In pursuit of unusual operating systems I find myself trying new things constantly. Recently I tried the old IBM OS/2 Warp 4 for example and may feature it in an article in the near future. Part of the process of reviewing these systems involves carefully researching their history and Haiku’s history is certainly noteworthy.
Based on BeOS:
BeOS is an operating system for personal computers first developed by Be Inc. in 1991. It was first written to run on BeBox hardware. BeOS was built for digital media work and was written to take advantage of modern hardware facilities such as symmetric multiprocessing by utilizing modular I/O bandwidth, pervasive multithreading, preemptive multitasking and a 64-bit journaling file system known as BFS. The BeOS GUI was developed on the principles of clarity and a clean, uncluttered design.
BeOS was positioned as a multimedia platform which could be used by a substantial population of desktop users and a competitor to Mac OS and Microsoft Windows. However, it was ultimately unable to achieve a significant market share and proved commercially unviable for Be Inc. The company was acquired by Palm Inc. and today BeOS is mainly used and developed by a small population of enthusiasts. ~ Excerpted from Wikipedia*
Haiku: (Not a Linux, Windows, or Mac)
At first glance I was reminded that I had seen window managers on various Linux’s which hearkened back to this yellow protruding box, it was ugly no matter which operating system it was on but at least now I know where it came from. (Subjective relevance = 0)
The window dressing aside I was struck by the logical layout which was naturally reminiscent of many other early 90’s operating systems but was surprised to find so many original programs installed that worked quite beautifully in spite of their age.
Many interesting packages were included by the team that lovingly maintained this “BeOS continuation” and it shows, as an early 90’s style operating system it really shines. However we must maintain a standard for comparisons with modern operating systems and will continue the review accordingly.
The Good: 4.0 (Out of 5)
Everything works fine from within a virtual box environment, with the right drivers it seems logical to think the setup on older systems would yield a very fast operating system that is sure to please enthusiasts.
The Bad: 3.5
While browsing wasn’t overly hindered by the lack of a flash player, the immediate need to include some kind of alternative media player costs this browsing experience out of the box. The graphics are understandably simplistic but that detracts a bit from the overall attractiveness of the OS, and finally the desktop experience doesn’t feel very personal.
The Ugly: 4.0
That stupid yellow window corner… pretty forgivable for such a delightful operating system to play around with!
While it certainly won’t make a major comeback anytime soon, it is definitely at least as good as any non-Linux, non-Windows, non-Mac, operating system could ever aspire to be. If I were shopping for a computer in the 90’s and it was BeOS vs Windows 95 I’d have deliberated for awhile. Likewise if we were choosing between Haiku and Linux’s Bodhi distribution back around 12.04, only my bias for Linux would have swayed me away from this noble contender.