The OpenBeOS project leader, Michael Phipps, sent us a status report and he even makes a guess as to when a packaged OpenBeOS alpha release might be ready: "The status is very good. The networking and FS groups are coming along really well. To the point where they are testing functional (albeit occasionally going to kernel debugger land) pieces. The other kits are mostly moving along quite nicely. Printing, Input and ScreenSaver are nearly done. Storage and Midi are moving very rapidly. You know all about prototype 5 of the app_server, and work is in progress on #6. Media is moving under the heroic efforts of Marcus, and there should be some exciting Kernel news shortly. As far as an alpha, it would all depend on what people are looking for. Anyone can download and build today. We encourage (and warn, since nothing is super well tested yet) that. As far as a completed, packaged alpha, I would not expect one for **AT LEAST** a few months. Probably more."
BeOS & Derivatives Archive
The large team known as the OpenBeOS Team, who their goal is to recreate a new operating system that it is largely compatible (source and if possible, binary too) with the abandoned BeOS has made another release. Codenamed Proto5, it is the fifth release of the app_server BeOS replacement (for BeOS agnostics, the app_server is a major part of the BeOS graphics subsystem that does not live in the applicastion address space and it also deals with the graphics driver). In related news, the OpenBFS team have also created a BFS filesystem driver and they are looking for testers.
The Open-BeOS (OBOS) networking team managed to re-create the BeOS networking stack, net_server, and even achieve binary compatibility. TCP support has now been added, and now NetPositive can retrieve web pages. You can see a screenshot of NetPositive, the BeOS native web browser, at David Reid's web site (David is the developer who ported Apache 1.x/2.x to BeOS). Still, the infant stack is pretty unstable, but it's a huge step forward.
BeGeistert is a biannual meeting of BeOS users and developers held in Germany. BeOS developer and frequent OSNews writer Nicholas Blachford, wrote a review of the meeting and also reveals some news having to do with a possible come back from YellowTab and some working code presented by OpenBeOS members. Nicholas also includes a small mpeg video and many pictures of the meeting.
"Many low-end Mac users lament Apple's choice of NeXTstep over the BeOS as the foundation of Mac OS X. Many arguments have been made on technical merits, and many blame the demise of Be, Inc., on Apple and Microsoft. The following is an in-depth look at the demise of Be and reflections on Apple's choice of NeXT. Hopefully this will debunk some common ideas about BeOS and lay this debate to rest." Read the editorial at LowEndMac.
Be, Inc disolved the company and stopped public trading on Friday. They now sell the www.be.com domain name as well. The company will still live on for at least 3 more years (without employees, but with a Board of Directors in charge), therefore their trademarks are still active. However, this did not stop a team of BeOS German enthusiasts, BeOSOnline.com, to release a 230 MB bootable ISO distribution of BeOS and name it "BeOS 5.0.4". Users should not confuse this release with any official means, as it is a plain BeOS 5.0.3 with additional developer tools and applications as found freely at BeBits.com.
Be, Inc. announced today it has filed suit against Microsoft for the destruction of Be's business resulting from the anticompetitive business practices of Microsoft. The lawsuit alleges, among other claims, that Microsoft harmed Be through a series of illegal exclusionary and anticompetitive acts designed to maintain its monopoly in the Intel-compatible PC operating system market and created exclusive dealing arrangements with PC OEMs prohibiting the sale of PCs with multiple preinstalled operating systems. Our Take: This suit should have been initiated 3 years ago. Furthermore, notice the black mourning stripe on the Be logo at the Be web site. Dan Johnston, Be's legal counsel, is the only person left working at Be's new tiny office in Mountain View these days. Update: News.com has more info found in the filing itself and a mini-statement from Microsoft's spokesman.
The OpenBeOS folks released their first ever test version for their BeOS clone operating system. This first release is not self-hosted, it is just a collection of individual components that replace their equivelant under the original BeOS 5. The components released so far are OpenTracker, OpenDeskbar, MDR(Mail Daemon Replacement) and some of the preference panels: Keyboard, Menu, Mouse, Screen, Virtual Memory, WorkSpaces. The OBOS developers are looking for beta testing and feedback.
'Stubear' is a graphics artist who in his free time helps the OpenBeOS folks in constructing the User Interface for a future version of this new operating system. Particularly, this shot looks pretty clean, but the widgets still need some work to look sharper. These are just concept screens, but sometimes, especially if you have lots of time in your hands, it is nice staring at nice shapes and colors. Moreover, OSNews received an email (which contained a real screenshot) from a BeOS user who wished to remain anonymous. The screenshot shows a hidden feature ("easter egg") of the "Dano" version of BeOS which is called ZSnake! To enable this feature press and hold CNTRL+ALT+SHFT and then click on the "Menu" application under "Preferences". While this feature seems unfinished (zooming to the screenshot shows some pixels out of order) this is a neat little UI gimmick that it not supported by any other operating system or Toolkit so far and it looks at least interesting UI-wise.
The BeOS version 5.1d0 seems to have been extensively leaked on the web the last few days (please respect the OSNews policy and do not post direct download URLs of the illegal beta on our forums). Dianne Hackborn, ex-Be engineer, now at PalmSource, gives more information on what is included in this version of BeOS. There is hardware OpenGL (update: GL is 'broken' on Dano), new networking stack, window decors, XML kit, new USB stack, brand new Printing Kit (and lots of printer drivers for it), new font engine, column list view, tooltip support, updated Media Kit, Interface Kit and app_server, and more. And of course, brand new drivers, like support for the Adaptec U160 SCSI controllers, better SB128 support etc. Reportedly, this BeOS version has some issues with many existing BeOS applications, mostly because of the changes in the app_server. The only peculliar thing is that, as far as we know, Palm's legal department did not take any action against the owners of the servers that carry the leaked beta.
From TheRegister article regarding the Be liquidation auction that took place yesterday: "Afternoon engagements called us, and we never got the chance to bid for the 29 Be mugs, the lot of a hundred Be T-shirts (we'd dearly one of either - will swap), or the iMac we'd promised shacker. Let alone the BeBoxes. Or, gasp! the Hobbit prototypes which preceded the PPC BeBox." In the second photo you can also see sitting Marco Nellisen (SoundPlay author, Palm engineer now) and behind him, Arve Hjonnevag (ex-Be kernel engineer, at Palm now too). In the meantime, BeUnited, after was rejected a license from Palm, they now state that they will focus on supporting Open BeOS, while Palm, Inc. revealed some information about PalmOS 5: "Three significant improvements include the ability to use multitasking and multithreading in applications, improved performance using OS 5 with the faster processor, and compatibility with current applications." However, not all Palm developers are happy because: "Some of the old programs will run faster, some will run slower, and some won't run at all."
From TheRegister: "..sysadmin Robin Bandy, who launched the alternative DNS co-op OpenNIC, proposed first to Be Inc and subsequently to Palm, that a community of developers be allowed to fork the BeOS code base. Under Bandy's proposal, Palm would receive $10 million over ten years, and get the rights to all modifications made in the fork...
There have been many BeOS items in the news lately, not all so good for the BeOS community, though. BeUnited, the organization which tried to license BeOS from Palm, has received today a final answer from Palm: "...we have made a firm decision NOT to license any part of this technology other than that which we incorporate into the Palm OS". It is already known that the new 32-bit PalmOS will feature some elements of the Be technology, but that OS is built for PDAs, not for the desktop. OSNews learnt that BeUnited will now focus into fully support the Open BeOS and maybe even the BlueOS efforts. YellowTAB, the company that is preparing a BeOS 5 updated version, has no ties to BeUnited, but it is safe to assume that Palm won't license anything additional (things like BONE or GL, let alone "BeOS 6") to them either, and we are not sure, judging from Palm's standpoint today, if they will even be allowed to distribute BeOS NG (their deal is not set in stone yet, Be stopped negotiating with YellowTAB when the time was near to sell their IP to Palm). Read More for David Nagel's (CEO of the Palm subsidiary, PalmSource, which controls Be's IP) full email reply.
Four screenshots that supposed to come from an unreleased internal version of BeOS have emerged on the net. The BeOS info panel in one of the screenshots says that the kernel was built on November 15th 2001, and it has the codename 5.1d0. The BeOS community is arguing that the shots are either fake or original. It is already known (through the BeOS source code leak that happened a few months ago) that Be had a version of an updated Interface Kit and App_Server that would support themes, full double buffering etc, but no more details became known, as Be's legal department took immediate action back then. Our Take: Speaking as a web designer, if these screenshots are actually fake, the artist has done a pretty good job. Update: At least the WindowBlinds skiners are working hard. Just today, one day after OSNews helped spread the news about the existance of the screenshots in question, JT Folden has created a 'BeOS 6' skin for the WindowBlinds theme engine that runs under Microsoft Windows. UPDATE 2: A former Be engineer, who wishes to remain anonymous, confirmed to OSNews that the specific screenshots are likely real. The version of BeOS shown in the pictures is the BeOS desktop-version that was in use internally at Be for development of BeIA (otherwise known as the "BeIA Development Platform").
"The biggest difference between all the varieties of Windows and all the variations on Unix is unimportant -- both families or operating systems are hopelessly rooted in the deep dark past. BeOS was very impressive. I remember running the Mac port when it was first released. It had a distinctive look, definitely felt faster than the Mac OS, and seemed very promising. It was the perfect candidate to become the next great personal computer operating system." Read the rest of the editorial at LowEndMac.
The Be website has been updated and now mostly contains stock info and other legalese. Also hints at a liquidation auction to be held on January 16th are to be found in the new pages. The http://free.be.com (BeOS) sub-domain does not work anymore, and all the developer info, BeBook, Developer's newsletters, sample code etc, are all gone from that server. However, you can still access the old web site from archives.org and their old ftp site from PlanetMirror. In the meantime, Palm's David Nagel (the person who leads the subsidiary that Be engineers are working under, and he also has control over Be's IP) has said that parts of the Be technology will be used in a new, 32-bit, PalmOS, but sources say that he has firmly declined any further desktop versions of BeOS, as the desktop is not Palm's focus.
Emanuele from the Mantova Unix User Group in Italy had a chance to speak to Travis Geiselbrecht, the NewOS creator. Travis has worked at Be's kernel team and he is now employed by Danger Research, while in his free time he is helping the Open BeOS developers to integrate his NewOS kernel into the OpenBeOS one. Travis is talking about his the future of NewOS, Posix and he is giving his opinion about BeOS and its future. Descriptive quote: "It's pretty obvious to me that Palm is buying the engineering team of Be and I see absolutely no point in Palm releasing R6."
Some weeks ago we hosted an interesting interview with Guillaume Maillard regarding the BlueOS effort to 'save' the BeOS by using a modified Linux kernel as its basis. The team has just released a new screenshot based on the BlueOS GUI, running under the BeOS app_server for the moment instead of under XFree. However, a preliminary BeOS-alike app_server for XFree, is already on their CVS.
Be, Inc. announced that the stockholders of Be have approved the sale of substantially all of its intellectual property and other technology assets to a subsidiary of Palm, Inc., pursuant to the terms of a previously announced asset purchase agreement between Be and Palm. The stockholders of Be have also approved the proposed dissolution of Be pursuant to the terms of a plan of dissolution. It is anticipated that the transaction with Palm will close within the next two business days. We hope that the sale of Be's IP to Palm will have a positive outcome regarding the BeOS and the BeUnited effort to license the BeOS source code.
Forcing a developer to use multithreading, which is pretty complex for most programmers to code for, it is the wrong way to go for an OS. There was some controversy about this, but at the end, the experienced programmers agreed. And Maarten Hekkelman, of the Pepper fame (Maarten is also the same person who wrote the BeOS debugger when he was hired by Be to do so), seems to agree too: There won't be a Pepper for BeOS, just because the BeOS design does not make it easy to code such a big and complex app. Before you start replying in this story, make sure you read all the comments here. Our Take: I love BeOS, but BeOS is not perfect. In fact, what Be's marketing was trying to sell as the best feature of BeOS, pervasive multithreading, it is also its most weak spot. Now you know why big apps crashing too much under BeOS, and why there are not many big apps available anyway. Too hard to code big apps for such an environment, for most developers. Take Scooby for example. This person's multithreading code, is far below par, and mind you, Mr Takamatsu is an experienced developer. Scooby still crashes too much though and locks up the app_server at times, in a spaghetti multithreading confusion... Same goes for Gim-ICQ and lots of other apps.Update: Maarten Hekkelman responded to our comment section explaining his decision and Pepper's design.