Haiku, the open source BeOS clone, to release in beta after 17 years of development

3 min read

The Haiku OS project initially launched in August 2001, then named as “OpenBeOS”, is nearing a beta release expected later this month. It’s been over 17 years since the project launched, and more than 18 years since the last release of the operating system- BeOS that inspired it.

BeOs launched in 1995 by Be Inc, almost became the operating system for Apple’s hardware. However, the negotiations between Be Inc and Apple turned into nothing and the iPhone giant decided in favour of NeXT. Used primarily in the area of multimedia by software developers and users, BeOS had an impressive user interface, pre-emptive multitasking, symmetric multiprocessing and a 64-bit journaling file system. Cloning BeOS, Haiku’s boot performance is very good. The Haiku user interface is modeled entirely after BeOS, acquiring its signature variable-width title bars and spatial file management.

Be Inc was shuttered in 2001. Although BeOS is dead- Haiku is very much alive, with around 50 people contributing to a patch every year.

The biggest challenge that Haiku faces is the length of time between its releases. The most recent release, Haiku R1 Alpha 4.1, dates back to November 2012. In response to the considerable amount of time taken for this release, Haiku developer Adrien Destugues asserts that they needed to figure out various details regarding the project. From how to get the process back on track, to figuring out the buildbot setup, how to distribute the release to mirrors, where to get CDs pressed , and how to ship these to users who want to buy them. While the expected release date is somewhere towards the end of this month, Destugues is also open to delaying the release for another month or so in order to ship a quality product.  However, he confirms that, beginning with the first beta, there will be more frequent releases and continuous updates via the OS’s package manager.

Why Should Haiku users stick around?

Right after the first release of Haiku, the development team released a poll with a list of features, for which developers and users would vote to decide if they were ‘R1’ or ‘not R1’

Along with fixing a lot of bugs encountered in the previous version, users can now look forward to new features, including-

  • Support for Wi-Fi
  • A modern web browser with CSS and HTML5 support
  • Improvements to the APIs which include support for system notifications, applications
  • localisation, easier controls in the GUI, ‘stack and tile’ window management
  • ‘Launch daemon’ in charge of starting and monitoring system services
  • 64-bit CPU support, support for more than eight CPU cores
  • USB3 and SATA support
  • Support for more than 1GB of RAM
  • Haiku now includes Package manager.

All of these features will help the 200 odd users to run Haiku on a modern machine.

The Haiku OS is famous among its users for its ease of use, responsiveness, and overall coherence. HaikuPorts and HaikuArchives currently include a range of software that can be used with the OS- including small 2D games, porting tools for embedded systems and the occasional Python library needed.

Haiku has also made it possible to achieve porting Qt, LibreOffice, or other large applications over from the Linux world. While working with Haiku, developers often encounter system bugs in the process. This means if one is developing an application and is faced with resolving a bug, sooner or later they will be fixing the OS as well.

Naturally, there are some viewers who are apprehensive of the timeline committed by Haiku, as they have waited long enough for the release.

Source: Reddit

After a span of 17 years, it would be interesting to see the number of Haiku users that have stuck around for the Beta release. Head over to computerworld for deeper insights on this project.

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