There’s a relatively short how-to article called Debian GNU/Linux for BeOS Refugees that introduces BeOS users to Debian. To actually switch over to using Debian for your everyday OS, you’ll have to do a lot more reading and work than the article helps you with, but it’s a good start nonetheless.
Debian GNU/Linux for BeOS Refugees
2001-10-16 Debian 4 Comments
Well, I’ve given FreeBSD 4.4 a go, and I’m still not impressed. The amount of disk thrashing is significantly less than under Linux (better VM and Disk Caching algorithms, so it is a better kernel) but I’ve run into a number of quirks.
a) FreeBSD uses the BIOS information when reading about the initial hard disk information. 90% of BIOS’s out there have a problem with hard disks bigger than 33Gb (a ong story about cylinder, heads and sectors and a 24 bit addressing scheme). Unlike BeOS/Linux (which actually ignore the BIOS and figure out the harddisk sizes themselves), FreeBSD needs this when attempting to mount foreign filesystems. I can read my NTFS and FAT32 from a 8Gb drive but not from my 40Gb drive, where all my MP3’s and videos live. A known problem, just check about the aggrevations on the net.
b) Snapshot from 24 September (or similar) still doesn’t know about SoundBlaster Live soundcards (which may be the most common cards on the market). Even BeOS supports it.
c) What is it with *nix filesystems where searching for files takes over 1 minute? This is on a stock installation without GigaBytes of MP3’s, pictures, and other source files. One brilliant thing about BeOS is its database like filesystem – 2 second searches are the norm, not the exception. Contrary to ext2, the FreeBSD filesystem UDF, even MacOSX (HFS+) searches take over a minute. Even NTFS/FAT32 search times are better than *nix filesystem searches. I miss BeOS.
d) My DEC 21040 network card has a buggy driver where it incorrectly flags a certain bit as still active (I forgot which one). I continuously get a “de0: network problem. Cable down?” prompt every 2 seconds or so. There is a known hack to get around this problem (I’m not posting from FreeBSD so I cant remember the syntax) but the script needs to be run regularly. Network works fine, though.
e) Installing packages for FreeBSD are less stressful than under Linux, due to the fact that there is one centralised body defining the standard distribution. Anything which helps fight this silly dependency nightmare is good in my books.
f) Again, why is the *nix community afraid of GUI preferences (my experiences with SuSE are actually better than with the others). It takes ages to find the correct text configuration file, and the parameters aren’t always clear. Seriously, GUI is good.
As a side note, I’ve finally received the MacOSX.1 update. The speed is finally tolerable (still doesn’t compare to BeOS/Windows, but its much better) and actually makes my iMac usable. Apple wins in the looks department (no competition), but its usability still needs improvements. Contextual menus in the Finder needs serious work (now that Pavel from OpenTracker is there, maybe the Finder will start ripping off BeOS features).
Also, I’m very happy with Windows 2000. It’s actually a really good OS. Still a few problems (like renaming or moving a file which is in use, no desktops, right click disk navigation etc).
My AmigaSDK has finally arrived yesterday. Yeah. Too early to comment, though.
To sum it up, I miss BeOS. It still is the best engineered OS (feature wise) I’ve ever encountered, an absolute joy to use. All it really needed was regular updates (.1 releases), and a few more apps for it to reach critical mass. The driver problem wasn’t that bad. Now that I’m determined to get a Radeon 8500 (to replace my aging Voodoo 3000), I’m sure to encounter my first serious BeOS driver problem. Time to donate to the driver fond.
On a side note, (but you didn’t hear it from me), pJava for BeOS is available on a few russian FTP sites, as well as the BeIA client thingie.
I didn’t believe it’s possible…
This Page & that what you can read there was already well commented at the forum on http://www.begroovy.com some months ago.
And – no, this alternative still didn’t become any better since then.
BeOS – Users, once they choosed their Hardware properly, are used to too many features, that all mainstream OSses are dreaming about.
OSses like Debian brings kinda ‘stone age’- feeling for them in a lot of ways.
So generally spoken for the average BeOS – User – as long as they are waiting for the upcoming OpenBeOS (on SourceForge, btw. – you all are invited to help…), they will go on using BeOS.
Or givin’ Mandrake, Caldera & SuSE a chance.
Or – when they haven’t got probs with that – usin’ W2YK (at least this OS allow you anything to do & to open (as long it’s FAT32/NTFS ;-).
Or – when money is no issue at all – they might buy a Gx w/Mac OSX.1…
It’s the old ‘Horse & the Donkey’ story – BeOS – Users are used to ride on a fast & aesthetic horse.
To switch over to a donkey makes less sense, isn’t it ?
I switched in April this year, and I’m quite pleased with the situation. Of course you need kickass internet connection to enjoy apt-get.. but it really has SUPER COW POWERS 🙂 Debian is the real linux (for developers anyway)