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Compaq Signs License with Be for Net Appliance 66

Posted by Hemos
from the making-corporate-inroads dept.
breadmold was the first to send us the press release from Be. Compaq has licensed Stinger, Be's software platform for Internet appliances, which Be describes as "Be's software solution designed for the creation of appliances that deliver information and entertainment over the web. Based on BeOS, Stinger is fully customizable, offers a complete browser and supports popular streaming audio and video standards." Note that the license says Compaq *can* pre-install and distribute it. It doesn't say what Compaq is actually planning on, but does hint that the two companies are planning work together.
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Compaq Signs License with Be for Net Appliance

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  • I could find no mention of Be's "stinger" outside of that press release. The search engine on Be's website yeilded no hits for "stinger". I can't help but interepret this announcment as being a far-reaching "forward looking statement", more or less meaningless to the marketplace.

    I'd like to see more operating systems in the marketplace and I like "appliances" (in theory) but this press release is devoid of any information. I'd really like to know which "popular streaming audio and video standards" stinger supports. I'm guessing they mean Quicktime (hmm, calling Quicktime popular borders on a "forward looking statement" too).

    Check out the disclaimer of "forward looking statements" at the bottom of the press release.

  • This might be a bit off topic ...

    Perhaps I'm just a little mistaken on the concept, but why would you need Internet ready Appliances? I believe that network ready appliances would be wonderful. The ability to monitor everything as it goes would up productivity greatly, at least for me. Having my TV be able to tell me that the oven has reached the desired temperature, or even a central panel that indicates great temperature changes in the refrigerator. This would be really cool for me, but the Internet? It's not necessary for Maytag to monitor these things from a remote office.

    I guess what I want is a more intelligent X10, and not multiple gateways into my life for the manufacturers whose products I have purchased. If you've seen it, the commercial where the repairman shows up at a house and tells the owner that the refigerator is "about to have a problem" freaks me out.

  • ...will Compaq rise to the quality of Be or will Be be dragged down to the mediocrity of Compaq?

    I associate Be with a high quality product, but I am not so inclined with Compaq. I have always had performance problems with Compaq and am wary of the marriage.

    - tokengeekgrrl

  • "Internet Appliance." Makes it sound like a retainer for your PC, or some kind of bizarre horror-movie add-on (of course, this is because they're not called "colostomy bags" anymore, they're now "ostomy appliances." Ewwww).

    On the upside, combining one of these with an AIBO and one of those sub-dermal GPS chips leads to the ultimate in slack computing:

    USER: "Beer me."
    AIBO: "What kind of beer?"
    USER: Sam Adams / Guinness / Coors / whatever

    AIBO digitally checks the fridge, makes sure you're stocked (if you're out, it will purchase some online from your pre-defined list of vendors), trundles to the fridge, and brings it to you, homing in on your GPS signal.

    Just think, attach a port-a-potty to AIBO and you'd never have to stand up again!

    Rafe

    V^^^^V
  • I think it's great that Be may have a niche here. I know that I'll probably get flamed for saying this, but Be isn't terribly likely to make it as a desktop environment. (No more, anyhow, than the Batmobile is likely to make it as the everman's car [cryptonomicon.com].)

    But as a 'net appliance OS? Fantastic! It's so much more powerful and flexible than WinCE (or whatever they're calling it these days [slashdot.org]), and, of course, it's not made by Microsoft. (I'll get flamed for that, too. :)

    Rejoice!
  • There is precious little technical info available about Stinger (except that it's based on BeOS). But here [benews.com] is a screen shot of Stinger running on the iPad at Comdex.
  • by Watts Martin (3616) <layotl&gmail,com> on Monday December 20, 1999 @09:06AM (#1458976) Homepage
    "Stinger" is a codename for a slimmed-down version of BeOS, basically, that uses a customized version of Opera for its UI. There's information about Stinger in other press releases on Be's web site, and it was introduced in prototype at Comdex running on National Semiconductor's WebPAD device.

    Stinger (and the next major release of BeOS, as far as I know) will support RealAudio, RealVideo and Macromedia Flash for streaming media. It'll probably also support streaming MP3 and streaming QuickTime, but that's just hazarding a guess.
  • by Anonymous Coward
    Internet Appliance != Toaster connected to your computer. Go to www.benews.com [benews.com] and search for Stinger to get a better idea of what it is. Don't judge something lame until you know what it is you are judging.

    Open Source. Closed Minds. We are Slashdot.
  • by Anonymous Coward
    Well just to add my two bits about a few posts on this thread... there has been lots of press about Stinger actually. Someone above mentioned that they couldn't find anything about it. Try: http://www.benews.com/search?Type=%25&string=sting er That's a link to www.benews.com and some of the articles they've had on Stinger and its display at the last Comdex. As far as Internet appliances go, if you haven't heard of internet appliances, consider yourself out of touch with the future of computing. Personally I hate the idea, but for institutions like schools, colleges, etc. and for public installations, internet appliances are strongly desired. They are cost effective and specialised to deliver internet content with a fraction of the maintenance and security issues. That's the theory anyway. And lastly, the comment regarding Be not making it as a desktop OS... all I can say is, think again. It is far better situated than any of the Linux distributions to do so. On the other hand, if you feel it won't make it as a competitor to MS Windows, then perhaps you feel nothing will? That's not to knock Linux at all. I am a definate Linux supporter and am happy to see Linux making a strong stand in the server market. But let's face it, not everyone has the where-with-all to work in Linux these days. It is a medium-to-advanced level OS.
  • From the press release:

    Stinger is Be's software solution designed for the creation of appliances that deliver information and entertainment over the web.

    Wouldn't one want "appliances" to receive information and entertainment? Is that a mistake? Is "deliver..over" Net-marketing-speak for "display..from"? Or are they really making broadcast appliances?
  • a browser, email, newsgroup, IM, etc. device that's as easy to use as plugging in a toaster or, more realistically, programming a VCR or any other household appliance, or an Internet vehicle as easy to use as a car w/little or no techie knowledge required.

    Boojum
  • Let's see here, Compaq is already pushing...

    Windows (98/NT)
    Digital UNIX / Tru64 UNIX or whatever its called this week
    Open VMS
    Linux to a certain (small extent)

    Yes, this is what Compaq needs to shoot them back to profitability, another damn operating system to support.
  • Besides whats the point of networking all of your appliances together. It seems like a big waste of time to me. I mean so you want to make a couple of pieces of toast or warm up a bowl of soup in your microwave.

    There's a lot of good reasons to network together appliances. And not just remote administration. Perhaps you want that bowl of soup to be warm when the toast is done. So the microwave can check the toaster and keep the microwave on "warm" until the toast is done. *Then* it can pop up a message letting you know your meal is ready.

    Hop on your computer wait for it to boot up and then program the silly microwave to cook for 2 minutes on high?

    If you'd be using BeOS you wouldn't need to wait 2 minutes for it to boot :) Of course, it is more likely that the appliances will have a administration panel on the front that you will use.

    Appliances need networking like I need another hole in my head.

    Nope, we *need* networked appliances. We also need networked heating/cooling, lighting, security, cars.

    -Brent
  • The current OS strategy makes perfect sense:

    Windows (98/NT): x86 systems
    Tru64 UNIX: Medium to High end Alpha's
    OpenVMS: Very High end Alpha's
    Linux: low end Alpha's


    LONG LIVE ALPHA [alphalinux.org]!!!
  • I believe we're talking about any item which can be used to connect to the Web. Think PDA's and Cell phones, or perhaps your "Internet Ready" Standalone MP3 player, that hooks into your standard stereo component system.

    I believe IBM has termed it 'ubiquitous computing'. Whatever. It means that things that could benefit from being hooked up to the net will have the capability. It doesn't mean your fridge is going to be running Jini.

  • As you might expect, www.be.com [be.com] has some information. Basically, Stinger is the BeOS trimmed down for internet appliances. They've demoed it on NatSemi's webpads using Opera at a couple shows.
  • So.. Since BeOS is not open source fat-time (the guardian of cheese and open source) was urged to murder the salesman? If this is what Open Source(TM) is to become, I want no part of it.

    Take it easy. This is just some lame attempt at humor. Chuckle and move on. Thanks...

    -Brent
  • Perhaps I'm blind. I could find nothing at http://www.be.com/ [be.com] that gives details about Stinger. Could you provide a specific URL?

  • Wouldn't one want "appliances" to receive information and entertainment?

    Yep, silly words, they are. These are, I guess, appliances that allow content to be delievered from remote servers to you.

    -Brent
  • they don't mean apliance like you oven or microwave nope.... its more like somewhere inbetween a computer and a web tv
  • I wouldn't mind information like recall notices (your toaster automatically checks w/the manufacturer to see if it needs to be recalled), firmware updates, manufacturing info. (like suggestion e-mail and or phone/snail mail address) perhaps recipes you can use with the equipment, maybe shopping for accessories - everything having to do with that piece of equipment, all immediately available FROM that piece of equipment.

    (Of course, it hae better not be a lot more expensive than the normal appliance...)

    Of course, then you have to decide whether you want to put up with the marketing monitors & spam which would show up on your appliance (if a singing, dancing spam shows up on my toaster, I'm taking it out for target practice).
  • How is Linux, presumably your OS of choice, supposed to make inroads without convincing companies to support 'another damn OS'?

    -lx
  • Generally, Compaq's shortcomings have been in the area of making hardware too proprietary, and really really inflexible. Other than their PCs(which suck more than any PCs since Packard Bell), most other Compaq products, i.e., servers, appear to be pretty nice. Plus, if Compaq is going to get into the net appliance arena, being proprietary and inflexible is pretty much the norm - you can't install NT on a palmpilot, or Linux on a WebTV, etc.

    -lx
  • That's press-release-speak for "the appliance would deliver information from the web to the user".

    -lx
  • I'm afraid ol' Be, Incorporated is kinda in the habit of unfortunate alliances. Their first shot at the Internet Appliances brass ring was with the sleazy, unproductive, and eventually bankrupt Microworkz. Their deal with Real Networks was announced only weeks before the RealJukebox debacle. They manage to make Intel a major investor, and AMD snags the high-performance crown.

    Watch for news that Opera has been involved in ritual cannibalism or something any day.
  • Here we are, once again reading fud spewn out by a Linux user. Frankly, for a group that chalks up every criticism of their OS as fud and whines endlessly about how oppressed they are, it's intensely hypocritical.

    "Be is poorly managed, poorly marketed, not open-source, will never get anywhere, is already dead," etc. I don't know of any better example of maliciously spreading fear, uncertainty, and doubt. The same types of things have been said about FreeBSD on slashdot. What accounts for this kind of illogical behaviour? Obviously, the user, developer and application bases of both BeOS and FreeBSD are growing steadily.

    My personal theory is that these people are simply neophobes who have to somehow justify the time invested in their own personal favorite OS by bashing any others. The reason they don't use other OSes is not because they haven't tried them, or don't know how to use them, but because all other OSes suck, and aren't even worth a look.

    But I'm open to other theories...

    -lx
  • Maybe Compaq wants to use stinger as the alternative for WinCE on handhelds and other small non-PC devices?

    Be-v-Ce?
    --
  • they don't mean apliance like you oven or microwave nope.... its more like somewhere inbetween a computer and a web tv

    I know, but since the poster decided to attack the concept of kitchen appliances, I decided to balance his view.

    Naturally, those won't be marketed by Compaq and won't use Be.

    -Brent
  • Of course, then you have to decide whether you want to put up with the marketing monitors & spam which would show up on your appliance (if a singing, dancing spam shows up on my toaster, I'm taking it out for target practice).

    Wait until Microsoft tries to port WindowsCE to your microwave. Then you'll really see the paperclip in action!

    Paperclip: Greetings, please choose your food type.

    *push 'potatoe'*

    Paperclip: *teewang* Please choose how you would like your potatoe done.

    *smash*

    -Brent
  • by adamsc (985) on Monday December 20, 1999 @11:28AM (#1459007) Homepage
    http://www.be.com/products/beappliance/ http://www.be.com/press/pressreleases/99-11-16_sem i.html
  • by Anonymous Coward
    Why, not? Its faster than Linux, almost as stable, more organized, easier to program, easier to use, and captures the imagination of a home buyer more easily. ("Wow, rock solid 30 year old technology that can serve pages without crashing!" Probably not likly. But "wow, a platform that can encode more MP3s at the same time than Windows can play!" Probably more so.) Sure software is rare, but what is there is really high quality, and it has a lot of support behind it. If you hadn't noticed, Quake 3 will be on Be, as will Lithtech, Genesis is already on Be. Quake 3 is particularly important since future games based on the engine will be easier to port. Plus Be will probably be faster at media. Face it, a tweeked OpenGL hardware implementation from Be in R5 will probably kick Mesa any day, if only for the fact that Be has very little cruft added. And its not like anyone uses Linux yet. People on Slashdot get the idea that Linux actually has made great strides reaching the desktop. Sorry to break it to ya, but everyone is still using windows. 99.99% of home buyers (not exaggerated 400M + windows users) and at least 95% of bussinesses.
  • Um...

    Maybe I missed something, but exactly where did Be, Inc. try to ride on the Linux bandwagon? What have they done that would affiliate them with Linux in any way?

    Hell... what other bandwagons have they ridden?
    Please...show me some facts...

    I think Be's problem is that they don't ride any bandwagons. They do things the right way, bandwagons be damned.

    Of course... I may have missed something....
  • Times have changed significantly since the days of amiga though. Back then, an operating system was doomed to fail in a market competing with a more popular os.

    Several things have come about now that are making that nearly irrelevant. First of all, one of the tenets of the slashdot world, open source, means that there is an entire library of software that can be ported to linux, be, windows, mac, etc... It may be more trouble to port to some of those operating systems than others, but lets face it, every os has people willing to put in the time and effort.

    Another reason revolves around the principle use of computers in the late 90s, the internet. Basically, any computer with any os can post and read the same information as any other. It is irrelevant what was used to create it. (admittedly, some operating systems are slower at getting support for new web technologies like java (not that its all that new), but it will come.)

    Furthermore, I believe that this trend will continue to the point where applications will run on nearly any platform (like java, although I realize /.'ers aren't big fans)... and even in cases where executables aren't portable, source code will become increasingly portable. (due in many cases to open api's such as opengl beating out closed apis like directx).

    The fact is, though, linux and beos are not competing with each other since they are both pushing computing towards a less os-centric picture and towards a situation where all users will have their choice of oses and will not lose much in the way of available content based on their choice. If beos gains popularity it helps linux (and vice versa).

    It is, in some ways, unfortunate that beos is not open source, but I respect the need of companies to sell their product. It is very cheap compared with what microsoft sells the non-upgrade versions of its os for.

    Sorry for rambling on for so long, but I just feel that everyone benefits from the success of a non-ms-os (not that I don't have a win32 computer myself) and we should realize that, in the new os market, it doesn't have to be 100% ms or 100% linux.

    Chris

  • by Anonymous Coward
    I'm wondering if BeOS is too bloated to use as an Internet appliance. It's a great desktop (I'm using it right now to type this), and I think their original strategy of promoting it as a "media OS" for content creators made a lot of sense, yet without Photoshop, Cubase, Maya, etc., it's hard to get a lot of content created! Maybe that's why they're pushing for the "appliance" market.

    Apparently, the inside story is that BeOS actually takes something like 2 minutes to boot on the WebPad (maybe longer). Not too impressive for something which should be "instant on" (even more surprising considering how amazingly quickly BeOS boots on a typical desktop PC, but typical desktop PC's have much faster CPU's than the MediaGX in the WebPad). Then again, back in the old days (DR7 anyone?) it ran like a champ on a BeBox Dual/66 with 8MB RAM. Today, on that same BeBox it needs 32MB, and well, it feels pretty sad. QNX sounds like a much better platform for this sort of thing, but they have even worse marketing than Be, so who knows.

    Oh, and don't forget Windows CE. It may be a lousy platform but at least MS has the marketing muscle to convince some vendors to jump onto anything they release.. Then again, with the runaway success of PalmOS, a CE monopoly is certainly not assured.

    Finally, has anyone looked at NewDeal [newdealinc.com] lately? Terrible name, but it's basically GEOS, if anyone remembers that product for the C64/Apple][/286 days. Very tight code (when it first came out for PC, they bragged about how they wrote it mostly in assembly!) They sell a product that'll connect a 286 or better PC with as little as 640k RAM (2-4MB recommended) to the Internet, including web browser, and email. They also sell an office suite and a BASIC IDE (very much like VB) called NewBASIC. Sure, it's all 16-bit code, but wouldn't that be the ideal choice for an "Internet appliance", and not something like BeOS that really wants a Pentium II and 32MB RAM?

  • Well, I would think of this another way: It's a breakthrough for Be to get any kind of relationship with a major OEM.

    I'm impressed.

    D

    ----
  • I just wanted to point out to all of the people who on every Be related post point out that Be is the multimedia OS. Well, I think it is going to be a much different situation when we get the SGI direct rendering in X and/or XFree86-4 out in a few months. Also, the SMP support in linux is going to improve considerably with the 2.4 version of linux, which is also forthcoming. KDE 2.0 promises to be better than ever, with KOffice moving right along. We already have the support and development interest of the two best gaming companies on the planet. Figure in that linux is being backed by corporations like SGI, IBM, Intel, Compaq, and RedHat (now with enough money to make things happen), it is free, and that we have a large and rather annoying user base who is forcing the hardware vendors to write drivers as well.... This seems like the recipe for a serious desktop OS in the immediate future. For the time being Be has a great architecture which is unmatched, but it does not have the support and momentum that linux has. OS/2 had the same thing and look where that is today. This is the thing about linux, not only does it rock now but it's development methodolgy, userbase, and recent wall street and media success mean it is going to really fucking rock later. That is why linux is a competitor on the desktop... It is a revolution... It never stops coming back around and getting in Microsoft's face.
  • Who needs momentum to make a good OS? You have to put some thought into things, Be uses a microkernel so the whole thing doesn't need to be recompiled on an upgrade or a preference change. I would argue on a stability standpoint that Be is at the very least as stable as Linux. Being deisnged for a task and just sort of being able to do it are two different things. Be makes old PPC boxes fly and can also do some ass kicking on an x86 for even high powered graphics. X is getting a bit dated and probably isn't the best GUI for content creation, not as good as Be's in my opinion. All Be needs is some support from the big graphics guys like Adobe and Metacreations.
  • it's a good thing that Be is partnering with Compaq on this. Why? Mainly because Be's architecture is more suited fo an appliance market than Linux is. Linux's kernel is great but would have some problems in the web appliance arena. The Linux kernel is a single monolithic kernel and for any component to be patched or changed you need the source of the kernel and the patch and then you need to recompile it. This may be fine for me sitting on my PC with my 10gb hard drive but it's not practical for a web appliance with 16mb of flash memory. Be like WinCE uses a microkernel which makes all the different parts modular. If there is a patch it can be downloaded and installed in the time it takes to download the patch and reload the kernel. Besides the kernel, who would want a multi-user web pad. I highly doubt I would buy a portable web pad to log into it through telnet. The multi-user sense of a web appliance should be just difference Ui preferences.
  • Well, SGI designed their systems for Content Creation and they used X. Now they are sharing their knowledge with linux in this and other areas to bring that sort of ability to linux. People like to knock X but there is also something to be said for standards and networkability. Especially in todays age, X's underlying architecture is a godscend. I have X windows open from about 3 different machines right now, two of which are sgi machines and one is a x86/linux machine. Let me see you do that in Be. If you add a direct rendering architecture too that so I can run my apps remotely, and run games and do content creation as well then that is the best of both worlds. As for having to recompile constantly... I load modules compiled for 2.1 kernels from time to time, and you certainly don't have to recompile to change preferences unless they are very low level. Also, linux makes old pentiums and 486s fly. And it is more likely that you are going to see Adobe and Metacreations port to linux before Be, because linux has the support and the hype, and Adobe at least already has unix versions which are easy to port. Linux is well on it's way and it is a far more standards compliant and robust solution that Be.
  • QuickTime? Not unless Apple does a port. Be asked Apple about a QuickTime port a few years back, but Apple wanted some large amount of cash that Be didn't have (QuickTime isn't a media player, it's actually a more complex product that many OSes, that adds an entire "media layer" to the OS it's running on, and provides many APIs for apps to use; this makes it rather expensive to port).

    Apple is interested in QuickTime as a successful media platform and obviously didn't think porting to BeOS would get them much, given Be's small market share.

    If BeOS starts to become popular as an Internet client OS though, I suspect Apple will be happy to do a port.

    --
  • You know, you never hear anyone complaining about IBM supporting too many operating systems. Yet, they support:
    • AIX
    • OS/400
    • VM & OS/390
    • Linux
    • Windows (95/NT)

    Again, nobody points this out about HP, but they support:

    • MPE
    • HP/UX
    • Linux
    • Windows (95/NT)

    I'm not sure of what your point is. Surely, it's a good idea to offer different OS's for different needs. Only Microsoft and Sun would have you believe that only one Operating system fits all needs.


    -Jordan Henderson

  • 2 minutes to boot? Not sure where you got that information, but as with National Semiconductor's web pad, Be only had about a week or two to get BeOS running on it for Comdex, but Be says that for actual market products it will have instant on.

    I don't know how fast the MediaGX processor is, but on my p166 BeOS only takes about 15 seconds to boot, max.

    I don't think the BeOS is too bloated at all. Be at one point had beos kernal and API all on a single floppy. Although QNX has done this as well, BeOS is a more affordable solution because it is not relying completely on the appliance market, but it is also focused as a Desktop operating system (and also has a larger user and developer base).
  • Wait until Microsoft tries to port WindowsCE to your microwave. Then you'll really see the paperclip in action!

    LOL! "I see you are trying to reheat a slice of pizza. Would you like me to assist you with that?"

    "Share and enjoy!"
  • by erl (7024)
    Or, it can be a fridge, like the ScreenFridge [electrolux.se]
  • See here [theregister.co.uk] for details. This looks like Compaq just want to keep their options open, especially with Embedded Linux being on the cards, and also devices like the TiVo coming out.

    Paul.

  • by pavo (70713)
    When is slashdot going to update the Be logo they use!?!?!

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