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Ten Years of BeOS 264

Tracker writes "BeOS was released to developers officially for the first time ten years ago. OSNews has a charming write-up about the BeOS, some interesting historical events since 1994, and a few anecdotes as well. Today, BeOS still lives on with projects like the freeware BeOS Max (built upon BeOS 5 PE), the open source re-implementation from scratch OpenBeOS and YellowTAB's commercial Zeta OS (based on unreleased and updated code of what would have been 'BeOS 6' if Be wasn't purchased by Palm in 2001)."
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Ten Years of BeOS

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  • 10 years? (Score:4, Insightful)

    by Anonymous Coward on Friday June 04, 2004 @09:43AM (#9334629)
    I think you mean 10 months and then 9 years and 3 months of irrelevance.

    BeOS is one of those cool things that "could have been". It could have been amazing and taken over the desktop.

    However, it was a flash in the pan.

    What killed it? Lack of driver support. (I'm looking at you Linux fanatics)
    • Re:10 years? (Score:5, Insightful)

      by Havokmon ( 89874 ) <rick@havok m o n . c om> on Friday June 04, 2004 @09:46AM (#9334663) Homepage Journal
      What killed it? Lack of driver support. (I'm looking at you Linux fanatics)

      Did you miss the whole "Microsoft not allowing OEM's to dual boot multiple OS's" fiasco?

      Not that it would have absolutely overtaken Windows - but it was never given a chance.

      • cough *bs* cough (Score:5, Insightful)

        by jbellis ( 142590 ) * <`jonathan' `at' `carnageblender.com'> on Friday June 04, 2004 @09:55AM (#9334758) Homepage
        BeOS's only real chance came before their egotistical CEO turned down apple's offer of more than they were worth. Apple went with NeXT, and Be went... nowhere.
        • Re:cough *bs* cough (Score:5, Interesting)

          by osgeek ( 239988 ) on Friday June 04, 2004 @10:05AM (#9334845) Homepage Journal
          Although I was enjoying BeOS development at the time, it's a good thing that Apple went with NeXT. With NeXT, they got Jobs, who was the real reason for Apple's turn-around and continued relevance today.

          If they had bought BeOS, both companies would now be gone instead of just the one.
          • Re:cough *bs* cough (Score:5, Interesting)

            by Build6 ( 164888 ) on Friday June 04, 2004 @11:45AM (#9336056)
            I second that.

            I loved BeOS. I truly, truly loved it. I think, purely in terms of technology, Apple made a mistake in choosing NeXT over Be. (*)

            But, ultimately, it was the right choice - it's hard to imagine where Apple would be now if there had not been the iMac, and everything that led on subsequently from that (right up to the iPod). Apple may still be a niche player in the eyes of the analysts, but it's a much bigger niche than it would have been, and considering the disappearing use of "beleaguered" in relation to Apple, it's a niche most people are willing to accept Apple can continue in for a while at least. all this i believe really did arise via the Hand of Jobs (and Ives).

            (*): I feel the oft-repeated lack of printer support in BeOS is overstated - OS X printer support is CUPS based anyways - it's not a "NeXT" thing - and there's no fundamental reason why Be couldn't have gone down the same route. As for the much-touted rapid/easy application development aspects of OpenStep/NeXT, well, arguably the sheer allure of the underlying non-cruftiness of the BeOS would have drawn as much development support. Xcode with Objective C traces it's lineage from NeXT, but at least as of now there does not seem to be noticeable success in forestalling the application gap.
            • It's not the CUPS part of the printer support that's difficult. You see Apple uses postscript to render their GUI, it translates directly into what the printer draws. It's real deal WYSIWYG. CUPS is used as a transport mechanism and a down sampling mechanism for non-postscript or non-PDF printers (PDF is just Postscript v3 anyways) If you're doing real deal production, NeXT and Apple blow BeOS away.

              Next, i10n. Again, BeOS is empty handed. I'm talking double byte, Arabic, Hebrew... As of version 4 t

          • ...it's a good thing that Apple went with NeXT. With NeXT, they got Jobs, who was the real reason for Apple's turn-around and continued relevance today.

            As a longtime Apple geek, I was excited to see Jobs return as well. The company has rebounded fantastically under his reign. But the best thing about Apple choosing NeXT over Be is UNIX. Even with BeOS's technical coolness, I think that no small part of the success of OS X lies in its UNIX roots.

            m.m.

        • Re:cough *bs* cough (Score:5, Informative)

          by Havokmon ( 89874 ) <rick@havok m o n . c om> on Friday June 04, 2004 @10:08AM (#9334876) Homepage Journal
          BeOS's only real chance came before their egotistical CEO turned down apple's offer of more than they were worth. Apple went with NeXT, and Be went... nowhere.

          So BeOS DIDN'T settle a lawsuit with MS concerning dual-booting? [computerworld.com]

          • Re:cough *bs* cough (Score:5, Informative)

            by Nutcase ( 86887 ) on Friday June 04, 2004 @10:35AM (#9335204) Homepage Journal
            That lawsuit was settled in September of 2003. When they were down to a skeleton company w/ 1 employee - their lawyer. They settled because they had no money to continue fighting, and needed to pay creditors.

            So yes, after microsoft put them out of business by eliminating the market through monopolistic business practices, Be sued them for it and settled for 23 million when they couldn't go on.

            This doesn't eliminate the original point.. it only shows how fully destroyed they were by Microsoft.
      • Re:10 years? (Score:2, Insightful)

        by torpor ( 458 )
        Plus, it was fun to write drivers for BeOS.

        I won't say anything about how fun it was to program for BeOS in general, especially if you consider (at that time) the horrendous loops one often had to jump through to grok Windows programming.

        The BeAPI's really were fun ... I don't think lack of drivers was going to be a real problem for BeOS. Lack of developers, yes, and if you can't dual-boot your beigebox PC from Windows to BeOS (because of MS' reluctance for people to be allowed to compare, i.e. 'shop for
      • Re:10 years? (Score:5, Informative)

        by Marillion ( 33728 ) <ericbardes@gmai3.14l.com minus pi> on Friday June 04, 2004 @10:07AM (#9334871)
        From Fact Index [fact-index.com]
        In February 2001 Be Inc. filed suit against Microsoft. For several years Microsoft operated exclusive licensing deals with PC manufacturers that effectively prevented the release of machines with more than one operating system, and in practice anything other than Microsoft's Windows. Be claimed that this anti-competitive behavior forced them out of business, as BeOS couldn't get enough of a foothold in the marketplace to overcome this. In fact, Be Inc.'s CEO (Jean-Louis Gassée) offered to give BeOS for free to any PC manufacturer who would dual-boot Windows and BeOS; none of them accepted the offer. On Sept 5th 2003 Microsoft and Be Inc. settled their case with Be Inc. receiving $23.2 million and Microsoft no longer being accused of anticompetitive wrongdoing.
        • FactIndex [fact-index.com] is actually a feed from Wikipedia [wikipedia.org].

          There are actually several sites on the net that are mirrors of Wikipedia content, only with banner ads and such.

          Wikipedia has a page on it, but I can't give you the link right now, since Wikipedia seems to be not responding

      • Re:10 years? (Score:3, Informative)

        by Rude Turnip ( 49495 )
        Exactly...keep in mind that *Dell* wanted to install BeOS alongside Windows. AFAIK, Dell wasn't about to install something like that if there wasn't good driver support. The only thing that held them back was MS restricting them from setting up a dual boot system. That was the kind of solid, antitrust stuff the Justice Department should have focused on, not some vague bullshit with Netscape & Sun.

        In other news, I finally got part of my "Be vs MS" lawsuit settlement proceeds just recently.
      • The dual-boot issue had very little to do with it (that hurt OS/2 far more than it hurt Be). BeOS had terrible hardware support through its early phases. No OEM in their right mind would have shipped a PC with it. Either they would have had to select from a minor subset of available hardware to build their PCs, or they would be installing an OS that didn't have sound, or support accellerated graphics, or something else. I play with new and fringe OSs for fun, and even I gave up on Be through the first s
        • Re:10 years? (Score:3, Insightful)

          by Joe Tie. ( 567096 )
          Of course some OEMs would have shipped with it! An OEM that just happened to have compatible hardware. Driver support wasn't that great, but I think you're making a mountain out of a molehill to suggest the only way it'd work on anything is if the computer was specially designed for it. Back in the day I just threw it onto an off the shelf dell and it worked fine.
      • AntiTrust Trial. (Score:5, Insightful)

        by Bill, Shooter of Bul ( 629286 ) on Friday June 04, 2004 @10:21AM (#9335038) Journal
        Be played a heck of an end game, but when you look back at Microsoft's antitrust lawsuit with the DOJ you'll find soem interesting things. Microsoft pointed to the existense of BE as evidence of competition in the OS field. At the time, Be was still focused on trying to win over apple fans. A be executive replied that it was a joke. Be didn't compete directly with Microsoft. Then after the trial Be launched a lawsuit against microsoft using the microsoft's own evidence against them.
    • Re:10 years? (Score:3, Insightful)

      by FortKnox ( 169099 )
      Honestly, the only reason OSNews has anything on it, is because Eugena is rabid about BeOS. She'll never let it go.
      • Re:10 years? (Score:2, Insightful)

        by tolan-b ( 230077 )
        Most people I know who've used BeOS for any period of time are the same.

        It was so elegant.
        • Re:10 years? (Score:2, Interesting)

          by Matthew Weigel ( 888 )

          Good riddance to bad rubbish.

          The user interface was a bizarre mishmash of copying from Windows and MacOS, with no real understanding of why MS and Apple did the things they did. Sometimes it depended exclusively on the mouse, sometimes it depended on memorizing short cuts that directly contradicted prior training experience (I'm thinking of the whole Ctrl/Alt terminal thing here). It was definitely minimalist, but elegant?

          It had some neat ideas on querying the filesystem, and hence using the filesyste

        • Re:10 years? (Score:3, Interesting)

          by bogie ( 31020 )
          Most people wear rose tinted glasses when remembering BeOS. Beyond a responsive shell and a few nice apps many important parts of it were either broken/missing. For general desktop use and especially corporate use it was lacking to say the least.
      • Jon Mini, where are you?
    • Re:10 years? (Score:5, Insightful)

      by Otter ( 3800 ) on Friday June 04, 2004 @10:01AM (#9334809) Journal
      What killed it? Lack of driver support. (I'm looking at you Linux fanatics)

      No, what killed it was that switching to it required not only buying a new OS but buying all new applications. There simply weren't enough people who found a "multimedia OS" compelling enough to make the large investment just to give BeOS a real shot.

      Linux is different because 1) there's now a huge pool of free (beer) GUI software so users can give it a real shot and 2) even before those apps came along, there were plenty of text-only apps that met the needs of Unix users of the day. Those were available for BeOS, too, but the users who wanted the ultimate GUI didn't care whether bison and nn were available.

      At least that's why I installed BeOS a shot, but really started using Linux.

      • The problems were a bit more intractable than just buying new software... for a lot of uses there simply wasn't an application out at the right time.

        I bought a PowerComputing computer (Apple clone) at the time when they were providing BeOS with every computer, and likes what I saw, but there was so little I could actually do with it at the time.

        To give a great example, BeOS was a "Media OS" that could not play QuickTime, the dominant media format of the time. It was a wonderful foundation for an OS... mor
    • So, why doesn't someone ressurect it? Using a layer like VMware (or your favorite substitute shim layer) is a way to hide the details of the drivers from the kernel.
    • Irrelevance is only true if we didn't learn anything from the BeOS.

      After all, Xerox PARC's windowing and networking system wasn't really a success either...
    • What killed it? Lack of driver support. (I'm looking at you Linux fanatics)

      Don't forget Apple fanatics while you're at it. Remember when Apple's engineers started withholding engineering specs from Be, and as a result Be couldn't write drivers for the new Apple hardware? This decision from Apple came shortly after Apple decided to purchase NeXt and use their assets to build their next OS.

      LK
      • Re:10 years? (Score:3, Insightful)

        by BlowChunx ( 168122 )
        Uhh, yeah...

        It seems to me that I could install a functional Linux distibution on the same hardware that the Be geniuses said they were "locked" out of...I guess they just couldn't embrace open source to look at those GPL'd drivers.

        Be just seemed to whine rather than get on with the business of doing business. Great ideas, crappy leadership.
    • Re:10 years? (Score:5, Interesting)

      by Hodge ( 530651 ) on Friday June 04, 2004 @10:08AM (#9334888) Journal
      However, it was a flash in the pan.

      A pretty impessive flash though. Even in mono at 640 X 480 I knew I just had to try it. I lived with it as my main system for a couple of years so I think I can maybe add a few things that did kill it (at least for me).

      1. Lack of 'clever' interfaces. Apart from a few basic functions there was little USB etc. These days (and even in the late 90s) this meant little PDA connectivity and no cameras, MP3 etc.
      2. The ever-quoted lack of software. While there might be 10^6 applications on BeBits [bebits.com] there was never a huge amount of 'big' software. This meant little choice in office suites, photo editors etc. There ones that existed were good but a limited choice.
      3. Limited take-up of BeOS. Everyone I showed BeOS to was blown away by it but even IT professionals had never heard of it. The laws of supply and demand really mean that (1) and (2) above will be a problem until there is enough interest for applications to be other than hobby products.

      What do I miss? I've moved on to OS X as many e-BeOS people seem to. By and large I am very happy, Windows was always boring and utilitarian, a problem that both BeOS and OS X avoided with some style.

      I miss the speed, simplicity and stability of BeOS. It was a unix-like OS without the labyrinthine complexity of GNU/Linux. I really miss the custom attributes that were such a unique feature of BeOS - I don't believe any other OS has implemented such a scheme. Would I go back? Unlikely now. OpenBeOS will have to develop hugely to fill the above gaps. Zeta is just the bastard offspring of BeOS - a dead end that's going nowhere.

      • Re:10 years? (Score:3, Informative)

        by Anonymous Coward
        I really miss the custom attributes that were such a unique feature of BeOS - I don't believe any other OS has implemented such a scheme.

        Some have [syllable.org]. XFS on IRIX and Linux can too [sgi.com], but on Linux support for those attributes suck.
        • Re:10 years? (Score:2, Informative)

          by dolmen.fr ( 583400 )
          Technically, Windows also has it on NTFS filesystems.
          However as no Microsoft application uses them (except maybe the explorer integrated image viewer in WinXP), no one else uses them. And of course, FAT does not have it and backward compatibility seems to be an issue for Microsoft.
      • Re:10 years? (Score:3, Interesting)

        by MrHanky ( 141717 )

        I miss the speed, simplicity and stability of BeOS.

        Speed and simplicity, yes. It was a damn fast and simple desktop OS. Far too simple for me, I actually prefer KDE on Linux (and I'm writing this from OS X), but I'm not going to argue against your taste. But stable? Compared to Windows 9x, I'd have to agree. BeOS wasn't particularly unstable. But with my limited use, I've had it crash on me more than Windows 2k/XP, which I've spent far more time with. Haven't had a crash with OS X yet, but I've only had my

    • Re:10 years? (Score:4, Insightful)

      by tuffy ( 10202 ) on Friday June 04, 2004 @10:10AM (#9334899) Homepage Journal
      What killed it?

      Lack of software - particularly "killer app" software. Linux could run open-source Unix software almost right from the start. Its "killer apps" are Apache, Sendmail, BIND and Samba. BeOS was a desktop OS with no "must have" desktop software - and it fizzled.

    • Exactly. Another article on slashdot had a similar title"__ years of ___". Ha. You only get to use that title if the product has actually been in use in that time period.
    • Re:10 years? (Score:2, Insightful)

      by blindbat ( 189141 )
      Many driver issues are irrelevant now with so much stuff being USB. Corporately speaking, not that much really needs drivers.

      Rather it is games for home users and apps for business users.

      The apps side will diminish a bit with time.
    • Re:10 years? (Score:3, Informative)

      by sootman ( 158191 )
      Actually, it was mostly lack of App support that killed it for me. I'd boot into it, play with ArtPaint until it crashed, read Slashdot on NetPositive, play with the 3D audio thingie until it crashed, do the movies-on-a-cube demo, then boot back into Windows and get back to work, making web pages with Netscape, HomeSite, and Photoshop. *sigh* It was cool, though. I had R3, 4, and 5 for Intel. I was always hoping it would wind up catching on. The real-time effects in ArtPaint were awesome, and it ran like a
      • The lack of application support, sadly, was entirely Be's fault. Just as application developers started to take it seriously as a platform, Be announced the shift to BeIA, effectively killing BeOS as a desktop platform.
      • I *wish* someone would implement a comparable database-based filesystem. I would *kill* to do complex queries on my filesystem and get the results back instantly.

        The OpenBeOS project status page [sourceforge.net] indicates the filesystem is in the late beta stages. I don't know how much work it would be to port it to *nix, but I expect it's possible.

        Ooh, I just followed the BeFS link on that page, and it references an experimental Linux BeFS driver [sourceforge.net]. Happy birthday.

        P.S. You said you would kill....how about Darl? (I keeed,
    • The real question (Score:4, Interesting)

      by vlad_petric ( 94134 ) on Friday June 04, 2004 @10:47AM (#9335348) Homepage
      Would they have survived by going opensource ? With a dual licensing GPL/Commercial ?

      You do need a horde of developpers to get drivers, which you either have to pay or entice with a truly open model. Be did neither.

      If Machiavelli lived today, his quintesential book would be called "Il Executivo", not "Il Principe"

  • 10 years of BeOS (Score:4, Interesting)

    by Hodge ( 530651 ) on Friday June 04, 2004 @09:43AM (#9334631) Journal
    And maybe its influence will be felt in the soon-to-be-released Palm OS 6 (Cobalt).
    • Re:10 years of BeOS (Score:5, Informative)

      by WareW01f ( 18905 ) on Friday June 04, 2004 @10:32AM (#9335164)
      Actually from what I've seen, a lot is in there. PalmSource (not to be confused with PalmOne mind you) seems to have put a ton of work into making Palm OS a *real* OS with the same mentality that BeOS had (sorry has) of working multimedia into the core of the OS. Let's just say that mine was one of many jaws dropping at PalmSource earlier this year.

      So yes, there is a lot of Be in Cobalt (multimedia, POSIX, etc)

      Now we just have to see were the market is going. PalmSource seems to be looking at Garnet (which is targeted at the small foot-print phone market space) as the cash cow for the future. I had hoped that Sony would lead the charge and release a Cobalt Clie (as they tend to beat the more conservative PalmOne to market on such things) but with them dropping out. Outlook not so good. I just hope that Colbalt doesn't get infected with the same ahead-of-its-time issue that BeOS suffered. At least to PalmSource's credit, they really bent over backwards to make the old PalmOS stuff work, without polluting the new too badly. (If BeOS had had a WINE for MacOS emulator to bridge the app gap, it might have done better.)
      • Re:10 years of BeOS (Score:2, Informative)

        by goates ( 412876 )
        "(If BeOS had had a WINE for MacOS emulator to bridge the app gap, it might have done better.)"

        I thought it did. It was called SheepShaver or something like that. This still didn't solve the driver problems though.
  • by Gunfighter ( 1944 ) on Friday June 04, 2004 @09:45AM (#9334657) Homepage
    A few years back, one of the members of my Quake clan was a programmer who preferred BeOS as his platform of choice for development and other everyday tasks. He eventually went to work for Be and we didn't hear from him much after that. Nevertheless, we always gave him hell about his BeOS preference. Here are a few choice quotes from our IRC logs:

    This first one is particularly applicable as it pertains to the "uncorruptable" BeOS filesystem.

    but you have more problems with win95 than i have ever imagined anyone having
    nah...you should see some of the people on my dorm floor...
    one guy had to fdisk like 5 times last semester
    hehe
    You CAN'T corrupt the BeOS file system
    Even by kicking out the power cord
    you can't play Q2 on it either :P

    potty stop - brb
    overkill.. yellow card
    what, you'd rather say i was going to "the little programmer's room" or something??
    I got take a BeOS

    "BeOS combines the best features of all the major operating systems: the ease-of-use of the Macintosh, the power and flexibility of Linux, and Minesweeper from Windows."

    • LOL! (Score:5, Funny)

      by torpor ( 458 ) <[moc.liamg] [ta] [musibi]> on Friday June 04, 2004 @09:52AM (#9334725) Homepage Journal
      "BeOS combines the best features of all the major operating systems: the ease-of-use of the Macintosh, the power and flexibility of Linux, and Minesweeper from Windows."

      Karma be damned, that is funny.

      I honestly can't think of an "oh, and maybe ..." response. The above statement is complete.
    • is here. [bebits.com] Late is better than never.
  • B.E.OS (Score:5, Informative)

    by stew77 ( 412272 ) on Friday June 04, 2004 @09:48AM (#9334689)
    Don't forget BlueEyedOS [blueeyedos.com]: a BeOS-inspired operating system powered by a Linux kernel.

    IMHO a very good approach, as using the Linux kernel and XFree86 will take care of the lack-of-drivers problem that the original BeOS had. Also, this will give it decent OpenGL performance for free, which was also one of the weak points of the original BeOS (and will be one of the other sucessors).

    • Re:B.E.OS (Score:3, Informative)

      by tolan-b ( 230077 )
      The (unfortuately unreleased as it was near the end of BeOS' life) OpenGL kit outperformed Linux by about 40%, and Windows by about 50% iirc.
    • Hardly - it just gives a BeOS front to the limited range of linux drivers, instead. Better, but not good. :-P
    • Re:B.E.OS (Score:5, Interesting)

      by Xyde ( 415798 ) <slashdot@purrrr. n e t> on Friday June 04, 2004 @10:41AM (#9335276)
      Pity it will also inherit that inherent ugliness that XFree86 seems to bring with it.

      One of the best features of BeOS was that it was practically a Mac (but with multitasking!) on a PC. The Tracker was very much like the Finder, windows were similar (close box on the left, size & shade buttons on the right, grouped scroll thumbs, etc.), applications were well designed UI wise, and simple, never cluttered, used a sane file association system (I think they used MIME types) as opposed to having file extensions hard coded to open in a certain app - you have to remember that at one point BeOS was being engineered specifically to sell to Apple to become their new OS. Needless to say they picked OPENSTEP instead and now we have OS X, but that's another story...

      Unless they've gutted XFree86 I can see this just becoming another stock standrd, bloated (BeOS was a perfectly usable OS + a multitude of applications in under 200MB) distro but with a BeOS skin. Which is NOT the same thing.

      All the apps will still use GTK or KDE because nobody will be bothered redoing the GUI in BlueEyedOS's native toolkit (why bother when it works okay using whatever we're using now but just looks a bit out of place). Even Apple couldn't make X11 acceptable with their implementation and look at how anal they are about OS X's GUI being perfect and consistent. It just looks like some generic linux distro with a bad aqua skin slapped on top.

      I won't say this will be a failure, because by definition it is nigh impossible for any open source project to be a failure. I'm sure there are people out there who will love it (and as long as at least one person still uses it and appreciates it, that's all that matters), but I will say that I think this will be a failure as a new BeOS.

  • Still got my BeBox. (Score:5, Interesting)

    by torpor ( 458 ) <[moc.liamg] [ta] [musibi]> on Friday June 04, 2004 @09:49AM (#9334698) Homepage Journal
    Sitting there, blinkenlights and all. Haven't used it in years, but of all the computers I have owned in my life, thats really only one of the few that I don't want to do away with.

    Strange attachment to it ... I always had issues with Amiga freaks and their platform worship, and being a bit of a Unix weenie I'm not really inclined to consider myself a machine fetishist, so attachment to that blue monolith, which I literally see every day as I get in my chair at the office, feels ... quaint?

    Still, I suppose I'll find a use for it. 66mhz dual-proc ppc601's (is it, i forget?), and it runs smoothly every time I've turned it on recently. I guess Linux wouldn't be out of the question for it, but I can't help this nagging feeling that there could be -other- things to run on that poor, simply nice little machine...
    • I finally threw out my irix box from SG. It was so cute sitting in the corner being all purple...what is wrong with me...its a friggin computer...I needed to move on.

      So do you!
    • GeekPort (Score:3, Interesting)

      by tcyun ( 80828 )
      The fact that the BeBoxes had the "geek port" always put a smile on my face. the fact that the OS supported hardware designed for futzing around made me smile. I wonder why the idea never caught on to have a standard, hardware interface designed for home soldering enthusiasts (the port was designed to be physically large enough to manipulate without special equipment).

      • Re:GeekPort (Score:2, Interesting)

        by torpor ( 458 )
        yeah, geek port ... the coolest thing i ever saw someone do with that was lighting control for their basement dungeon, but i never got around to getting one of those cables built somehow ...

        ah, bebox. its really just the blinkenlights i like, its so 'orac'. i'm sure theres a speech synthesizer for it ... that'd be a neat party prop, heh heh ... 'orac, turn down the lights', BLINKenBlinKenBlinkenblinken ...
      • Re:GeekPort (Score:2, Informative)

        by stratjakt ( 596332 )
        There are a million ISA/PCI/etc devices like that. I remember in high school we had a prototyping I/O card for electronics class, it had a fat port on the back that you could connect to an optional external card that had screwdown terminals. Programming it was dead simple, we'd mock stuff up in QuickBasic but you could have used anything you wanted.

        The coolest thing about it, was that it was - to the computer - an addon LPT port. So you could build your gizmo easily with the screw-down terminals, and on
    • They should be motorola 603e's (production BeBoxen). Funny that Be used the 603 vs. the 604 series, as the cache coherency protocol in the 603 was only 3-way (MEI - AFAIR), vs. 4-way for the 604 (MESI).
  • Apple and BeOS (Score:5, Interesting)

    by thirteenVA ( 759860 ) on Friday June 04, 2004 @09:55AM (#9334761)
    Make's you wonder what what OS X would have been like had Apples plan to by BeOS not fallen through. BeOS had a lot of features NeXT did not have and some that are just being implemented now, such as journaled file systems found in Panther.
    • Re:Apple and BeOS (Score:4, Informative)

      by roard ( 661272 ) on Friday June 04, 2004 @10:20AM (#9335025) Homepage
      Make's you wonder what what OS X would have been like had Apples plan to by BeOS not fallen through. BeOS had a lot of features NeXT did not have and some that are just being implemented now, such as journaled file systems found in Panther. Well, the reverse is true ;-) -- the NeXT development environment was way ahead (and still is). Even if BeOS dev was quite nice, for sure. Plus, OPENSTEP used vector display system (DisplayPostScript), which then permitted true wysiwyg, and leads to DisplayPDF. Actually, you can't imagine what OSX would have been like, because frankly, OSX is quite different from OPENSTEP, and not always in a good way. The need of supporting legacy -- software and UI -- would have modified BeOS the same way it has modified OPENSTEP. I personally much prefer OPENSTEP UI (I'm speaking about the feel, not the look -- although I also happend to like the clean look of OPENSTEP over the in-your-face look in OSX ... but commercially (marketing) it's more useful to have OSX look :-)
    • Re:Apple and BeOS (Score:5, Insightful)

      by cryptochrome ( 303529 ) on Friday June 04, 2004 @10:21AM (#9335039) Journal
      Floundering most likely. NeXT brought a lot of things, but probably the most meaningful was the ability to tap into the *nix software universe. Lack of apps has always been Apple's Achille's heel.
    • If you read the article, you would think it doesn't matter as a bunch of Be's developers seem to be at apple now or worked at apple for some time after Be.
    • Re:Apple and BeOS (Score:5, Interesting)

      by TheRaven64 ( 641858 ) on Friday June 04, 2004 @11:16AM (#9335734) Journal
      The best thing about BeOS was the filesystem, which did most of the things WinFS wants to do, back in '97. The guy responsible for the BFS is now at Apple. I'm really looking forward to seeing what he can come up with with 7 years more experience.
  • by Tarantolato ( 760537 ) on Friday June 04, 2004 @10:05AM (#9334848) Journal
    OSNews has a charming write-up about the BeOS

    You misspelled "morbid obsession with".
  • by vasqzr ( 619165 ) <vasqzr.netscape@net> on Friday June 04, 2004 @10:05AM (#9334851)

    Article [forbes.com]

    Now that I read it, it wasn't even that article. It started something like "Everything Bill Gates has sold you will be obsolete" and it had the BeOS guy standing by a BeBox.
  • by Anonymous Coward
    I don't really understand how the Zeta project exists.

    Do they own the code? If Be was sold to Palm, how are these guys continuing work from the BeOS codebase? Was the OS sold separately, and if so, then who cares about the Palm deal?

    Or is the whole Zeta thing owned by Palm?
    • IIRC, Zeta was the result of a deal made before Palm purchased Be. As I understand, YellowTab got the rights to use the code for BeOS for perpetuity. Zeta is made from the codebase of Dano (AKA BeOS 6) that was never 'officially' released. To my knowledge, YT does not 'own' the code, they just own a license to use it - a rather permissive license (but I digress).

      Palm has no plans to open source the BeOS code, mainly because there would be no profit in it, and also because there are licensing issues with bits and pieces of it. Most BeOS fans wanted Palm to open source the code to speed up OpenBeOS and the other projects out there, but I think we've done fine without it. :)

      Zeta is a small company in Germany, and as far as I know, has no connection to Palm other than the license deal.

      As it was written, so shall it be, from the book of Be... ;)

  • by CoughDropAddict ( 40792 ) on Friday June 04, 2004 @10:14AM (#9334946) Homepage
    ...but I think I've finally done it. OSX has a lot of nice features that are comparable to what BeOS brought to the table (for example, Carbon is on par with the BeOS APIs, and both are worlds ahead of Win32).

    One thing that is still unmatched is the responsiveness of BeOS's GUI. I was running BeOS on a PII-300 in 1999, and none of today's operating systems can match the responsiveness I had, even on today's fastest machines. Window resizing and scrolling were rock-solid and flicker-free. As much as I love OSX, resizing and scrolling feel sluggish. Windows is better, but prone to flicker and outright delays if the application is busy doing something. The GUI in BeOS never missed a beat, largely due to pervasive multithreading of the core infrastructure.
  • ..one shouldnt forget AtheOS [atheos.cx] which has some similarities to BeOS.
    • by Vanders ( 110092 ) on Friday June 04, 2004 @10:30AM (#9335139) Homepage
      Just to point out a few things that a lot of people might not be aware of.

      1. AtheOS is no longer developed, and the codebase has not been updated in several years.
      2. Syllable [syllable.org] is our community-driven fork of AtheOS, which was started two years ago.
      3. AtheOS domain lapsed [atheos.cx] and is now hosting a knock-off website hawking drugs
      We're halfway through development of Syllable 0.5.4, which like all previous releases of Syllable, will rock. We support a whole bunch of hardware, have developed the codebase heavily and for those of you who were familiar with Kurt Skuans style of working with AtheOS, we have a far more open development model. All are welcome to contribute. You can even download a LiveCD [syllable.org] if you want to give it a spin.
  • by TomorrowPlusX ( 571956 ) on Friday June 04, 2004 @10:25AM (#9335082)
    So, OK, I've read now a dozen smug barbs against BeOS fanatics.

    My guess is 99% of you never did anything more than boot it, realize it had no good web browser and then returned to windows/linux/bsd/whathave you.

    What I want to say is I spent 4 years using BeOS as my primary platform. Why? Because I don't like using a system I am uncomfortable developing on. [ Yes, I'm talking about you, Win32] BeOS's ease-of-use and user focus were secondary to it's having an API and clarity of development which blew my mind.

    I gave it up for linux, when I discovered Qt, and now I'm on Mac OS X, which is from an API standpoint actually better. Amazing.

    So, I'm rambling here but the thing is, beOS made it *easy* to write amazing things. Not many systems can claim that, except maybe Cocoa.

    Case-in-point: I had a dell laptop with a trackpad. I hated having my insertion point jump around when I typed and brushed the trackpad with my thumb. So I decided to write an input-server plugin to discard those events. How long did it take me to write it? *One* hour. Not because I'm a genius programmer -- I'm not. it was because beOS was a well-designed coherent system with APIs that made sense *across* the board, and excellent documentation from nape to nuts.

    My plugin: http://bebits.com/app/1344
  • I just installed BeOS for the shipping department for their UPS websurfing and terminal to our inventory system - they are computer illiterate, but have picked up BeOS in a half hour (this is how you get to the net, this is how you log in to the inventory system, workspaces let you 'switch screens' etc.).

    Why BeOS, you crazy SOB? Well, it's a P225, so BeOS flies on it - it boots in 20 seconds (90% of that is POST) and I dont have to worry about antivirus, spyware, trojans or other Windows crap. It's fast, and does what it's supposed to, and no one will be installing Solitare on it. :)

    I am finding the built-in terminal lacking as far as term emulation goes, so I'll keep an eye out for updates.

    If it goes down, they're back to running to the PC - (Win98 minus IE and Outlook Ex, plus Firefox and Thunderbird), but I haven't had many problems with BeOS yet.

    And what the hell, we've got the equivalent of the Battlestar Galactica armada in old-ass computers, BeOS should be getting its time along Mac OS X, 9, 7.x, Windows 98, XP, and did I mention we have our inventory system running on SCO Unix? ;)

  • BeOS 5 was just a fantastic OS. It made computing fun. The trial version set up all my hardware and installed in about 5 minutes, including a TV card, modem, etc.

    I ran the desktop 1280x1024x32. So once I ran Quake at 640x480 and a TV window also at 640x480 at the same time. It didn't crash, it didn't slow down, they both ran flawlessly. There is no way Windows could have done that at the time, or anytime for that matter.

    I stopped running BeOS when they pulled the plug for it. And still today I wish I
  • From the article:
    It is kind of romantic hearing all these stories, e.g. a developer who later became a Be engineer had to carry his BeBox to his house from the post office with bear hands (and the BeBox was a very heavy machine compared to PCs)...

    I wonder why he didn't just use his own hands...seems like bear hands would only make the load heavier.
  • by Sloppy ( 14984 ) * on Friday June 04, 2004 @12:52PM (#9336892) Homepage Journal
    I still remember that day in early October 1995. Those were probably the worst times of the personal computer scene. Everything was going to shit, and innovation had slowed to a crawl on every front (at least as far as software was concerned). x86 machines preloaded with Windows 95 were showing up, and many of them were flakey as fuck. Even IBM was preloading Windows 95, a sign they had given up on their own, better OS. Even Apple was producing the very worst machines (the "roadapples") that they ever made in the company's history. The Amiga was going through the deaththroes of changing owners and stagnation. Linux was still iffy, and obscure from the mainstream's point of view.

    1995 sucked!

    Then an audacious person introduced a dual-CPU developer machine with a nifty new OS with hardly any legacy constraints. It was shockingly unfathomable. It was idealistic and hopeful, in a time when that sort of attitude was deader than it had ever been. It sure cheered me up.

  • by rice_burners_suck ( 243660 ) on Friday June 04, 2004 @11:15PM (#9342444)
    (As the about box used to say.)

    Ah, this article brought back a lot of old memories... My favorite part:

    The BeOS legacy might live on via the Zeta product and/or OpenBeOS, however it will never feel the same as it used to feel in the 4.5.2 days (according to many engineers, the best version of BeOS ever released -- for its time). The OS just felt like it had a soul, like it would know what you were thinking when using it (even if BeOS does have its own technical problems). It felt pure. I am not using BeOS anymore (I boot to it once every 1-2 months or so) but I will always keep with me this feeling, a feeling that no other software ever given me.
    Yes, 4.5.2 really was the best BeOS ever, as well as the best OS period. I had it running on 2 boxes, day and night, for months upon months. One of the computers had all my music stored in its database-like filesystem. It used to play these hundreds of songs just about 24 hours a day, to be paused whenever I left and resumed when I came back. This was next to several Linux and FreeBSD boxes, very "heavy" in terms of all the software that ran on them... I'll never forget how the computer I had configured as a NAT firewall ran X with XEarth in the background, and a ton of unnecessary processes at the same time... or how there was some weird bug in KDE back then, I think I had version 1, that caused the GUI to go completely crazy while the VM would go on these disk grinding frenzies, which would last about 30 minutes before the computer regained its sanity, and it routed packets perfectly through all of this crap. I have always liked these OSes, but I have to admit that I always enjoyed working with BeOS a lot more than these other operating systems, all of which I swear by. BeOS just had this feeling, as the author of the article said... I don't think that any other OS will reproduce the spirit, culture, and fluidity of this fine piece of software.

    Ooooooooh well.

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