If you were to believe some, BeOS is a dead Operating System. If this was the case you would expect numbers at BeGeistert to be dwindling, but the reality is different, the corpse is moving and this was the biggest BeGeistert yet.
BeGeistert 010 was as ever held in Dusseldorf Germany 26-27th April 2003.
All the BeGeisterts (BeGeisterten?) I’ve been to (004 onwards) have been at a Church hall where we had rooms to sleep in, a big room in which to set up computers and a few smaller rooms.
The church hall is apparently no longer available so the orga team managed to find us a new location in a Youth Hostel, this is a lot larger, situated much closer to the centre of Dusseldorf and a great deal easier to find – everyone still managed to get lost but this time it was easier to get found again.
The larger location means more can sleep over if they need to and indeed with the higher number of people there they wouldn’t have been able to accommodate us in the old place. I believe something in the order of 50 people stayed over Saturday night which is very good considering there were only 25 present this time last year.
As with 009 I was accompanied by two of my colleagues and we also gave a lift to Francois Revol (aka mmu_man) who was also traveling from France, France? Yes, I live in Paris now :-D. It’s a long journey by car (around 5 hours) and as is the usual custom I arrived too late for the group dinner but Charlie showed us to a restaurant where we enjoyed a nice meal and I discovered Germans describe meat cooked “rare” as “English”, this is really weird as the English way of cooking meat is anything but rare!
Friday evening a small-ish room had been taken up by those present with many of the usual faces present, as ever I had my camera and they knew I’d turned up simply because of the camera flash! There was nothing official on the Friday night as is usually the case, just meeting up with people and catching up with what’s been going on. The usual suspects were there as usual and I had various chats with various people on a various subjects and heard some nice juicy rumours in the process. For some reason we got kicked out of the room and ordered to bed at the strangely early hour of 3.00AM, this is unusually early for a Friday night at BeGeistert.
What was worse however is that we had to get up early – breakfast finished at 8:30 and that’s just not good for your alertness if you went to bed at 3AM! However a cunning plan had been hatched to keep some breakfast over for the stragglers who get up late (like me) so I managed to get some food, though even I managed to get up before 9.
On Saturday we’d moved into a much larger room where everyone set their computers up. The room is bigger than the main room at the old location and tables and chairs were set up around 3 sides and a row in the middle giving more space for people to set up their systems. It wasn’t all taken up in the morning but by the end of the day the room was completely full and I think they even had to move in some extra tables and chairs at one point. When I counted there were 21 laptops and 9 desktop computers.
People do all sorts of things at BeGeistert, some were coding, some looking at what had been coded and fixing problems with other people, quite a few were BeSharing and at least one guy insisted on doing a *cough* Backup. With a system currently not commercially supported (The BeOS reincarnation Zeta has not been released yet) it becomes a problem to support newer hardware and so a few people get together at BeGeistert and work on Drivers.
The mix of people this time was very international, Germans make up the biggest group of course but there were also people from The Netherlands, France, USA, Estonia, Sweden, Croatia, Italy, Portugal, Moldavia and the UK.
My colleagues and I brought along a Pegasos / MorphOS system as we did at BeGeistert 009, that time we (well, they) did a demo of the system but since most people present had seen that we didn’t bother with a formal demo this time. With our demo machines currently doing a world tour of different customs offices we brought along one of the guys systems so anyone who wanted to could have a look, and indeed quite a few did.
For the second time at BeGeistert we found ourselves getting interviewed by an Amiga magazine! The Italian print magazine Bitmap magazine covers different systems including of course MorphOS and being at BeGeistert of course also BeOS. It was a pretty strange interview as I think it was just thought up on the spot and it consisted of a few questions written down as they thought of them, I just hope they can read (or more accurately, de-cipher) my handwriting. Apparently they can read my writings on-line as one of them had translated my BeGeistert 008 review!
As usual there were a few demonstrations:
The prolific Stephan Assmus always seems to end up doing a demo and this time he didn’t fail us. Indeed this time he had an entirely new program to show off. Wonderbrush is a deceptively simple yet surprisingly powerful drawing app which Stephan wrote because there was nothing that supported his drawing tablet properly. Wonderbrush is a sort of Photoshop in miniature and supports some of the same features including history and layers but of course there has been more thrown in so it can do things that Photoshop can’t do like reorder and change the history. The app is still being worked on and no doubt it’ll turn up on Bebits sometime and I’m sure quite a few will find it useful.
Chris Simmons showed a collection of the movies he took at the recent CBit show.
As part of this he decided to set himself a quest: The get people to say “Hello BeOS community”. So you had clips of all sorts of different people saying hello including some from Palm whose staff mostly hadn’t even heard of BeOS (if you don’t know, they won it) and the ultimate coup – a Microsoft guy!
At BeGeistert 009 there had been a OpenBeOS get together and they did a short talk but didn’t show anything, but it was interesting for the progress report and the details the web page doesn’t show i.e a great deal of work had to be done on a library and this is not on the website.
This time Axel Dorfler and Marcus Overhagen did a demo of OpenBeOS running, admittedly it isn’t the most exciting thing in the world to look at at right now but they showed a short demo program (written in front of us using the BeAPI) which was then compiled and run. The program wasn’t exactly exciting to look at either but the fact that an app using threads written using the BeAPI does show that work has been done and progress is being made. A lot of the current (and previous) work is on the foundations which may not look very exciting but you can’t see anything without them.
Marcus was meant to show the Media kit working but alas it wasn’t competed in time for the demo. He did manage to get it working later and displayed a video and the nodes it went through. OBOS is based on parts and much work has been done on them, however there is more to do and again much of this depends on certain key parts of the system. In this case the Kernel requires work before some other parts can progress further so some work is being concentrated there.
A funny point in the Q&A session was when Bearnd of YellowTab asked about prioritisation of different parts – he asked what they were waiting for and Marcus gave the rather surprising answer that they were waiting for Zeta! Zeta will get more interest in BeOS and OBOS will pick up from that.
After the OpenBeOS demonstration I got the chance to do my short announcement. I’ve never done an announcement in front of 50-ish people complete with umpteen cameras flashing so I was a little nervous. It’s public knowledge now of course but I was very happy to announce that Ex-Be inc. developer Travis Geistelbrecht had a Pegasos to port NewOS and OpenBeOS developer Axel Dorfler also had one with the aim of porting OpenBeOS.
BeOS of course started it’s public life on PowerPC so this’ll bring it back again.
Being interested and working in the alternative computer field I am well aware of the almost religious fever Operating Systems have around them – we offer our own OS MorphOS and of course we want people to use it but people will want what they want to use – so we’ll do all we can to help them.
After the demos were over the Alt (dark Dusseldorf beer) and was flowing for quite a while but we eventually got hungry and went for some food. Weirdly my colleagues decided to go for a MacDonalds, being from France of all places you’d expect them to go elsewhere but maybe they’d had enough of good food… Some of us decided to go into the old town which in the new location isn’t so far away. Charlie navigated us along the “world’s longest bar” to a *really* good pizzeria where we enjoyed a good feed, must have been good because we had two of the Italians with us and they approved. During the meal we found out that one of our number Sergei Dolgov (Stripzilla and Firebird developer, hero of BONE users everywhere) had his Birthday that very day so a sweet was procured, photos taken and we all sung happy birthday.
After the pizza and a short walk we went to outside a small bar where they sell a strange drink called Killepitsch, a strong but very sweet drink which was sort of like a stronger version of the “glu wine” (warm sweet wine) you get at the German Christmas markets. While we were enjoying this small but very potent drink we bumped into a crowd of Garman girls engaged in a German pre-wedding ceremony where you pay a Euro and get a kiss from the bride to be, they also take your photo and you write in a little book beside it. I don’t always understand these strange central European traditions – in Britain we go out, get very drunk, tie the victim to a lamppost naked and cover him with flour.
Next day we had the much anticipated talk from YellowTab, they didn’t need to introduce it to the attendant crowd of course as we all know about Zeta and besides of which they’d introduced it at BeGeistert 009. They were very evasive about what exactly Zeta was at 009 but that cat is long since out of the bag and gone off chasing mice, they acknowledge the origin of their code – Zeta uses the BeOS sources (or at least some of them).
Zeta is looking pretty good now and a lot of work is being done. Some seem to think this is a bug fixed version of “Dano” (a late leaked version of BeOS) but there it’s more than that with internationalisation being added, themes, transparent clocks and who knows what else. I’m not quite sure but I think the OpenBeOS BFS is also being used.
YellowTab have been busy with Bernd flying left right and centre, he says there is quite considerable interest in the product with enquiries coming from resellers all over the world.
Their new investors turned up in a car complete with a huge YellowTab logo and had a load of stickers and posters to give out although if I may be so brave I’d like to suggest that for YellowTab an investment in an English spell checker might be a prudent move…
Sunday ended fairly early for us as Francois had to get a train and we had to get to Paris in time for this so we had to leave pretty early. However some others stayed on and indeed you could stay a third night if you wanted to this time. Only a few did stay the extra night but I’m sure it must have been interesting.
One thing I like about the Be community is that although there are different directions being taken for the most part they are one community and many work across the different projects. This is rather different from the Amiga community which these days suffers from at least a vocal minority who are badly split and spew venom at one another. The once great Amiga community is but a shadow of it’s former self and could learn a lesson from communities like BeOS (and also the BSDs) where different directions even if competitive are still seen as beneficial to the whole.
I think BeGeistert 010 ended on a high note, the community, although small is still very much alive and active and new developments are on the way. Blue Eyed OS barely got a mention but it’s shown a demo, OBOS is progressing, Zeta looks good and isn’t too far off, even the PowerPC folks will have something to be happy about. Since the show the BeAPI has turned up on both Windows and BSD – if you can’t beat them, infect them! This is a completely different story from a couple of years ago which was full of uncertainty, doom and gloom.
This review was very nearly never written, that evening I was assaulted – and nearly killed – by a chicken curry:
I started eating it but after a couple of mouthfuls some got lodged in my throat preventing me from swallowing, this severely constricted my windpipe making breathing difficult (I had to hold my head right back and force the air through). What’s really scary is that your body automatically tries to clear it by trying to swallow ever so often but this takes a few seconds during which you can’t breathe at all. I tried clearing it with water but that didn’t help and I was about to go out and knock on a neighbors door when suddenly it cleared itself. This lasted a couple of minutes and needless to say scared 3 shades of s**t out of me…
Such an experience makes you wonder what’s really important and how it can all be ended by something so simple. Life is precious, enjoy it.