BeOS is the new Amiga

by Michael Alderete on 6/4/2003

I hate to say this about something I once loved, but the BeOS — or more accurately, the community that is still around it — is becoming the Millennial version of the Amiga.

Nowhere is this more clear than a recent OSNews.com article reviewing the latest beta of YellowTAB‘s “Zeta”. The author begins by saying “it’s not dead” and then gives copious detail about how screwed up this release is, and makes it clear (without intending to) how impossible it is that it will ever be fixed. Just a couple of examples the author gives:

  • It’s base off of EXP, or what was Be’s main development branch for BeOS. At the time Be stopped working on it, EXP was known to be very unfinished in many areas. Frankly, without the original engineering team, EXP is probably not salvagable in an interesting timeframe.
  • Smooth window dragging is admitted to work less well than Mac OS X. Not surprising, Mac OS X has had 3 more years of development, by a vastly larger team, but that’s exactly the point. Zeta is behind the state-of-the-art, with zero hope of ever catching it.
  • It uses BONE, the next-generation networking stack, which was 75-85% finished when Be stopped working on it. It’s probably the most straightforward module to complete, so if they can’t even finish it…
  • “And hopefully, there is better support for the SB128 sound cards which was the main complaint in 2001.” Um, it’s the middle of 2003 now.
  • No usable web browser, no 3D / OpenGL, no Java.

These are fundamental problems, a minimum of 2 years of development for a large, dedicated team, not things fixable by a couple programmers working for a couple months. YellowTAB simply doesn’t have the means to complete this project. It would be one thing if the author began her review by saying, “OK, BeOS is basically dead, but for those of us who still like to hork around with it, here’s something new and fun to play with.” But to treat the release like it’s a serious project with hopes of someday being useful, instead of a hobby, is just kind of crazy. Just like the Amiga folks.

Why won’t people let BeOS rest in peace? It’s unfortunate but true: BeOS is a red shirt of the computing industry. It’s dead, Jim. Beam back to the Enterprise, and move on to the next planet.

I recommend Mac OS X.

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