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Review of BeOS in the Forbes 107

Diamond Joe Quimby writes "There is a positive review of Beos R4 on the Forbes Digital Tool website - front and center. It seems in the spirit of the Linux review they did awhile ago. When Forbes speaks up it usually get attention. Power to the aternative OS'. Check it out at "
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Review of BeOS in the Forbes

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  • I've heard people say that KDE is ugly; maybe he thought so, too. (I've seen KDE, and I don't think it's ugly, but that's a matter of taste.) Anyway, for people coming out of the world of Windows, it's probably pretty hard to conceptualize the idea that X is the window system but not really the GUI per se, and that the window manager is yet another separate program, so he may very well thought what he was seeing was what X itself looked like.

  • Posted by Bill, the Galactic Hero:

    So does anybody know what BeOS's architecture is? Is it Mach (or some other microkernel)? Is it related to the BSD's?

    I keep on hearing that BeOS is superior to Linux, but I'm not exactly sure why.

    Of course, I think they should open source -- but maybe that's beating a dead horse. My remorse.
  • Posted by Michael Wyman:

    Actually, many Linux advocates have nothing against other OS's. Linux and Be are not made for the same purpose; both are good at what they do, but aren't in competition.
  • Posted by stodge:

    oops - must have missed the sarcasm!!!
  • Posted by jonrx:

  • As to media being more important on the desktop than servers, not necessarily. Welcome to the networked world, where every internet user is a potential publishing company. As the speed of home connections increases (DSL & cable modems become more commonplace, etc), I think it'll become more and more common for users to host information themselves rather than at some ISP or hosting service. A rock-solid OS that can provide these server capabilities will definitely be popular, as most people will probably not have multiple desktop computers in the home.

    Though I'm a long-time Linux user (over five years now), BeOS definitely looks interesting but lacks what I love most about Linux - a from-the-ground-up open source tradition. The availability of ported open source apps is nice, but (spiritually) would feel a bit like running Cygwin's kit on Microsoft Windows. The appropriation of at least one driver by Be from the Linux kernel source, while no doubt an honest mistake by someone unfamiliar with licensing issues, still leaves a bad taste in my mouth.

    Another "alternative" OS I'm keeping my eye on is GNU HURD. It should share many of the advantages of a microkernel based OS ("pervasive multithreading" (if I hear that expression one more time in a BeOS -review-, I'm going to puke. At least Be's marketing department is having success with journalists adopting their buzzwords), etc).
  • I've been playing with MacOS X Server recently - and that's a pretty neat system too.

    Nice stable BSD base, but with all the crap from the /etc files put in a friendly database format. They should have used LDAP for the database, but what they've got (NetInfo) looks pretty good. And, no, it's nothing like the NT registry, before you mention it :)

    I was playing with WindowMaker too - boy has Linux got some work to do to catch up...
  • Be clients and Linux servers would be a fine combination.

    There's not doubt that Be has some big features that Linux lacks (large file support, and HFS support would be two).
  • But... I imagine he wanted to run it at a relatively decent speed.
  • You're assuming that the anonymous coward isn't really a Microsoft troll, trying to incite a flamewar for the SOLE purpose of being able to say to their boss how nasty those Linux geeks are.
  • Look at Geek Gadgets []. These people have already ported most of GNU, much of X11, and a bunch of other assorted free software to BeOS (and AmigaOS).

    But then you have to wonder what the point is. None of these programs use Be-specific features, so you may as well be using Unix!

  • Be got an offer from the LinuxPPC programmers for all the specs of the G3's that Be needed to support them. Be never followed through on the offer. That to me means that Be does not WANT to support the G3's.

    All the LinuxPPC people wanted in return was the source code to the floppy driver.

    Timur "too sexy for my code" Tabi,,
  • BeOS runs ontop of it's own micro-kernel;

    BeOS is 95% POSIX compliant -

    At the socket level it somewhat BSD like (but lacks some BSD features).
  • There's a book enterely on the subject :
    Beos : Porting Unix Applications
    ISBN: 1558605320

  • Not on apple machines ;(

    (and it is not because Apple doesn't want to give the specs, Be doesn't or can't (something like 20% of be is owned by Intel))

    has for other PPC makers/builders Pios has a promise of be saying they will port BeOS to the Pios one - Pios hasn't finished theuir proto and are making web tv stuff to make money -

    there only one two other PPC builders : IBM (why wuold they ask be ?? they didn't finish the OS/2 port) and an IBM clone maker selling Linux or AIX (you choose).

    Now if you want to make/build PPC machines, go for it, ask make a deal with Be (and if they don't then switch to linux).
  • I actually prefer that /etc "crap"!

    I still am very excited about Mac OS X, and hope I
    can give it a whirl soon.

    Anybody know how much the client edition license is
    going to cost?
  • They may be Fugly, but they are the best case I've
    ever seen for adding/removing/repairing hardware
    components. The whole side of the thing opens up
    like a drawbridge, even when its running! Very slick.
    (I set one up at work last week). I even sorta
    like the weird handles.
    Everyone here who sees it wants one, because it looks
    "cool". I'm not sure how "cool" they look, but
    they're very functional.
  • Please elaborate! I don't have much experience
    with BeOS, so I can't make any assumptions re:
    your comment.
    I'm not a huge fan of X, so I'm interested to
    hear how BeOS could be considered an improvement.
    Maybe you're just refering to the BeOS GUI, in
    which case X is not the problem, but instead
    whatever GUI running on top of it!
  • All legitimate points.
    I don't think it's enought to force me to migrate
    to Be quite yet, though. Not that it should stop
    anyone else... :)
    Be OS really needs a killer app to attract people
    (like myself) entrenched in other platforms.
  • Did anyone else notice that their testing box had Windows, Be, and FreeBSD on it? I thought that was vaguely hip.

    Score a couple brownie points for the author.

    Too bad they blew those points when they compared bash to dos (rather than the other way around).

  • >I keep on hearing that BeOS is superior to Linux, >but I'm not exactly sure why.

    Really, saying one is better then the other is like saying that a car is better then a boat. They are both great for the purpose they were made. End of story.

  • >Nothing worse to a linux advocate, then to read another good review on an alt os. Wake up suckers! BeOS RULES!!!

    Really, people like this piss me off. Really, we all want the same goal: To be able to choose what OS we are going to use without having one forced upon us. Because one is good for me does not mean "It Rulez!", it means it is good for me.

    Live and let live, and destory all those who stand in your way.

  • AFAIK, Linux does support HFS...
  • If BeOS were open sourced, there would be NO "issues" running on G3 chipsets. Considering just how much be has benefited from the open source community, this is not an unreasonable demand either.

    Instead, there is childish finger pointing and personality conflicts at the highest levels. be blames Apple; Apple pretends not to know Be exists since Be competes with Apple's UNIX-based System X.

    The point is, this is a top-down decision that can't have made a lot of Be users happy. Intel can't be more pleased since Be users are forced to migrate to Intel - a few might but I doubt most will. If Be REALLY wanted to "make it work", they would. They aren't too proud to borrow from the OSS community either :-/

    However Be isn't even COUNTING how many G3 owners would like BeOS. A company that is so ignorant as to choose ignore collecting marketing data rather than at least basing a decision on it... just to serve their new masters at Intel

    Where will Be be at in 2 years? They'll stay solvent with Intel funding, but given their treatment of PowerPC it's obvious they've inherited the corporate Intel way of thinking. So why should the OSS community help them with anything? That and the fact that Linux has passed Be on most fronts...

    (Be do have an easier instal/setup utility though.. )
  • Ha!

    Everyone knows the best vehicle is a boat with wings, wheels, and a bore/drill at the nose so you can shortcut through large mountains. You can do EVERYTHING with this vehicle..

    Sound familiar? Microsoft also claims NT does everything... (it does, just not very well)
  • "bologna"

    IP theft cannot be proven if it did not take place. Also, Be is not this little kid with no protection... they have Intel propping them up quite nicely.

    At most, this is only an undocumented chipset, if you believe Be's excuse - I don't. Reverse engineering if done correctly IS legal, so it's a question of does Intel want THEIR investment going towards keeping this OS running on competing CPU's? This is the core of the issue...

    And yes, if Be were OSS it *would* run on G3's. The volunteer project for Linux on PowerPC does quite nicely, and they don't have Intel bankrolling them...

  • I have been using Linux for 3 years. As a matter of principal I do not even own Windows. Until recently I dual booted NT4 and Linux. Then on a whim I tried BeOS R4 x86.

    I have to tell you I love that OS. I am NOT saying it is the most elite OS out there. Im not saying it is better than Linux... its not a server OS. Im not saying you have to have it. I am here to say that as far as sheer user experience goes, BeOS is the most enjoyable I have used. It is remarkably fast and stable.

    I have a lot of hope for Be.
  • They're just looking for something their readers can latch on to, not doing a comparison of various command line shells. Honestly, I doubt this was malicousness or ignorance, just that anything more detailed would have been overkill.
  • While trying to order the demo disc, I got a "Your process has deadlocked and been killed" (paraphrased, there was lots of "Microsoft" bits around too) while doing the credit card check. I just hit reload. Hope I don't get (charged for) two of them...
  • of course, all of these ill effects can only come about if my software -uses- the PSN. i somehow doubt that the free software community is going to be jumping on this bandwagon.
  • Yeah, it costs money, but it is already a better OS than Windows, is only the second full release for the platform and costs less than the Windows98 upgrade CD.
  • Be can do what the programmers did with the LinuxPPC and it will work fine, but they think Apple will turn around and introduce some new spec that would throw everything off and they don't want to fight that kind of battle. They have neither the manpower nor the incination to do that.
  • Yes Virginia, there are alternatives.

    Unfortunately, I have to conclude that Be represents the weakest long-term bet of all the alternative OS's available now.

    The key ingredient missing in BeOS is apps. Yes, I know there are some, but MacOSX is going to ship supporting a helluva lot more apps that you can get at Fry's right now. For most users, this makes a big difference. Added to which, OSX appears to offer more to the serious user. By virtue of its unix roots, it supports multiuser right out of the box...something that the Be engineers were frankly silly to skip - This is the networked world - you can't presume that users are isolated on their desktops anymore.

    Regardless of whether the BeOS supports better media manipulation out of the box is irrelevant - there are few apps to exploit these goals. Media means Photoshop. If you don't have Photoshop, media users will look elsewhere.

    As for SMP, and all those other neato features, you can try them out and goof off with them on a number of alternative OSs. For straight up power and stability you're hard pressed to beat FreeBSD (especially at its price).

    BeOS might have had a chance if Apple had not done anything to get OSX out the door, but it appears it will hit the streets this year. That should be good enough for waiting users.

    As for Intel users...they can try out linux for free or simply stick with NT if they need apps galore.
  • if a socket isn't an fd, how do you select() between sockets and other kinds of things? do they have a general notion of sets of events that you poll on?
  • Can anyone give a reasonable argument why a single user needs their OS to include multiuser support? Server, sure, but the average desktop user? Who cares?
    If someone needs to grab a file from my Mac (NOT a multiuser sys), i can share my hard drive or serve a folder (or drive) with http via Personal Web sharing. If i need to send a message, i email it (not as convenient as Write on a *nix box, but still...)
    I've used Be, and really liked it. I got tired of changing apps to comply with the latest PR release, so i've been waiting it out. Linux is cool too, but there's no way to do serious graphic work on a Linux box (GIMP notwithstanding). Most linux user here seem to think everyone should have a multiuser server on their desk. There are lots (and lots and lots) of people who just want a solid desktop OS to get their work done. That seems to be something most linux users here don't get.
  • As if Linux has any real amount of Apps for it?

    Granted Be does not have apps appearing stores, hell, its not even in stores. Guess what, up until recently neither was Linux. I still haven't seen one store selling a stand-alone app for Linux either. (all there is are the OS boxes)

    Be needs apps, but so does Linux. Hence the only difference between the two is the latter is the Microsoft buzzword of the week.

  • (I read your other reply too)

    Your assumption about "hidden source" is really unrealistic. Just because Linux is open-source is no reason everyone else has to be.

    People use a paticular OS because it helps them accomphlish what they need to do. People also use alternative OSes for other reasons like : being different, makes them feel cool, or because they have a physcological defect which the apply to a company they claim to hate - and hence use someone elses product).

    I have Be, Linux, and Win98. Of the three Be was the easiest to install. Its an efficient system which works nice. It does have some annoyances but most operating systems do. The Linux system suffers from inconsistent variations of the GUI, and relying on newsgroups for "help" is a pathetic endeavor. Win98 - well - its just Microsoft's normal bloated processor reducer.

    No operating system is perfect.
  • Why "homeless?" Linux runs on many platforms, but is by far more popular on x86 than anywhwere else. Seems like a pretty logical home for BeOS to me...
  • You've got all wrong.

    1. Be is not Microsoft
    2. Therefore, it doesn't suck.
  • I think Be, Inc. bought BeDepot and just didn't bother to waste time and money switching the systems to something different.. Don't hold that against them. Be is a great system and you just have to play with it to get a good feel for why Be supporters are so strong about it.
  • Used to use Be, stopped because it was entirely too easy to use to satisfy the geek in me, and there were no apps. Quick question, I don't code so I really have no idea. Be at least has some nominal similarities with the *nixs, with the BASH shell and some degree of POSIX hard would it be to start pulling Linux stuff over to Be....I would be nice to see OSS play more of a role in the Be world.
  • Sure, Linux doesn't have nearly the apps that NT does, but there are usually fully functional ones available. In particular, StarOffice5 and WP8 take care of anything I need to on the school/business front, and has Word98 compatability so I can communicate with the rest of the world. Linux also has Netscape.....I personally don't like Netpositive, and at this point there are no other alternatives at this point for Be. I like Be, hell, I even bought it...but there is a death of applications. There is much more available for Linux, such as that I can actually use it as a primary workstation where as I cannot for Be at this point. Hopefully this will change. Be really needs a decent web browser and an Office98 compatable office suite....WP or SO would be nice...and Star has been good at providing support for multiple platforms.
  • Sorry about the vaporware comment, its just I've been hearing about OSX and Raphsody (yeah, spelling, sue me) for forever now and have yet to actually see anything. I sincerely hope that OSX is realeased.....its just that we have heard alot of hype about new, kickass OS's from Apple and have yet to actually see anything. Has anyone out there actually played with OSX, if so, is it even half as good as its claims.

    The boxes may be functional, they just need to be spraypainted black or something....Apple really needs to provide something that isn't tacky....color is great and all, but jeez....why this bubblegum neon crap.
  • Actually, I was speaking tounge in cheek, I guess I should label sarcasm.....I'm really quite fond of Be....I think the big thing with geeks (I'm not going to even touch the idiot comment) is that massive amounts of configurability is desired, which usually goes hand in hand with a "difficult" os, as any os that can allow that degree of custimization is "difficult" as it doesn't do anything for you.
  • I definetly agree...there is no need for it to be the existing way...but it is....OS's like OS/2 and Linux are extremely configurable, but unfortunetly a pain to use (largely), while Be is wonderfully simple to use...but you don't have nearly the amount of under-the-hood tweaking that you can do under linux. Lets hope an os can meet the two in the middle, but at this point I dont think there is that convergence.
  • Personally, I don't blame Be for not wanting to develop an OS for hardware whos owners are hostile. As I understand, the problem lies not with the G3 processor itself but rather with apples board design. There are probably other issues at work here two. While reverse engineering may technically be legal, that has never stopped a lawsuit that is simple designed to be an obstcle, not won. Such lawsuits could kill a small company like Be (a good example, though not technology related, is that of the Cult Awareness Network, which was lawsuited out of existance). I can't recall of the top of my head any product developed commercially that operates on a platform that is hostle. Given the way Apple has traditionally treated any other companys that "invades" Apples space, e.g. the brief lifespan of the clone vendors, I don't blame Be for killing the PowerPC version. Its a shame, its nice hardware, but Apple has shown that it can't stand the idea of competition in its hardware/software market.
  • One very nice thing about BeOS (and Linux, for that
    matter) is that it hasn't been dumbed down to the
    lowest common denominator. Whenever I use Windows
    or MacOS, I feel like the OS is telling me "you are
    an idiotic user, and we don't expect you to understand
    any of this. Please don't touch anything, we'll take
    care of everything for you." (which wouldn't be so
    bad if all the wizards and InstallShields and so on
    actually worked reliably, but often they don't and the
    whole system has been designed to keep them in control,
    not me)
  • Bash = similar to DOS? hmmm...

    I think BeOS is a nice idea, and is an alternative platform to Windows, but for newbies.
    So if any of you are good coders and are more no-Microsoft advocates than pro-Linux advocates,
    I think it is a nice idea to port your software to BeOS, specially libraries such as GTK+.

    But on the other hand, Be is commercial, so if they want help, they should pay for it, right?
    After all they do sell it ($70).
  • And if you don't like Windowmaker, try afterstaep,
    and if you dont like that there is KWM, and FVWM, and enlightment.
    They're all good and nice.

    Also I havnt seen a way to use graphic apps on another machine another way. (PC-Anywhere?)

    I havnt seen the BeOS GUI, but if it's as good as you say,
    there will be window managers to look similar to it.
    God knows there are imitations of Win95, and its really ugly.

  • I am sorry, but I would much rather support NetBSD
    or any of the other FREE bsd flavors, than support some new proprietary format. Who was it that said if you dont know unix, you are doomed to reinvent it, poorly. If I can't get to the source, don't bother me with it. Nothing against the hard working developers that brought Be into existance. Hey, I can appreciate their hard work, but why dont you just GPL it. Proprietary, hidden source code is a thing of the past for OS's. If you want to be a player in this erra, show us the code :)
  • Actually I don't agree the MacOS X is vaporware. MaxOS X Server will ship this february. The
    client version will be a bit longer but people are testing versions and i think they are saying early 3rd quarter
  • Actually, Apace is available for BeOS...
  • I haven't read anything about it, but the alpha processor is listed as one of the processors that the BeOS recognizes. In the preferences/devices somewhere, you can find a series of drop down menus and the one for processors lists the Alpha in addition to the X86, PPC, and another.

    Does anyone know if the BeOS can run on other processors? Why would it be listed otherwise?

  • I don't know what the percentage is, but everything that I've read has listed the BeOS as nearly 100% POSIX compliant, but because it lacks some compatibility it cannot be listed as Oficially POSIX compliant. It has also been said frequently that *most* POSIX compliant programs can be compiled/run/whatever on the BeOS.

    My impression has been that it is probablly something like 95% compliant, but I don't know where the previous poster pulled the number from, as I've never seen a number applied to it except "nearly 100% compliant", whatever that means.
  • I really hate to use Intel as an example, but what was the point of adding MMX or Katmai instructions? Why did AMD develop 3DNow! technology, and why was it Microsoft developed the whole directX API? apparently being able to push multimedia quickly also improves "normal" video performance.

    Even if everyone is running their own server on a cable/dsl network, the object is to have other people view your content, and a MediaOS will boost performance for that.
  • Yes, Be could swap code for the specs to the G3 motherboard (its the support chips, not the G3 itself that Be can't support) but then you have code hanging on a shoestring. In Linux, this is acceptable, but Be has tried to avoid "hacking" code to make it work.
    Besides, Apple could turn around and sue, and who wants that. LinuxPPC doesn't have much to worry about, but Be is a corporate entity and subject to a different rule book.

Life in the state of nature is solitary, poor, nasty, brutish, and short. - Thomas Hobbes, Leviathan