Interview with Frans van Nispen of Xentronix and Sequel

OSNews hosts today a mini-interview with Frans van Nispen of Xentronix and the Sequel OS, a new BeOS-like OS which aims to continue where the BeOS technology left off as opposed to being a direct clone. Most people will know Frans from the AtariST demoscene and from his BeOS involvements. In this interview, we will query the status of Sequel (which btw, I am not part of anymore, so don’t email me about it please 🙂 and the status of Xentronix’s Refraction and SampleStudio PRO.1. How is Sequel progressing? What can you tell us about the advancements made so far to the OS?

Frans van Nispen: Sequel is coming along fine. Only two areas on the kernel need some serious work, though we have started work on other areas of the OS as well now.

– we have a kernel that provides about 90% of the desired functionality
– our libroot implementation is reasonably complete
– integration of libroot and kernel is good though some work remains
– presently sequel boots to a cli shell
– we are testing libroot and fixing problems as they arise
– design work on the various userland servers has started

2. How big is the team working on Sequel? How is work distributed?

Joyce and Frans Van Nispen Frans van Nispen: Our team concists of 10 people currently, devided in people with various skills on various areas. All members have more than sufficient skills
in the area they are working.

Work is distributed by inquiring what has to be done next and which topics are running. We try to split the work to the capabilities of our team as much as possible. The big lines are set by me, but we try to work out as much as possible as a team.

So far, we have members with outstanding skills in networking, low level kernel work, filesystems, graphic systems, media, common application development, graphical design and user interfaces and web development.

Any one who is realy willing to join can contact me at [email protected] though only people with a clear motivation and some level of skill are accepted as we want a team that works closely together, understand and
respect each other.

3. Please tell us a few things about the aims of Sequel in the technological
arena. What kind of kernel, filesystem, UI, toolkit are you going to use?

Frans van Nispen: We use a small modular kernel. Our initial filesystem will be BFS.
The GUI will be like the BeOS one: concistent. We will also follow
the Be design of having kits, though they will be extended in many
areas and new ones will be introduced. For example, we will add XML
support functions.

I would say that our target audience would be the enthusiastic developer
for quite a while, which fits nicley for any timeframe for the period
that our OS’s will mature over. The audience may then spread towards
users of existing hobyist platforms such as BeOS and Amiga users, and
hopefully at this point we may get third party commercial application

As regards to software – I would say that because of the developers
skills and because we’re taking the best bits from other media-oreinteated
OS’s like MacOS, BeOS and Amiga, the OS should be pretty good at anything
to do with media, but will have strong UNIX-like underpinnings.

4. How close to BeOS, Sequel is regarding its design and goals?

Frans van Nispen: Sequel will follow a similar design to Be in terms of key architecture, ie a
small kernel with much functionality being provided by kernel level add-ons
and userland servers.

We believe Be created a great OS, though while they got some things right,
they also missed some functionality that’s useful and probably should have
been there. For instance we will support mmap() which BeOS never did.
The kernel module support that Be used was good and useful so we’ve added that
already, although we support sysctl() for getting details of modules loaded.
We follow the Be design of teams/threads, but removed the 192 thread limitation
BeOS had. This shows how we’re not afraid to use the best bits of BeOS, though
if we want to improve on them we will.

5. Please tell us about your other BeOS involvements: a final Refraction release and the status of SampleStudio PRO? (screenshot of Sample Studio, here)

Frans van Nispen: Refraction has gotten a great boost with the last beta 6.1. I would say it
now is about 90% finished. The main things to be done now are creating a
brush editor, fix some pending bugs and write a lot of documentation. This will
take a few more months as I am the sole developer on this project for months

Our target release for SampleStudio PRO will be around the release of Zeta. We
expect to start the test rounds on Zeta in about two weeks from now.
The direct to disk editing, or virtual memory system, is finished now except
for a pending bug in cutting a piece.

The VST plugins now run like they were natively added. Lots of bugs that were
introduced in the beta 3.0 (which came with the source release) are fixed.
We are now running through a list of options that will be added for the
final release with our new group of beta tester who are all established users
of this kind of software. Any new effects or processing functions will be
added as VST plugin, so other BeOS/Zeta programs can also benefit from them.


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