A cohesive open source ecosystem

Haiku, an outgrowth of the proprietary BeOS, offers a cohesive open source operating system as an alternative to Linux.

Around the turn of the millenium, the proprietary BeOS included many features that made it stand out from other operating systems. Despite a determined effort, it never gained a commercial foothold. However, it did capture some enthusiastic fans. After production ceased in 2002, a half dozen attempts to continue or clone BeOS sprang up, of which only Haiku exists today (Figure 1).

Although officially in its third beta, in 2022, Haiku is a stable operating system with a somewhat archaic look to its icons and widgets. However, with a little help from Plasma applications and standard software like LibreOffice, it is generally usable for modern computing purposes. Its speed is compelling, and even some minor features, like the ability to tab multiple applications in a single window or the use of a drop-down list to display open windows, make clear that Haiku is more than an exercise in nostalgia. To learn more about Haiku’s modern relevance, I contacted one of the few people sometimes paid to develop Haiku, a developer and project mentor who prefers to go by the handle waddlesplash (or sometimes Mr. waddlesplash). As you might expect, some of his opinions might be surprising for many Linux users.

Linux Magazine (LM): What was the original appeal of BeOS?

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