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Be Open Source Operating Systems

How Haiku Is Building a Better BeOS 137

Posted by timothy
from the 5-7-5-in-the-headline dept.
angry tapir writes "BeOS may be dead, but over a decade after its lamentable demise the open source Haiku project keeps its legacy alive. Haiku is an attempt to build a drop-in, binary compatible replacement for BeOS, as well as extending the defunct OS's functionality and support for modern hardware. At least, that's the short-term goal — eventually, Haiku is intended significantly enhance BeOS while maintaining the same philosophy of simplicity and transparency, and without being weighed down with the legacy code of many other contemporary operating systems. I recently caught up with Stephan Aßmus, who has been a key contributor to the project for seven years to talk about BeOS, the current state of Haiku and the project's future plans."
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How Haiku Is Building a Better BeOS

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  • Haiku (Score:5, Funny)

    by wonkey_monkey (2592601) on Tuesday August 07, 2012 @09:34AM (#40904605) Homepage
    BeOS may be dead
    But the only question is
    Will I get first post?
    • Re: (Score:2, Funny)

      by Anonymous Coward

      BeOS may be dead
      But the only question is
      Will I get first post?

      You got the first post:
      Many congratulations.
      It makes you feel good?

    • Re:Haiku (Score:5, Informative)

      by Chris Mattern (191822) on Tuesday August 07, 2012 @09:42AM (#40904701)

      From which I can deduce that you pronounce "BeOS" as "bee-oss" and not "bee-oh-ess" (the latter is how the BeOS FAQ says it should be pronounced (http://testou.free.fr/www.beatjapan.org/mirror/www.be.com/support/qandas/faqs/faq-0407.html)).

    • by Anonymous Coward

      BeOS may be dead.
      But the real question is:
      Does Netcraft confirm?

    • I wish I could mod this. Slashdot needs a +5 Flamebait post today.

    • Stupidity aside, I want this to work but having played with haiku, I don't see the point, There must be a point around using low end hardware to do fancy tricks, I just don't see it yet
      • Re: (Score:3, Interesting)

        by Anonymous Coward
        Well, call me when the ARM port is functional enough for the nightly builds, and I'll try it on a Raspberry Pi.
      • by Millennium (2451)

        All low-end hardware was high-end once. Extending its useful life is a Good Thing.

        • by MightyYar (622222)

          It might be... or it might not be. Older hardware is generally less power-efficient. So it depends on where your power comes from and it depends on the environmental impact of the new product manufacturing and how the old product is disposed of.

          • by Millennium (2451)

            Old hardware may be less power-efficient, but the process of making new hardware consumes enough power that even inefficient hardware would have to be kept running for quite a long time indeed before getting new hardware would actually save power overall.

            It's like buildings in that regard. New buildings can be greener than older ones, even with upgrades. But the environmental cost of demolition and rebuilding is so high that upgrading an existing building usually turns out to be greener than building a new

            • by MightyYar (622222)

              Agreed - it's hard to quantify. Moving an old Pentium 4 to an Atom is probably a no brainer, if only for your power bill. But that old Core 2 Duo is probably holding it's own (I have one in my basement...)

  • by MetalliQaZ (539913) on Tuesday August 07, 2012 @09:45AM (#40904735)

    I admire their work. They've obviously done some impressive things to preserve that community. I just don't understand them. BeOS hasn't really progressed at all in the past...what? 8 years? At this point they may as well be hacking on Amiga or Plan9. by the time they're done, we're all going to be running on browser-based platforms that use the OS as a layer to support the fancy proprietary graphics drivers. I'm simplifying of course, but that would sure sap my enthusiasm for an OS project.

    • by jellomizer (103300) on Tuesday August 07, 2012 @10:11AM (#40904973)

      Computing has a lot of interesting history, and keeping ideas going can come in handy.
      We had the first computer that was rather hard wired. No network just crunched numbers.
      Then we had the Mainframe, this offered more remote computing with time share and remote dumb terminals.
      Then we had the PC, it took over a lot of the mainframe space because every one had their own computing power on their desk and didn't need all that wiring.
      Then we got more Web Applications because networking has gotten cheaper and faster, and servers can do a bulk of the work faster and share across many systems.
      Then we got mobile devices with apps. As wireless internet is expensive.

      Now if wireless companies start offering cheaper and faster internet we will being to see Mobile apps going away and being replaced with more HTML5/other language web apps, and we will be less considered about app lock in.
      Then we will get new technology that processes data much better then what we can do over the network and we will go back to apps again...

      Ideas came up generations ago, that were considered outdated, or just not useful often get a new life due to new features.
      For example compare Windows 8 UI with Plan 9 UI. They are moving away from Windows and to Frames. Also there is a case with newer smaller technology that comes across will need a small light OS (for the time) keeping the Old Concept OS's updated and working, keeps ideas fresh and sometimes they will use them and give them a new life.

      • Ha, you think app stores are about saving bandwidth and they will be replaced by HTML5? What kool-aid have you been into? :)

    • by Kjella (173770) on Tuesday August 07, 2012 @10:34AM (#40905211) Homepage

      If he was saying they were going to take down Linux or something, then I'd say they were bat shit crazy but really all they're saying is that they want to try doing their own thing. I think every developer has that "If I could just rewrite this from scratch without having to deal with all the old cruft, it would be soooooooo much better" itch. Maybe the goal isn't competing, it could be sheer accomplishment as in I wrote this and it works great. It could be recognition, that others see the quality of your craft. It could be inspiration, that by showing it as a proof of concept in a small and nimble OS it might be picked up by others. Of course you could end up reinventing the wheel or worse, but then that's a learning experience - but it's still easier to try and fail in a simpler environment. You get to think more on concepts, less on dealing with old code.

      I think that's really one of the strengths of open source, you don't have to get anyone's permission, you don't have to convince any naysayers, you don't have to build a business case. You just have to say "yes I could" and code yourself a better mouse trap. Of course you could do that with Linux too but the whole mainlining process is working against you because it goes into millions of production servers that have to be rock stable. It's probably better for you to be part of a project that's open to such radical changes, to be a big fish in a small pond rather than a small fish in a big pond. Perhaps you don't even have any interest in being in the big pond at all.

      • by mkkohls (2386704)
        I agree completly. The point is that they are doing it and that is cool. Will have to try it one day.
    • I admire their work. They've obviously done some impressive things to preserve that community. I just don't understand them. BeOS hasn't really progressed at all in the past...what? 8 years?

      Keep in mind that Haiku is compatible to BeOS on the binary level. Be had an army of paid programmers and made the first preview release in a few years. Haiku *reverse engineered* BeOS with a handful of (mostly) non-paid developers. 8 years no longer seems so long :D

      At this point they may as well be hacking on Amiga or Plan9. by the time they're done, we're all going to be running on browser-based platforms that use the OS as a layer to support the fancy proprietary graphics drivers. I'm simplifying of course, but that would sure sap my enthusiasm for an OS project.

      Haiku supports a wide range of video cards, and has a modern WebKit based browser. Haiku actually fits your description better than Windows or Linux.

    • Re: (Score:3, Informative)

      by jonadab (583620)
      > BeOS hasn't really progressed at all in the past...what? 8 years?

      Twelve years, give or take a couple of months

      Unless you count updated hardware drivers so that it can actually run on a recently manufactured computer as "progress", that is. Personally, I'd call that "treading water".

      BeOS is very interesting, and there are definitely some things we can learn from it. I think anyone involved in OS or especially GUI design should make a point of being familiar with it. (The same is also true of VMS, alt
      • by jbolden (176878)

        Great comment, you deserve a mod up.

        Could BEOS be used as an alternate GUI for a Unix based system. With Ubuntu moving to Wayland there may be an opening for non-X solutions.

        • Re: (Score:3, Informative)

          by jonadab (583620)

          > Could BEOS be used as an alternate GUI for a Unix based system.

          You could borrow *ideas* from BeOS if you were designing an alternate GUI for a Unix-type system, or any other system for that matter.

          That would be kind of missing the point, though. The BeOS GUI was largely unremarkable. Okay, yes, if you had multiple desktops they could each have a different resolution (and color depth, if desired). At the time, that was innovative. Other systems have it now, of course.

          On the whole, though, the really

          • by jbolden (176878)

            Knoppix interesting. What's special about Knoppix from a BEOS comparison?

            As far as filesystems and metadata the Linux kernel has support for metadata though most compiles turn it off. In addition most of the major filesystems: ext2, ext3, ext4, JFS, ReiserFS, XFS, Btrfs and OCFS2 support it. Linux also has HFS and HFS+ which has multiple resource forks per file. The big issue is that most linux user space programs don't do anything with forks, so while they can exist they can't really be useful.

            • by jonadab (583620)
              > Knoppix interesting. What's special about Knoppix

              Boot-time hardware detection.

              Other Linux distributions (RedHat, Mandrake, possibly others) had done significant work on this previously, but Knoppix was, to the best of my knowledge, the first Unix-like system to get to the point where you could swap out several major components (for different models, not identical replacements) at one time, including perhaps the motherboard, and still reasonably expect it to boot up without a hitch. It's not perfect --
              • by jbolden (176878)

                I see. Yeah I agree Knoppix put several Linux utilities together to get that to work and always did an excellent job. And most importantly did it and then kept doing every boot.

          • by drsmithy (35869)

            Okay, yes, if you had multiple desktops they could each have a different resolution (and color depth, if desired). At the time, that was innovative.

            Pretty sure the Amiga was doing this back in the '80s.

            (I must say I struggle to see a significant use case, however.)

            • by hazydave (96747)

              The Amiga was at least a bit of inspiration to the original BeOS team (not to mention a few programmers who had worked on some Amiga projects). The purpose in the Amiga's day was pretty basic: the limits of graphic chips required trade-offs between color depth and color resolution.

              Of course, that goes away with modern graphics devices, which were at least on the way when Be was introduced in 1985. There are other considerations, though. For example, in video, you have an advantage if you match your display

            • by jonadab (583620)
              Today, I can't think of a really compelling use case, because we can now all afford monitors that can do 24-bit color and a sane refresh rate at the same time even at the highest resolution our video cards can support.

              In the mid nineties, however, it was common that with a mid-range monitor you'd have to choose which of those three things (resolution, color depth, or refresh rate) you were willing to sacrifice to get the other two up to where you wanted them. Being able to place each application on a deskt
              • In the 90's (with the exception of monochrome displays) I don't think your monitor ever cared about the colour depth vs. resolution. It was your graphics card that cared. Your graphics card only had a limited amount of memory so maybe it could not store 24bits of colour information*786432 pixels changing/refreshing 60+ times a second. Your monitor cared only about how fast and accurately it could scan horizontally and vertically across it's shadow mask. Your monitor would have only certain clocks it could l

                • by jonadab (583620)
                  Yes, come to think of it, I believe you're right: it was the graphics card that limited color depth, not the monitor.

                  Either way, it's much less of a consideration now than it was in the mid nineties.
          • by hazydave (96747)

            Right.

            One big one in BeOS that's kind of the opposite of UNIX/Linux -- BeOS is MASSIVELY multithreaded. Like the AmigaOS that to an extent inspired it, only moreso. Pre-emptive threads (which didn't even exist in Linux until relatively recently) were an everyday programming construct, like "function" or "loop", and used everywhere. This tied in with BeOS being intended primarily for multithreaded systems -- the original BeBox was a dual processor PPC603 machine.

            The original Be file system was very interesti

      • "But in 1996, and still in 1998, and even still in 2000 for that matter, most BeOS users were in denial about the company's fate and the possibility that store shelves might soon feature computers with BeOS pre-installed, jonadab

        It's fully documented that Microsoft threatened Hitachi over plans to introduce the operating systems into itâ(TM)s product line. Compaq and Gateway were also prevented from marketing BeOS due to the terms of the Microsoft OEM contract. Microsoft also acted to depress the pr
      • by BenoitRen (998927)

        As a result of those delays, Haiku is still in no position to be adopted as an operating system for regular day-to-day use any time in the forseeable future. Among other things, it has no provision at all for file ownership, user accounts, or (meaningful) permissions.

        So what? I don't need DRM on my home computer, thank you very much.

        Nonetheless, for the other 95.75%, connecting to the internet without being in a limited-permission user account is just a really bad idea.

        If your system has been owned, it's

        • The concept of file ownership/permissions != DRM... file ownership/permissions are supposed to be a way to stop you from getting owned - the concept and implemnentation it's a simple method of sandboxing dumb users or poorly writen applications from writing to places it should not be able to. Every modern operating system does this.

          I think you miss the point that he is making, with any process/application to be able to write to any other process or application, it creates a completely untrusted environment

          • by BenoitRen (998927)

            The concept of file ownership/permissions != DRM

            But it is! It's not the kind of DRM that the MAFIAA is pushing, but it's still DRM. File ownership and permissions are digital rights.

            it's a simple method of sandboxing dumb users or poorly writen applications from writing to places it should not be able to.

            This is why I'm in favour of permissions for applications instead of users.

            I think you miss the point that he is making, with any process/application to be able to write to any other process or applicatio

      • by unixisc (2429386)
        I think BeOS would have done better had Be Inc not killed the BeBox for the likes of Power Computing, Motorola & Umax, but kept it, and targetted it towards developers. Then once Apple ended the Mac clone business, those 3 companies could have made PReP based BeBoxes, and then Be could have retreated from it. Also, Be would have done well at the time to have ported it to other CPUs, such as Alpha, MIPS, Sparc and PA-RISC.
    • by BenoitRen (998927)

      BeOS hasn't really progressed at all in the past...what? 8 years? At this point they may as well be hacking on Amiga or Plan9.

      That doesn't change the fact that BeOS was its own paradigm that still stands apart today. It's worth preserving and using.

  • Raspberry Pi? (Score:5, Interesting)

    by a_nonamiss (743253) on Tuesday August 07, 2012 @09:46AM (#40904739)
    Seems like this OS would be a good fit for Raspberry Pi, if someone would take the time to build it for ARM. The fixed hardware and low power of the Pi is just begging for a lightweight, low footprint OS, and people using the Pi aren't really shackled to backwards compatibility. I know absolutely nothing about how to port a kernel, or I'd be right in there trying to figure out how to do this.
    • Re:Raspberry Pi? (Score:4, Insightful)

      by LifeIs0x2A (2615925) <klaus AT lp-research DOT com> on Tuesday August 07, 2012 @09:55AM (#40904831) Homepage

      Good idea, but BeOS is lacking the massive software repository that Debian Linux (the current platform for the Pi) is offering, minus the huge development community. The same problem that prevents it from spreading on other platforms as well. Anyway it would be a great alternative. Especially for educational purposes as it is a very clean and efficiently structured OS.

      • by Taco Cowboy (5327)

        Good idea, but BeOS is lacking the massive software repository that Debian Linux (the current platform for the Pi) is offering, minus the huge development community. The same problem that prevents it from spreading on other platforms as well. Anyway it would be a great alternative. Especially for educational purposes as it is a very clean and efficiently structured OS.

        I think you're missing the point

        Let me show you an example:

        http://board.flatassembler.net/topic.php?t=14044&start=49

        This guy has ported his own OS to Ras Pi. He has no "huge development community" nor "massive software repository"

        Inspite of not having any of the facility that you mentioned, he has successfully done what he had done, and ...

        http://board.flatassembler.net/topic.php?t=14044&postdays=0&postorder=asc&start=63

        ... I am quotin

        • I think what the guy means by no "huge development community" is no geeks with interest in doing it, just because. ARM is different then x86 and I would assume to make a good port on ARM, there would be a lot of specific x86 hacks that need to be revisited

          And re: "massive software repository": The people who are interested in rasberry pi need to be interested in it for a particular prupose... since debian has a huge software repository, there are likely many more users who will be interested in the well est

    • The fixed hardware and low power of the Pi is just begging for a lightweight, low footprint OS

      There is one already. It's called RISCOS [riscosopen.org]. Sure, it needs some work (like pre-emptive multitasking and SMP, okay a *lot* of work), but it's small (the OS uses 6Mb of RAM) and it's very fast. And there's already a reasonable amount of software available for it, plus a working GCC implementation, so more can be ported.

      It just needs volunteers. Preferably ones who will happily write hand optimised ARM assembler...

      • By the time you beat the dragon, you become the dragon.
      • by david.given (6740)

        There is one already. It's called RISCOS [riscosopen.org]. Sure, it needs some work (like pre-emptive multitasking and SMP, okay a *lot* of work), but it's small (the OS uses 6Mb of RAM) and it's very fast. And there's already a reasonable amount of software available for it, plus a working GCC implementation, so more can be ported.

        RISC OS needs throwing away. I'm sorry, but it does. It was good at the time but these days we know so much more about writing operating systems that you simply cannot get to a real OS from there.

        Examples? Memory is protected except when it's not, giving you the worst of both worlds. No threads. No preemption. User code runs in supervisor mode (and supervisor mode code on ARM isn't guaranteed to be portable). The GUI is great --- if you have a mouse; it can't be driven from the keyboard, at all. There is

    • by Osgeld (1900440)

      wtf why on a Pi? get debian, dont install shit for it, and couple it with some obsolete 1990's UI and bam you have Haiku in a nutshell, and its safe cause it really hasnt changed much since day one. (be wasnt really all that special either, it was mainly the beefcake hardware that was the appeal, not an os with nothing to run)

      now toddle on little Pi head, and remind your breathern, just cause you just heard of an OS today, doesnt mean you instantly post about how great it would be on a Pi with its tiny amou

  • by Anonymous Coward on Tuesday August 07, 2012 @09:47AM (#40904759)

    CodeSuite forensic software shows no evidence that Haiku was copied from or was a derivative of BeOS.

  • by dingen (958134)

    Haiku has been around for 10 years or something. They've always aimed for a binary-compatible successor of BeOS. And they're still at it.

    So what?

  • It's shit (Score:3, Informative)

    by Anonymous Coward on Tuesday August 07, 2012 @10:03AM (#40904893)

    Haiku is based on the excellent micro/monolith hybrid NewOS, and it had a very interesting prospect of becoming a great OS.

    Unfortunately, the project is slowly heading towards disaster as more and more incompetent people have started to contribute (think GSoC gone wrong, permanently.)

    The code base is 1) not security audited, 2) slow as hell, 3) assbackwards and 4) not having a snowballs chance in hell to work on my 4-way CPU (the memory manager dies under SMP load and must be rewritten.)

    I loved BeOS, but this is not going to replace it.

    • by Anonymous Coward

      Can you expand on your numbered points? They're a little vague and incendiary...

    • Re: (Score:3, Informative)

      by kallisti5 (1321143)

      Unfortunately, the project is slowly heading towards disaster as more and more incompetent people have started to contribute (think GSoC gone wrong, permanently.)

      Care to elaborate?

      The code base is 1) not security audited,

      What says it can't be? Also, Haiku is only single user, so at the moment this doesn't even make sense. (pre-beta software is pre-beta)

      2) slow as hell

      Umm, most 3rd party reviews mention how fast it is

      3) assbackwards

      This isn't a statement.

      4) not having a snowballs chance in hell to work on my 4-way CPU (the memory manager dies under SMP load and must be rewritten.)

      Strange, my eight core AMD bulldozer cpu works just fine.

      I loved BeOS, but this is not going to replace it.

      Patches welcome

  • So what? I mean, it's pretty. I can admire its simplicity. But.... can I run open office on it? It's built on Qt... but can I run kde apps on it? Play some ksoduku? The article doesn't really mention application support, except to say that 3d acceleration isn't there yet. I remember back when Be was first released everyone was wowed by its multi-threading support-- but surely modern operating systems have duplicated this by now? It seems to me that if you took a linux distro, stripped out all the 3d suppor
    • It's built on Qt... but can I run kde apps on it?

      It's not built on Qt in any way. I don't even think Qt has been ported to it.

    • by realmolo (574068)

      Don't forget that Haiku/BeOS are *single user* operating systems. There are no file permissions.

      That all by itself makes it a joke, honestly.

      • by Chrisq (894406)

        Don't forget that Haiku/BeOS are *single user* operating systems. There are no file permissions.

        That all by itself makes it a joke, honestly.

        It does have file permissions [haiku-os.org], and there are utilities to set them. My understanding is that it is single user in the way the original Windows was, i.e. one user logged on at a time and all processes running as either user or system. However if a different user logs on you can protect files from them. [betips.net]

        Disclaimer: my understanding may be wrong, it comes from a brief look at BeOs some years back.

        • by jonadab (583620)
          I haven't looked at Haiku recently, but I've also seen no mention anywhere of their having *added* multi-user capabilities that BeOS didn't have -- and BeOS didn't have the functionality you describe. There was no such thing as a user account or logging in. It was multi-user in exactly the same sense that DOS was multi-user: if the user physically vacated the chair in front of the computer, a different person could sit down in the chair.
      • by sootman (158191)

        > There are no file permissions.
        > That all by itself makes it a joke, honestly.

        No, it just had different aims. What you call a "joke" was in fact a (paraphrased from Wikipedia) "... a modern 64-bit capable journaling file system... it includes support for extended file attributes (metadata), with indexing and querying characteristics to provide functionality similar to that of a relational database. [In other words, you do a search and the results appear pretty much instantly because they came from a

        • by countach (534280)

          That's great and all, but OSes had permissions since, oh at least 40+ years ago, and abandoning other essential features to substitute new and different features isn't unambiguously a step forward. Even more so in this day and age when permissions and protections are the defence against malware.

      • by todfm (1973074)

        How is it a joke? Day in and day out I'm the only one using my computer. If I share files with someone, it's through a server, and not directly from my computer. The only time I deal with file permissions is when I'm fighting against them blocking my access.

        That said, Haiku has plans to adopt multiuser stuff. But the lack of it doesn't impact me in any way.

      • by BenoitRen (998927)

        No, the joke is file permissions on a home desktop operating system. It's a cancer that has come from the business world.

    • by BenoitRen (998927)

      It seems to me that if you took a linux distro, stripped out all the 3d support and other power-consuming enhancements, and ran xfce or some other extremely light weight window manager, that you'd have a system that's just as fast but one that you could actually run the programs you wanted on.

      HAHAHAHAHAHAHAHA

      You're funny.

  • As somebody who never got to play around with Be, I'm really impressed with how Haiku works and looks. It's simple, but fast and pleasant to use. Can't wait for the next Alpha release, since I'm too lazy to mess with the nightlies.
  • I loaded up BeOS back in the day whenever it was. It was pretty slick but I went back to OS/2. That should tell you how badly it lacked applications. My hat's off to the guys working on Haiku in recognition of their skill and dedication, but it seems like at best an academic exercise.

HELP!!!! I'm being held prisoner in /usr/games/lib!

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