A new development in the Zeta legality issue: BeOSFrance says to have written confirmation from Jean-Louis Gassee that to JLG's knowledge, YellowTAB did not have an agreement with Palmsource . My French isn't exactly what it should be (I should've paid more attention during high school), but with the help of Adam and others we managed to translate the most important bit: "The impropriety and absence of an agreement between yellowTAB and PalmSource (at the time, still the owner of the BeOS IP) had been confirmed to me in writing by the person best-placed to talk about it in those circumstances: Jean-Louis Gassee."
A lot of things have happened in the past few days concerning Zeta, BeOS, and Haiku. In order to create some order in the chaos, Eugenia and I have created a rough timeline of what happened the past 6-7 years. Read on for the timeline and some more thoughts on the matter. Update: Magnusoft ceases distribution of Zeta. Update II: Access answered the questions posed in the article.
For the first time in its 7 years of existence, some decent statement has been released concering the legality of Zeta. Access, the current owner of Be, Inc.'s IP, states: "We have sent 'cease and desist' letters to YellowTab on a number of occasions, which have been uniformly ignored. If Herr Korz feels that he holds a legitimate license to the BeOS code he's been using, we're completely unaware of it, and I'd be fascinated to see him produce any substantiation for that claim." Update: Bernd Korz has replied on his blog.
Bernd Korz has announced that he will cease all development on Zeta , which effectively means Zeta will no longer be in development. Korz already wanted to quit development on Zeta when YellowTAB went belly up, but the numerous requests from customers to continue development eventually dragged him across the line. However, after the spat with Magnussoft, enough is enough for Korz. He states that he is not sure if and when the service pack to Zeta 1.5 will be released. He also states that he is not sure if and when he will open source or give to Haiku his contributions to Zeta. He explicitely states nor yT, nor Magnussoft own the source code to his work. My take: While I can understand Bernd, I am also sad to see this happen. For the little money and manpower Bernd had at his disposal, he did a magnificent job in making Zeta a usable operating system. I already knew this was about to happen, but a sad day it remains for Zeta users.
Magnussoft has explained their side of the story concering the recent split between them and Bernd Korz and the Zeta development team. "The archived sales figures of Zeta were far below Magnussoft's expectations. Continuation of financing the project is economically no longer viable. For the time being, Magnussoft discontinued funding of the Zeta development team on March, 16th 2007. The exclusive distribution agreement will remain unaffected. The existing contract is valid until the end of 2007."
Bernd Korz has announced that the Zeta development team and Magnussoft are parting ways . The team and Bernd will continue to develop Zeta, and the service pack (Zeta v1.51) will still be released in the coming weeks.
In July 2005, OSNews reviewed the 1.0 version of what was then YellowTAB Zeta. I concluded: "I have a clear-cut impression of what Zeta R1 is: it is by far the best 'distribution' of BeOS currently available. The hardware support is, when compared to r5, significantly better. Stability-wise, Zeta R1 is a huge leap forward when compared to older versions. Some areas still need work; but they are mostly minor things, nothing that will stop you from using this operating system as your full-time, primary system." A lot has changed over the past 15 months; YellowTAB went belly-up, Magnussoft took over the development of Zeta, and to top it off, Zeta went multiuser. Not too long ago, Mangussoft released Zeta 1.5; here is my review.
"Magnussoft launched this week their new online hardware database, which is open to everyone using ZETA to add their own workinig (or not) piece of hardware to the database. They also hope it'll be a valuable tool and resource for anyone wanting to try ZETA out on their machines, but aren't sure if their equipment will work on ZETA or not." Thanks to IsComputerOn for pointing this out.
"I found a nice present in the mail today, the Zeta 1.5 upgrade. Installing on top of 1.21 is a breeze and worked flawlessly. After installing the upgrade you need to do a reboot and you are greeted by the new login screen." Lots of screenshots in the article, boys and girls. Rejoice.
"As of today Magnussoft has started shipping the first Zeta 1.5 cd's to their customers. Although 1.5 is almost a month delayed the developers did add lot's of features in the last phase of development. These include an Abiword port, drivers for PCL6 and Radeon, and others. With 1.5 being shipped, Magnussoft also introduces 'MZSP' or Magnussoft Zeta Service Packs. MZSP's will be freely available in the future as downloads. To install MZSP's you will need to have your Zeta version activated, and they will only install on the most recent version. Alongside the MZSP's there is also an update application planned so you can keep your system up to date automatically."
Magnussoft has just announced that they are delaying the release of ZETA 1.5 Professional from 10 to 15 days in order to add a port of the AbiWord open source word processor, a native PCL6 printer driver and a Radeon x-series video driver. The addition of AbiWord is seen as a move to eventually replace the word processor component of GoBe Productive, a third party lightweight office suite currently bundled with ZETA that is no longer in development. Since AbiWord is released under the GPL, the port is expected to eventually benefit Haiku as well.
MauriceK writes about security in the ZETA operating system. Apparently magnussoft, sole distributor of ZETA, makes security claims that with ZETA "it is not possible to examine a system from the outside without notifying the user due to the architecture of this software." MauriceK seems to think differently, and even gives examples on how code can be executed without the user's knowledge in ZETA. In related news, BeUnited is no more. Instant update: the discussion concerning security just made its appearance on the Haiku m-l.
The magnussoft ZETA 1.5 Pro is a major upgrade over the ZETA 1.21. It provides lots of new features and enhancements like SAMBA, multi-user, new device drivers etc. The product can be pre-ordered for 29 Euros and it has an expected shipping date of 2007/01/15.
Magnussoft has published an update concerning Zeta. They announced SAMBA has reached beta status, while also announcing a (much needed) multi-protocol instant messaging application, which supports GoogleTalk, Jabber, AIM, ICQ, Yahoo, and MSN.
Begasus, of the Belgian BeOS User Group, has written an introduction/tutorial to MakeMe, a new developer's tool in ZETA 1.21. "This tool makes it easy for every developer to create his own application and after that even a package to be installed in ZETA."
One of the things that has been missing on the BeOS platform, either for BeOS, ZETA or Haiku, is pthread, and this was also something that yellowTAB experienced when they were working on a port of OpenOffice. Hence, the development team has released support for phthread. This improvement will be contributed to Haiku as soon as it reaches a more mature state.
Only a few weeks after the first release of ZETA 1.21, Magnussoft has just announced some details of what can be expected from the next version of ZETA. According to the announcement, the central piece of ZETA 1.5 will be what magnussoft calls project MediaFire, a completely new application for CD and DVD burning, the long awaited multi-user capability and an upgraded SAMBA implementation.
"Quite a few new things are now in an alpha/beta stage for the next update of ZETA; one of them is the implementation of the latest stable version of SAMBA, v3.0.23. As you can see from the screenshot, ZETA is now 'dancing' beautifully with Linux servers." Also, Axl has posted a status update concerning networking in Haiku: "Work on the networking stack is making slow but steady progress. UDP and IPv4 protocols are mostly done, TCP can send out data, but receiving is not yet implemented."
"As is the norm (for the most cases) with private software companies, yellowTAB before, and now Magnussoft, have been reserved in commenting what's coming down the road. We know Multi-User is coming and also that GCC4 is part of ZETA's future, but today we're going to bring you a small glimpse in what's coming for ZETA and its users."
I just received an email from Bernd Korz informing me that the Zeta 1.21 live CD has been released for everybody to download. Korz says the first results from testers were very positive. The download page says: "Magnussoft ZETA 1.21 - An Operating System that provides a lot of new advantages combined with high performance besides general tools for your daily work."