Haiku beta released with package management, a new preflet, webkit and more

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On Tuesday, the team at Haiku released Haiku beta, an open-source operating system that specifically targets personal computing. It is inspired by the BeOS and is fast, simple to use and easy to learn.

What’s new in  Haiku?

Package management

  • This release comes with a complete package management system.
  • Haiku’s packages are a special type of compressed filesystem image, that are mounted upon installation (and thereafter on each boot) by the packagefs, a kernel component.
  • The /system/ hierarchy in Haiku beta is now read-only, since it is merely a combination of the presently installed packages at the system level and it ensures that the system files themselves are incorruptible.
  • With this release, it is possible to boot into a previous package state or even blacklist individual files.
  • Since the disk transactions for managing the packages are limited, the installations and uninstallations are instant.
  • It is possible to manage the installed package set on a non-running Haiku system by mounting its boot disk and further manipulating the /system/packages directory and associated configuration files.
  • It is now possible to switch your system repositories from master to r1beta1.

WebPositive upgrades

  • The system web browser is more stable than before with the YouTube now functioning properly and other under-the-hood changes .
  • With WebKit it is possible to fix a large number of bugs in Haiku such as broken stack alignment, various kernel panics in the network stack, bad edge-case handling in app_server’s rendering core, missing support for extended transforms and gradients, broken picture-clipping support, missing POSIX functionality, etc.
  • Haiku WebKit now also uses Haiku’s network protocol layer and supports Gopher.

Completely rewritten network preflet

  • The old network preflet has now been replaced with a completely new preflet, designed from the ground-up for ease of use and longevity.
  • The preflet now can manage the network services on the machine, such as OpenSSH and ftpd.
  • The preflet also uses a plugin-based API, so third-party network services (VPNs, web servers, etc) can integrate with it.

User interface cleanup & live color updates

  • A lot of miscellaneous cleanups to various parts of the user interface has been made since the last release.
  • Mail and Tracker both have received a significant internal cleanup of their UI code.
  • This release features Haiku-style toolbars and font-size awareness.

Major improvements in Haiku

Media subsystem improvements

  • The media subsystem now features a large number of cleanups to the Media Kit to improve fault tolerance, latency correction, and performance issues.
  • The HTTP and RTSP streaming support are now integrated into the I/O layer of the Media Kit.
  • With this release, live streams can now be played in WebPositive via HTML5 audio/video support, or in the native MediaPlayer.

FFmpeg decoder plugin improvements

  • FFmpeg 4.0 is now used even on GCC2 builds.
  • This release comes with added support for audio and video formats, as well as significant performance improvements.

HDA driver improvements

The driver for HDA (High-Definition Audio) chipsets now comes with audio chipsets in modern x86-based hardware.

RemoteDesktop

  • Haiku’s native RemoteDesktop application has been improved and added to the builds.
  • This RemoteDesktop forwards drawing commands from the host system to the client system.
  • RemoteDesktop doesn’t require any special server.
  • It can easily connect and run applications on any Haiku system.

SerialConnect

This release comes with SerialConnect, which is a simple and straightforward graphical interface to serial ports. It supports arbitrary baud rates and certain extended features such as XMODEM file transfers.

Built-in Debugger is now the default

  • Haiku’s built-in Debugger has replaced GDB as the default debugger.
  • It also features a command-line interface for those who prefer it.
  • The debugger services the system-wide crash dialogs.

launch_daemon

The launch_daemon now includes support for service dependency tracking, lazy daemon startup, and automatic restart of daemons upon crashes.

Updated filesystem drivers

  • Haiku comes with NFSv4 client, a GSoC project, which is now included by default.
  • Haiku’s userlandfs supports running filesystem drivers in userland, which is now shipped along with Haiku itself.
  • It now supports running BeOS filesystem drivers which are not supported in kernel mode.

To know more about this release, check out  Haiku’s release notes.

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