Forgot your password?
typodupeerror
Be

History and Perspective on BeOS 290

Posted by CmdrTaco
from the what-not-to-do dept.
prepp writes "Avid BeOS user Robert Renling posts his first article about the Be Operating System." An interesting little article, with the amusing conclusion that BeOS isn't dead after all! Ah Zealots. Aren't we fun?
This discussion has been archived. No new comments can be posted.

History and Perspective on BeOS

Comments Filter:
  • BeOS (Score:3, Funny)

    by joyoflinux (522023) <thejoyoflinux@y[ ]o.com ['aho' in gap]> on Sunday October 13, 2002 @12:20PM (#4440855)
    BeOS may not be dead, but everyone tells me BSD is ;-)
    • Re:BeOS (Score:3, Interesting)

      by morgajel (568462)
      it's really great when they tell you it while holding an ibook:)

      but now on to the topic- BeOS was my first alternate OS. I went from 98 to BeOS 4.52
      it rocked. the only problem it had was with my video card, so I had to keep switching in an older one to get it to work. That was also the reason I finally quit using it. If you want to know more about the BeOS, I'd highly recommend reading the BeOS Bible. It was a very well written book for someone who(at the time) didn't know much aobut computers.
    • Re:BeOS (Score:3, Funny)

      by flikx (191915)
      You don't have to be a Kreskin to know that BeOS is dying...

      Aw screw it. It's hardly even worth it anymore. :)

    • I dunno, man. It looks to me like BSD is alive and well, and doing better each day. As a matter of fact, back in the BeOS days (since R3, when I bought my first BeOS CD, and up until the dot com crash), I used FreeBSD and SuSE Linux for all my serious stuff, and ran much of my desktop stuff on BeOS. When Be, Inc. turned to poop, I blew BeOS off my desktops and installed FreeBSD with XFree instead. As a matter of fact, I doubt I still have Linux installed anywhere, as I became so happy with the well-structured FreeBSD filesystem that I blew Linux off as well. And I must've updated FreeBSD about 4 times since those days. So if anything is dead, it's not BSD, that's for sure.
  • by Hal-9001 (43188)
    ...it's not dead. Obsolete computer systems don't die--they just get severely marginalized...
  • by thammoud (193905) on Sunday October 13, 2002 @12:27PM (#4440877)
    but please let go!! Don't repeat the same mistake I made with Amiga and OS/2
  • mm (Score:4, Funny)

    by Pros_n_Cons (535669) on Sunday October 13, 2002 @12:29PM (#4440883)
    okay maybe its not dead, but its sure starting to smell funny.
  • OSes Never Die (Score:5, Interesting)

    by danheskett (178529) <danheskett AT gmail DOT com> on Sunday October 13, 2002 @12:30PM (#4440885)
    REally, OSes never die, they are essentially immortal, becuase once you find someone who really likes it, they will go to any length to keep the dream alive. Any length.

    But whats more about BeOS - its still under development. The OpenBEOS project is doing a fanatastic job re-implementing the OS, essentially from scratch. I have no idea how long it will take, but someday the OS will be re-implemented completely from scratch in an OSS manner.

    From there, the improvements will continue.

    My advice to future pushers of BeOS? Stay away from mainstream desktops for now - instead aim for vertical markets (*not* web appliances or that stupid stuff). Get some ISV's to write accounting, medical, legal, technical, etc etc programs for it. Focus on the audio/video processing markets. Get them wrapped up nice and tight, and then move to bigger areas. Just my two cents.
    • by maynard (3337) <j.maynard.gelinas@NOSpam.gmail.com> on Sunday October 13, 2002 @01:56PM (#4441215) Journal
      As a counterpoint to your statement:
      REally, OSes never die, they are essentially immortal, becuase once you find someone who really likes it, they will go to any length to keep the dream alive. Any length.
      So where is RT-11? RSX? Venix? PRIMEOS? CYBER NOS/VE? HP MVS? Lots of operating environments have come and gone... the only systems which remain for the long haul are those with source availability and a developer base able to support the source. This doesn't have to be open source, there are commercial groups who perform this service for a range of defunct products. In fact, many large vertical applications are sold stipulating source availability in the event of vendor bankruptcy. Those systems often stay alive far longer than the vendor ever intended. A good example would be PDP-11s still out in the field controlling tools used in sheet metal factories. It's a dying breed, but they're still out there -- and they're only dying because LSI-11 cards on the used market are getting hard to find.

      So, on the one hand -- yeah, if the source and tools exist, and if there's enough of a userbase to profit by providing that support, an old application and/or operating environment can survive long after the original vendor bites the dust. But this is a small minority of all the systems that have lived. So you shouldn't expect something like BeOS to last much longer given lack of source and the small business community which invested in the environment. Hell, how long will it be before VMS joins the crowd of relics I listed previously?

      Your point about vertical applications is valid, though I given that BeOS is a commodity no different than WinXP, MacOS X, Linux, or any other operating system a vendor targeting vertical markets like you list would provide their customers with a better solution by choosing widely deployed platforms. I honestly think they would be doing a disservice to their customers to recommend BeOS given that it lacks any kind of corporate or large community developer base, never mind original source.

      Cheers,
      --Maynard

      • Your point about vertical applications is valid, though I given that BeOS is a commodity no different than WinXP, MacOS X, Linux, or any other operating system a vendor targeting vertical markets like you list would provide their customers with a better solution by choosing widely deployed platforms. I honestly think they would be doing a disservice to their customers to recommend BeOS given that it lacks any kind of corporate or large community developer base, never mind original source.
        Right, now. But as I mentioned OpenBEOS is very actively trying to re-implement it. When that is done, it would be a very nice vertical market platform.
        • First of all, I'm not in the naysayers camp about OpenBeOS. If developers want to rewrite BeOS to scratch their own personal itch, far be it from me to tell others how to spend their personal time. However, OpenBeOS is not ready now. Yet for a vendor targeting a vertical market there are so many other available platforms to choose from now, that waiting (or even developing) for OpenBeOS simply doesn't make sense. These guys are in business to make money, not to scratch a personal development itch. If that's the market I wanted to target I would likely choose either Windows or Linux, depending on how I wanted to price my product, and how I wanted to arrange support. I might even go QT and target both platforms. The last thing I would do is hope and pray for OpenBeOS to come along and save my day when the market was there for the plucking and alternatives to OpenBeOS readily available. Just my .02...

          Cheers,
          --Maynard
      • RT-11 is here:

        http://simh.trailing-edge.com/ [trailing-edge.com].

        However, if it's not open sourced, obviously, it can't evolve much further, so in that sense, operating systems do die.

  • Dead or not... (Score:5, Interesting)

    by groman (535485) <slashdot@carrietech.com> on Sunday October 13, 2002 @12:30PM (#4440888) Homepage
    Dead or not, BeOS was one of the best operating systems I have ever used. If only it had the software/hardware support. It booted faster than DOS(and I'm not kidding), heck, it booted faster than anything else I've ever seen. It had one of the best browsers I've ever seen(Netpositive) and it was very very slim. What they needed is a linux binary emulator and a well designed wine-like windows binary emulator for the software, and a bunch of HOWTOs on how to port BSD/Linux drivers.

    I stopped using it because it didn't support my NIC, and when i sat down to port the driver from BSD i found myself lost in the lack of debugging documentation and gave up.

    Sad. Just sad.
    • very very slim

      Simple question: so what? How does that help me get work done? Usually the opposite is true: slim means missing features, which means more work in other ways. Boot speed is irrelevent, except at the start of the day (I leave my computer on all the time anyway).

    • Re:Dead or not... (Score:3, Insightful)

      by reallocate (142797)
      NetPositive seemed rather lame when I used it.

      BeOS was/is a slick OS that deserves most of the praise it receives, but what it didn't need was a Linux binary compatability layer or a working implementation of Wine. People who want to run Windows or Lnux apps are already running Windows or Linux. What BeOS needed was some BeOS-only applications that gave the platform a competitive advantage.

      BeOS was like a shiny new car, all polished but with nowhere to go.
    • Re:Dead or not... (Score:3, Insightful)

      by karlm (158591)
      BeOS is still sitting on /dev/hda2. I loved that the UI was simple, lightweight, and fast. It made me forget that my machine is only 266 MHz.

      However, it had some pretty bad nasties:

      • Woke up one morning to find my floppy drive spinning. Floppy had a notch in it from rubbing on the read head in the same spot all night. Read head died from overheating, I think.
      • Frequent kernel panics
      • Reliable kernel panic from settinga Semaphore
      • NetPositive bookmarks' data stored in the metadata fork of theFS, so tar, cp, et. al. would save the bookmark file, but it was useless because the URL was left behind (Discovered this after reinstalling the OS just in case my kernel image on disk was corrupted. Nothing like installing your backups to discover that some idiot put essentail data in the metadata fork.
    • Re:Dead or not... (Score:4, Insightful)

      by jonadab (583620) on Sunday October 13, 2002 @04:18PM (#4441822) Homepage Journal
      > Dead or not, BeOS was one of the best operating systems
      > I have ever used.
      I won't go that far, but certainly Be had some innovations that other
      OSes would do well to consider. Even today. No, I'm not talking
      about the filesystem.

      > If only it had the software/hardware support.
      I don't think either was really a problem. It had the stuff that
      actually mattered. (Emacs, Mozilla, what else do you need? ;-)
      It ran fine on my hardware. Now, it has problems with some newer
      hardware (USB, 3D acceleration, ...), but that's because its
      development waned and stopped; it was up to approximately current
      at the time of the release of R5. At the time, it had better
      hardware support in some areas than Linux. (For example, BeOS had
      drivers for some software modems before Linux did.) It has rotted
      since things fell apart, but that's a symptom, not the problem.

      BeOS needed two things. Advertising and OEMs. Oh, and there were
      a handful of important missing features, such as the ability to set
      colour prefs globally, but the Mac is _still_ missing that one, so
      it must not be fatal. Java support was lousy, but there have been
      issues with that on the Mac also, as recently as a year ago, so
      again, it must not be fatal.

      BeOS, like I said, needed two thing: advertising and OEMs. But
      instead of trying to sell the system, Be kept trying to sell the
      technology (to Apple, to Palm, to embedded markets, to game
      developers, and who knows where else that they didn't make public).
      I don't know whether they could have successfully sold the system
      as a desktop system, but I wish they would have tried a little
      harder to do that. AFAIK there was never _one_ TV commercial for
      BeOS systems. I know commercials cost money, but look where not
      advertising ended them. You have to try something, and the things
      they tried didn't work.

      > It booted faster than DOS(and I'm not kidding)
      Maybe not kidding, but you're exaggerating fiercely. The time DOS
      required to boot was dwarfed several orders of magnitude by the
      time the BIOS needed to do the POST; to say the same of BeOS would
      be a significant hyperbole. It did boot much faster than Windows
      or Linux, but as the other poster pointed out, boot time is really
      not a big deal to most users.

      > It had one of the best browsers I've ever seen
      Err, I don't know what you saw in NetPositive. It didn't seem like
      a very good browser to me. This really didn't matter though. First,
      most users don't care beans about the quality of the browser (hence
      the popularity of IE4 in its day, which was nothing to write home
      about either), and second, you could download and install Netscape 4
      (which at the time was not seeming so ancient; today of course you
      can get Mozilla for BeOS).

      > and it was very very slim
      That really only mattered for dual-boot scenarios. I will say, BeOS
      is a multibooter's dream come true. "Plays well with others" could
      just about be its official motto. It also had an excellent driver
      model, which basically didn't require any changes when hardware was
      swapped out -- very user friendly, that. HardDrake is only just now
      beginning to approach this. It also had a couple of nice features,
      such as having a different res and colour depth for each workspace.

      > What they needed is a linux binary emulator

      Way more trouble than it would be worth. An X11/GTK+/Qt library
      done as a wrapper around the native GUI would have been orders of
      magnitude easier to do and gained source compatibility, which would
      be plenty good enough. And yeah, I know FreeBSD does it, but OSS
      does a lot of things in different ways from how companies do them.

      > and a well designed wine-like windows binary emulator
      Even harder to do than the Linux binary emulator, because Windows
      is more poorly documented (in terms of its internals and ABI).
      It would also be more worth doing, but the amount of work involved
      could be prohibitive, and performance would probably not be great.
      Besides, OS/2 went down this path, and the only reason they didn't
      go bankrupt is because IBM has lots of other irons in the fire
      besides the OS.

      > I stopped using it because it didn't support my NIC, and when i
      > sat down to port the driver from BSD i found myself lost in the
      > lack of debugging documentation and gave up.

      I think Be made a mistake getting out of hardware. They got out
      because Apple wasn't cooperating any longer, and they ported to
      x86, and as far as it went that was fine, but while offering up
      a version that will run on various x86 hardware with an HCL is no
      bad thing, I think they still should have sold prebuilt beboxen,
      in an x86 variety. And I think they should have marketed them.

      Now, I think Palm should come to terms with the realisation that
      they aren't going to develop BeOS (unless they _are_ doing so, in
      which case great), and get what PR they can out of the deal by
      open-sourcing whatever parts of the BeOS source code they have the
      rights to. (Obviously there would be some pieces of BeOS that were
      sublicensed and could not be released, like there were some bits
      of Communicator and StarOffice that couldn't be released with the
      rest, but that's a minor complication.)
    • Re:Dead or not... (Score:2, Insightful)

      by Bishop (4500)
      What they needed is a...

      What they needed was a market. This seems to be a hard lesson for many technical people to understand.
      • Re:Dead or not... (Score:3, Insightful)

        by snarfer (168723)
        If they had run so much as a single advertisment, anywhere, any time, perhaps they might have started finding out if there was a market.
  • BeBits (Score:5, Interesting)

    by joyoflinux (522023) <thejoyoflinux@y[ ]o.com ['aho' in gap]> on Sunday October 13, 2002 @12:31PM (#4440895)
    I guess BeBits [bebits.com] is still there and offering software...
  • by scott1853 (194884) on Sunday October 13, 2002 @12:33PM (#4440900)
    noticeable speed when usng the find queries..

    Apparently it's missing a spell checker.
  • by hillct (230132) on Sunday October 13, 2002 @12:34PM (#4440907) Homepage Journal
    A buddy of mine from school had a BeBox. They were Dual Motorola 68K class (maybe 68040s) boxes. Not only were they pretty damn fast, but they were cool loooking. I recall much hype about these boxes but as far as I know, only a few hundred were ever built. To this day I'm suprised they abandoned the hardware business so quickly.

    Has anyone got Linux or some other OS going on a BeBox? I would expect most of the stuff ported for YellowDog would run without much work, although you might not get load balancing on 68k processors without a bit of kernel hacking

    --CTH
    • I don't think Be ever produced 68K based BeBoxes. As far as I know they were all dual processor PowerPC. I think at the low end they used one of the PPC603 variants.


      When I looked at BeOS it was a good start. I'd have stuck with BeOS if it would have been closer to unix. Something seemed terribly broken to me logging into a machine that has a shell prompt and automatically being root.


      I can sort of understand that for their target market they were worried about making it look too unfriendly, but you can always have an option of being wide open, but even then I'd prefer to have two tiers of users: administrator and everybody else. I can imagine the world of hurt when the average video production guy got rid of all those files he never used to make room for more video.


      • I'd have stuck with BeOS if it would have been closer to unix. Something seemed terribly broken to me logging into a machine that has a shell prompt and automatically being root.


        Actually, some people thought the single user model was one of the virtues of BeOS. It had a lot of Unix-y goodness, but it didn't drag in a multi-user Time Sharing enviroment. Time Sharing environments are fine for servers and multi-user machines, but they're a real waste on a single user desktop machine.
    • they were powerpcs, 603-66s and 603e-133s.
      I miss my BeBox more than I can convey in words:( I'm going to get all bleary eyed if I continue this post, so...
      • What did you do, throw yours out? I kept mine Blinkenlights, GeekPort and all.

        Funny thing: interprocessor interrupt latencies were so high that usually the two 603s just ended up stomping all over each other. Try this some time: run one of Pierre's pheonomenal threaded 3D demos in dual-processor mode. Then turn one CPU off. Watch frame rates go up. :)

        If Be had stuck to its original vision, it would still be a small but successful company today. Gassee had to ruin everything in the name of ego.
    • Yah, after a few replies correcting me, I guess it was a PowerPC box. I only ever saw the thing once. It was tucked neatly next to a rack of other hardware (!!?!!) in a dorm room (!). The guy who's machine it was was insane. He had one machine on which he was trying to set the record for the most OSs on a single box. There was a /. article on this subject a while back but I couldn't find it jsut now for a link. oh well.

      --CTH
    • Actually, the BeBox has dual 603e PowerPC processors, running at either 66 or 133 MHz. I have a revision 6 motherboard BeBox set up in my room right now. 3 PCI slots, 6 ISA, 3 MIDI, 2 stereo audio out, 1 stereo in, SCSI, PS/2, and an old-school-style keyboard plug. It has 8 slots for 72 pin 60ns non-parity RAM SIMMs. (It will take parity RAM, but the BIOS doesn't do parity-checking, so it doesn't matter. EDO RAM has been reported to work in some cases, but it won't boot with it in mine. The theoretical max of RAM I've heard is 1GB.)

      The original BeBox ran 8 hobbit processors from AT&T, but when they found out they were EOLing the hobbit, they switched to PPC. It also has processor-load LEDs on the front that show real-time CPU usuage.

      There's a port of Linux/PPC for the BeOS, and I believe they also had mklinux running on it. I don't know, as I personally run BeOS 5.0.3 Professional on it. There's a lack of software and drivers, but it has Mozilla, Gobe Productive (awesome office suite from the guys that originally did Claris Works, and was recently open sourced ... there are Windows and Linux versions, too), and gads of utilities at BeBits, including the best audio player anywhere, SoundPlay; it was the first to play an MP3 backwards in real time without skipping.

      Just some info, and thought I'd clear the air. But BeOS definitely isn't dead as an operating system, only BeOS, Inc. is.
    • by fmaxwell (249001) on Sunday October 13, 2002 @02:28PM (#4441356) Homepage Journal
      To this day I'm suprised they abandoned the hardware business so quickly.

      While I loved BeOS as an OS, I hated Be, Inc. as a company. They abandoned every product and customer that they ever had. They abandoned the BeBox hardware and even stopped supporting it in later revs of the OS. They abandoned the Mac users that ran BeOS on Macs. They abandoned BeOS users and developers to pursue the (idiotic) network appliance market. Not surprisingly, the network appliance makers were not eager to jump into bed with a company that might abandon them next.

      Be was a perfect example of what happens, and what should happen, to a company that abandons its customers and supporters.
      • by Maniakes (216039) on Sunday October 13, 2002 @03:49PM (#4441702) Journal
        They abandoned the BeBox hardware and even stopped supporting it in later revs of the OS.

        While we did stop making it, we never stopped supporting it. I remember doing installs and testing of 5.0 (the last release) on BeBoxen.

        They abandoned the Mac users that ran BeOS on Macs.

        Not our fault, Apple's fault. Apple refused to release the specs for the G4, and we didn't have the resources to reverse engineer it. We kept supporting PPC 601-604 Macs until the end.

        They abandoned BeOS users and developers to pursue the (idiotic) network appliance market

        That was a last ditch effort to survive. We were losing $20 million a year on $2 million revenue selling BeOS to the desktop, with no prospects for improvement in the year we had left before running out of cash.

        Not surprisingly, the network appliance makers were not eager to jump into bed with a company that might abandon them next.

        Perhaps, but several (including Compaq) did sign on to use BeIA, only to switch to WinCE under threats [beincorporated.com] from microsoft.

        Compaq repeatedly assured Be of its enthusiasm for the project, and stated that only BeOS could meet the project's technical, cost, and delivery timeline requirements. Compaq assured Be that Windows CE was not suitable for the device.

        In October 1998, however, Compaq informed Be that it had disclosed information about the Be Internet appliance project to Microsoft. Later that same month, Microsoft Chairman Bill Gates visited Compaq CEO Eckhard Pfeiffer as part of a "Digital Appliances Review."

        In early November, under pressure from Microsoft, Compaq informed Be that it was no longer interested in licensing BeOS.

        • While we did stop making it, we never stopped supporting it. I remember doing installs and testing of 5.0 (the last release) on BeBoxen.

          The BeBox platform was not even mentioned in the BeOS Pro Edition 5.0 User's Guide the documentation, so I don't know what kind of internal testing was done, but if there was support for the BeBox, it was well-hidden.

          Not our fault, Apple's fault. Apple refused to release the specs for the G4, and we didn't have the resources to reverse engineer it.

          But Linux was ported to it by a people working in their spare time.

          That was a last ditch effort to survive.

          And it was transparent to BeOS customers and vendors alike.

          We were losing $20 million a year on $2 million revenue selling BeOS to the desktop, with no prospects for improvement in the year we had left before running out of cash.

          But still Be continued to lie to BeOS 5.0 purchasers. One need not have looked any further than the "Registered BeOS User Area" for proof that Be, Inc. had no interest in supporting BeOS customers. Months and months went by and there was never anything released via that worthless page. No drivers for new hardware. No updates or new software. Nothing. On the page, users found the lie "we will be adding additional features in the near future." The new networking layer, BONE, was never released. The OpenGL support was never released. Updates for new hardware never appeared.

          Third-party Be developers were also left hung out to dry. like Wildcard Design and Thunder Munchkin Software close their doors, horribly in debt and sometimes in legal trouble, due to the conscious decision by Be, Inc. to abandon them. I thought that the following excerpt from a letter by Todd C. Brett, CEO of Thunder Munchkin Software, summed up the situation well:

          Developer services have been reduced to highly expensive support for large corporations or consulting firms (with a noted preference for web appliances), leaving developer support for mainstream applications all but dried up. Simply trying to communicate with important staff to ensure quality service to our customers, let alone actually getting something done with Be, Inc., has become an unbelievably painful experience. The message made to small pioneering BeOS companies such as ours has been made crystal

          clear: we are not needed anymore.


          Perhaps, but several (including Compaq) did sign on to use BeIA, only to switch to WinCE under threats from microsoft.

          And others, like Netpliance, went with OSs like QNX. Was Be actually surprised that Microsoft pressured companies like Compaq to use WinCE? This is the same company that sabotaged Digital Research's DR-DOS by purposely making Windows beta installs fail with vague claims about (non-existent) compatability problems.

          Of course, all of this is just a moot point. As I predicted in my e-mail to JLG, the Internet appliance market was a non-starter and, even had every vendor of those devices used BeIA, it would have made little difference. It's just a shame that Be could no go out of business on a high-note, supporting their loyal customers and developers to the end.
        • In early November, under pressure from Microsoft, Compaq informed Be that it was no longer interested in licensing BeOS.

          Until late last year I was working with a team using the Compaq "Clipper" devices running BeIA on a B2B project. While I'm no MS fan, in fact quite the opposite, I'm sure the pressure from the Beast of Redmond wasn't the only reason for the switch.

          The BeIA OS, while impressive had serious bugs until the point we abandoned it. Calls and emails to Be went unreturned for months on end, and updates to fix bugs were few and far between. The main problem (or one of them) that we had was with the Opera browser and OS constantly leaking memory until the device would reset - losing any information in other apps. This meant having to add code to constantly save state to the flash RAM, severely shortening its life.

          Curiously the browser would crash after loading 15-20 pages, then be killed and restart, but the user would be oblivious to this, since if it was running fullscreen (the default, and only option on a locked machine) then the old image of the browser would stay in the display buffer, then replaced when the browser restarted - which I thought was a cool trick!

          It was far more suitable than WinCE, there's no doubt about that, but QNX was probably a more efficient system still...
  • I would run it (Score:4, Insightful)

    by Apreche (239272) on Sunday October 13, 2002 @12:36PM (#4440913) Homepage Journal
    As far as I'm concerned, from a purely technical standpoint, BeOS is the BEst Operating System ever. It has absolutely everythign I've ever wanted. The only reason I don't use it is the lack of software. Can I get photoshop for it? How about Winamp? Icq? Aim? Eudora? Most importantly Half-Life: Counterstrike? Some yes some no. Despite all of its outstanding technical greatness BeOS doesn't have all of the software I need.
    Windows has absolutely everything, and games.
    Linux has everythign I need, or a good equivalent of what I need, and it has tools for developing software.
    So I run windows and Mandrake. I would LOVE to run BeOS, it's got everything I've ever wanted. But no software. Sorrow!
    • Wait a second...

      It has absolutely everything I've ever wanted ... [insert list of specific things it does not have] ... doesn't have all the software I need.

      I love BeOS, but man...rephrase your thoughts.
    • I was using CLAamp (and still do when I run BeOS). It's just like Winamp.

      And there are clients for all the major IM protocals.

      BeBits [bebits.com]

      The mail client was pretty awesome, but I'm sure you can get more at BeBits as well. And I have to agree with someone eles post - if gaming is a priority for you, you're not allowed to be picky about your OS. Get a console system.

      Oh, and there is a Photoshop for Solaris. I'm sure with a little work someone could get it to run in BeOS. But there are plenty of other editors our there. You could run GiMP for BeOS.

      Once again, the OS never really reached maturity. If it had, more people would have been writing software for it. When they chose not to work on a G3/G4 version, they lost the Mac crowd, and that was their biggest market. Adobe would surely not pick them up after that.

      ~LoudMusic
  • Obligitory link (Score:2, Informative)

    by Anonymous Coward
    http://syllable.sourceforge.net The Syllable operating system isn't meant to be a BeOS clone, but it's fairly mature and it is targetted to turn out much like it. BeOS fans and people with technical skills may like to take a look.
  • by Knife_Edge (582068) on Sunday October 13, 2002 @12:37PM (#4440917)

    My major clue is that the install process seems to still require the making of a 1.44" boot floppy. That is, if you want to run it by itself, outside of another OS.

    To me this speaks volumes about just how old it really is, and probably indicates it is never going to be updated to modern hardware. Also, what makes it relevant in this day and age? Can it do anything another system cannot do better? If the answer is no, or even an extravagantly technical yes (which would never matter to most users), then the world has passed it by.

    The impact of BeOS was probably like Ross Perot in the 1992 presidential election. He lost, but got a large enough percentage of the vote to scare the mainstream politicians into sharpening up their act. I think this is arguably one of the factors for the prosperity of the 1990s. If I am correct, we can thank BeOS for encouraging other software makers to improve their quality/performance. Therefore BeOS benefits us even now, but we do not get the benefit from actually using it.

    • by slithytove (73811) on Sunday October 13, 2002 @12:49PM (#4440979) Homepage
      They boot from the CD like you'd expect any modern OS to, and they come with a hacked up ver of LILO called BELO:)
      I do agree about the Ross Perot thing though: it made a few people wake up to features they could provide and raised the bar for speed and responsiveness, but just like with Perot, as soon as Be became a non-issue the OS vendors relaxed and continued as before.
    • by AvitarX (172628) <<gro.derdnuheniwydnarb> <ta> <em>> on Sunday October 13, 2002 @12:50PM (#4440986) Journal
      The most interesting thing I ever did on BeOS was open the same mp3 about 30 times (at least) and had them all playing at once. Eventually the mp3 player crashed so that any new instances didn't work, but the playing ones did still work and finished up. I was really impressed. Also even under all that load the desktop was as responsive as kde 2. This was a 450 Mhz PIII. I was absolutly amazed.

      As an aside, does anybody know what happened to Corum III (It was a secret of manaish game that was going to be released). I loved the demo, but was not going to pay for it on many month preorder, the company claimed to go gold, and yet never released their product. I could not find any references to the series on the net, and the only references to the 3rd one were for BeOS. Was this not really a port? I really wanted to play this game.

      • I've got a copy of the game right now. It's pretty good, but no Secret of Mana :) Methinks you're looking in the wrong places. Gobe was offering a bundle of BeOS 5 Pro and Corum III awhile back.
      • As an on & off user of BeOS when it was still being actively developed, I'd never really kept up with the BeOS news outside of whatever was presented in general tech news (like /.). So, although I'd never heard of this game before, I'm glad that you brought it up. I'm downloading the demo as I type this.

        To respond to your question of whether this game is really a port from Windows: On the developer's website [ngent.com] (link obtained from page at another poster's gobe.com link), I noticed that the "Corum III" logo had a Korean subtitle. So, I'm guessing that the reason you can't find info on the Windows port is that it was likely developed in Korea, and the websites with relevant info would have been in Korean.

        HTH.

        < tofuhead >

    • BeOS never required a boot disk. The installation CD boots, and lets you manage your paritions from there before installation. You can also do a fully-booting installation from an BeOS partition to another (well, a booting one at least). As for the remark regarding BELO (what's that), BeOS's boot loader was called bootman, and was usually installed in the MBR. Far easier than LILO to set up. Run bootman, select the partitions to want to show up in the boot menu, give them labels, choose a defualt, and click OK. Couldn't be easier. I use it for Win2K, Win98, BeOS, and Linux.
      • BeOS's boot loader was called bootman, and was usually installed in the MBR. Far easier than LILO to set up. Run bootman, select the partitions to want to show up in the boot menu, give them labels, choose a defualt, and click OK. Couldn't be easier.

        I agree, bootman is the easiest bootloader I've ever seen although I have heard that underneath its just lilo, the gui makes it simple to use. I even use it on systems that don't have beos installed.. Just boot up a cd which has a working beos image on it instead of a installer and you can run bootman and have your booting preferences setup with no problems.
    • Windows XP Pro and Windows 2000 requires you to make boot disks if you don't have some version Windows already installed. It's a pretty big pain in the ass.
    • My major clue is that the install process seems to still require the making of a 1.44" boot floppy. That is, if you want to run it by itself, outside of another OS.


      Nice troll, but if thats they only clue you have, you better keep looking as its extremely easy to make a bootable cd from the free version assuming you know how to use cd burning software, and the pay version comes on bootable cds and has boot floppys for the small minority that don't have bootable cdrom drives.
    • None of the Intel releases of BeOS required the install floppy. I can say this pretty conclusively, since I was in the developer program and installed all of them from CD.

      At risk of being a little curt, when you start off by announcing to the world Hi! I've never used this product!, there are volumes being spoken, all right--none of them are about BeOS, though.

      As for what Be can do that other systems aren't doing better, I still miss the "live query" aspect of the system that let you make virtual folders. You could have a folder on your desktop that contained all C source code files you'd modified in the last 24 hours, or all unread email messages from your boss, and they'd always be current (leave the folder open and its contents would change as appropriate). That's a small thing, but most of what I miss about BeOS, ultimately, are small things that few other people seem to have picked up on. OS X is inching there, with things like the systemwide address book and the new search functionality, but it has a ways to go.

  • by rampant mac (561036) on Sunday October 13, 2002 @12:37PM (#4440922)
    an article from Low End Mac [lowendmac.com], titled: Why BeOS Lost by Chris Lozaga.

    Example?

    Not-quite-Unix

    BeOS had a powerful command line and Unix-like underpinnings that could compile and run POSIX compliant software. Every Unix-like operating system has failed in the marketplace except Linux (which is free, and for all intents and purposes it is Unix). The Amiga Operating System was developed with similar goals in mind, and that particular operating system withered and died as well. Being able to compile POSIX compliant software is not a marketable advantage (even Windows NT can do it).

    It's an interesting article, and I think it sums up why BeOS really failed. I truely liked BeOS, but not for my main desktop.

    • The difference with NT being integration.
      BeOS uses bash as its shell, NT uses the ugly CMD.EXE...

      As for desktop use, well I've been using BeOS as my primary OS for a year now, and I'm very happy with it.
      It does what I need, I play DivX on my K6-2 350, listen to mp3/ogg files and streams, burn CDs, devel, surf, ...
    • by Anonymous Coward
      BeOS had a powerful command line and Unix-like underpinnings that could compile and run POSIX compliant software.
      Um, good try for a Mac user, but no. It can compile and run some POSIX software, so long as that software doesn't happen to use features BeOS doesn't implement... But BeOS is by no means POSIX compliant. It lacks a lot. Off of the top of my head, I can tell you that it lacks mmap() for example.
      Every Unix-like operating system has failed in the marketplace except Linux
      So you're saying that Solaris has failed?

      If you want to take it a step further, you can say that most, if not all modern operating systems are somewhat "Unix-like" in that they all implement features from Unix libc.
    • AmigaDOS was actually created as a masters thesis project in operating systems at a university in England, IIRC (it could have been a different country.)

      It did not have Unix-style commands, APIs, or underpinnings. There were a lot of add-on programs created to give it shell-like functionality, and it supported ideas like process parentage and priorities, but no one who has ever done systems programming on a *nix system would confuse it with a *nix core.

      The Amiga died due to Commodore's pathetic marketing. Period.

  • with the amusing conclusion that BeOS isn't dead after all!

    Not dead, but probably dying. And a couple of hundred trolls are willing to prove it to you. In related news, Natalie Portman was recently found to naked and petrified pour hot grits down the pants of a beowolf cluster.

    This is probably a good time to check the "No Score +1 Bonus" button.
  • I tried the BeOS a few years back, when the company was around, and they had released some sort of "Preview Edition" which installed itself as one large file on your FAT partition, and you booted into that. The same as some Linuxes do..

    Anyhow, I played around with it for a day or two, then nuked it. Why? Two simple reasons.

    It did not detect or configure my network card. And it wasn't really clear how to do that. Linux installers do that, and have done it for years.

    It didn't detect or configure my video card. And when I followed the instructions on doing so, the BeOS wouldn't boot.

    So that was it for the BeOS. Maybe the full version would configure everything during it's installation; but why would I pay to find out?

    So yeah, I do feel sad when people go on about the death of the BeOS. But I have much more compassion for the OS/2 users. That installed right (mostly), and I lived with that for 4 years.

    • It did not detect or configure my network card. And it wasn't really clear how to do that. Linux installers do that, and have done it for years.

      It wasn't really clear? Going to preferences from the Deskbar and selecting "Network" wasn't clear? Wow...

      Dinivin
    • It did not detect or configure my network card.

      The criticism of BeOS not supporting enough hardware is actually a good way to point out the effect of the Microsoft monopoly on competitors like Be. By preventing OEMs from putting BeOS on their machines, Microsoft killed off the possibility of BeOS getting enough traction to get started.

      Companies write drivers for Windows because of its market share. If OEMs had started including BeOS there would be more developers writing software, which would mean there were more people ready to buy BeOS, which would mean companies writing drivers for their hardware.

  • by IronTek (153138) on Sunday October 13, 2002 @12:42PM (#4440948) Homepage
    While I do have an affection for obscure operating systems (and the BeOS is certainly now that), the fact that BeOS is obscure is not what makes me admire the damn thing so much.

    As the article says, it was well designed from the beginning, and well thought out through the end. The same can not be said for any other recently modern OS, really, save for maybe OSX (and this requires one to look at OSX as a "new" OS).

    Windows certainly doesn't qualify, and even Linux (which I use and love a great deal) was never initially designed or thought out to be the OS it is today. It's been hacked together over the years to add features like the ones that were in the BeOS from the start (not that the hacks haven't been good...they have...but they're still hacks)...In a way, I'm quite disappointed that Be lost out. There's still always the hope that Palm might do something fun with them, but they'll probably just screw it up... ...now if only I could find a BeBox on the cheap!
  • but that server is as dead as Disco
  • nor marginalized, since we got XEmacs [bebits.com] !

    \o/ [clapcrest.free.fr]
  • I am a long time BeOS user, I bought every application and every version of BeOS since it was released on Intel hardware (Doh!). I am even posting this from NetPositive under BeOS now. I love BeOS, and I hope it eventually makes some sort of comeback, however.....

    One major thing that the Open Source BeOS efforts are forgetting to look at is Open Sourcing a failing project or piece of software doesn't mean that its going to rise from its ashes, it just means that the source code is now available to everyone.

    In an effort to replace BeOS, all the Open Source efforts have not looked at the issues that caused Be, Inc's OS to fail, these boil down to :

    o Hardware Support
    o Application Support
    o Commercial Support
    o Small User Base

    By producing an Open Source version of BeOS that uses a new kernel harware support is still going to be limited. Limited hardware support leads to a small userbase. A small userbase leads to no commercial support and few applications.

    I have to agree with ex Be Engineer Daniel Switkin [osnews.com], that perhaps an effort should be made using the Linux kernel and modifying that to match as best as possible BeOS's requirements, and working on adding BFS, OpenTracker, OpenDeskbar and all the *_servers on top of Linux and addressing all of the BeAPI shortcomings, along with all of Linux as a desktop OS shortcomings in the process. This is a still different to the way the B.E.O.S [blueeyedos.com] guys are doing it.

    This will give the OS massive hardware support, and may even offer some sort of interest from companies who have invested in Linux and are interested in a total-user-oriented desktop version, like IBM or Sun.

    Now I just need to sit back and wait while someone else writes my wet-OS-dream :)

    • By producing an Open Source version of BeOS that uses a new kernel harware support is still going to be limited.

      Why? You have almost every driver you'll ever need available in source form under the BSD and GPL licenses from Linux and BSD kernels and X. Take them, and stick them into your kernel, just like the GNU Mach guys do.
  • by scott1853 (194884) on Sunday October 13, 2002 @12:56PM (#4441008)
    For those that don't want to read the article, I don't blame you because it's poorly written. But here's the summary of it.

    Be's most exciting innovations that other systems are just starting to add support for (according to the article):

    Multi-threading

    Stability

    MIME Types

    Being able to open JPEG files

    Biggest downside:

    Doesn't support USB.

    I don't know what he was using for a comparison but I would assume something console based from MS, circa 1988.

    • by Suppafly (179830)
      Biggest downside:

      Doesn't support USB.


      Thats not quite correct considering that my usb input devices work fine under beos without any added configuration. It might not have supported every usb device, but basic ones were supported.
  • Down but not out... (Score:5, Informative)

    by phatvibez (518108) on Sunday October 13, 2002 @01:03PM (#4441031) Homepage
    There are several attempts to resurect the Be Operating System, check out:

    OpenBeos [sourceforge.net]

    OpenBeos is creating a new BeOS from scratch that will be binary compatible with the original BeOS (at first anyway and plan on adding new features that will probably break this later). So far they are coming along at a good pace. They have already created beta's for OpenBFS, Open Media Kits, and their Print Server.


    They are using the NewOS Kernel [sourceforge.net]


    Blue Eyed OS [blueeyedos.com] (B.E.O.S)

    Blue Eyed OS is an atempt to bring the Be API and interface to the Linux kernel.


    YellowTab [yellowtab.com]

    YellowTab has some screenshots here:
    YellowTab Screenshots [yellowtab.com]

    and BeBits [bebits.com] gets updated regulary with new applications for the BeOS.

    the BeOS is down, but not out...the Be community is still very strong!

  • by Reality Master 101 (179095) <RealityMaster101.gmail@com> on Sunday October 13, 2002 @01:07PM (#4441054) Homepage Journal

    The operating system is TOTALLY irrelevent when it comes to most users. There are only three things that matter: 1) Applications, 2) Hardware support, and 3) Applications. You can have the worst operating system in the world (Windows 3.1) and utterly destroy a clearly superior operating system (OS/2) simply because you win the hardware and application battle.

    Be was dead before it started, because the ONLY hope for a new operating system is compatibility with the current application base. What I don't understand is how Be deluded themselves into thinking that application developers are going to spend valuable resources porting to a completely new operating system without any users just because it's "new and cool".

    No one cares about operating systems. Say it three times.

    • Um, speak for yourself. If all I cared about was applications and hardware support, then I'd use Windows. But I hate Windows (both using it, and bending over for MS for the opportunity to) so I use Linux, despite the fact that Kopete isn't as good as AIM and I've got no real replacement for Photoshop.
      • I think that the original poster was talking about *most* people, not uber-geeks. *Most* people (hell, based on my server logs, I'd say about 99% of 'em) really just don't give a shit. A handful of zealots saying "Hey, we care" doesn't make the broad statement that most people don't care about the OS any less true.
  • Never? Hm... (Score:2, Interesting)

    by thasmudyan (460603)
    I read a lot of posts here saying "Beos would never have succeeded with MS around" or "who had the crappy idea to make yet another OS when there is Linux / BSD?". I don't know if I can leave it at that without some righteous ranting. (Apparently not)

    Beos might be dead but why? In my opinion that happened because a lot of mistakes were made (and creating Beos was none of them):

    1. Be had (and still has) a dead grip on the source code. This is sad, because not only did this scare away opensource guys it was also the main reason for Beos development coming to a stand still. When it was clear (with the economic downturn and blablabla) that Beos couldn't be developed further by one company alone they should have opened the source and a lot of developers would have taken the OS under their wings.
    2. Persistence (or the lack thereof). They thought Beos was going to take over the world over night. When this didn't happen they simply packed and gave up, because Be's business model wasn't stable. If someone had taken a 5 minutes break to think about things they would most likely be among the living companies still. (I don't say this because I am a wise ass who don't know shit about business, because when the IT business was beginning to fall apart I founded an IT company even though the people said "don't do this, it's stupid". It succeeded, it was very difficult at first but we persisted. If you just hold on long enough you will change things!
    3. Partnerships (or the lack thereof). Be wanted to have the cake all for itself. They must have thought that developers and software firms will be grateful just to develop stuff for Beos. This is wrong. They should have made aliances with software companies to roll out tons of apps (Instant Messaging, multimedia, hardware, PIM, a.s.o.). Why the hell didn't they..?

    Sad to see Beos going down, its a great technology. I know I'm going to get flamed for this but when it comes to architecture I prefer Beos over Unix/Linux/BSD/Microsoft anytime.
    • Re:Never? Hm... (Score:2, Interesting)

      Sigh. Again, I have to listen to how opening the source would have saved (fill in dead technology here). Look, when Be fired up the BeOS, it was for business reasons, not philanthropy. Maybe there were those at glamorous Be headquarters who really did want to offer the world its first Genuinely Good Operating System (c), but I am willing to bet that 95% of the rationale was to make money.

      Thus, when the OS didn't catch on for whichever reason, development stopped. If, say, flat panel TVs never become popular, do you think manufacturers will just throw patents to the wind and idealistically hope that someone else will take up the fight? Obviously not. Even if the magical opening of the source would have saved the OS itself, which I doubt, it would have done nothing to salvage Be and, as a result, wasn't worth the ten minutes required to load source code on the Be FTP servers.

      Sorry to sound like a jerk, but I get so very tired of hearing about opened source is an all-encompassing savior. No, all it means is that you get something for free.

      • Get a clue, man, licensing something under a Free Software license like the GPL does not mean giving it away for free.

        Nothing in the GPL forces you to offer your binaries, source-code, or ISO's available for free download from the net. It only requires that you (at least) allow those who want the source to get it at the physical price of delivering it.

        You can, for example, sell a CD with only the binaries and an installer on it, along with an offering to deliver the source code at the cost of shipment. Alternatively, you can include the source on the CD you sell.

        The important point from a business point of view is that you neither have to offer the source nor the binaries on the web for download; though, in most cases, offering the source for download will not hurt business (though offering the binaries for download probably will).

        Most people who are your target customers do not want to compile something from scratch. They probably don't even know how to do it. So offering the source for distribution under the GPL has little if any effect on your business.

        So in short, the point is that if you do things right, you can have a viable business model based around GPL'ed software. For the most part, this means NOT offering the binaries for download for free on the web. As for the source, that's largely a non-factor from a business standpoint; though it may be best to offer it for download on the web for public relations.

        OSI-compliant and FSF-compliant software may not be an all-encompassing savior for businesses. But if implemented right, it can hardly hurt.

        And once again, neither Open Sourced Software nor Free Software means you necessarily get something for free. Most things which are Open Sourced Software or Free Software *happen* to be free as in they can be downloaded for free; that does not mean that OSS or FS software *must* be free as in downloadable for free.
  • Dead? (Score:4, Funny)

    by amdg (614020) <amdgNO@SPAMmac.com> on Sunday October 13, 2002 @01:59PM (#4441231) Homepage
    Customer: 'Ello, I wish to register a complaint.
    (The owner does not respond.)
    C: 'Ello, Miss?
    Owner: What do you mean "miss"?
    C: I'm sorry, I have a cold. I wish to make a complaint!
    O: We're closin' for lunch.
    C: Never mind that, my lad. I wish to complain about this OS what I purchased not half an hour ago from this very boutique.
    O: Oh yes, the, uh, the BeOS...What's,uh...What's wrong with it?
    C: I'll tell you what's wrong with it, my lad. 'E's dead, that's what's wrong with it!
    O: No, no, 'e's uh,...he's resting.
    C: Look, matey, I know a dead OS when I see one, and I'm looking at one right now.
    O: No no he's not dead, he's, he's restin'! Remarkable OS, the BeOS, idn'it, ay? Beautiful GUI!
    C: The GUI don't enter into it. It's stone dead.
    O: Nononono, no, no! 'E's resting!
  • by bedouin (248624) on Sunday October 13, 2002 @02:27PM (#4441352)
    BeOS really prompted me to start exploring other operating systems. Before that I had toyed with Linux once or twice, but it never worked quite the way I was hoping to. I started hearing some buzz about BeOS and actually /bought/ r4.5.2, along with the BeOS Bible. This was one of the only pieces of software I /paid/ for (as opposed to warezed) since maybe DOS 6.0.

    I was fortunate enough to have an external USR modem, as well as a VooDoo 3 graphics card; no problem with compatibility, in fact I had the perfect system. Aside from the OS being incredibly fast, it more or less worked the way it was supposed to. I also thought the GUI combined the best of both Windows and MacOS. For those that say it lacked applications, that's true - but at the time it wasn't really any worse than running Linux. There was a decent office suite, Opera for a Net+ replacement, and a couple different mail apps to choose from. I can't remember which one I settled for, but I remember using a hex editor to remove its unregistered tagline :). BeOS was not a server OS, but ruled on the desktop.

    As Be the corporation started dying, I was seeing less and less work put into the OS. In r5 Pro OpenGL support had been removed for some reason, and to my knowledge never returned. It started to become clear that the OS was seeing its last days, and I didn't really want to be like the Amiga zealots who still exist today, so I went searched for some alternatives.

    The thing is, using Be showed me that using my computer could be kind of fun again; maybe not fun, but at least enjoyable. I started toying with Linux on an old Pentium box, only with the intention to make it into a firewall for the box that was running Windows and Be (since Be had no firewall). Eventually this led me to install Redhat 6.2 on another partition on my main workstation (the box running Be), and I was using Linux as my primary OS for maybe a year or two.

    Meanwhile, I was toying around with the old Pentium firewall more and more, and making it do some really great things under Linux - as a server. On the other hand, getting day to day tasks done in Linux on my workstation box was a new issue every day. I kept Linux running on my server (where it's still running) and axed both Linux and Be on my workstation, opting instead to Windows 2000 Pro. I hated how Windows looked and felt, and didn't much like the company who made it - but things more or less worked . . . at least for six months or so, then something breaks for some reason and a format is necessary.

    Last year I acquired an old Macintosh Quadra 700 with OpenBSD on it. This little Mac, alongside the interest I already had in OS X, really nudged me even closer to putting down the money for a Power Mac G4, and so I did this May. OS X is most of the things I loved in BeOS (a nice, logical GUI) and consistency (it generally does not require reinstallation after 6 months, for no reason at all). At the same time, it fills the gaps that Linux did. It's UNIX, and works nicely alongside my BSD and Redhat boxes; when I'm not sure how to do something the 'Apple way' I can just open up a terminal and do it the way I would on any other UNIX box. On the more evil side, Office and Photoshop are there, so I don't have to reboot just to get something done. And if worse comes to absolute worst, Virtual PC can be used for any Windows-only app I might encounter (but it hasn't really occurred yet).
  • People are making me mad saying there wasn't any decent software on be, bullcrap.

    All that killed Be was crappy hardware support.When Be came out, it supported about 5 or 6 network cards from 2 manufacturers (3com and intel) 1 scsi adapter from adaptec, and 3d support was mostly written for the 3dfx chipset. Why wouldn't they support a adaptec 29160??? Pretty standard stuff if you ask me.

    Be 5 they added a little more hardware support, but again it was very limited.

    Now back to my original bitch about people bitching there was no software.

    Be had word processors, (and excellent printer support, sort of a oxymoron compared to the rest of their hardware support)
    Be had (has) some of the best console and arcade emulation support EVER! Mame games that take a 700mhz cpu in dos can do just as good with a 350.
    Their sound editing tools were the best, Be's sound drivers concentrated on low latency which meant the real time effects processing on be kicked ass.

    As far as M$ killing be, well M$ did tell OEMS you beos no windows. Lets not forget palm though, who bought it all out and has kept all the source for their palm os sort of like a junkyard parting out a car (sad to see it end like that) The palm thing is kinda sad because it forever dooms Be to run on slow hardware.

    All in all though, be was excellent. My band uses it on a 200mhz pentium for recording jam sessions and it works great. Only 2 ppl in our band are computer savvy and Be is simple enough where the other guys can sit down and use it.

    Well enough ranting about the whole be fiasco for today...it's sunday, time to pray to a dead god.
  • Lawsuit (Score:2, Interesting)

    by dispensa (57441)
    What ever happened to that lawsuit Be had against microsoft over anti-trust issues? Last I checked (a month or two ago), they were continuing to run the corp for the purpose of pursuing litigation. Read the dissolution statement on the website - it goes out of its way to preserve the right of the Be shareholders to file lawsuits.

    I'll betcha there's something in the works, otherwise they wouldn't have spent the time keeping the corp running.
  • Apple approached Gassee before Jobs looking for a software rescue of Apple. Gassee wanted an even billion while Jobs settled for $400M (and eventual takeover of Apple). Apple OS X could have BeOS instead of NeXT-Unix.
  • by jncook (4617) on Sunday October 13, 2002 @03:38PM (#4441649) Homepage
    I ran BeOS starting with the early developer release, through PR1 and 2, up through Person Edition 5. BeOS convinced me to buy a Power Mac clone, and once they transitioned to Intel, to buy Intel hardware.

    One thing missing from the above discussion is one of Jean Louis Gassee's original design goals for the BeOS: symmetric multiprocessing. During the early BeOS days he would frequently repeat "one processor per person is not enough." That's what convinced them to build their early AT&T Hobbit-based multiprocessor machines, and eventually the BeBox, the dual PowerPC machine designed by Joe Palmer and beloved by many hackers. They did it because there was no cheap multiprocessor hardware available at that time. The goal, said JLG, was a multiprocessor machine that you could "lift with your credit card."

    But JLG was wrong. He thought that people would have a never-ending desire for more processing speed, and that the right way to meet that need was to build computers with multiple CPUs at the price-performance sweet spot. And in 1990 that seemed true. But through the 90's CPU speeds increased to the point that word processing, e-mail, Internet access, and 2D graphics editing became fast enough for ordinary use on even the cheapest hardware. Suddenly there was little benefit to an intentionally-not-backwards-compatible OS.

    Doing symmetric multiprocessing (SMP) well is difficult. To do it right requires a lot of thought about which parts of the system can be threaded and how to avoid threads locking on shared resources. Be's solution to this problem was to rewrite the whole system from scratch -- from the kernel to the filesystem to the GUI. And they didn't care about backwards compatibility; it always seemed like the POSIX layer was an afterthought (remember how many versions were released that didn't support select()? )

    So once the performance benefit of BeOS (at least for most desktop users) vanished, what was left? Little hardware support, given their small development team and no vendor support. A not-particularly innovative GUI, since they decided to closely follow the predominant Windows/MacOS design. A beautifully designed API and highly modular system, but unfortunately not one that had any end user benefits.

    It's ironic to think about what would have happened if Apple had purchased Be. True, they would have lost Steve Jobs, and perhaps the company. But a MacOS X-class OS would have shipped four years earlier, and had outstanding multiprocessor support in the core. Apple didn't bite, Be had nothing left, so they died. Sad.
    • But a MacOS X-class OS would have shipped four years earlier, and had outstanding multiprocessor support in the core.


      Doubtful. Apple would have had to integrate existing Mac OS technologies (QuickTime, Java, AppleScript, etc) and create a Carbon-style compatibility layer for BeOS the same way they did for OpenStep. It probably wouldn't have taken any less time, and they would have ended up with a not-quite-Unix system and an API that, while good, doesn't compare to Cocoa.

  • by darkxman (599323) on Sunday October 13, 2002 @05:41PM (#4442133)
    something new to play with...
    http://www.vasper.net/main.php

    BeOS 5 PE Max Edition V2 Release Notes
    http://www.vasper.net/rnotes2.htm
  • by RestiffBard (110729) on Sunday October 13, 2002 @05:48PM (#4442152) Homepage
    I admire the openbeos people. i hope they succeed in making a viable beos that I can run.

    unfortunately I'm afraid beos will, like os/2, go down as being the os we wished that was.

    I've used os/2 and beos and at least 30 other OSs and those two I miss most of all.
  • This article contains a number of inaccuracies and omissions, which leads one to wonder if the author is not writing with rose-colored glasses firmly in place:

    1. "BeOS is fully POSIX compliant" -- not correct; it would be more accurate to say "mostly" rather than fully. I could quote from the Be FAQs on this point, because I wrote the original FAQ (I worked at Be for three years).

    2. USB & FireWire support -- the article states that the USB support is not very complete, and shortly thereafter implies that FireWire is supported more fully. It's really more the reverse, though I doubt if the USB code would work with much of the built-in USB hardware being released these days (you never know, though; we got the original stack from Intel). At any rate, if you happen to have a BeOS retail box, you'll see USB listed (along with the Intel credit), and no FireWire (though my most current box is for R4.5, not R5).

    3. Design of the kernel -- I can't comment on a technical level, but my recollection of conversations with kernel engineers was more that the kernel was monolithic (and that we thought that was a good thing). The design inspiration was from the XINU operating system ("XINU" is "UNIX" backwards), I'll leave it to operating systems connoisseurs to determine whether that compares with the Hurd or L4, as the author asserts. Perhaps the author is thinking of a new kernel being written for the "not dead yet" OpenBeOS project(s).

    In all, the article reminds me altogether too much of the many articles about the Amiga OS that I read while I worked at Be. Sad, but true. I wish those projects luck -- I miss Be and BeOS -- but I consider them wishful thinking. I've moved on to Mac OS X, and don't plan to go back.

    Maybe the team now at Palm will change my mind -- I hope so!

"How to make a million dollars: First, get a million dollars." -- Steve Martin

Working...