Rear-view mirror: Peachpit’s official website for the BeOS Bible was beosbible.com, and included chapter excerpts, entire chapters that were written for the book but never published, and updates for R4.5. The site was taken offline shortly after the book went out of print. Eventually, Peachpit granted me permission to mirror the contents elsewhere, but they were only able to supply a very broken, partial archive of the original site. I of course had copies of the content I had written for it, but it was going to take a lot of work to fix the fragmented tarball they had supplied. Today, out of nowhere, a user named Oren Bear provided me with a complete, working copy of the original site, which had apparently been hoovered off the web by an unknown reader years ago, and has been floating around on P2P networks ever since. Thanks to Oren, I’m finally able to reproduce beosbible.com in its entirety.
I always thought it was a funny-looking site, with odd navigation, but there you go. One for the archives.
In the newsgroup alt.os.linux.redhat lives a current thread titled “OsX compared to Linux and BeOS” (gratuitously x-posted to a handful of other OS groups) — a fairly typical bottomless OS war, er, reasoned discussion, either fascinating or tedious depending on your disposition.
First of all, I’m floored that anyone in the universe is asking whether BeOS is a viable alternative four years after the company bit the dust. That’s funny bit #1. But this excerpt had me rolling:
>>> is there anyone who knows OS X and Linux well who can
>>> make an honest and reasoned comparison of the two?
>> Scot Hacker?
> Fribilty Jones.
So that’s what it’s come to. Get a job, have a baby, fade from the OS scene, and before you know it, you may as well be Fribilty Jones. Less than zero. Dang, it rolls off the tongue nicely though. Fribilty Jones. Fribilty Jones. Fribilty Jones. Must … create … pseudonym …
This slashdot comment reminded me of a story that used to get tossed around at BeOS gatherings:
lcsaudio used to sell BeBoxes (remounted in a custom rackmount case) as part of our show control system. One day the show operators called our tech support to tell us that a 66MHz BeBox was acting a bit sluggish (BeOS, as you may know, is normally quite snappy). On his next visit, our tech took a look inside the case, and found that the fan responsible for cooling one of the two PowerPC 603 CPUs had stopped turning, causing that CPU to overheat and desolder itself from its socket. The BeBox had survived the self-destruction (and self-extraction) of a CPU and continued to run shows for nearly a week without complaint.
Music: Mike Watt
:: Pluckin’, Pedalin’ and Paddlin’
It’s 2004, a decade since the earliest versions of BeOS started shipping to developers. Over at OSNews.com, Eugenia Loli-Queru has a nice memorial piece commemorating the anniversary.
I haven’t run BeOS for a couple of years now, though it was certainly the core of my technical life for half a decade. Recently dusted off my old laptop (an early generation dell pentium, 64MBs) and booted Win2K. It was so slow I simply could not use it. All I really needed was a shell and a text editor for the day, so I booted its BeOS partition for the first time in a long time and was amazed all over again. The exact same hardware, but the OS was easily 10x faster. Such a treat. I’m committed to OS X these days, and mostly love it, but will always consider BeOS my only OS “tru luv”. Thanks for the memory walk, Eugenia. And thanks to everyone who ever worked at Be for creating such an outstanding monument to technical possibility.
Andrea “hawksmoor” Scatena interviewed me a bit ago for Beyond Magazine : “BeOS, AmigaOS, OS X, Linux, FreeBSD.” He wanted to know my thoughts about the various BeOS variants floating around today. Pulled no punches in my answers. In fact, I was so candid I half-expected them not to run it, but they did. Current issue is downloadable now (PDF).
Be had more than 100 employees and $25 million in the bank at one point. Full-time engineers and a bunch of committed commercial developers (Adamation, BeatWare, Gobe…). With all of that, BeOS barely stood a snowball’s chance in hell. Without any of that, without any hope of developing momentum — EVER — it’s all so much less than zero. It’s very hard for me to understand why there are still people hanging out in the ghost town.
Look, sometimes we do things in this life for irrational reasons, for love. If you love BeOS and don’t care about the apps or the practicality, then by all means use it, be happy, it’s “all part of life’s rich pageant.” Just don’t start to think BeOS is going to have some kind of renaissance, or take over the world, or provide a means for developers or users to make money. Love is the only remaining reason to use the system. And maybe that’s reason enough.
Andrea is a good guy. His commitment and love is shining – exactly the kind of vibe that made the BeOS community unlike any technology sphere I’ve experienced before or since.
Raise your hand if you sold all your BEOS stock when things became hopeless. If you kept it until March 15, 2002, you may be paddling a new canoe this Fall. Microsoft just agreed to pay Be $23,250,000 and “admit no wrongdoing” to put the lingering lawsuit to bed forever. The spoils go to those who held Be stock after March 15.
In case you missed all the fun, this is the sort of wrongdoing to which Microsoft is not admitting, but for the sin of which it has ultimately agreed to pay.
Former Be exec Frank Boosman has more.
In the BeOS days there was a fair bit of argument (no doubt repurposed from Linux turf) analogizing the healthy necessity of biodiversity in nature and platform diversity in the computing world. This line of thought beautifully re-played in Martin Price’s recent piece on Platform Diversity.
Personally, I’m sick of hearing about keeping systems secure from so-called “security experts.” All they ever talk about is patching Windows. You never hear one suggest that it might be a good thing if we weren’t all running the same stupid software. Of course they don’t. The lack of security in Windows is their bread and butter.
Three bits of BeOS-related stuff bubbled to the surface today.
* Ludovic Hirlimann contacted me looking for a shout-out. He scored one of the really early AT&T Hobbit-based BeBoxen at an auction a while ago. Here is the version of BeOS it runs. Recently the hard drive died, and Ludovic needs to reinstall, and therein lies the problem — the machine won’t take any of the “recent” versions of BeOS — he needs the antique Hobbit-system install floppies, or a disk image from another machine. Contact him if you can help. He’s looking for the GUI version, not the early-early CLI-only system.
* While prepping some content for matthewsperry.org, got to corresponding with Matt Ingalls, who wrote some cool BeOS software for computer/human improvisation back in the day. Turns out that Ingalls now runs the Transbay Creative Music Calendar, and hosts it on Robin Hood for BeOS — the same httpd server that drove betips.net for years. I’m just amazed that there are not only still so many active BeOS users out there, but that there are still BeOS-hosted web sites. Groovy.
* Congrats to ex-Be employee and blogging friend Dan Sandler for being one of the Slashdot T-Shirt contest winners. I really do like Dan’s design the best, and I’m not just saying that.
In November 2001 I had just migrated from BeOS to OS X and was sorely missing the ability of my MP3 player to broadcast my home collection to work (see iTunes Needs Streaming). All the hubbub surrounding the new iTunes music store has eclipsed the news that it’s finally possible to do exactly that. I’m sitting at work right now listening to my home MP3s, and haven’t dropped a frame in two hours. All 16,000 tracks are immediately available, with all the usual search functionality. All my playlists (both standard and “smart”) are available. I’m in hog heaven.
If you set sharing on in the prefs, you can also provide a direct link into any point in your collection — Cmd-Click and select Copy URL. philm points out that it’s also possible to link to specific items in the iTunes store. Check these examples.
One for the BeOS folks: Steve Sakoman has just made the round-robin from Apple to Be to Palm and back to Apple. Sakoman was always my favorite Be executive. Brilliant man and great programmer, but he also had a wonderfully kind, avuncular manner. He once told me that he bought a copy of every piece of shareware that emerged for BeOS, just to support the development community. How many high-level execs out there think that way? Question now is, will the next version of Mac OS include a port of the CodyCam?