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Can BeOs Live On As Open Source? 300

OSBlue writes: "After Palm announced the buyout of Be, Inc.'s intellectual property & Technology and after some consequent indications from several key people that Palm has no interest at Be's products and especially in BeOS, a number of the BeOS believers tried to find a new home. Some found comfort in AtheOS, others joined BeUnited's effort to license the BeOS source code, while some developers formed efforts like BlueOS and OpenBeOS. OpenBeOS consists from a number of BeOS developers who are trying to recreate the BeOS Kits in a form of a new, complete and open source Operating System that has source and if possible binary compatibility with BeOS 5. One of the most important people in this effort, Michael Phipps, is interviewed by OSNews.
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Can BeOs Live On As Open Source?

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  • Hrrmm.... (Score:5, Insightful)

    by Teancom ( 13486 ) <> on Tuesday October 23, 2001 @05:57PM (#2468965) Homepage
    One is tempted to make the correlation:

    Amiga == OS2 == BeOS.

    All ahead of their time technologically. All killed by stupid managment decisions. All still have freaks that refuse to acknowledge their death.

    Oh, and I've used and loved all three :-) But ya gotta know what to pull the life support....

    • Re:Hrrmm.... (Score:1, Offtopic)

      by ahoehn ( 301327 )
      We can't forget to put every system made by Atari since the Lynx in that same catagory.
    • Re:Hrrmm.... (Score:1, Flamebait)

      by Junks Jerzey ( 54586 )
      All ahead of their time technologically.

      BeOS was less ahead of its time than the others. It was simply a desktop OS that was coded from the ground up to be snappy and recognize that people want to run fancy real-time graphical programs and not just word processors and databases. BeOS didn't do anything that hadn't been done before; it simply did those things well.
      • Note to moderators: Criticism is not the same thing as flamebait.
        • >Note to moderators: Criticism is not the same thing as flamebait.

          gee, you haven't been paying attention these days. Noting moronic moderation is now consistently getting flagged as off topic, flamebait, etc. . . .

          There should be a meta-moderation category of "funny", as the moderations are often more amusingthan the articles . . .


    • The eComStation folks have made the SMP kernel available in the client version, and they've been able to bundle an X server with it as well as get a third party (Connectix and Innotek) to create a version of Virtual PC for OS/2.

      That, at least, gives OS/2 users the ability to run Windows and Linux in virtual machines.

      Along with its legacy (DOS, Win 3.1) support and its ability to run ported Linux software via EMX, I think OS/2 is more interesting yet than most people realize...

      Too bad it (and eComStation) are so expensive, but a demo CD may be in the works.
    • Of course, you wouldn't want to leave out NeXT, but then the freak that headed that up was bought out by apple, and see what we have today? Perhaps both Linux and FreeBSD/Darwin/OSX/Aqua could learn some things from the BeOS architecture.
    • All ahead of their time technologically. All killed by stupid managment decisions. All still have freaks that refuse to acknowledge their death.

      Any OS based on the desktops-dont-need-security idea, with a 0-security setting, must be forgotten and I don't see how people seriously consider using them seriously.
      • I'm a desktop user. I have no need for security beyond what my BSD firewall provides me with. And that's only because I have a DSL connection. Why exactly is security such a big concern on a desktop OS? Certainly, security (which *NIX does well) is much less of a concern than performance (which *NIX doesn't do so well...)
        • Re:Hrrmm.... (Score:3, Insightful)

          by ansible ( 9585 )

          Two scenarios:

          1. You get an e-mail virus written for your e-mail application. Your OS has multi-user security, so that the system binaries aren't affected. You log in as the root user, and clean up the affected files.

          2. You get an e-mail virus. Since your OS doesn't have memory protection, it copies itself onto any executable it finds. You have to re-install your operating system because it's impractical to undo all the changes the virus made.

          You pick.

          • Your OS has multi-user security, so that the system binaries aren't affected.

            I don't mean to understate the importance of security, but this oft-repeated idea of protecting the OS while losing $HOME is out of sync with modern reality. I can reinstall the OS in 20-30 minutes. But $HOME could contain files I'll never be able to recreate.

            Bottom line: when viruses really hit Linux, we're going to go through a major, painful adjustment.
            • Bottom line: when viruses really hit Linux, we're going to go through a major, painful adjustment.

              YOU will. I'll just start compiling from source and/or using debsigs-verify.

        • Re:Hrrmm.... (Score:3, Insightful)

          by SCHecklerX ( 229973 )
          Most families these days have one computer, used by everyone in the house. Sure would be nice to have separate user accounts on that box (Real separate accounts...not that win98 profiling crap) It would be nice if it weren't possible for junior to fsck up dad's perfectly clean install that he spent the better part of the week honing to perfection too.

          Trust me...after going back to visit mom 2 months after buying her a computer, it was not pretty! :)
          • > (Real separate accounts...not that win98 profiling crap)

            Yes, this bigotted profiling has *got* to stop. It's wrong. It's evil.

            Every day, thousands of people are stopped, just for using win98. Computer hardware is biased, assuming that win98 is more likely to crash than *nix. "Application" error, it says, as it stops the user for "investigation." "General Protection Fault", as it pulls the application away. Then, as civil libertarians try to investigates, it blue screens, all based on the notion that win98 users are less reliable.

            This user profiling must be stopped *now*!



      • They want stability, simplicity, reliabilty & compatibilty. That's it. (unless of course they are into things pedaphilic, or they are a drug dealers, or they take work home with them, or they are paranoid schizos)

        W2K & WXP are stable, reliable, compatible but definitly not simple (the average bloke doesn't give a fuck about multiple logons, they just want the computer to auto boot when they turn it on & quickly - gez W2K is a slow booter)

        As far as Linux is concerned it has the same problems as W2K (you can go make a cup of coffee while waiting to boot all the way to the K desktop). Plus there's the esoteric Unix filetree

        BeOS is simple, stable, reliable, but just lacks compatibility (drivers, apps). Its modified Unix file tree can actually be understood (its behind a 'BeOS' directory & only upgrades from BeInc go there, there's a complete mirror of it in the Home directory, so if some app or driver needs to add stuff to a system directory it goes there automatically during the pkg instalation. So you just install apps in a folder that you can actually call 'apps' in the home directory & you can install drivers in a folder called 'drivers' in the home directory, etc.)

        W9X is simple & compatible, just no good as far as relibility & stability are concerned.
        • They want stability, simplicity, reliabilty & compatibilty. That's it. (unless of course they are into things pedaphilic, or they are a drug dealers, or they take work home with them, or they are paranoid schizos)
          Personally, I close the door and draw the curtains when I take a shower.

          I let anyone who visits my house (invited by anyone that lives in my house) use my PC (I can't stop them if I'm not there), but I don't want them to have the ability to send emails out in my name, read any file or change any file on the system. There's login passwords to ISP's in plain text in there, and technical reports that should remain confidention, plus lots of role playing stuff that could be taken out of context (not to mention a lot of fantasy art that may make people think I have a thing for tall women wearing little strips of leather and carrying 7 foot long swords).

          In the office security is essential, if only to stop pranksters or the disgruntled from changing your files and settings. In the home at least you want to be able to stop people from assuming your identity (or your new girlfriend reading five years of your email outbox and saying tearfully "why didn't you write letters like that to me?").

          Back to BeOS - how much effort would it really take to enable SSL and have a secure login screen? I suspect that it wouldn't take a lot to make everthing that comes in either authenticate itself or not be able to do anything outside of the program that asks for the data. As for file permissions, I don't know much about BeOS, but I know that it can support a few different filesystems, so it becomes a case of using one that supports file permissions.

          The audio geeks love BeOS for it's low latency.

          The multimedia geeks love it for the applications.

          The proto-geeks love it for it's ease of use and stability.

          It would be very bad to see Palm let it die. BeOS doesn't fit in the organiser market, but tiny PC's like the iPac are a growing market, and BeOS could fit squarely into the market of organiser sized PCs if Palm goes that way.

        • Plus there's the esoteric Unix filetree
          The Unix file tree makes a lot of sense to me.. a lot more than the silly meaningless Windows file hierarchy.
          Anyhow, what do you need to read from the tree directly for anyhow?
          All your stuff use your own organization under $HOME in *nix, whereas its Windows where you have to browse and navigate throught its large, meaningless file hierarchy.
      • Any OS based on the desktops-dont-need-security idea, with a 0-security setting, must be forgotten and I don't see how people seriously consider using them seriously.

        While I am not agreeing with your point at all, your argument is absolutely irrelevant to the deaths of the three OSes mentioned.
    • Re:Hrrmm.... (Score:3, Informative)

      by DGolden ( 17848 )
      Scarily, the Amiga OS has been open-source cloned and ported to x86, in the form of AROS [].

      Unlike other projects that have drawn some inspiration from AmigaOS, AROS pretty much just tries to be a straight clone (with a necessary overhaul to the device drivers layer).

      The project is quite far along, and has a few interesting features:

      (a) Amiga OS had no true memory protection. Neither does AROS. There's a system of semaphore locking on some sections that is to true memory protection as cooperative multitasking is to pre-emptive.

      (b) When the system goes down (see (a)), it reboots in a fraction of a second - a soft "reboot" does not jump back to the BIOS, but re-enters the AROS kernel init after zeroing some choice areas of memory.

      (c) due to the absence of memory protection between user-space tasks, context switches, such as they are, are extremely lightweight. Not much of distinction between threads and processes. Amiga applications have always tended to be very muyltithreaded. The OS is true pre-emptive multitasking.

      (c) It uses message-passing-by-reference for IPC. Rather than copying data from one process to another, they pass references to the data around. Very quick.

      (d) it has support for amiga-style logical volumes, assigns, and pluggable filesystem drivers, which are pretty cool - cd'ing into compressed archives, ftp sites, and so on, as well as the OS having a clear notion of the distinction between a particular floppy/cd/partition and the drive it is in... (woirked example: why the hell don't linux distros configure cdroms to automount and show up as both /mnt/cdrom and /mnt/cdlabel/ or something - the amiga got this right, allowing you to say "CD0:path/to/file" for "the file on thedisk that I've got in the CD drive" and "LABELNAME:path/to/file" for "the file on the particular volume that is named "LABELNAME", wherever it may be!)

  • In my (granted limited) experience, and from what I've heard, I think BeOS is an excellent little OS, even if it does have a small niche. That said, I hope it can survive as Open Source Software. If you ask me the more OSS Operating Systems (OSSOSs?) we have out there the better off we are--giev more leverage perhaps against the bit monolithic software houses who produce their proprietary crap (MS WinXP anyone?)

    Just IMHO...
  • by The Slashdolt ( 518657 ) on Tuesday October 23, 2001 @06:00PM (#2468984) Homepage
    I've been an avid supporter of Be for years. I like the OS and have bought many versions. I think it would do well as open source for numerous reasons. The one that sticks out most in my mind is that it is truly an object oriented OS. I am an object oriented developer and I've looked through and attempted to write some code for linux, and I really didn't like it. BeOS on the other hand, is something I'd like to contribute to. I'm sure there are many other object oriented developers who feel the same way. Imagine if you could get the BeOS GUI to run on top of the linux kernel. What a product it could be!
    • if you could get the BeOS GUI to run on top of the linux kernel. What a product it could be!

      It would a dog.

      The things that made BeOS so great were its database-oriented filesystem, its pervasive multithreading, and the tight integration of multimedia into the OS. The BeOS GUI was clean and efficient, but no more or less so than most *nix window managers. What made it so desirable was the massive multimedia performance that was built into the core of the OS.

      BeOS running over the Linux kernel would perform about as well as BeOS running under a virtual machine; you'd lose all that great low-level performance that stemmed from the tight hardware integration and optimization.

      If you want the BeOS GUI, download one of the many BeOS themes available for $FAVORITE_WM. The end-user experience will be about the same as the "real" BeOS GUI on top of the Linux Kernel would be.

      • Gah! I can't type today. What I meant to say was,

        It would be a dog.

      • Actually, there are lots of things that BeOS didn't do so well. VM and I/O was the major one. X also isn't that bad these days (especially on good hardware like NVIDIA's). There are actually few real technical problems Linux has left, most of them are organizational. For example

        1) Sound is brain-dead. aRts on KDE has a great media framework, but doesn't support much of the hardware acceleration provided by APIs like ALSA. Since both KDE and GNOME are moving to aRts, this is a major step backwards for Linux in the multimedia department.

        2) GUI is brain-dead. There is nothing wrong with having multiple WMs and desktops, but couldn't they have the courtesy to use the same API so I would only have to have the one I want on my machine?

        3) FHS is brain-dead. The UNIX filesystem hierarchy is so 1970's. Real OSs put all applications in seperate directories along with their necessary libraries. OS-X's app bundle along with its XML config files is the greatest thing ever.
        • I agree, aRts and esd and such are a huge pain in the backside. esd atleast supports sound mixing, so your icq "message has arrived" notifications can still be heard while your listening to an mp3, BUT for any program without esd support, it is necessary to kill esd, run your program, then restart esd afterwards. What we need then, is a daemon which creates a /dev/dsp etc, and supports any oss compatible software (90% of sound apps for linux afaik) but also allows mixing, and possibly some effects to be applied. Alternatively you could just link /dev/dsp to /dev/dsp0 and use oss natively.
          • The problem with the 'daemon' idea is that it is out of the 1980s. Almost all sound hardware these days has hardware level mixing, so multiple apps (given proper drivers like ALSA) can open /dev/dsp at the same time. That ability makes aRts useless. However, you can't remove it, otherwise you'd lose all the cool media capabilities. So you're stuck with either crappy software mixed audio, or no media framework.

  • we're trying to build a continent out of them. Perhaps you can extend Linux to provide what it is you like about BeOS.
    • Linux is there in some senses. This is what it needs: Professionalism and speed. Linux is great. It takes forever to boot, though (relatively of course). KDE is more powerful than BeOS's enviroment, but it feels too heavy for the power it has. I have a nice box so KDE runs well, but BeOS flies with 32Mb of RAM instead of 128. It also boots in under 20 seconds (on my old P200 w/48Mb of RAM). Perhaps the KDE guys should spend some time super-optimizing what they have?
  • Whil I do like BeOS, having used it a few times. I hardly see an Open source BeOS making any headway in the commerical market as linux has. As a hobby it seems like it could be fun and intresting. Other then that I don't see much in the future for BeOS
  • by ajuda ( 124386 )
    I don't see why palm would want to opensource BeOS... They spent 11 million on it, and they are not likely to simply give it away. What reason would a pda maker have to release the source code to a desktop OS? Face it, BE is dead, and it ain't coming back.

    • Palm does not want to make BeOS OSS. They want the deveolpers in order to beef up PalmOS to compete with WinCE and the upcoming Linux PDAs (you'll notice that all of the successful PalmOS PDAs had patched code).

      Palm has no desire for BeOS to be OSS because that would give competitors a peek at their new weaponry.

      > Face it, BE is dead, and it ain't coming back.

      Ah, you have never used BeOS. Depending on the future of Linux, I support BeOS more as a desktop OS because it is just better at it. The GUI is simple, fast and functional. The API is powerful. The community is there and, thankfully, very devoted.

      With the new prospects of Linux's FB, I think Linux has a viable option for the L-User home desktop enviroment. Until then, BeOS is the only free, reasonable alterative.

      I'm still holding out for BeOS.
  • I wonder what kind of stuff some of the old Be guys could contribute to GNOME/KDE.

    Don't get me wrong, I like the BeOS, but with Linux starting to make headway and gaining momentum, it would be awesome for these guys to jump in.

    For me, some of BeOS's goodness in KDE3 would make me drool, all technical issues asside.
  • Niche OS (Score:4, Interesting)

    by Bouncings ( 55215 ) <ken.kenkinder@com> on Tuesday October 23, 2001 @06:03PM (#2469013) Homepage
    I think this shows are hard it is to have a niche OS market. Aside from wireless and imbedded technologies, it seems to me very unlikely that something as huge as an OS can exist on what basicly amounts to a niche. Where there are so many layers to an OS, adopting a whole new set of standards just to have a multi-media optimized OS just wasn't realistic.

    That's what's so wonderful about distributions. You can make a niche distribution without the overhead of Yet Another EVERYTHING.
  • by Bonker ( 243350 ) on Tuesday October 23, 2001 @06:04PM (#2469019)
    Remember that Linux has only gotten really good and has gained the kind of acceptance it needs to be taken serious in the eyes of application developers in the last few years.

    I would love to see an openBe implimentation, because it would be really nice to have an opensource OS geard toward multimedia instead of networking and programming. (Linux is many wonderful things, but it simply not geared for multimedia.)

    It would take at least the same amount of time to reach 'critical mass'.
    • These guys have some wicked bad programming experience between them. BeOS is already established. BeOS has already been designed. These people already have a source / (hopefully) binary compatible development box complete with an IDE designed to write this kind of stuff.

      Hang on BeOS users. For OpenSource coders who want to do something cool, but aren't sure what, this is a grand opportunity. These people have a plan, a working prototype, and the experience and skills with BeOS to make it happen.

      Remember that BeOS is not Linux. The two will fail or succeed on their own merits.

      As for reaching critical mass, well, that is a problem still with linux. I think OpenBeOS could do it though with careful planning and hard work. If not, then we get back our niche OS and best of all it will be Free.


  • If Palm isn't interested in Be's technology, and Be wasn't really a competitor to Palm, why exactly did Palm buy Be? Are there valuable patents or other IP?
    • by Anonymous Coward
      Most likely it was an attempt at garnering goodwill in the tech community. They also get the goods on the BeOS while they're at it, but they mainly get a big boost from techies who now await the next PalmOS rev. Apparently they decided that putting a real operating system on those flimsy pieces of plastic wasn't going to wash, so no more BelmOS for us.
    • That's probably the most interesting part of all this. They bought them partially for the BeIA codebase, but mostly for the engineering team (nevermind that Be had some massive layoffs right before the sale was announced . . .).
  • by Adnans ( 2862 ) on Tuesday October 23, 2001 @06:08PM (#2469045) Homepage Journal
    Nope. As has been stated over and over again, BeOS cannot and will not be relicensed as Open Source software. There is simply too much proprietary, third party, technology embedded in it that it would take a lot of time, and probably a lot of cash, to strip away. It took SGI almost a year, if not longer, to get XFS [] released as GPL. Okay, the had to reengineer a good deal of the Linux kernel too. Besides, even if Be manages to strip out the proprietary bits you will most likely be left with a shell of code that will not compile, for a significant amount of time (*cough* Mozilla *cough*).

    And IMHO, the "coolest" bits of BeOS have already made it into Linux -> 64-bit journalling FS with attributes, XFS! The other cool BeOS buzzword "pervasive-multithreading" didn't turn out to be that cool [] after all.

    -adnans (ex-BeOS fool)
    • To add more emphasis to the above here's a brief list of the licensed technology inside BeOS

      Bitstream Font Rendering Engine
      MP3 Codec
      Intel Indeo Codec
      Netpositive Web browser (as used in the Desktop product)
      Opera Web browser (as used in BeIA)
      OpenGL is a possiblitity too (because the original OpenGL contract was signed before SGI opensourced things)

      There are probably a couple of others too that I'm missing.

      Yes there are obvious replacements for much if not all of the above - but there is NO ONE to pull apart things to even remove the offending pieces and leave you with an empty non-compiling shell.

      Ex Be
      • Whilst that would be the problem with a Mozilla/XFS style `take out as little as possible to make it legal to release as Open Source', what about the opposite approach: Release what they -are- sure doesn't sit on anyone else's proprietary rights, (possibly) indicating what isn't there and challenging whoever's interested to try and make something out of it.

        This is obviously a far cry from the coordinated release-as-Open-Source operations most companies (most-companies-doing-OSS, not most-companies-full-stop) have launched, but would be better than to simply dump BeOS entirely.

        As another thought, and IANAL (definately), would it be possible for a bunch of volunteers to work under NDA, stripping BeOS and clearing IP issues with the relevant IP owners? (obviously erring on the don't release side...)

        n.b. I haven't personally given any serious thought to the practicality of these suggestions --- they just popped into my head.
      • Bitstream Font Rendering Engine - can be replaced with FreeType
        MP3 Codec - several open source implementations exist
        Intel Indeo Codec - not essential
        Netpositive Web browser - can be replaced with Mozilla
        Opera Web browser - ditto
        OpenGL is a possiblitity too - I could live without OpenGL

        None of these are perfect replacements, but they ought to work. If nobody's willing to do the work to strip out the licensed code, nothing can be done about that. But the code itself is hardly irreplaceable.
    • There is simply too much proprietary, third party, technology embedded in it that it would take a lot of time, and probably a lot of cash, to strip away.

      Boy, I bet the're gonna be surprised at Berkley to find out they wasted their time stripping out old Bell Lab code. Shucks. No point it moving forward on that whole *BSD thing.

    • Nope. As has been stated over and over again, BeOS cannot and will not be relicensed as Open Source software.

      I've heard of people not reading the article linked in a slashdot posting, but you take the cake! At least read the SUMMARY of the article before sounding off!
      • I've heard of people not reading the article linked in a slashdot posting, but you take the cake! At least read the SUMMARY of the article before sounding off!

        I was merely answering the question that was asked in the TITLE of this slashdot posting. Did you read that? Ah, thought so! I have no real comments regarding the various initiatives. IMHO the BeOS community as a whole has proven that it doesn't have the muscle (numbers / financial backing) to sustain itself. And the BeOS window of opportunity closed a long time ago. Be knew this, hence their (unsuccessful) focus-shift to IA's.

  • niche os? (Score:3, Insightful)

    by RestiffBard ( 110729 ) on Tuesday October 23, 2001 @06:09PM (#2469049) Homepage
    I've used and love BeOS. I've also used tons of other OSs. I've loved things about all of them. with the exception of Windows almost all of those other systems have been considered niche. Some of those niche OSs have thrived. I'd love to see some air breathed into Be again.
  • If this can make Be live again that would be great.

    If they could keep it living and get a good software base, I think i would have just found a replacement for Windows on my wife's machine, and probally mine.
  • I thought BeOS stood for "Be Open Source!"
  • I managed to get a copy of the pre "freeware" version and I thought it was very well thought out, I would like to see more done with it...

    oh and dont forget that it needs some Apps...
  • Now finally I've found out what the odd thing in the reddish squarish area in the Be logo is.

    It's a skull, of course.

    I could've found out earlier: it was just about the time they started to go down the drain when they changed the logo.
  • BlueOS (Score:2, Informative)

    by anpe ( 217106 )
    From BlueOS page :

    BlueOS will be based on a Linux kernel (not on a distribution) and a basic XFree86 (XWindow system)

    Linux and X ?
    Is it a good way to start a Desktop OS ?
  • The closest OS to BeOS out there is eComStation. It has many of the features that BeOS has that Linux doesn't:
    • A consistent, easy-to-use and powerful GUI
    • Strong multimedia support
    • Runs fast on low-end hardware, and blazingly fast on high-end hardware
    • A friendly, close community that welcomes new users
    In addition, OS/2 has features that BeOS doesn't:
    • Great application support, namely DOS, Windows (including 32-bit Windows apps), OS/2, and even many Linux apps.
    • Great hardware support (this was BeOS biggest problem).
    • It's still being sold, marketed, and supported.
    This last item brings me to eComStation [], an OEM version of OS/2 that's effectively what OS/2 Warp 5 would be. I invite all BeOS users to check out eComStation. You'll be surprised what you find.
  • by idonotexist ( 450877 ) on Tuesday October 23, 2001 @06:19PM (#2469099)
  • It sounds like a good project and worthy in its own right, for a couple of reasons:

    1. They're trying to save an OS that never received its dues by extending its source availability.
    2. Like the BSDs and Linux, this OS reworking has a relatively-limited goal (in comparison to other projects), in that they're trying to reimplement an already-extant system without extending its reach -- BlueOS sounds like it's bitten off more than can be chewed easily. It'll be difficult enough as is to do this well.
    3. Phipps gives the impression he's not so interested in license wars at this stage. Given the stated community spectrum of opinion in the FAQ [], this sounds prudent.
    Here's hoping this article brings them others...

  • From what I understand (having tried it a few times at various stages), beOS is like *nix with a kick ass graphics/windowing layer. Why not concentrate on bringing the beOS gfx layer to Linux ... I mean, the whole world seems to be holding its breath for the death of X11/freeX86. I'm not aware of the technical details, but is it feasible that the beOS graphics/windowing/desktop layer could be slapped onto Linux? If this could happen, beOS would be the desktop *nix box's killer app.
    • Re:Replace X! (Score:1, Insightful)

      by Anonymous Coward
      no, BeOS is more like a modernised AmigaOS. The GUI layer was actually nothing special - it was the underlying low latency pervasive multithreading, database-like filesystem and message-passing features, not to mention a beautiful set of APIs, that made BeOS great.
    • Re:Replace X! (Score:3, Insightful)

      by Error27 ( 100234 )
      >>I mean, the whole world seems to be holding its breath for the death of X11/freeX86.

      Slashdot seems to be in an anti-X mood today. The truth is that the whole world is not waiting for the death of X11.

      Xfree86 does have some configuration problems where it's still a pain to set it up. (The definition of painful is that I have to set it up period. With the kernel I can just apt-get install it, but with X I have to dpkg-reconfigure it.)

      But X is not going away any time soon. The reason for that is not network transparency as some people argue. The reason is backwards compatability.

      In fact, X doesn't really NEED to go away. Over the last few years the XFree86 developers have made tremendous progress in improving X and adding important extensions to the protocol.

      To say that X is slow is really a lie. X is slow if you don't have one of the 5 accelerated graphics cards. Otherwise it's fine. (btw, I think you'll find that replacements to X have just as hard a time getting hardware specs as the Xfree86 guys do so creating a new window system doesn't help here)

      X can be improved. And it's getting improved... But it's going to take time.

      Anyways... I didn't mean to rant. I have to go because today is a great day to not be in front of a computer.

      • Re:Replace X! (Score:3, Flamebait)

        by barjam ( 37372 )
        It is X appologists like you that are keeping Linux away from the mainstream desktop.

        X sucks. Period.

        If you think otherwise perhaps you have just grown "accustomed" to it.

        I have used X with just about every combo of X server/window manager/graphics card and it just doesn't cut it for a modern desktop. I hate to use it and I know it very well. Say what you will about Mac/BeOS/Windows etc but when it comes down to it... each of those desktops (not OS but desktop) kick the crap out of anything on Linux.

        • Are you saying that X sucks, or that Gnome,KDE/Gtk/QT/X apps that you use suck? It's a big difference.
        • >>It is X appologists like you that are keeping Linux away from the mainstream desktop.

          There are reasonable things to complain about with X but that is not one of them. Except on Linux sites I have never heard a single person complain about X.

          I have shown people my Linux desktop. Everyone thinks it looks awesome.

          We use Linux in the computer lab at school. No one complains about X.

          Mainstream users could not care less about X. The only thing they care about is that they don't have to configure it. This is a problem but it's a fixable issue.

  • BeOS is faster and more stable OS than Windows2000, plus better multimedia systems then Linux, why not? I mean, aside from a great FileSystem and a kickass interface.
  • "...a number of the BeOS believers tried to find a new home. Some found comfort in AtheOS..."

    I don't mean to be frank, but what's the big deal? There are *plenty* of other OS's out there if one dies out, some much better. And most college students have shown that at its barest, anyone can custom-create an OS (or take an existing OS and modify it to their desires).

    To me, it's like the people who still hang onto the Commodore 64 as "the ultimate gaming machine". I admit, I started my life on a TI-99/4A, but I haven't limited myself to it. This field is all about changing and adjusting and, quite frankly, the BeOS people are going to be left behind.

    • To BeOS users (of whom I used to be one), it's really more of an emotional attachment than a simple logical decision that "there are other OS's out there"... they (we) are emotionally attached to BeOS.

      The way things work in it, as a whole, just seems right. All of the time.

      Out of every OS I've ever tried, it was not the most beautiful (Enlightenment, anyone?), not the most stable (BSD), not the most configurable (no "themes", just for one example), and didn't have the most application support.

      But it felt right.

      I can't explain it any better than that. It's like when your girlfriend breaks up with you, and your friends tell you "there are *plenty* of other girls". Same kind of feeling.
  • Apple is buddies with Palm. Apple has a new OS (that they bought for $300M, instead of choosing Plan Be)...Palm has no need for new OS (they just wanted Plan BeIA). OS X has been criticized for not being more Be-like (for instance, its file system with limited meta-data capacity). BeOS was written in C++, an object oriented language. MacOSX was written in Objective C, an object oriented language, and also now supports C++ (10.1).

    Maybe we need to get Apple thinking about asking Palm to open source BeOS. Would the Apple license be acceptable?

  • Why not take the things that BeOS did well and port them to a platform that has a chance of surviving? BeOS was beautiful to look at, the interface made sense, and the response to user input was blazing. All things that make for a nice desktop / multimedia OS, and all things that Linux could benefit from if it wants to compete on the desktop. Other aspects of BeOS such as networking, security, and hardware support were not so highly evolved and probably never would have been. Note that these are areas where Linux is somewhat evolved. I for one would love to see a marriage of the two.
  • We could call it BeSD :)
  • BeOS != Linux (Score:5, Insightful)

    by pschmied ( 5648 ) on Tuesday October 23, 2001 @07:34PM (#2469458) Homepage
    I'm beginning to wonder about all "All you BeOS users should come join / extend Linux." There is a reason that BeOS users used Be. I don't even understand this reasoning. The user experience with Be was so vastly different from Linux that I don't even know where to start.

    Don't get me wrong, I love Linux / UNIX. I'm typing this from a FreeBSD workstation right now. I personally love the windowmaker environment and the "UNIX way". I don't believe in wordprocessors (long live LaTeX---or LyX for you neophytes). I read my e-mail with mutt. I use lynx to browse the web most often. I use X to organize my terminals and set their geometry!!!

    That all being said, I would not wish my computing lifestyle on anyone.

    I'm also a closet BeOS user when I can be. Let me tell you what I like about BeOS.

    1. Never once have I compiled a kernel
    2. I rarely have had to dick around installing software. I installed video lan client for DVD and it worked immediately. I've still yet to figure it out in X. Yes, I'm stupid.
    3. You may have heard it before, but BeOS is FAST. Really. My computer takes more time in the bios screen than it does booting the OS.
    4. The user interface was marginally attractive (nothing is as sexy as NeXT), but more importantly it was consistant...everywhere. This is not to be underestimated. GTK and QT and XForms apps sit and mock me constantly when I have to use them. Yes, I've set their theme to NeXT. I still know which widget set everything uses.
    5. BeOS didn't try to be everything to everyone, but came damn close. It wasn't just a multimedia OS. Whoever said BeOS was never made for wordprocessing never used Gobe. For me it even had TeX.

    6. Some of the other things that be had was a file system that you could do many database style things to. Ripping and organizing mp3s from the standard filesystem and OS features was cake!

      Replicants and such were badass. I could imbed a webpage on my desktop with netpositive.

      I could go on and on. I loved the system. I love Linux. I love them for vastly different reasons.

      I love my Linux brethren because of their idealism, but sometimes they are too interested in ruling the world by exclusionary tactics. Don't assume that alternative OS users', their hacking ability and intellect belong to "the movement".


  • It might... (Score:3, Insightful)

    by dr_dank ( 472072 ) on Tuesday October 23, 2001 @08:41PM (#2469753) Homepage Journal
    as long as the alleged source tree leak [] [] doesn't derail the project first.

    As a precaution against legal liability, one of the more popular Beshare servers that hosted the tree, for however briefly, was voluntarily shut down.

  • This is a reminder of why software needs to be free. BeOS, QNX, MacOS X; these are attractive systems, but when you invest your time in learning them you surrender control to a corporation. You head down a road which can be pinched off into a dead end at any moment. That's why I steer clear of this stuff, no matter how nice it looks.

    I'd rather have freedom than a nice GUI. As long as you have freedom, you might make a nice GUI. But without freedom, you can't even hold on to your nice GUI.

    I wish these developers the best of luck in creating free software to replace BeOS.
  • by landley ( 9786 ) on Tuesday October 23, 2001 @11:03PM (#2470266) Homepage
    BeOS was about latency, not throughput. When you move the mouse it moves NOW, not in a quarter of a second. Click on a button and it presses/releases IMMEDIATELY in response to what you did, and the new window snaps up NOW. It sucks as a router, but if having the GUI respond when you move it is what you think the system's first priority should be, then it's perfect.

    Linux is about throughput and has sucky latency. Process switching is devoutly to be avoided. We won't put graphics in the kernel because that might slow down our packets per second as a router. We won't even apply the low-latency patches that have been floating around for a year and change. (Maybe in 2.5...)

    Load a Linux box until it's thrashing and your rat pointer will jump inches at a time. You can't cut and paste text accurately when your mouse pointer jumps five letters a second and a half after you move it. That's how you get great throughput (batch up those transactions and run 'em through in CPU cache. Join together 50 mouse moves into one BIG mouse move!) But it sucks for GUI-ism, and that's what Windows users care about.

    Moore's law will take care of half of this. As systems get faster, latency gets better because we deal with stuff as fast as it comes in. Nicing your X server down to -10 helps a bit, because it interrupts other tasks when it wants to do stuff, but that doesn't help applications you spawn and it doesn't do THAT much for the X server either because niceness is just a suggestion. Yet we don't even seem to do THAT as standard in Red Hat...

    It's a question of what the system is optimized to DO. Getting good GUI performance from Linux has only been a goal for the past year and change. The KDE guys are trying it. The Gnome guys are trying to make sure the KDE guys aren't the ones to do it because they don't trust the KDE guys' judgement on licensing issues. The XFree86 guys are trying to undo the mistakes of the past 15 years. (That and get 3D acceleration, which is great, but 80 million triangles/second is reality (or the human perceptual threshold) and it won't be THAT long before Moore's law makes your low-end 3D card photorealistic images in realtime. And a hardware generation or three after that, software rendering will be able to do it. It becomes a much less interesting problem then...)

    The kernel is fun, but the big block to Linux on the desktop isn't the kernel anymore. It's XFree86 and KDE. That's where effort can be used. But not until we understand the difference between latency and throughput. (Although getting the kernel to have seperate niceness settings for throughput and latency might be a good thing...)


  • I've long felt that BeOS would be an a good OS for STB's for interactive Digital TV. It's multimedia friendly, simple to use and a light-weight s/w load, it's Ideal. Combined with Palm's direction toward the remote Internet Appliance market this surprises me. However their loss looks to be be Open Sources gain.

Someday your prints will come. -- Kodak