It seems like only yesterday when due to a combination of hubris, bad business decisions, and pressure from Apple and Microsoft, Be, Inc. went under, with its assets – including the BeOS – bought up by Palm, who now store it in a filing cabinet somewhere in the attic of the company’s Sunnyvale headquarters. Right after Be went under, the OpenBeOS project was started; an effort to recreate the BeOS as open source under the MIT license. This turned out to be a difficult task, and many doubted the project would ever get anywhere. We’re seven years down the road now, and the persistence is paying off: the first Haiku alpha is nearer than ever.
During the recent BeGeistert conference, several key Haiku developers participated in a massive coding sprint, fixing so many issues and bugs it’s almost scary. As Stephen ‘stippi’ Assmus details in a report he wrote for the Haiku website, the coding sprint really was a coding sprint. “All in all, the coding absolutely dominated,” Stippi notes, “It was actually quite intensive, on Wednesday, I realized that I had not been outside since Sunday evening.”
A lot of bugs have been squashed, with quite a number of them focussing on issues related to installing Haiku – such as bugs related to partitioning and initialising. These are important fixes as Haiku’s installation experience was anything but accessible. These bug fixes will enable a more traditional OS installation, something the first alpha could really use. Even though less relevant, my favourite bug fix is definitely this one:
Ingo Weinhold and FranÃ§ois Revol fixed a problem in the kernel that prevented SoundPlay from ever playing the second song in the playlist.
Anyway, the coding sprint has contributed massively to the feeling that Haiku is ready for an alpha release – but it’s not there just yet.
Unfortunately, we have at least one remaining file system bug that corrupts data. We need this one fixed and hopefully we can find a reliable test case to reproduce it. Over the next weeks, I plan to pick up my work on the partitioning backend. It will be important to create and delete partitions from within DriveSetup. Then there is one remaining bug in the USB bus_manager which sometimes suddenly disables USB ports, so that input devices stop working. Once at least those two bugs are fixed, Haiku should be usable. I am very excited!
To further illustrate Haiku’s state, Axel DÃ¶rfler has uploaded a pre-apha Haiku build, and he plans to update it as the actual alpha release draws closer. This release does lack the newer and faster ata driver, and OpenSound is also missing. “This should just give you an idea how the alpha currently looks like, if we wouldn’t do anymore polishing,” DÃ¶rfler notes, “ie. it should point out where we need to keep working on primarily.”
With a bit of luck, Haiku fans may find a nice Christmas present under the tree.