11 feature... not Linux since you get it on solaris and bsd too I think anyway

Reply Parent Score: 1

DOSguy Member since:
2009-07-27

The tabbed windows border. It would become something useful if I could move the tab all around the window (including around the left, right, and bottom borders) and create tabbed windows in the way the newer KDE 4 does, but at the moment it's just harder to grab windows border with nothing in compensation.


You can drag the tab by holding SHIFT, but it stays on the top side. I really like your suggestion of being able to drag the tab all around the window, though.
Recently I saw a video that demonstrated the grouping of multiple windows into one, just like KDE can do, but I don't think this functionality is in this Alpha release.

I've been trying the new Haiku release for the past few hours and although it isn't perfect, it has been a very solid experience so far. ( and yes, I'm enjoying it in my lappie's native resolution ;) )

Edited 2010-05-10 20:52 UTC

Reply Parent Score: 1

drcouzelis Member since:
2010-01-11

For the user to stay in control, the deskbar must stay easily accessible.

I think the idea is that by using a "tab" on top of each window it allows the deskbar to always be clickable, even when a window is fullscreen. If there is a window covering the deskbar, you could right click (or middle click, I can't remember) the windows's tab to push it behind everything.

It would become something useful if I could move the tab all around the window and create tabbed windows in the way the newer KDE 4 does.

Moving the tab all around the window is an interesting idea. As for now, you can slide the tab along the top of the window by holding the shift key. I'm sorry, I can't remember if they plan on adding the functionality to group windows into a single window with tabs, but I think they are. You can simulate it by placing windows on top of each other and sliding the tabs around, but I agree that having the functionality built in would be very nice.

I miss windows grabbing with Alt + Click in the middle of the window.

It's there. I think it's shift + ctrl + click, but I can never remember. I always have to hit a bunch of key combinations before I get it. ;)

Spatial file browsing is bad as a default settings. It fills your desktop with loads of windows that you don't care about, and once you've done with it you must close all those windows, one by one.

Haiku has been the only OS where I've tried sticking with spatial file browsing. It's been good for me. It behaves correctly, for example, by remembering the location and size of every window. Sometimes I find it nice to have the "trail" of windows open. Sometimes, when I know I what I want and want to get to it quickly, I just right click on the folder and "drill down" through the menus to get it. Also, I sometimes just double click on folder after folder while holding the "opt" ("Windows" key), which will close the last window I was in while opening the new one.

By the way, I love the "resize" button of each window. I never use the maximize button in any other user interface, but I find I use the resize button all the time.

Edit: Eugenia had an interesting comment about spatial file managers here:

http://www.osnews.com/story/7344

But I wonder if this behavior is here to stay when Haiku devs begin to have security in mind. Good security without some kind of installer is difficult. I'm personally a packet advocate : it allows caring about security and centralized software management, without introducing some "next" hell.

You may be interested in reading the discussion on package manager ideas for Haiku:

http://dev.haiku-os.org/wiki/PackageManagerIdeas

Edited 2010-05-10 20:58 UTC

Reply Parent Score: 1

StephenBeDoper Member since:
2005-07-06

There's one area where Haiku does this the wrong way, though : startup, where the mouse pointer is already there while you can still do nothing useful and have to wait for some time before UI gets actually loaded.


On the old AthlonXP 2800 that I use for Haiku and BeOS (not exactly a powerhouse machine), the mouse cursor is visible for maybe 2-3 seconds before the desktop appears.

What I found while playing with the deskbar, however, was an option that I was deeply missing : always on top.


Haiku Menu > Deskbar Settings > Always on Top.

The tabbed windows border. It would become something useful if I could move the tab all around the window (including around the left, right, and bottom borders)


Not sure I see the utility to moving it elsewhere on the Window (on the left or right sides, the text label would become vertical - and therefore much harder to read quickly).

but at the moment it's just harder to grab windows border with nothing in compensation.


Even without stack-and-tile, the title tabs are still useful - mainly because they make it possible to have a group of arbitrary windows that overlap, but are still easily-accessible because the tabs are visible.

I miss windows grabbing with Alt + Click in the middle of the window. It's one of the few powerful and distinctive features of Linux's window management.


I'm fairly certain that someone released an input_server plugin to implement Alt-drag a few years back, but sadly I can't remember the name.

1/I get tired of seeing "mount" menus everywhere.


"Everywhere"? By my count, the "Mount" menu exists in exactly one place: Tracker's right-click menu.

Is mounting and unmounting really such an important task ?


Sure, if you have multiple drives/partitions, or regularly insert & unplug removable media.

2/The current way of managing file icons is not Fitts-friendly. To make file management an easy task, icons must be bigger, so that they can be targeted easily even when you move the pointer with little precision. Use of list views does not allow that. 16x16 icons have very low readability and are hard to target (especially in 1280x1024).


Honestly, I can't say that's ever posed a problem for me in a decade-plus of using BeOS and Haiku. Files can be dragged by the text label too, as with just about every other GUI filemanager in existence.

Moreover, icons in folders are a mess as soon as you stop using list view, just like in older releases of Mac OS...


Ctrl-Shift-K.

And just as annoying. Last issue with icons : apparently, you can't have a global setting for all folders, which means that if you want to get rid of the list view, you must go into each and every folder, one by one, and change this settings. This is horribly bad.


That "problem" is a side-effect of a intentional feature: namely, the way that Tracker preserves folder window size & display settings. But yeah it would be nice to have an "Apply to all folders" option.

3/Spatial file browsing is bad as a default settings. It fills your desktop with loads of windows that you don't care about, and once you've done with it you must close all those windows, one by one.


There are 2 keyboard shortcuts & 1 modifier that make that issue trivially-easy to avoid.

Ctrl-Opt-Up: open parent folder & close current folder
Ctrl-Opt-Down: open selected sub-folder and close current folder, double-clicking a folder with Option (Win-key) held down accomplishes the same thing.

That mistake was introduced by older Mac OS too, if I remember well... Some people like it, most do not, hence don't make it the default.


Spatial file management has been the default in BeOS/Haiku since long before the term "spatial file management" was even coined. Given that most current Haiku users probably former BeOS users, that default makes sense.

Maybe that will change in the future, but even then I still think there's a benefit to exposing new users to a file management approach they may not be familiar with. Sure, some will hate it and immediately change to single-window mode (which takes all of 5 seconds). But there will also be people who come to prefer "spatial mode" and appreciate having been introduced to it (speaking as a spatial file management "convert" who used to prefer 2-pane/single-window file managers).

But it [good default API] does not improve everyday user experience...


True, but a good API can enable/ease the development of software that DOES improve everyday user experience.

Reply Parent Score: 2

dragossh Member since:
2008-12-16

Well, on VirtualBox at least said user has to wait from time to time. ;) [...] There's one area where Haiku does this the wrong way, though : startup, where the mouse pointer is already there while you can still do nothing useful and have to wait for some time before UI gets actually loaded.

There's your problem. VirtualBox. Believe me, native Haiku is so fast that you will not believe your eyes. Even with VESA and 100% CPU Haiku won't make you wait one bit.

What I found while playing with the deskbar, however, was an option that I was deeply missing : always on top. For the user to stay in control, the deskbar must stay easily accessible. With always on top, it feels clunky though (windows are not resized in order to stop going behind the deskbar), it's clear that it's not the developer's preferred options. It's sad, I think it should.

I always use Auto-raise. Nice balance between having the Deskbar out of the way and still it being accessible.

The tabbed windows border. It would become something useful if I could move the tab all around the window (including around the left, right, and bottom borders) and create tabbed windows in the way the newer KDE 4 does, but at the moment it's just harder to grab windows border with nothing in compensation.

Shift-click should to the trick ;)

1/I get tired of seeing "mount" menus everywhere. Is mounting and unmounting really such an important task ?

Other than volumes, I didn't see any Mount and Unmount menu items.

It's true that it's simpler. But I wonder if this behavior is here to stay when Haiku devs begin to have security in mind. Good security without some kind of installer is difficult. I'm personally a packet advocate : it allows caring about security and centralized software management, without introducing some "next" hell...

There is no "next" hell in Haiku ;) If you ever get the chance to install a .pkg, you will see how fast it is to install one. Double-click, install, done. Just like in Linux.

Reply Parent Score: 1