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Chrome megaphone barks / Autumn presents First Alpha / The Spring of Haiku
September 14, 2009 3:05 PM   Subscribe

BeOS has been reborn a number of times, often without significant success but things are looking up. Starting in 1991 with the production of an all-in-one hardware/software home multimedia computer (the BeBox, the first of which was available to the public in 1994), the possible purchase by Apple was at the height of success for BeOS (instead Apple chose to buy NeXT in 1996), and the low point of being when BeOS was bought by Palm for $11 million in 2001, where it became part of the Palm OS Cobalt that nobody wanted. In 2002, news of BeOS' rebirth as yellowTAB came out, with another shift as yellowTAB became magnussoft ZETA, which finally folded in 2007, as their figures were far below expectations. From here, fans and enthusiasts took over, with a number of attempts to re-create BeOS from scratch. Most failed, but Haiku (previously) has survived, and today they announced that the first alpha version of the Haiku operating system is available for download (direct download or through torrent), and a preliminary review sounds positive.

Starting on the AT&T Hobbit processor, the early BeBoxen then changed to two PowerPC processors running at 66 or 133 MHz. Be, Inc. made the decision to port BeOS to Intel chipsets in a hope to broaden their market with the R3 release in March 1998, finally giving away the OS for personal use (which was later modified by users after there was no official support), shifting gears and retooling the OS for internet appliances (BeIA). None of this helped enough, and Palm's final purchase price of $11 million was a fraction of the $200 million Be hoped to get from Apple in the years before (Apple was only willing to pay $125 million).

The BeOS interface is well recognized, and many people have copied the design into themes and skins for modifiable programs.

The release of this alpha was also covered on Slashdot, where a commenter noted it's usable, but lacking in wifi support. A follow-up noted [t]he wireless stack is a work in progress (see also: Haikuware Blog), based on the FreeBSD 8.0 WLAN stack. There is a bounty for this goal.

Haiku was chosen as the project name because of the intended simplicity of the project, and as a tribute to the error messages from NetPositive (which also lead to the FPP title). Before anyone tells me it's not Autumn yet, I'm claiming this falls under the meteorological Autumn for the northern hemisphere.
posted by filthy light thief (59 comments total) 21 users marked this as a favorite

 
BeOS was pretty cool. I never ran it, but an officemate of mine was into it. I was always impressed by the UI.

But the use of 'boxen' as a plural makes me stabby.
posted by jquinby at 3:08 PM on September 14, 2009 [2 favorites]


I was too late in the game to know the story behind BeOS. Wasn't the idea that everything would be separated into its own thread so that even on slower multicore systems the UI threads would still be responsive? How well did that work in practice, and is multithreading still the big feature?
posted by mccarty.tim at 3:08 PM on September 14, 2009


Thank goodness for vmware player images. Makes it so much easier to kick the tires as opposed to having to rebuild the engine.
posted by GuyZero at 3:10 PM on September 14, 2009


I had an old Bebox a while ago; I gave it to a collector. I didn't want it to go to waste because I couldn't hold onto it.

There were two things that really drove me crazy. 1) The display was still black and white -- this was around 2000 or so and it struck me as insanely retrograde. 2) The monitor had a rather bizarre plug. It not only drove the monitor, but the speakers and (I think) the keyboard. You couldn't go out and get another vga cable if something happened to it; it was hard-wired to the monitor.

I really enjoyed the few months of putzing around with the bebox, and I think it's an unusual testament to the ideals and ethos of Be that people are still willing to devote time to a platform whose knock-out features have largely been incorporated into its competitors.
posted by boo_radley at 3:17 PM on September 14, 2009


It was a lovely, lovely system. Smooth, intuitive, beautiful. Logical and effective to the core.

I can't describe it in the small comment box. But imagine the respect it earned - how many years later they've rewritten it from scratch?

Burning, shining proof that the best technology doesn't always win. Even if it's reasonable, solid, and ready. If there wasn't Satan and greed, we'd all have BeBoxes and Tripath amplifiers.
posted by krilli at 3:18 PM on September 14, 2009 [1 favorite]


But the use of 'boxen' as a plural makes me stabby.

I saw it used in some old articles, and it made me nostalgic for my high school geeky past.

Wasn't the idea that everything would be separated into its own thread so that even on slower multicore systems the UI threads would still be responsive?

I believe so. Another commenter on /. said:
[Apple] have stuff that provides a sensible approach to concurrency, BeOS or a clone of BeOS is a lot less meaningful.

(Actually, pages 9-15 of that review are all about Be's boat having sailed.)


Maybe BeOS' level of multitasking was more impressive in the the early and mid 1990s when processing power wasn't available in such glutinous quantities, I'm not sure. My brother ran BeOS for a while back in the day, but he was more of an OS geek than I am. It looked fancy, but it was still fighting against Windows, Macs, and Linux for the broad scope of wide-spread adoption and existing array of applications.

Other early-era case-mod porn: the GeekPort (which I don't fully understand) and Blinkenlights.
posted by filthy light thief at 3:22 PM on September 14, 2009


But what of AmigaOS?
posted by Artw at 3:24 PM on September 14, 2009 [2 favorites]


But what of AmigaOS?
Dearly beloved, but by so few.
posted by krilli at 3:28 PM on September 14, 2009


In In The Beginning Was The Command Line Neil Stephenson proposes that if Windows is the equivalent of a station wagon and the Mac OS is a "sleek, Euro-styled sedan," then Linux is a tank -- and the BeOS a Batmobile.

The comparison was pretty apt.
posted by signalnine at 3:34 PM on September 14, 2009 [6 favorites]


I loved BeOS from the very few opportunities I had to play with it, but in the end it has the same problem that all alternative OSes have:

there's nothing to do with it. it was a screaming beauty of a thing, but without some kind of killer app it was just a neat paperweight. even the Amiga had games. If it weren't for the fact that the mac is such a killer platform for graphics work I doubt that even apple would have much going for it today. an OS needs a killer app and a market to sell it to.
posted by shmegegge at 3:39 PM on September 14, 2009 [10 favorites]


Yeah, I only know BeOS as that mysterious system that Neal Stephenson was an enormous fan of for some reason.
posted by Pope Guilty at 3:40 PM on September 14, 2009


What shmegegge said. And I wonder if BeOS reborn will be as difficult to code for as the original was reputed to be. If it is, that doesn't bode well.

The task isn't impossible: Mac OS X was a reborn OS that took off, but it had two large advantages: the installed Apple base, and NextStep's easy-ass programming environment. BeOS has neither.
posted by fightorflight at 3:46 PM on September 14, 2009


shmegegge, my theory is that today, any fringe OS only needs to be able to run the existing killer apps, by way of binary compatibility, virtual machines, etc. Then it also needs a broad base of compatible hardware.

If it has this, and if it works as a good, charming, effective tool to get things done and organise your head, it stands a chance of surviving. Using a computer is probably getting complicated enough for a fringe OS to gain traction and survive by virtue of being a good OS in human/computer terms.

Maybe.
posted by krilli at 3:47 PM on September 14, 2009


It was pretty, it ran with a smoothness that other operating systems only recently achieved. But an operating system without programs is like a v8 on blocks, runs nice, doesn't go anywhere.

Still, I liked how fast it booted up, and smoothly it ran, and the differentness between it and Windows 95 at the time.

But what of AmigaOS?

People have been working on that too.
posted by zabuni at 3:52 PM on September 14, 2009


But the use of 'boxen' as a plural makes me stabby.

"Boxen" is high praise. The plural of VAX was VAXen, so nice boxes would have their plural changed to boxen in honor. One would never have a set of Windows Boxen, and probably the only Mac that would have ever qualified would have been the incredible* (for its time, and for its cost) Mac IIfx -- boxen didn't have to be sensible, they could just be wrong** in the same way a Top Fuel dragster is wrong.

The proper plural of BeBox is BeBoxen, and it deserves the accolade. The BeBox was just amazing -- what it could do on two 66MHz CPUs was simply magic, given the normal types of computers we had lying around in 1995.

* Word chosen for both the figurative and literal meaning.
** Word used nowhere near the literal meaning. English is fun!
posted by eriko at 3:55 PM on September 14, 2009 [3 favorites]


krilli: "be able to run the existing killer apps, by way of binary compatibility, virtual machines, etc."

What looks promising in Haiku is that it appears to be a cleanly designed platform for desktop usage. Hopefully it can fill in the free / open source software on the desktop niche that Ubuntu tries to shoehorn Linux into (I say this as a 10+ year desktop user of Debian).

From what I heard Beos was actually an excellent platform to develop for, with very well designed and easy to understand API's (I heard this from someone who wrote Beos software back in the day).

Binary compatibility with closed source operating systems is a fool's errand and kills every project that attempts it. Any OS can run any other OS under a virtual machine, by definition. What haiku potentially has going for it is being free (libre) platform, which is straightforward for implementing desktop applications and easy for new users. I wish them luck and am seriously considering porting some audio applications and libraries to their platform, because I would love to see this niche filled.
posted by idiopath at 4:02 PM on September 14, 2009 [2 favorites]


1) The display was still black and white -- this was around 2000 or so and it struck me as insanely retrograde. 2) The monitor had a rather bizarre plug. It not only drove the monitor, but the speakers and (I think) the keyboard. You couldn't go out and get another vga cable if something happened to it; it was hard-wired to the monitor.

That was a NeXT machine, not a BeBox.

This is me with a NeXT system.
This is me with a BeBox (look at the far right side of the picture).
posted by mrbill at 4:07 PM on September 14, 2009 [4 favorites]


Maybe BeOS' level of multitasking was more impressive in the the early and mid 1990s when processing power wasn't available in such glutinous quantities, I'm not sure.

Not really. It was, for me, anyway, more that it had near-Amiga levels of multitasking with a pretty GUI. At the time you could get Linux, pre GNOME/KDE, or anything that anyone in 1995 would have recognice as a modern GUI, or you could get Windows 9x.

The problem for me was that I'd been an Amigaphile and I new how that sad story ended, and I could see the same fate for BeOS even back then.
posted by rodgerd at 4:08 PM on September 14, 2009 [1 favorite]


I ran BeOS for the better part of 9 months. It was absolutely incredible-- mind-blowingly fast to start up, run applications, and perform filesystem tasks. It was, at the time, the greatest OS one could buy, hands down. There were demos of multiple OpenGL cubes with a different video playing on each face of the cube, all playing at full speed, all at once. In 1995, this was so unbelievable to watch given that someone's daily work was either on Windows NT 3.5 or MacOS (8?) which both behaved like, well, 20th-century computers when BeOS was so clearly the 21st century.

All that said, nearly every piece of BeOS has made its way into OS X, even the engineers themselves. Dominic Giampaolo wrote BFS; now he works at Apple-- Spotlight is probably a direct descendant of the original idea of BFS. The GrandCentral architecture in Snow Leopard is really just an extension of BeOS's "pervasive multithreading" thread handler. Multicore support in Windows and OS X is just now getting to where BeOS was almost fifteen years ago.
posted by mark242 at 4:09 PM on September 14, 2009 [4 favorites]


idiopath - yes!

Semi-related,
I think getting Qt on Haiku could make Haiku go a long way. Should be useful for both developers and end-users.

Probably something like GTK would be good too but God is it unelegant.
posted by krilli at 4:11 PM on September 14, 2009


I got to see this OS work in a real world environment. Some library cataloging app ran on this OS. I worked for a school district that used this software.

I also got a copy of this OS in an issue of MacTech magazine or at MacWorld (or both, my memory is fuzzy). I installed it on a box (don't remember the year or configuration).

I thought the future had arrived seeing this OS. I was primarily a mac fanboy, but grudgingly used PCs as well. This seemed so much cooler than either of the mainstream OSes.

But the lack of apps was pretty much it for me. It was kind of like the Coyote/Roadrunner thing. I don't think the coyote would know what to do if he ever caught the Roadrunner. Firing up this app was like that. Once it was up...now what?

I once set up an AmigaOS video lab.
posted by cjorgensen at 4:13 PM on September 14, 2009 [2 favorites]


There were demos of multiple OpenGL cubes with a different video playing on each face of the cube, all playing at full speed, all at once.

Hah, I remember those. Raw power, indeed.
posted by filthy light thief at 4:15 PM on September 14, 2009


idiopath: "Binary compatibility with closed source operating systems is a fool's errand"

I should temper my words a bit. Wine is a successful project but it succeeds not by being able to run whatever Windows program you throw at it, but by being an easy way for Windows developers to make their code run on a Linux machine. You could consider it the compliment to Cygwin, in a way. With Haiku, they are trying to be API compatible with Beos, which is helpful for porting old Beos code and making an environment which is useful for Beos developers (what few ever existed).

What I think the big danger is for something like Haiku is that the user application world could get dominated by sloppy Linux ports and barely functional Java apps. If I were them I would be actively working to sabotage prevent the porting of gtk, qt, and the Java VM to their platform.
posted by idiopath at 4:19 PM on September 14, 2009


idopath - free software warfare, tactics and game theory is fun :)

I'm in the catch-flies-with-honey group. WINE apps running on Linux is the epitome of sloppy and barely functional, but I think it helps the overall survival of desktop Linux by providing an universal bandaid while someone who works for passion gets something nicer going.
posted by krilli at 4:27 PM on September 14, 2009


Hopefully it can fill in the free / open source software on the desktop niche that Ubuntu tries to shoehorn Linux into (I say this as a 10+ year desktop user of Debian).

Here's the thing - before any normal user will even consider using an OS on their machine, they're going to need assurances that it'll work with their machine. Linux, for all the effort poured into it, only recently got the kind of driver coverage a desktop OS needs; if Haiku doesn't even have solid wireless support yet, I have to wonder if it's at all realistic to expect it to ever get hardware support to the point where Jane & John Public would be willing to take a look.
posted by Tomorrowful at 4:29 PM on September 14, 2009


To this day I still believe that Apple would have been better off acquiring BeOS to replace MacOS instead of going with Next. BeOS was ready for market; Next took several years of overhaul and rewriting before it was even close to ready.

The best part of the Next purchase was that it meant Jobs rejoined Apple, and it must be admitted that was a big deal. But ultimately that was the reason for the choice; the software itself was distinctly inferior.
posted by Chocolate Pickle at 4:31 PM on September 14, 2009 [5 favorites]


These kinds of reports/rumors, and the equivalent ones that go around every once in a while about AmigaOS, remind me of Christian millenialism.

Our savior (BeOS) will rise from the dead, and return to us! Those who remained faithful during the interregnum will enter paradise. And then there will be a battle between the good guys (BeOS users) and the minions of evil (everyone else) and the good guys will win and bring about eternal paradise on Earth.

And so on...
posted by Chocolate Pickle at 4:35 PM on September 14, 2009 [3 favorites]


Tomorrowful: "they're going to need assurances that it'll work with their machine"

The Haiku developers may be tempted to code a Linux driver compatibility framework, similar to Linux's NDISwrapper.

Nowadays Linux has fewer driver issues than Vista or OSX as far as I can tell, and it probably beats out XP as well (drivers are one of those places where open source code does really great things for quality - if you can make a halfway usable open source driver, someone will get pissed off enough to fix it if it is buggy).

Chocolate Pickle: "Our savior (BeOS) will rise from the dead, and return to us!"

The magical thing about open source is that the developers could all burn out on the project, and five years from now someone else could pick it up where they left off. If they can impress users and motivate a certain percentage of them to be developers, open source actually will grant the project "eternal life".
posted by idiopath at 4:46 PM on September 14, 2009 [2 favorites]


Didn't BeOS lack multiuser support or something obvious like that?
posted by Paris Hilton at 4:52 PM on September 14, 2009


To this day I still believe that Apple would have been better off acquiring BeOS to replace MacOS instead of going with Next. BeOS was ready for market; Next took several years of overhaul and rewriting before it was even close to ready.

No. God no.

BeOS being turned into OS X would have been death by a thousand cuts. And it still would have required a huge amount of work to be poured into it, just into different areas. BeOS had a shit networking stack, no multi-user support whatsoever and an API that was just not up to the same standard that Cocoa was back then.

Not to mention that practically forcing multithreading onto developers would have been a surefire way to piss them off. You reckon the Adobe 64-bit Carbon/Cocoa debacle was tough? Try telling Adobe they need to rewrite their shit with multithreading in mind at all times.
posted by Talez at 4:53 PM on September 14, 2009 [2 favorites]


That ancient codebase is not dead which is eternally archived
And with strange intellectual property purchases even BeOS might not die
posted by adipocere at 4:58 PM on September 14, 2009 [13 favorites]


it once was complete,
an operating system;
now just a haiku
posted by mr_crash_davis mark II: Jazz Odyssey at 5:00 PM on September 14, 2009 [3 favorites]


It's sort of amazing that all these years later, my Vista laptop (with 3GB of RAM and Duel Core processor) still can't run video smoothly. It doesn't matter what application I use, Flash, QuickTime, MediaPlayer, they all drag and skip.
posted by octothorpe at 5:01 PM on September 14, 2009 [1 favorite]


I remember when I got BeOS. I had a videocard that was a pretty advanced card at the time, although of course, 2d only (this was on the late 90s)

Well, it didn't have drivers for BeOS (surprise), so I had to use the VESA 1.2 generic driver... the interesting thing is that the driver only supported 256 colors, and they weren't going to compromise their desktop by dithering or something like that, so, instead, they only supported GRAYSCALE on 256 color displays. Yup, I had to run my desktop on fucking grayscale. Of course, I could run 2 instances of Quake while playing an mp3... but it kind of got old.

Years later, as a programmer, I'm still impressed by the vision of a massively multi-threaded OS... pity it didn't stick.
posted by qvantamon at 5:03 PM on September 14, 2009


There were demos of multiple OpenGL cubes with a different video playing on each face of the cube, all playing at full speed, all at once.

There wasn't an actual OpenGL pipeline in there tho.

Hah, I remember those. Raw power, indeed.

Well, in the mid-90s it wasn't like MacOS (with its lack of PMT) was really slowing things down. It lacked an SMP API but that wasn't a big deal in the consumer space. NT4 (out in mid-96) had a much more mature API but was superheavyweight to write to effectively [shudders at the memories].

Be's central faling was simply shitty hardware architecture. If it had been able to hitch its wagon to NVIDIA then it could have been a contenda, but the TNT came out in 1998, too too late.

I still believe that Apple would have been better off acquiring BeOS to replace MacOS instead of going with Next. BeOS was ready for market; Next took several years of overhaul and rewriting before it was even close to ready.

This is completely, utterly, disassociated from the facts. BeOS had no solid networking, graphics API, printing system or language support so it was far, far away from ready. OpenStep had been a shipping OS for years by then.

NeXT OS needed work, but it wasn't the long pole in the tent -- Carbon was developed as the bridge for MacOS developers, and this would have been necessary under BeOS. Part of the delays with getting 10.0 out was doing cool stuff like OpenGL and the backing store windowing system.
posted by Palamedes at 5:05 PM on September 14, 2009


Years later, as a programmer, I'm still impressed by the vision of a massively multi-threaded OS... pity it didn't stick.

I think 'task based' systems (such as Intel TBB, or Grand Central) are gaining the most traction right now. I work on multithreaded stuff all day, and the stuff that isn't done in a task-based way is always the biggest pain to coordinate.
posted by blenderfish at 5:34 PM on September 14, 2009


I have a bootable CD of BeOS lying around. I haven't tried it in a few years.
posted by Obscure Reference at 5:36 PM on September 14, 2009


Nice to see Haiku out in public.

I don't agree that sabotaging blocking other frameworks from am OS is sensible. I think the grail is actually the opposite - a framework that does run dependably well on all platforms, so that a developer can produce an executable that will work on those OSes.

(I am still a Java cheerleader, though I'm looking at wxWidgets, Juce and other cross-platform frameworks as well)

M$ and Apple benefit greatly from factionalism and multiple projects in the open-source world.
posted by Artful Codger at 5:51 PM on September 14, 2009 [1 favorite]


BeOS was awesome, as it happened to do exactly what I needed it for very very very well, which was allow me to store massive amounts of mp3s with all the cataloging done in the filesystem, including saved searches and high-speed real-time indexing. Then I could play them back in an mp3 player that was so responsive I could grab the playback slider and slide seamlessly between a seemingly infinite range of forward speeds -- and reverse speeds -- without so much as a hesitation or a blip. On a crap machine with a crap audio card and a crap processor.

It didn't do much else, but for that, it was kind of like having itunes as the operating system/filesystem, and as fast and seamless as that implied.
posted by davejay at 7:36 PM on September 14, 2009 [1 favorite]


Oh, and I remember at the time being able to play five mp3s at once in five different player instances, at different speeds, and then open a web browser and have it not hiccup, not even a smidge. Multithreading, when done right, and done well.
posted by davejay at 7:37 PM on September 14, 2009


It'll probably be remembered most for the isometric Lego user interface design, but performance-wise is where it was most-impressive. It smoked MacOS (8, now aka "Classic") on the same PPC hardware in its day.

I also remember the rotating cube with video on each face, but even without the 3D-ness of that, BeOS was remarkable enough in that it could play six videos at the same time, period, without skipping and yammering. My PowerPC Mac at the time couldn't handle more than two or three stamp-sized windows.

And presentations from the always-entertaining Jean-Louis Gassee were fun, too.

At the time of the Apple announcement, I remember being one of many who thought that Be would have been a better choice than NeXTstep. I'd used a NeXTstation for about a year, too. but it was so workstation-like, geeky and un-friendly that I couldn't imagine it with an Apple label. But in hindsight, Apple hitching onto the Unix train was the right move, especially after their UI people got ahold of NeXTstep... and even if it hadn't been... getting Steve back was clearly worth the price, based on the remarkable turnaround that started when he returned. Before OSX and the iPod, Apple was on a fast track to acquisition or death.

Anyone who wants to try BeOS for their own self on Intel hardware... it's easy to find out there on the Interwebs. Download, install, enjoy.
posted by rokusan at 9:22 PM on September 14, 2009


I've always held out hope for [ cloud computing | thin client architecture | Google Desktop ] because it provides a glimpse of a beautiful possible future. If all of your apps are run out of the browser (or what-have-you), then it doesn't matter what OS you use. This would make BeOS and other hobby OSes plausible, realistic choices.

And think of the security benefits. It would be so much more difficult (and less profitable) to write malware in a world where dozens of OSes were in common usage.
posted by ErikaB at 9:29 PM on September 14, 2009


Didn't BeOS lack multiuser support or something obvious like that?

It had the underlying support for multiple users from the start (your user was "baron" by default, named after the main QA guy at Be), but it wasn't fully implemented until R4.5 or so and even then they didn't ship multi-user support because they found that turning it on broke a lot of apps.

I was the world's biggest BeOS fanboy starting with R3, the first Intel release. I used it as my primary desktop for years and still have every x86 version they sold, still have my Be shirt, and have a fond memory of driving down to their offices to see a demo where they ran something like 40 Star Wars prequel trailers on a dual Pentium machine - all playing smoothly with audio mixed together. They had some problems, particularly with their network stack (although BONE supposedly fixed a lot of them), but for programming, the Be APIs were far and away the most pleasant, programmer friendly APIs to ever exist. It's only been recently that Qt has caught up to where Be was 13 years ago, and .NET, Cocoa, and Carbon APIs are still a painful reminder that both Microsoft and NeXT/Apple are complete shit when it comes to API design.

Hopefully the Haiku project can fix some of their earlier problems with getting a development environment setup - I spent days trying to get their svn trunk built in VirtualBox, with no success.
posted by cmonkey at 9:45 PM on September 14, 2009


If all of your apps are run out of the browser (or what-have-you), then it doesn't matter what OS you use.... And think of the security benefits. It would be so much more difficult (and less profitable) to write malware in a world where dozens of OSes were in common usage.

If all your apps and data are in a cloud somewhere, why on earth would an attacker even try to hack your machine? There's nothing there to target.

They'd just attack, hack, or otherwise target your data and/or apps online, which is in some ways a lot scarier than attacking your own boxes at home.
posted by rokusan at 1:38 AM on September 15, 2009


I feel like every 6 months or so I read an article about how BeOS is back!

But it's not.
posted by chunking express at 2:15 AM on September 15, 2009 [1 favorite]


Palm's final purchase price of $11 million was a fraction of the $200 million Be hoped to get from Apple in the years before (Apple was only willing to pay $125 million)

Actually there was a much greater divide between offer/what JLG wanted. Oddly enough, the final sale/liquidation of Be, Inc only happened a few weeks ago. Anyone who still had Be stock got a small check in the mail. (Palm had purchased the "assets" of Be which included the BeOS/BeIA itself and some hardware. A couple of dozen engineers went over as well).

Excuse the self-link but for those interested in the early life of the BeBox, I did an interview with the designer of the BeBox, Joe Palmer, way back when. There are also some interviews with other Be engineers including Dominic mentioned above. Note that Joe Palmer went on to design the hiptop, aka the T-Mobile Sidekick.

Multi-user was indeed tested internally and ready to go, but it was turned off for (mostly) non-technical reasons.

It's true that many of the ex-Be engineers are now over at Apple. Many went there right away, others ended up there eventually. I can see their fingerprints all over OS X.
posted by mikepop at 5:31 AM on September 15, 2009


rokusan: "If all your apps and data are in a cloud somewhere, why on earth would an attacker even try to hack your machine?"

Mostly attackers are after your CPU and your network connection more than your personal data. They want to use you as a spam vector and a zombie for a DOS attack, it is a more reliable long term income stream than a credit card number, is easier to get ahold of, and does not risk connecting their identity to the attack.
posted by idiopath at 5:44 AM on September 15, 2009


mrbill wrote: This is me with a BeBox (look at the far right side of the picture).

Ooh, x2! I loved that my Courier 33.6 was field upgradeable to x2. And that my later NetServer I-Modem was an x2 (and v.90) server.

rodgerd wrote: At the time you could get Linux, pre GNOME/KDE, or anything that anyone in 1995 would have recognice as a modern GUI, or you could get Windows 9x.

Hey, there was a NeXT clone and a Windows 95 clone by 1996! Not that I believed in GUIs at the time. Well, except insofar as was necessary to play the inevitable Windows 95-only games that came along after its release.
posted by wierdo at 6:20 AM on September 15, 2009


I cherish my boxed copy of BEos 5.03.... that came with The BEos Bible... I purchased it many moons ago at BestBuy... back when they didn't suck. I still have the old AMD K6-2 based system that I used to run it on, all borken down... neatly tucked away in my boneyard. I LOVED BEos... it was the first OS that I ever encountered that made me want to become a programmer.... I started dabbling... but then it all went south.

It's time to look at what Haiku is doing... and maybe time to see how the Syllable project is coming along.
posted by PROD_TPSL at 7:26 AM on September 15, 2009


I still have the old AMD K6-2 based system that I used to run it on

Yes, THAT was the crap processor I was running mine on as well. I couldn't remember, hence "crap processor."
posted by davejay at 7:37 AM on September 15, 2009


I'm not too familiar with BeOS but curiosity compelled me to try Haiku out of the blue about half a year back. It was rough around the edges (to say the least) but the interface was gorgeous and the boot-up time was jaw-dropping. I'll be giving the alpha a shot on my EeePC after work. Shame about the lack of wifi support yet, but I'm sure that'll change soon.
posted by kryptondog at 8:23 AM on September 15, 2009


Booted it under VirtualBox. It feels nice, although it didn't recognise the default emulated NIC and thing like BeZilla crash and burn without an eth0, which is a bit naff. I might see if it can run on an old Thinkpad T23 I have lying around...
posted by rodgerd at 2:25 PM on September 15, 2009


god, I know that second sentence was english, but I don't think I will ever be able to understand it. sometimes I feel woefully under-nerdy.
posted by shmegegge at 2:36 PM on September 15, 2009


* NIC: network interface controller (not sure how/why you emulate one, tbh)
* BeZilla: Mozilla browser for BeOS
* eth0: eth0 is your ethernet card. They are labelled "ethX" starting with an X of 0, so if you had two ethernet cards, the second would be "eth1".
* naff: inferior in quality or condition
posted by filthy light thief at 6:57 AM on September 16, 2009 [1 favorite]


This may be too late, but will I be missing out on the best of BeOS if I try this on a single core machine/VM?
posted by mccarty.tim at 12:23 PM on September 16, 2009


mccarthy.tim, no, it should be pretty cool. If the virtual machine gets enough RAM and other processes aren't scheduled in too much in the host OS, BeOS will act 99% like on a real machine.

Possibly even better, depending:
Graphics and GUI stuff is usually what virtual machines have the most problems with. With a fresh young thing like Haiku, the real-hardware graphics support might be worse than the emulated stuff. The emulated stuff is the same in all machines after all, so it kind of gets broader support from developers: They each have a different real machine, but almost all have the same virtual machine. Am I making sense?
posted by krilli at 1:39 PM on September 16, 2009


mccarthy.tim - the one fun feature I remember from BeOS was the ability to turn off (or exclude?) one processor in a multi-process set-up, while things are actively running, with visual displays of processor performance. From my limited understanding, it was more of a neat gimmick than anything else.
posted by filthy light thief at 10:13 AM on September 17, 2009


I am posting this from the BeZillaBrowser in Haiku.
posted by Obscure Reference at 3:26 PM on September 17, 2009 [2 favorites]


OR - awesome =)

Via Slashdot, in the Old Operating Systems Don’t Die… post on Technologizer - BeOS is still embedded in Tascam SX-1, though their site doesn't mention it. Searching around, Tascam chose the reliable, multimedia-optimized BeOS operating system and a powerful graphics engine for fast “no-wait” redraws, at least according to the 2001 product summary.
posted by filthy light thief at 4:01 PM on September 17, 2009


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