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Ars Technica on Zeta 1.0 128

Quantrell writes "Ars Technica has posted an extremely in-depth review of Zeta 1.0 (/. saw another shorter review a month ago, but this new one is worth a look by anyone into things Be). Looking at the state of the OS more closely, it looks like it has a long way to go, maybe too long. Also, the author (rightly, IMO) raises the issue of whether or not Zeta will see success in the face of open source projects like Haiku. Is there anything but a hobby going on here?"
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Ars Technica on Zeta 1.0

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  • by CyricZ ( 887944 ) on Thursday August 11, 2005 @05:31PM (#13298538)
    There has been some speculation in the past that yellowTab does not have legal access, if any access at all, to the BeOS source code. They apparently wouldn't confirm nor deny that when asked. Has the situation changed recently? Have they made a final statement about their possession of said source code?

  • by j_cavera ( 758777 ) on Thursday August 11, 2005 @05:31PM (#13298546)
    Can we hear from someone who has used a BeOS or derivative for more than the 1 week, I'll-use-it then-write-a-review-about-it period? While I'm as willing as the next guy to try out a new OS, I'm not going to play early adopter potentially burn up a perfectly good machine with an install that renders it only marginally usable.
    • Yeah, well, then, don't install this OS [menuetos.org] . You'll hate it.
    • I used BeOS as my sole home OS over a period of 2-3 years starting with v3 and ending with v5.0.3. IF you had supported hardware on your PC, it was a fantastic OS. I was using a generic ATX motherboard, Pentium II 300MHz CPU, 192MB RAM, 4 GB IDE hard drive (I forget what brand), Creative 6x DVD drive, STB Velocity 128 8MB PCI video card, and an SB Live sound card. My installation was fast and stable: I could never crash the machine through my daily tasks of web surfing, document creation (using Gobe Prod
    • by rmjohnso ( 891555 ) on Thursday August 11, 2005 @06:26PM (#13298894)
      I actually used BeOS 4.5 and BeOS 5.0 for more than a week. I actually used it for over a year as my main OS. I could surf the web with Opera (no real stable Mozilla port back then), an AIM client (BeAIM), and an ICQ client (can't remember the name). I also had an mp3 player very similar to Winamp/XMMS, and it even supported Winamp skins. I never got into using the Gobe office suite. I also had a Hauppauge TV tuner card which I could watch TV with even in BeOS. If you wanted to do multimedia, BeOS could do it.

      This was all while I was in college. I took an intro C programming course, and I did most of my labs in BeOS. I wrote, compiled, tested, debugged, and uploaded all of my work from BeOS.

      BeOS was great. It booted in less than 15 seconds on my P3 500 MHz and 128 MB of RAM. It had services that were much simpler than Windows services. For example, if networking was misbehaving or sound stopped, just restart the sound server. No reason to reboot (as you would Windows 98, which was the standard home desktop OS back during this time).

      So why did I stop using BeOS you ask? Well, my Dell had come with a Riva TNT2 video card, and I eventually upgraded to a GeForce 2. When I did that, there weren't any drivers other than VESA drivers to support the card, and 60 Hz refresh rates on a 17" monitor give me a major headache. Eventually the 2D drivers for GeForce boards were released, and I tried to go back to BeOS, but I had already moved back to Windows and was jumping into Linux more and more. School was picking up for me, and I didn't have as much time as I did during my freshman year.

      Why don't I check out yellowTab or Zeta OS? Well, I'm pretty much Slackware at home and XP at work. I don't have the application choices for the new BeOS variants that I do with Windows and Linux. I also have a gut feeling that I'd have to worry more about hardware compatibility with newer hardware than I would with Windows or Linux.

      BeOS was fun, while it lasted.
    • I've used the original BeOS pretty extensively and still do use it off and on. Its a bit dated obviously, gcc for example, but it is very usable in general. There are free downloads available for the original BeOS and its an easy install if you have a spare partition. The original network stack is quirky and slow though there is a more modern one available now called BONE.

      In terms of multimedia support, audio and video, it is IMHO superior to Linux, that coming from someone who's run Linux on my desktop
  • beos (Score:2, Interesting)

    What chance do operating systems like BEOS stand against Mac and Windows? What advantages are there to using BEOS?
    • Is there anything but a hobby going on here?

      What chance do operating systems like BEOS stand against Mac and Windows? What advantages are there to using BEOS?

      I liked the mention of hobby. It explains a great deal of open source projects. I have no problem whatsoever with hobbiests just dinking around with an OS or app. I think it's pretty cool. But people should be a little more clear about their aspirations for a project and not try to pretend like their hobby will change the world (or even be useful
    • Re:beos (Score:3, Informative)

      by MrHanky ( 141717 )
      It doesn't really stand a chance. But it certainly has some advantages. There's always an advantage to run something other than Windows, because of spyware, viruses, and so on (and I'm sure you've heard all the arguments, so let's stop there).

      Against OS X, it has the advantage of being an easy to use, lightweight desktop OS. OS X takes about 3 GB for the default install, and that's with very few apps. I don't think Zeta takes that much, even with all the bundled apps, and there are plenty. It also boots qui
    • Well, it's zippier and boots faster. There are lots of apps, not as many as for Windows or OSX, but some say it does everything they want.

      I haven't kept up with Zeta, but as I recall the best browser for BeOS was Opera, which failed on a few sites, probably because there was no JVM other than BeKaffe, which was kind of mediocre.

    • you can watch 4 pornos at once!
  • by Anonymous Coward on Thursday August 11, 2005 @05:31PM (#13298548)
    ...but then I realized it was Ars on Zeta 1.0 and not Ars on Zeta-Jones 1.0, which promised to be much more insightful and interesting. I really like a nice Ars.
  • Hobby or not, it succedes in other areas. Like many small OS's it has built a strong community, a group of people sharing a common interest. During my time looking after Menuet ( www.menuetos.org ) at times the 'family' aspects were almost as much fun as the technology. It's probably true here too.

  • by aftk2 ( 556992 ) on Thursday August 11, 2005 @05:38PM (#13298592) Homepage Journal
    The company decided to switch to a software-only strategy and ported BeOS to the Macintosh platform. There were other reasons to justify this switch: it was clear that Apple was always going to be able to ship the latest PowerPC hardware faster than Be, Inc. could

    Contrast with...

    Apple decided to switch...and ported MacOS to the Intel platform. There were other reasons to justify this switch: it was clear that Intel was always going to be able to ship the latest CPU hardware faster than IBM, Inc. could

    Now, you'll notice I removed the words "software-only" from my conversion. Does that mean something? I'm doubtful, but I thought the parallels were interesting. At one time it appeared that Apple might sadly go the way of Be; that is thankfully no longer the case.
    • One key difference is that Apple eventually closed up access to the hardware documentation, so Be couldn't support it anymore. So Be had to abandon the PPC port and dedicate themselves to x86.
      • Well, "closed off" in the sense that nothing changed. The reality is that Be lost interest in the platform as they had their eyes on x86: technically they could have found a way, politically they were looking for an out.

        At the time they came out with a fairly spurious argument that the GPL might somehow contanimate them if they so much as looked at the N various flavours of Linux which could all boot on the machines they didn't want to support.
      • Apple eventually closed up access to the hardware documentation, so Be couldn't support it anymore.

        That's BS.

        A half dozen other alternative OS's were able to boot perfectly well on Apple's PPC boxes, including several still with us (YellowDog [yellowdoglinux.com] anyone?) None of them had the benefit of having hired away a bunch of Apple engineers...

        No, the "difference" was that Intel's investment arm had just dumped a boatload of cash on the struggling Be, gotten a seat on their board, and maneuvered them to going x86. R

    • The difference is that BeOS is dead now as is the predecessor of OS X (NeXTStep). Both of those OSes tried to go the software only route and died.

      People, this is precisely why Apple will not allow OS X to run on generic X86 hardware.

  • The real question is, will it run on my BeBox?
  • HobbyTown (Score:2, Insightful)

    by Anonymous Coward
    "Is there anything but a hobby going on here?""

    Isn't the majority of OSS a "scratch an itch" hobby?
    • Isn't the majority of OSS a "scratch an itch" hobby?
      Uh. No. It's "scratch an itch" enterprise.
    • For some reason I read that as "scratch 'n sniff".
    • Isn't the majority of OSS a "scratch an itch" hobby?

      Yes, but that's not relevant here because Zeta isn't OSS. This is a half finished commercial OS that gets sold to unsuspecting Germans on their shopping channel as a WinXP replacement.

      Allowances can be made for people that write software for no personal benefit even if it's rough round the edges. No such allowances should be made for commercial software vendors, especially these clowns.
  • Haiku mislinked` (Score:2, Informative)

    by cianduffy ( 742890 )
    BeUnited is the standards body only, the actual site for the Haiku Operating System is here:

    Haiku [haiku-os.org]
  • by HighOrbit ( 631451 ) on Thursday August 11, 2005 @06:18PM (#13298832)
    As I have commented previously, YellowTab is going about this the wrong way. They seem to be trying to market this as a general purpose desktop, but that is a hard market to break in to with incredibly strong established competitors (MS, Apple) and a generally conservative (i.e. not open to drastic change) base of potential desktop customers.

    The low system specs and mulitmedia capabilities scream for this to be put into a TV-set-top box like a DVR or even a game console. The low system requirements might even be good on appliances, medical imaging, kiosks, and ATMs. I think they should be trying to sell their stuff to Sony, Panasonic, Scientific-Atlanta, Deibold, etc instead of trying to break into desktops. The desktop market is just a loosing proposition for them.
  • BeOS doing just fine (Score:3, Interesting)

    by Orrin Bloquy ( 898571 ) on Thursday August 11, 2005 @06:20PM (#13298851) Journal
    ...on Amigas.

    Seriously, the gist of TFA's conclusion is that Zeta's usefulness will only be proven by porting Linux software to it.

    I hate to sound like David Spade, but I would be excited by this because...?

    I had an early PowerPC Mac in the late 90s and was excited by the prospect of running BeOS on it... until Be announced that their binaries were platform specific, which essentially meant they'd have to decide on one architecture or another.

    As it stands right now, even the reviewer is pointing out that all the useful multimedia software is *nix ports (which I'm betting are not optimized to Zeta's kernel).

    Kudos to Be for making a lightweight OS. Unfortunately, at the same time Steve Jobs and Linus Torvalds were figuring out that their respective successes would come from pulling a Microsoft and putting a GUI to a vastly popular, proven CLI environment and getting to keep the multitudes of software already designed for UNIX.

    Had Apple gone with Be, I think it would have lasted about three years before going tits-up. Five years of Classic compatibility ensured OS X's survival, and I strongly doubt Apple could have made BeOS and Classic coexist as peacefully without compromising one or both (witness Vista's back-and-forth on evolution v. backwards compatibility).
    • Actually, I think Apple going with Be would have worked just fine, from a technology standpoint. You need to remember that MacOS had no more in common with NextStep than it did with BeOS, and it took years of engineering work to get from NextStep to OS X. If the same amount of engineering work had been put into Be, there's no reason to assume it wouldn't have achieved just as smooth an integration.

      Would that have been better than what we've got now? I don't know. There were BeOS-specific multimedia programs
      • If the same amount of engineering work had been put into Be, there's no reason to assume it wouldn't have achieved just as smooth an integration.

        There are quite a few reasons against this theory. The biggest one is that Be made the mistake of basing its API in C++ . C++ APIs do not evolve well, compared to Objective-C or plain-C APIs. This would have led to either API paralysis or to major incompatibilities between OS revisions.

        I concur with the grand-parent guess, Apple would most likely be
        • I think you're confusing API with ABI; the former is at a source level, and the latter is at a binary level. When an API changes, programs have to be rewritten, but when an ABI changes, programs just have to be recompiled. The GCC incarnation of the C++ ABI has changed, but that has nothing to do with the APIs of the underlying operating system. And, really, programs don't have to be recompiled if you have a system which sanely handles versioning; you just need both versions of the libraries. (I say "both"
          • Thanks for the CEO correction.

            I am quite familiar with the distinction between ABI and API, and I really meant that C++ makes API evolution difficult because API changes have some much impact at the binary level, even when the language ABI is fixed. Since in my world 'ABI' == 'language ABI' (not necessarily universal, but common for compiler folks), I do not tend to think of those issues as ABI issues, but you might be correct in the more complete sense of ABI.

            The "pure" language ABI issue a
  • One of the primary tenants of BeBox/BeOS was multiprocessor.

    How can this be an in-depth review if they don't check it out on a multiprocessor system?

    Also does it support hyperthreading?
  • Article: bottom of page 4: Note the hardware information shown in the About screen. This shot was taking running within VMWare. Also note the date on the kernel revision. There was some dispute early on about whether or not yellowTAB actually had full access to the source code for BeOS, or whether or not they were just reselling the old kernel and adding on third-party additions. The newer kernel revision appears to lay that question to rest, although yellowTAB has not been very open about discussing this q
    • A few people did diffs on early kernels and all that was changed was the timestamp. IIRC not a single other bit was changed. This fueled a bit of debate for a while, but I think it's generally acknowledged that it's all above board now.
  • by Anonymous Coward
    Sony is in a spiralling decline and it's not at all clear how they will be able to break out from it. The changing nature of the music industry has caught them cold, and the feauding-warlord nature of their company structure prevents them from making an effective response to the changing nature of music systems and even DVD players (their players offer less features for rival formats to DVD whereas the cheap knockoffs tend to have everything).

    Sony were working with Be some years ago and there was speculatio
  • Beos is still selling within a niche, I was using a DAW (new last year) based around it. Incredibly flexible, and awesomely powerful. If they stick at what they are actually damned good at, SMP audio for instance, they could do some really amazing things. Undercut mac, avoid the joy of windows and lose the complexity of linux.
  • I ran Be on a pentium-300 laptop and I actually had a rather satisfying experience with it. Be ran surprisingly fast for a Windowing OS. It ran much like QNX runs-- responsive, quick loading, fast task switching and multitasking. The article gets into this a little bitBeOS's strength was always in its relatively lightweight frameworks, and its highly responsive GUI, which were the result of a new, relatively uncluttered code base and an emphasis on multithreading everywhere in the OS. But I really don't
  • Jean-Louis Gassée should of accepted their offer of $200 million.

    The problem was, it was more of an emotional want (he wanted 400). In business you can't let your decisions be driven by emotion or revenge when clearly his company wanted worth that much.

  • As someone who used BeOS quite a bit, there are several really important things that the reviewer misses:

    BeFS. While he touches on the subject of attributes, he missed the most important part of the BeFS. It was *searchable*. On *everything*. It was really handy for emails, because you could use the attributes to get through tons of email, even if you were the most unorganised person ever. The technology in things like Apple's Spotlight are only now just getting the same capabilities that BeFS had in 1
    • I tried to use Zeta OS on my Dual Pentium II-machine but it hangs during bootup. When i disable one of the CPUs it boots. I know some people who tried Zeta on their SMP machines and it wouldn't start on their machines either. I believe that Zeta doesn't have working SMP support.

      The thing that made BeOS great isn't working in Zeta. Therefore i will continue to use BeOS 5
  • With virtual memory disabled, I get over 18 billion terabytes of potential swap file space! Cool!

    18 billion terabytes == 18 zettabytes. Coincidence?
  • IMO one chance Zeta might have is if it invents itself as an alternative to OSX for running music or video apps (Be was already heading in that direction when it was killed.) There's usually no need for remote applications or multiple users on dedicated studio systems, so Zeta could focus on Be's strengths and not reinvent the wheel if they went in this direction. Sound engineers are a great market for a hobby OS like this, BTW-- they have different needs than most computer users (many high end studios st
  • ...another operating system featuring processes, applications, windows, icons, and all the usual things that other operating systems have. Why should anyone use this O/S? it's basically the same thing with any other O/S, just a different iteration. It might be more polished, it may have cleaner APIs, but it is just the same.

    We need fresh ideas...come on, developers, offer us something new!
  • http://www.bug-nordic.org/haiku.php [bug-nordic.org] Q: 'SELECT * FROM BUG_NO_VISITORS_BLOCKED WHERE UserAgent = 'I Ain't telling you shit!';' E: 'You have an error in your SQL syntax. Check the manual that corresponds to your MySQL server version for the right syntax to use near 't telling you shit!'' at line 1'

Q: How many IBM CPU's does it take to execute a job? A: Four; three to hold it down, and one to rip its head off.