Haiku (OpenBeOS)’s third birthday was a few days ago. While some BeOS parts have been successfully re-implemented so far, these were mostly the ‘trivial’ parts: screensaver kit, printing kit etc. Read more for a mini-editorial.The meat of the matter, the app_server, the interface kit etc, are still pre-pre-alpha. Even the kernel used is NewOS’ kernel, it was not created from scratch by the dev team. However, the filesystem, OpenBFS, was created from scratch, mostly by one of the 2-3 very active and very knowledgable Haiku devs, Axel Dörfler. But the rest of the team seems to lark, and in three years they still haven’t reached a user-usable operating system status (despite the fact that they had to re-implement a documented API instead of inventing it, and despite the fact that the kernel was pretty much ready-made). AtheOS, SkyOS had something usable by a three-years time, and remember, they only employed 1 developer each.
The reason I write all this is because I had enough of people being unhappy everytime I would write that “it took 60 full time Be engineers 10 years to bring BeOS to the BeOS 5 level, do you think that a team of 4-5 devs (the rest volunteers can’t help much, not enough system software knowledge) can do it in 2-3 years in their spare time?” But the fanatics, prefer to only think what they want to think. Whatever suits their beliefs. Instead of embracing YellowTAB’s Zeta OS (which is 100% BeOS, and it IS fully working today — not in 10 years from now), they make it a Zeta Vs Haiku war on each opportunity. This is just silly. Yes, I don’t like Zeta’s questionable legal status either, but when it comes to “whatever works to do my daily job”, Zeta works today, Haiku doesn’t and won’t, for many more years. Make no mistake, I don’t take YellowTAB’s side, as I don’t believe that YellowTAB has a bright market future either, but at least they have something to show, today!
I find it absolutely laughable when BeOS users say “oh, well, Zeta looks ok, but I will wait for Haiku”. So, they prefer to financially crucify a company that offers them today a solution (not a perfect solution by any means, but a usable BeOS solution nontheless), instead of showing their support for *BeOS*. To me, these people are not BeOS users. They are simply “OS-curious”. Once, they had some nice experience with BeOS 5 Free edition, but since then, they have moved on to other OSes. And when a company is serving them the next generation of BeOS, they simply, don’t wanna pay, but they “prefer to wait” years after years for a “free” solution (that might never come). That’s not what I call a “BeOS users, who care about BeOS”. I call it a “user who have been impressed by BeOS once, but he doesn’t care enough anymore”.
And that’s the real death of BeOS. Most people don’t care anymore (and why should they? No one wants to support an OS that sees official OS updates). And if Haiku is “ready” by 2010, no one will care. Too little, too late. What’s the point re-implementing BeOS in a way to even have binary compatibility and targetting the functionality of BeOS 5, when by 2010 Longhorn 2, Mac OS X 12 and a more mature Linux will be available offering out-of-this-world features?
You could always argue that Haiku is just like AtheOS and SkyOS or MenuetOS: a hobby OS, created out of love of studying OS technologies. I am sorry again, but Haiku never had such goals. Haiku is not an experiment, like AtheOS was. Haiku was created with the direct target of replacing BeOS 5 by creating an exact clone of it in order to accomodate the thousands of fleed BeOS users after the demise of Be.
If Haiku was able to release this exact clone one year ago (fully stable that is), they would have a good chance of me calling them “successful” to their goal (and then set their roadmap on catching up with OSX or Longhorn). But even if they release that Haiku 1.0 tomorrow morning, it’s already too late. Haiku does not have the luxury of time anymore (realistically speaking) to achieve its own goals. To my mind, it’s a failure.
Haiku needs to move on, it needs to re-set its goals, simply because its current goal, has already failed through market irrelevance. Timing was important for that goal, and now it’s just too late trying to “sell” a BeOS 5-alike OS to the world. I would suggest creating an OS that tries to innovate and competes with future/modern OSes, while keeping its BeOS roots and code, but not by copying Be’s mistakes and the irrelevant, right now, overall BeOS experience one could get out of a BeOS 5+.