Smell the Roses Already: 4 OSs that Should Be Open Source

More often than not, the question arises on OSNews why certain projects or pieces of abandonware aren’t released as open source software. Supposedly, this would speed up development, facilitate the growth of a community, all that jazz associated with open source development. Here are four projects I’d like to see released under a MIT license.4. BeOS

Many who read OSNews regularly probably know that both Eugenia and I have a special place in our hearts for the BeOS. We loved it because it was all-new, fresh, and came with a feature set that other operating systems could only dream of – and a whole set of features that shined due to their absence. Sadly, as we all know, Be, Inc. died due to a combination of business blunders and market circumstances, leaving us BeOS fans in the cold. The BeOS withered away into irrelevance – only open sourcing BeOS could drag it out of it.

So, why isn’t the BeOS number one? Because of Haiku. The project is making massive strides forward, and the first alpha release creeps ever closer. Releasing the BeOS source code under a MIT license won’t be nearly as useful as it would’ve been 5 years ago, but might still help the Haiku project.

3. SkyOS

SkyOS is a massive undertaking, especially taking into account it is mostly written by one man: Robert Szeleney. It started out as a bootloader, but moved away from its roots, turning into an actual operating system, and as the years passed by, the project got ever more ambitious. I’ve personally dealt with the 2.x, 3.x, and 4.x branches, as well as the current test releases, and the progress made is just staggering.

Still, the project appears to be stuck in a perpetual state of ‘testing’. This is of course the team’s prerogative, but it does negatively affect the perception of the project among operating system enthusiasts. While the discussion surrounding SkyOS and open source has always evoked strong emotions, there are, of course, undeniable positive aspects to such a move.

I used be a strong supporter of the closed source nature of SkyOS, but in recent years my position swung to the other side due to an apparent lack of focus and the absence of a release. SkyOS is a great project, with an enthusiastic community, but I think it could be even better.

2. QNX

Just like the BeOS, QNX has a special place in my heart. I used this operating system extensively, and always appreciated how well-structured, stable, clean, and elegant it was. Sadly, QNX Software Systems didn’t care about the three men and a cow who ran QNX as their desktop operating system, and did whatever they thought made business sense: focus on where the money is. It meant the end of the already fragile desktop movement around the QNX operating system.

In September 2007, QSS “opened” the source code behind QNX, but the construction around it is rather messy and is not truly open. As a result, it does not appear as if the desktop movement around QNX is gaining steam again.

Which is a sad thing, as there is so much potential in QNX.

1. AmigaOS4

AmigaOS4 – the untouchable operating system. It is done, it is out there, but in order to run it you either need to buy some classic Amiga with an upgrade board, or buy a modern AmigaOne – the latter might prove to be rather problematic since only three were built, and those who bought those three cling on to them for dear life. In any case, for mere mortals, running AmigaOS4 is nearly impossible.

This is because the AmigaOS is clinging onto an architecture that is increasingly difficult to produce or buy desktop machines for. The PowerPC architecture is quite alive, but not where it matters for the AmigaOS: the desktop (or laptop) market. The end result is that the AmigaOS is probably the most-praised operating system no one can actually run.

Nobody is making any true profits off AmigaOS4. It needs to be open sourced so that the enthusiast community can do what every other sensible company would have already done ages ago: port AmigaOS4 to the x86 architecture. “Just smell some roses already,” Rube told Georgia. I would like to say the same to the companies behind the AmigaOS: stop suing each other, and allow the world to enjoy your once revolutionary operating system. The MIT license is waiting for you.

What are your picks?

114 Comments

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