I had been following the mailing list for the Haiku project the past week with growing interest. The topic of discussion? Why, the alpha release, of course! What needs to be done, who needs to prepare what, and most importantly, what schedule are they going to settle on? Well, after numerous insightful back-and-forths, the community has settled on a schedule.
Several concerns needed to be addressed before a final schedule could be drawn up. First of all, and this won’t come as a surprise, but it will be a relatively minimalist release, with only the bare essential applications coming as part of the installation, with most of them geared towards developers. The included list of packages is not yet final, though, but do not expect things like Clockwerk or Wonderbrush to be part of the default image – think more along the lines of Pe, Perl, Python, CVS, BeBook, OpenSSH, Subversion, Nano, and so on. More user oriented applications you can expect to see are Vision (the IRC client of choice for many BeOS/Haiku users), Firefox, and P7Zip.
Another important issue which was quite intriguing to follow up close is that of software patents and GPL code. Obviously, Haiku can’t include patent-encumbered code in jurisdictions where these are valid, so the project needs to either offer two versions, or make optional downloadable packages. GPL code is of course also possibly problematic, as the GPL is incompatible with the MIT license the Haiku project uses (one-way compatibility is no compatibility). When the alpha release is built, build switches will need to be set to exclude any possible GPL and patent-encumbered bits.
There was also quite some discussion on how to handle the release within trunk. Should the project make an alpha branch, close that branch except for bug-fixes, leaving trunk open for more disruptive changes – or should they go into “release mode”, and limit trunk to anything but bugfixes? The latter was possible because no disruptive changes were happening at the moment anyway, but in the end, they opted for the former option of making an alpha branch.
With those issues settled, votes were cast over the release schedule for the alpha, and now that the voting is complete, we finally have a day to look forward to. The release schedule looks like this (note, though, that if anything serious comes up, the schedule might be abandoned and the release might be delayed):
- Sunday August 23rd, 12:00 GMT. The trunk will be branched so that the release team can work on optimizing the final image.
- Wednesday September 9th, 12:00 GMT. Alpha 1 will be tagged. Builds will be made, tested and distributed to mirrors. Then the release can be announced.
Yes, people, a release date has been set for the first alpha release of Haiku, the open source recreation of the BeOS. It’s been a long time coming, but we can now all mark September 9 in our calendars.