Search Results for: BeOS

Haiku isn’t a BeOS successor anymore

So I got accepted into GSoC again! I’m going to be working on WebKit2. But what is WebKit2, or even WebKit, for that matter? Well, WebPositive uses WebKit to render its web pages. Currently, we use the WebKitLegacy API to communicate with WebKit. It would be nice to switch to the newer version: WebKit2. However, our port of WebKit2 still needs work. At present, it has lost its ability to even render any webpage at all! So, getting WebKit2 to work will be the primary goal of my GSoC project. If there’s time left, I might be able to integrate it into WebPositive. The advantages WebKit2 has for WebPositive will be mostly invisible to end-users. The code will hopefully be more maintainable than the deprecated WebKitLegacy and we’ll get access to several newer APIs such as the ad-blocking API. Perhaps the most visible change: problems in one part of the code should be less likely to crash the whole browser. ↫ Zardshard on the Haiku website The current state of WebPositive, the only native Haiku web browser, is emblematic of why I have personally lost all interest in the successor to what is still my favourite operating system of all time. Haiku OS supports several browsers, and if you read any forum post about which browser to use, or watch any of the enthusiastic Haiku videos by the insanely awesome Action Retro, they’ll all advise you to use any of the non-native Qt or GTK browsers instead – because WebPositive just can’t compete with the ported, non-native browsers. Since everybody using Haiku is opting to use the better ported browsers, WebPositive has fallen even more by the wayside; now it has to play catch-up, and by the time WebKit2 has been properly ported and bug-tested, and has been integrated into WebPositive, which then has to be bug-tested as well, we’re going to be months, if not years, down the line. In the meantime, the ported browsers will have been regularly updated with newer, better versions. Unless the focus for the single most important application of any general purpose desktop operating system is placed solely on WebPositive, it simply won’t be able to keep up with the ported browsers. Why even work on WebPositive at all at that point? It’s not like anyone is using it, so why bother? And this highlights a problem for people like me, who prefer to have native Haiku applications instead of ports of software I can already run elsewhere. As a former BeOS user, I am not interested in a vessel for running Qt applications that I can, in all likelihood, run better on Linux. Why would I go through the trouble of assembling a machine with hardware Haiku supports, only to then run the same applications I’m already running on Fedora or OpenBSD, but worse? If you browse through Haiku Depot today, it feels like the vast majority of modern, maintained, and working software are ports of Qt (and GTK) software we already know and love from other, more mature, more stable, more usable, and more feature-rich platforms. Haiku has chosen to pour a lot of energy and manpower into becoming an operating system designed to run ported, often Qt, applications, but the downside to that is that new and maintained native Haiku applications, that play to the strengths of the platform, are few and far between. A Haiku developer once told me that real people use Haiku every day, and they need real applications, and ported applications make it possible for not only Haiku developers themselves, but also normal users, to run and use Haiku every day. This is a valid argument that I fully understand and agree with – it just means Haiku isn’t for me. And while that’s sad for me, it’s entirely fine. Haiku’s developers have chosen to focus on building a daily-drivable operating system with tons of ported applications, instead of an ideologically pure operating system you can’t really use because it only has like 4 native applications and nothing else. And that’s a valid, smart, and practical choice that I fully respect and understand, even if it means Haiku isn’t really a BeOS successor anymore.

Launching brand new BeOS, Mac OS X, and MS-DOS T-shirts in the OSNews Merch Store!

The holidays are coming, there’s a chill in the air (literally for me, I live in the Arctic), so it’s time for a few new additions to the official OSNews Merch Store. Do you live in the terminal, breathe the terminal? We’ve got new shirts just for you. The opening message of the terminals of Mac OS X, BeOS, and MS-DOS (let’s be generous and call MS-DOS a terminal), with a command to call an osnews directory on the file system, printed on the front of the shirt. They sport the correct fonts, background colours, and exact verbiage used in the operating systems themselves. For the Mac OS X one, I had to choose a last login date and a username, so I opted for the exact time and date of birth of my oldest son, and a username that’s a bit of an Easter egg. These shirts of the organic cotton variety, and all proceeds go to supporting OSNews’ continued existence so we don’t have to resort to SEO crap, “AI”-generated garbage, and malvertising. Every item sold on the store generates around $10 for us, with the rest going to our partner Bonfire for producing the items and running the store. You can also support OSNews through individual donations on Ko-Fi, by becoming a Patreon, and by supporting us through LiberaPay.

Rare BeBox Dual603e-133 for sale in Japan, accompanied by even rarer documentation and software for the only PC to ever ship with BeOS

A few months ago, I talked about the only PC ever shipped with BeOS preinstalled, the Flora Prius from Hitachi. However, due to illegal pressure from Microsoft, Hitachi disabled the special bootloader required to boot into BeOS, so while the best operating system ever made was right there on the hard drive, buyers couldn’t actually use it without manually restoring the bootloader and BeOS partitions. Of course, I now have to try and find a working example of this Hitachi Flora Prius computer line. They were apparently only sold in Japan, so the odds of finding one anywhere seem slim, at best. It doesn’t help that most people who bought one of these had no idea BeOS was installed or what BeOS even was, so the historical significance was lost on them. I also think these weren’t particularly noteworthy computers otherwise – most likely one of the many dime-a-dozen beige boxes sold all over the world. Searches on eBay and Japanese auction sites yield no results. I got an e-mail today from an OSNews reader, informing me of something quite rare. On the Japanese auction site, someone is selling a BeBox, which in and of itself is already a very rare occurrence, as few BeBoxen were ever sold (1800 in total). To further add to the rarity, it’s the dual 133 MHz model, which is the rarer of the two configurations (800 pieces sold). These machines don’t come up for sale very often, and I’m pretty sure the seller is going to net a good price for this museum piece, which seems to be in almost pristine condition, without scratches of scuffs. The price is set at ¥950000 (€5821) excl. shipping (shipping costs to e.g. Europe or the US would be substantial), but I’m pretty sure the seller could ask for more. Seeing a BeBox for sale is already quite exciting, but browsing through the accompanying pictures, there’s something even rarer: documentation and software CD-ROMs for the Hitachi Floria Plus 330j and BeOS. The machine itself is not part of the auction, but even seeing the documentation and CD-ROMs for it is entirely unique, and most likely something we won’t be seeing anywhere else anytime soon. Since the Floria Plus was sold as a generic, uninteresting PC, probably long forgotten and scrapped by most people, I doubt one will ever be found. The documentation and software in this auction might be one of the last surviving tangible relics of the only PC ever sold with BeOS preinstalled.

The only PC ever shipped with BeOS preinstalled

As a former BeOS user and fan(atic), I consider myself quite knowledgeable on the subject, but as I was watching the latest Micheal MJD video about BeOS, I learned something new I had never heard of before. It’s common knowledge that Be actively tried to court x86 OEMs to bundle BeOS alongside Windows in a dual-boot configuration. However, these efforts fell apart as soon as Microsoft caught wind of it and Redmond sent representatives to these OEMs to, shall we say, politely discourage them from doing so. I thought this is where this story ended – the OEMs ghosted Be, and no PC with BeOS preinstalled ever shipped. But in his video, Micheal MJD mentions that at least one OEM did actually ship BeOS preinstalled alongside Windows – Hitachi. However, while the company technically shipped BeOS, it still wanted to appease Microsoft’s goons representatives, and so Hitachi just… Disabled the special boot loader that would’ve allowed users to pick BeOS at boot. BeOS was technically installed and took up a part of the hard drive of every one of these machines shipped, but unless you followed a set of detailed instructions posted by Be online, using a BeOS boot floppy, you wouldn’t be able to actually boot into BeOS. Trying to find more information about this, I ended up at the article archive of Scot Hacker, author of, among other things, The BeOS Bible. In 2001, Hacker wrote the post “He who controls the boot loader“, in response to the news that Be had been acquired by Palm: In the 1998-1999 timeframe, ready to prime the pump with their desktop offering, Be offered BeOS for free to any major computer manufacturer willing to pre-install BeOS on machines alongside Windows. Although few in the Be community ever knew about the discussions, Gassée says that Be was engaged in enthusiastic discussions with Dell, Compaq, Micron, and Hitachi. Taken together, pre-installation arrangements with vendors of this magnitude could have had a major impact on the future of Be and BeOS. But of the four, only Hitachi actually shipped a machine with BeOS pre-installed. The rest apparently backed off after a closer reading of the fine print in their Microsoft Windows License agreements. Hitachi did ship a line of machines (the Flora Prius) with BeOS pre-installed, but made changes to the bootloader — rendering BeOS invisible to the consumer — before shipping. Apparently, Hitachi received a little visit from Microsoft just before shipping the Flora Prius, and were reminded of the terms of the license. Be was forced to post detailed instructions  on their web site explaining to customers how to unhide their hidden BeOS partitions. It is likely that most Flora Prius owners never even saw the BeOS installations to which they were entitled. So clearly, this information has been out there since at least 2001 – I had just never heard of it. There’s countless references to Hacker’s article out there as well, so it’s not like it’s some deeply hidden secret nobody was aware of. I, of course, dove into our own archives and… For the love of KDL, we even linked to Hacker’s article. I wasn’t working for OSNews at the time – this was about 4-5 years before I came on as Managing Editor – but I find it highly entertaining this was already part of OSNews lore. In any event, I’m wondering if this makes Hitachi the only OEM to have ever shipped a computer with BeOS preinstalled. Several Mac clone makers put a BeOS installation CD in the box of their machines, but I don’t think any of them ever shipped machines with BeOS preinstalled. Even if they did, Hitachi would still be the only x86 OEM to have ever shipped BeOS preinstalled, and that, too, is incredibly noteworthy. Of course, I now have to try and find a working example of this Hitachi Flora Prius computer line. They were apparently only sold in Japan, so the odds of finding one anywhere seem slim, at best. It doesn’t help that most people who bought one of these had no idea BeOS was installed or what BeOS even was, so the historical significance was lost on them. I also think these weren’t particularly noteworthy computers otherwise – most likely one of the many dime-a-dozen beige boxes sold all over the world. Searches on eBay and Japanese auction sites yield no results. We really need to find a working example of a Hitachi Flora Prius with BeOS preinstalled. We need to image its hard drive for posterity on, and I want to see it running – either on YouTube or in real life, I don’t care. This is a piece of computing history that needs to be preserved.

Going where BeOS NetPositive hasn’t gone before: NetPositive+

This is a real 133MHz BeBox running otherwise stock BeOS R5, surfing Hacker News and using a modified, bug-fixed NetPositive wired to offload encryption to an onboard copy of Crypto Ancienne (see my notes on the BeOS port). NetPositive is the only known browser on the PowerPC ports of BeOS — it’s probably possible to compile Lynx 2.8.x with BeOS CodeWarrior, but I’ve only seen it built for Intel, and Mozilla and Opera were definitely Intel/BONE-only. With hacks for self-hosted TLS bolted on, NetPositive’s not fast but it works, and supports up to TLS 1.2 currently due to BeOS stack limitations. This is a modified version of the latest official NetPositive browser from Be, updated to somewhat work on the modern web, specifically for PowerPC machines like the BeBox and BeOS-compatible PowerPC Macs. It can load various modern sites, but as the author notes, OSNews refuses to load (we used to have a complicated system of recognising individual obscure platforms and browsers so we could serve them a limited version of the site, but that became increasingly difficult and time-consuming to maintain, for effectively no benefit other than bragging rights). You can download and run it using the instructions in the post, and more improvements are being considered. Absolutely excellent work.

BeOS: the alternate universe’s Mac OS X

You’re likely familiar with the old tale about how Steve Jobs was ousted from Apple and started his own company, NeXT. Apple then bought NeXT and their technologies and brought Jobs back as CEO once again. However, Jobs’ path wasn’t unique, and the history of computing since then could’ve gone a whole lot different. In 1990, Jean-Louis Gassée, who replaced Jobs in Apple as the head of Macintosh development, was also fired from the company. He then also formed his own computer company with the help of another ex-Apple employee, Steve Sakoman. They called it Be Inc, and their goal was to create a more modern operating system from scratch based on the object-oriented design of C++, using proprietary hardware that could allow for greater media capabilities unseen in personal computers at the time. Not much new information in here for the regular OSNews reader – and these articles get published about once a year – but it’s always nice to see the best operating system of all time get some love.

What makes BeOS and Haiku unique

A great article about a number of things that make Haiku (and BeOS) unique. There's a lot to cover here, so I'll just take a random sample to quote here:

Really, the first feature a new user will notice, before even noticing packages (which I covered first as they were new to the Beta) is the Be user interface. It manages to remain fundamentally true to itself, while also being quite powerful.

The BeOS user interface was one of my favourite user interfaces ever created. There was something unassuming, simple, and straightforward about it, and it always looked very appealing and attractive to me. The Haiku developers and designers have managed to modernize the visual aspects of the user interface very well, and thanks to their beautiful icons and light modernisations in every UI element in the operating system, it still looks really nice today.

I have enough experience in this industry to know that the odds of lots of application developers picking up Haiku to create useful applications re slim, at best, but I'm just going to ignore my own (justified) skepticism and keep hoping magic happens here.

On a related note, the latest Haiku monthly activity report is out, and details the work done since the release of the first beta.

Beta release nears for BeOS-inspired open source OS Haiku

Haiku developer Adrien Destugues said that some of the remaining work before the beta is released includes "fixing some of the most embarrassing bugs". "But we also need to set up various things to make it possible to publish updates and bugfixes to the beta after it has shipped," he adds.

An interview with Haiku developer Adrien Destugues about the upcoming beta release.

The BeOS file system, an OS geek retrospective

It's a bit of a slow news week in technology this week due the US celebrating Independence Day this past 4 July, so Ars decided to repost this article about BFS, and I'm nothing if not a sucker for BeOS content, so here it goes.

The Be operating system file system, known simply as BFS, is the file system for the Haiku, BeOS, and SkyOS operating systems. When it was created in the late '90s as part of the ill-fated BeOS project, BFS's ahead-of-its-time feature set immediately struck the fancy OS geeks. That feature set includes:

  • A 64-bit address space
  • Use of journaling
  • Highly multithreaded reading
  • Support of database-like extended file attributes
  • Optimization for streaming file access

A dozen years later, the legendary BFS still merits exploration - so we're diving in today, starting with some filesystem basics and moving on to a discussion of the above features. We also chatted with two people intimately familiar with the OS: the person who developed BFS for Be and the developer behind the open-source version of BFS.

A good read.

Antique BeOS Content by Scot Hacker

In late 2002, decided to combat falling ad revenue by charging admission to its archives of computing content. I have first-hand experience tring to harvest enough revenue from the Internet to pay operating costs, and fully support Byte's decision to move to a subscription model. However, my BeView columns on are now virtually hidden from search engines and thus from the Internet, and hundreds of incoming links (which now redirect to a subscription page) might as well be broken.

The BeOS content I provided to over the two years I wrote for them is tailored to a very specific niche audience. BeOS itself is, for practical intents and purposes, completely dead. Even though these articles were surprisingly well-trafficked at the time, it is hard for me to imagine that anyone would pay for access to the Byte archives just to read a few old nuggets.

Scot Hacker's BeOS columns for Byte, neatly archived. What an amazing treasure trove. I don't think this archive is new by any means, but it's the first time I've seen it.

Apple engineer tried to buy BeOS from Palm for the iPhone

Jean-Louis Gassée:

When the Apple smartphone project started, the key decision was the choice of software engine. Should Apple try to make a 'lite' version of OS X (as it was then known)? Go in a completely new direction?

It appears that a new direction may have been tempting. At the time that Apple's smartphone project began, an Apple employee and former Be engineer offered Palm Inc. $800K for a BeOS "code dump" - just the code, no support, no royalties. The engineer was highly respected for his skill in mating software to unfamiliar hardware; BeOS was a small, light operating system; draw your own conclusion... Palm, which had purchased Be a few years before that, turned him down.

Interesting historical footnote. This would be the second time that Apple tried to buy BeOS. I've been told that while Forstall (who wanted OS X) and Fadell (who wanted the iPod's Pixo) were battling it out, a former Be engineer then working at Apple wanted to prove BeOS was a viable iPhone candidate, and thus tried to buy it. As history knows, Forstall won out, and only after the fact did the Apple engineer inform the higher-ups of what he tried to do. Apparently, this happens more often inside Apple's culture.

BeOS and the G3 Power PC: not to be?

The very first BeOS story OSNews ever published - from 23 January 1998. Here's the same article rendered in the then-current OSNews website.

More of the fallout from Apple's decision to bump off its cloners last Fall has settled over the Valley recently, falling particularly hard in Menlo Park, home of Be Inc.. It seems Apple has been loath to hand over the documentation for the "Gossamer" motherboard line of PowerPC 750 machines (popularly referred to as the "G3" line) that began shipping last November.

In the past, Apple had been more than happy to hand over the documentation to its various motherboard designs, each having colorful names like Alchemy, Tanzania, and Tsunami. But the return of Jobs has chilled the once congenial relationship the two companies had, although both Motorola and IBM are more than happy to provide the BeOS team all the technical specs they desire.

The result for Be users on PowerPC machines (right now they're the only kind, although BeOS for Intel is due in March) is that Apple's gradual improvements in motherboard design are forever off limits, forcing them into an upgrade path (if they choose to even stay on the PowerPC platform) dependent upon the processor upgrade cards offered by companies like Newer Technologies and PowerLogix.

Steve Jobs closing off the entire company and cutting off access to its specifications is one of the four times Be, Inc. died. Fitting it is the subject of our very first BeOS story.

Our favourite ‘forgotten tech’ – from BeOS to Zip Drives

"We all know about the gadgets that get showered with constant praise - the icons, the segment leaders, and the game changers. Tech history will never forget the Altair 8800, the Walkman, the BlackBerry, and the iPhone. But people do forget - and quickly - about the devices that failed to change the world: the great ideas doomed by mediocre execution, the gadgets that arrived before the market was really ready, or the technologies that found their stride just as the world was pivoting to something else." I was a heavy user of BeOS, Zip drives, and MiniDisc (I was an MD user up until about 2 years ago). I'm starting to see a pattern here.

Developer interview: how Haiku is building a better BeOS

BeOS may be dead, but over a decade after its lamentable demise the open source Haiku project keeps its legacy alive. Haiku is an attempt to build a drop-in, binary compatible replacement for BeOS, as well as extending the defunct OS's functionality and support for modern hardware. At least, that's the short-term goal - eventually, Haiku is intended significantly enhance BeOS while maintaining the same philosophy of simplicity and transparency, and without being weighed down with the legacy code of many other contemporary operating systems. Computerworld Australia recently caught up with Stephan Assmus, who has been a key contributor to the project for seven years for a lengthy chat about BeOS, the current state of Haiku and the project's future plans.

The BeOS File System

The Be operating system file system, known simply as BFS, is the file system for the Haiku, BeOS, and SkyOS operating systems. When it was created in the late '90s as part of the ill-fated BeOS project, BFS's ahead-of-its-time feature set immediately struck the fancy OS geeks . . . we'll take a look at the legendary BFS, starting with some filesystem basics and moving on to a discussion of the above features.

BeOS Behind the Sinister Dollhouse

"Firefly" is the best Joss Whedon work to date, but I always try to give the benefit of the doubt on new sci-fi shows. So tonight, as I was watching "Dollhouse" on TV with my ex-Be engineer husband, JBQ (currently at Android, along with many other ex-Be engineers), I noticed something familiar at the Dollhouse supervisor's computer screen. It seems that the Dollhouse's business runs on... BeOS. Click in for some snapshots of the scene. Update: mikesum32 tells us that they used a screenshot of BeOS full screen! In the screenshot BeShare and 'Jabber for BeOS' were open. I recognize quite a few names in their lists (some of them are OSNews readers to this day), so congrats for those who made it to... TV!