Editorial: Why You Should Support YellowTAB’s Zeta

In light of our world’s first preview of YellowTAB‘s Zeta OS many readers have completely misunderstood a few of the key points presented in the article. Instead of weigh the advantages and disadvantages of Zeta, they only kept in their minds the (so far) negative points. Zeta is still in beta and there is quite some work to be done to clean up before release. I compiled for you two sets of Top-10 reasons why all ex-BeOS users and all other OS enthusiasts should take a good look at Zeta and another set of 10 reasons of why Zeta might not be what you are looking for.Top Ten reasons to try out Zeta if you are an OS enthusiast:

10. Commercial, but affordable: $40
9. Modern object oriented and most importantly: elegant C++ API
8. Pretty good updated hardware support for an OS that has been paused for 3 years
7. Good choice from about 2,500 applications found on BeBits
6. Automatic SMP support for up to 8 CPUs. You can trun ON and OFF CPUs on the fly (useful for debugging)
5. Revolutionary concepts with the use of attributes in its 64-bit filesystem as a flat database
4. Dead simple installation. Can’t get simpler (especially Be’s installation procedure in comparison to Zeta’s)
3. Good latency (as its kernel has a microkernel-like design) which makes it great for multimedia apps! See multiple mp3s or videos playing at the same time without the UI getting sluggish!
2. FAST and extremely responsive UI-wise because of its extreme multi-threading architecture, stable OS. Clean, consistent user interface.
1. Simplicity in its finest form, at all levels. Hassle free. You upgrade your hardware? Cool. As long it is supported, it will not ask you for drivers, ever. The new hardware will work automatically! Most of the times, rebooting is not even required when installing new drivers. This OS is just SIMPLE and doesn’t require you to sacrifice a goat to do what you need it to.

Top Ten reasons to support Zeta if you are an ex or current BeOS user:

10. GCC 3.2 support, creates much faster/better code
9. Number of cool applications written specifically for Zeta/Dano that won’t work on older BeOS.
8. Font-sensitive UI. Window manager theming support. A modified SVG Tracker. Support for non-rectangular windows.
7. Support for bigger hard drives (BeOS 5 had a problem above the 64 GB), support for DiskDruid’s partitioning scheme (which made BeOS sometimes to not be able to “see” partitions created with RH or Mandrake)
6. Fixed Media Kit! New Printing Kit, many new printing drivers!
5. Bug fixes, bug fixes and more performance optimizations (mostly done by Be for Dano)
4. BONE! The new networking stack which makes the porting and performance of networking-based software (e.g. servers) a breeze!
3. Localization, for the first time.
2. LOTS of new hardware support. WiFi, much-much better USB support, better SCSI, full GeForce and ATi drivers, fixed sound drivers for SB128, Audigy etc. support and a lot more drivers not found on Bebits.
1. This is the BeOS 6. The real BeOS 6. The one and only which was coded by Be, Inc. The real thing, only updated. If that doesn’t make you support Zeta, then you are reading the wrong Top10 reasons, re-read the above ones.

Top 10 reasons why Zeta might not be for you (Disclaimer: Some of these issues might get addressed in the final Zeta R1 release, so make sure you check Zeta again by then)

10. The BeOS widget look (not themable) starts to feel a bit dated now. It gets more difficult to captivate the masses by the day.
9. No multi-user. No personal firewall. No Internet connection sharing (via a GUI at least). In these days we live in, security is important.
8. Basic development tools, no good/capable IDE or visual GUI creator. Choice of 3 compilers is a bad decision.
7. Some under-the-hood things need fixing, like better SMP support, support for more than 1 GB of memory etc.
6. No Java support
5. Most Zeta’s additions of options resemble the Linux model instead of the BeOS “keep it simple” rule. BeOS was always about having the best defaults possible, not the most options. For example, the Zeta installation should just have stayed the same, just add more partitioning options to the partitioning tool.
4. Overall hardware support is better than BeOS+BeBits combination, but still not ideal: Scanning support is spotty. No DVD-/+RW support, no good Firewire/video support, no Bluetooth support etc. But there is enough “normal” hardware support to get most of you by.
3. No major applications like an industry compatible office suite, home video editor, graphics app (note: Pixel32 is needed to be ready on Zeta’s launch); A rootless X server (+ Zeta UI theme for KDE/Gnome) could help the situation.
2. No hardware accelerated 3D support, no dual head, no native remote display. Current Font engine (as seen on beta5) is below par.
1. No usable/optimized web browser. Mozilla/FireBird’s ports are slow. NetPositive is old. YellowTAB tells me that they have something in the works, but the real question is how stable/finished it will be by the time Zeta hits R1.

(Disclaimer again: Some of these issues might get addressed in the final Zeta R1 release)


Surely, there are other reasons to consider Zeta or not, like the fact that YellowTAB is a very small company with limited resources. But if you are after a dead simple OS with great speed, updated hardware and software support, and if you had too much of Linux’s bloat, then Zeta is for you.

The open source alternatives of Zeta/BeOS, like OpenBeOS, BlueEyedOS and Cosmoe are nowhere near of offering a competitive desktop OS that works. They are still in their baby age, it will take quite some years before you get something workable from these groups, simply because re-creating a whole operating systems takes many-many years. Incidently, here is an ex-BeOS user today who is looking into the alternatives of BeOS and how far down the line they currently are to be useful to him as a user who needs a modern and functional system. He decides that he will leave the BeOS platform because these offerings are just not there yet.

But YellowTAB’s Zeta is here. Today. Surely it is not perfect and YellowTAB seem to not have experience with a few things, but no OS/startup company is perfect. And especially for an OS that has been resurrected from the dead, it fares pretty well I could say.

We should not forget that YellowTAB has inherited from Be one great gift and one big curse: They are the barers of the original BeOS but they have to live up to the name of Be, Inc. and its engineers who really knew their stuff like the palm of their hands. All they need now to move forward, is your support. Especially from ex-BeOS/BeOS users. Because if you don’t support them or think “I will buy the second version”, there will be NO second version. This is the reality of it. And if YellowTAB goes down, the original BeOS goes down. For good this time. PalmSource has absolutely 0% interest in BeOS. Their “execs don’t even remember they actually own the Be IP” someone in the know told me once.

We need more choice in our world. Today, everything is about Windows or Mac or Linux. It is getting boring. Zeta is not yet-another-unix-like-OS, it is an OS written from scratch resembling no other OS of its time. It is an OS that should live on. Will it change the world as we know it and bring Microsoft to its knees? Surely not. But it is here and its technology is worthy of our attention and support.


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