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Saturday, April 14, 2012

Is Haiku Alpha 4 on the Horizon?

If you have been following the Haiku development mailing list in the last few months, you will have noticed that preparations are in the works for Haiku Alpha 4! It has been ten months since Alpha 3 was released and it is getting harder for programmers still running Alpha 3 to work on the code base! I am no programmer but as far as I can tell, some programs require an up-to-date tool-kit to compile for the Nightly Images. Since many programmers are still using Alpha 3 for stability reasons, this is becoming a problem! They are increasingly required to do complex workarounds to compile their work. So a new stable release is necessary!

Once Haiku Alpha 4 is released, I will go into detail into all the changes and improvements since Alpha 3. As of now, it seems there will be quite a few changes. First, there is the WPA Supplicant. Currently it is only available via the installoptionalpackage script. When Alpha 4 is released wpa supplicant should be installed by default. In Alpha 4, Stack and Tile will be integrated into the App Server. As you may remember, you needed to enable Stack and Tile using setdecor SATDecorator. Alpha 4 will have a Mesa port so that applications like GLTeapot will have 3D rendering. This could lead the way for Haiku having 3D hardware acceleration! There have been many more changes which I will post when Alpha 4 is released.

I have no idea when Haiku Alpha 4 will be released. I can only guess as to when this will be. But if I was a betting man (and I am btw), I would say that we will see Alpha 4 by the end of summer if not sooner! The reason for my prediction is simple. There remains only 4 open tickets for that milestone! That could change and probably will. New bugs and regressions will be found and fixed so until Haiku Alpha 4 is released you can expect that number to fluctuate up and down.

Haiku Alpha 4 Milestone

As I have already said in previous posts, I am running the Anyboot nightly images. Once a month I download the latest nightly and burn a CD. I then use that CD to install Haiku on my 16 gigabyte usb flash drive. I tried to just dd the Anyboot image to the flash drive but that leaves me with a 500 MB "partition" that is full and I can not install or download anything! Thus the reason for the CD's. In the end, Haiku Alpha 4 will just rock! She will come when she is ready, and we will wait 'till she does!

P.S. What did you think of the window at the top of the page? The yellow tab I made myself using Gimp and Linux! Cya later!

Thursday, December 29, 2011

GUI, is simpler better?

In the last month since I last posted here, I have been trying out various Linux desktop environments. Since Gnome 3 and KDE 4 have shifted their desktop paridigm away from the "traditional" and more to the "modern", I have been pondering which to switch to! I have also been experimenting with Xfce, Lxde, and various X11 window managers. There are many things I like about the KDE Desktop Environment, and there are many things I like about the Gnome Desktop Environment. But what I long for is a single default desktop across all distros. You could always install a different one from the repos if you wanted!

One of the downsides of most all desktop environments is it is bloated and overcomplicated! After using KDE 4.7 and Gnome 3.2, I have come to the conclusion that it is less simple and functional than it needs to be! Both KDE and Gnome look good, better than good they are awesome in the visual department! But in my opinion you are forced to sacrifice functionality and simplicity for cosmetics. Thus I am forced to ask the question, "is simpler better".

Introducing Haiku's GUI, it is simple, funtional and yet elegant!

Notice how Haiku's UI is simple and elegant. The user is as unfettered by constant mouseclicks and dialog boxes as possible! Even when the desktop is cluttered with open windows, it is still a pleasant "out of your way" UI. Even while it is an awesome UI, there is still room for improvments! Haiku's UI should be able to use different themes and skins if the user wants a different look! Perhaps drop shadows could be used under and to the right of windows and menus per the Haiku icon standard. Also some event sounds would be appreciated when an application crashes, minimized etc. Having an event sound would alert the user when the networking is down, or is running low on resources, stuff like that.

In my opinion, the simpler the UI the better, as long as functionality is not deminished! As my readers will already know by now, "Simplicity, Functionality, and Elegance" are the hallmarks of a great OS and UI in my opinion! While we all may agree Haiku is not quite there yet, it is well on it's way to meeting those requirements of a great OS. As Haiku matures and enters Beta stage and beyond, it will continue to "smooth out the rough edges". As it does so, it will take it's place as one of the most pleasant Operating System to work with! Now that I think about it, who needs Linux?

Tuesday, November 29, 2011

Diamond in the rough.

I recently posted the following on the Haiku forum. It is a continuation of the suggested systems thread at http://haiku-os.org/community/forum/suggested_systems_0#comment-21777

"The latest official release was Alpha 3. That was almost six months ago! I would welcome and buy a "Haiku Box" with Alpha 3 installed as long as I could easily upgrade to the next stable release(Beta anyone). I think the "powers that be" should consider making a deal with someone like Zotac! Or suggest new systems that have been tested and are 100% compatible with the current stable release!

I may be wrong, but if we want Haiku to succeed, it needs fully compatible hardware on which to run. Offering Haiku to people to install on their computer which may not be compatible will do little to influence their opinions of Haiku in a positive or constructive way! Offering pre-installed compatible systems on the main website should help prevent most of the errant first opinions of Haiku.

A disclaimer which states that Haiku is not guaranteed to fully operate on anything but pre-built compatible machines would also lessen any misunderstandings! Once Haiku is at r2 or r3, this may be less needed as she gets more drivers for more hardware. There is nothing stopping Haiku from becoming the next "Linux" in the sense she can be the Desktop OS of choice as Linux is the server OS of choice.

Her future is in our hands! We can either complain to no end, or we can do something about it by shaping and molding her into the simple, functional and elegant OS as we already see her to be. Haiku is a diamond in the rough. We may see her beauty and her sparkle, but she needs to be worked with and have the rough edges chipped away to reveal the perfect gem that she is to the world!

I know I am speaking metaphorically, but that is how I see Haiku; a diamond in the rough! The perfect gem is already there. The priceless sculpture is already there! All we need to do is chip away the excess to reveal the work. Technically speaking, we need to finish all the decided features for R1 and do extensive bug and stability testing! You have to admit, the metaphors sound better!"

How more poetic can you get than that? Haiku is a perfect name for such a perfect gem! Some of you still do not see the beauty and elegance of Haiku, but when she is finished and all the rough edges smoothed away, she will sparkle more than them all!

Sunday, November 13, 2011

Haiku is cool!

I think most Haiku users will agree that Haiku is a very cool Operating System. For those who are not familiar with the slang word "cool", it means that something is awesome or amazing. It has other slightly different meanings depending on the situation and subject at hand. As I have said before (and will probably say again), I think Haiku is an amazing, unique and fascinating Operating System and project the likes of which I have never seen! It is a small, but close knit group of users, artists and developers all working together to improve the OS and the Haiku community. Some of which like me who have witnessed the simplicity and elegance of Haiku have seriously considered switching away from Linux, Windows and Mac to Haiku! While others have long ago "jumped into the deep end" and run Haiku exclusively!

Some people when they experience Haiku for the first time are not impressed! They believe it is too stuck in the 90's as far as the UI is concerned! While I will agree that Haiku lacks all the fancy animations and compositing managers like Compiz, do we really need them? In my opinion, they LOOK good, but they are a resource hog and are too much of a distraction. I believe Linus Torvalds once said that the OS should be invisible, that its only job is to make it easy the run and develop apps which after all is why we use the computer! I believe he is right and it and the UI should be as "out of the way" as possible. My opinion is that an Operating System should be "Simple, Functional, Elegant" Anything more is a waste and a distraction!

Well, lets see if Haiku lives up to my expectation to what an OS should be. Is Haiku simple? Yes, I believe Haiku is a very simple OS. The UI is intuitive and almost invisible if you are not paying attention to it! Apps are just a few mouse clicks or keystrokes away, and you can access them through the Deskbar menu or by right clicking on the desktop and surf through the file-system to your app! Is Haiku functional? Yes, Haiku is a very functional OS! Haiku is lacking some features that most people agree should be in a modern OS. This is because Haiku is still in Alpha stage of development and some features have yet to be implemented. But we should not see this as a negative, when Haiku reaches R1, it will be even more functional! Even so, I believe as of this writing, Haiku is a functional OS!

Elegant, is Haiku an Elegant OS? This is a highly subjective subject, and is dependent on the opinions of the person asking the question. But let me quote what wikipedia says about elegance. "Essential components of the concept include simplicity and consistency of design, focusing on the essential features of an object. In art of any kind one might also require dignified grace, or restrained beauty of style". Believing the previous statement is true, I say that Haiku is an extremely elegant OS! Since this is an opinion, I can not state it is a fact that Haiku is an Elegant OS! I can only tell you my opinion on the subject.

Do you agree, is Haiku a "cool" project and OS? Is Haiku Simple, Functional, and Elegant? Leave your ideas and opinions in the comment section below!

Saturday, November 12, 2011

Does Haiku need a dedicated box?

I recently commented on the Haiku forums in response to what ptrlsn commented in the Haiku General Discussions section. The original post was about macsociety talking about his new Zotac Zbox+ he had recently purchased! Below is what I commented on macsociety post. "Haiku needs its own box to run in (Like the Be Box) that is 100 percent compatible with Haiku. I think Haiku Inc. should start work on this project or sanction a third party OEM to do this. A Haiku Inc. subsidiary would work nicely, but I don't know how a for profit subsidiary of Haiku Inc. would affect its tax exempt status? Any ideas?

I think whatever may come of this idea, there should be at least three lines of this box. Sort of like System 76's offerings that range from low power cheaper ones to the fastest and beefiest box possible! My mouth is watering with anticipation! lol A dedicated machine running Haiku will mitigate any compatibility issues Haiku may or may not have with modern PC hardware. Haiku could have a customized build just for the "Haiku Box" for better integration with the hardware and for better performance! A portion of the profits could then be used to hire more full time developers to work on improving Haiku and to get ready for R2! With a dedicated machine paying for future Haiku development, more people will want to develop programs for Haiku and/or work directly on Haiku itself!

All of this will help to create a viable Haiku ecosystem where users and developers will benefit! Can you imagine Mac OS X having ever taken off without the Mac? Maybe some of you will think so, but I think the OS is dependent on the hardware and vice versa! Agree or not, I think Haiku will benefit greatly by having a dedicated machine on which to run." There you have it. Do you think Haiku needs a "Haiku Box"? As for me, I think so. Let me know what you think by posting a comment. http://www.haiku-os.org/community/forum/finally_have_my_little_haikubox_zotac_zbox

Friday, November 11, 2011

When Haiku rhymes.

I have been using Haiku off and on since Alpha 3! I am booting from a usb stick on my Desktop and installed to my new HP Mini 110 notebook! Everything seemed to be running smoothly until mid September! You see I upgrade my Laptop and HP mini notebook as well as my USB stick once a month by installing the latest anyboot image. When I did that back in mid September this year, my HP pavilion laptop stopped showing the desktop unless I enable safe video mode in Bootman! Also my new HP Mini 110 will require I enable the safe video mode in bootman. Before my mid September upgrade, this was not required and Haiku booted nicely to the desktop. My new HP Mini netbook can not detect the Ethernet nor the wifi adapters!

Although this is annoying, it is not a regression like the issue with the Desktop not displaying! Haiku simply does not have the drivers for the Ethernet and wifi adapters! Although I suspect this will be corrected over time! Also the Nov. 5th build is showing more memory use than any other revision I had used before! This is simply because Haiku did not correctly show how much memory it was using in the past! Also, I am experiencing random crashes in Virtual Box and WebPositive freezes every five minutes or so! I can get mad and angry about all of the problems I have been having with Haiku, but it would be in vain! I simply forgot this OS is still in Alpha stage of development! I got used to Haiku running smoothly after Alpha 3 that it spoiled me! I imagine when more commits got submitted late summer and early fall, some regressions were bound to slip in! So if I seemed grumpy and irritable in the forums and IRC chat, I am sorry!

With all of the "complaints" out of the way, I am free to talk about all of the great things about Haiku! I have been using Linux for years now and I believe that software freedom is more important than convenience. However, that does not mean I do not like convenience! My point is that Haiku is very convenient as far as the user is concerned! Every program and configuration option is only a few clicks or keystrokes away. Haiku has a very consistent UI, which is simple, but very functional. After using Linux for six years, I was amazed at how little memory haiku uses! Some will say the reason it uses so little memory is because it is not as full featured as Linux and does not have as many processes to consume more memory! This may be true to a point, but really do we need Compiz and all the other resource wasting "features" Linux, Windows, Mac has?

What do we really want to do with a computer? For me it is surfing the web, sending emails, watching videos on the 'net, Office productivity, etc. While all those animations, renderings and transparencies may LOOK cool, they consume more CPU cycles and Memory than it is worth! Haiku does have some cool gradients in the "yellow tab" and in the icons! My opinion is that too much gradients and animations distract you from the original intent of the icon. However, I do think the deskbar would look awesome black with 60 percent transparency! Having transparent icons and windows would look good but only if it could be done with as little memory and CPU consumption as possible! I would like to keep Haiku as minimal but highly functional as possible!

Well, I have done enough damage for one post! I will post another soon!

Monday, November 7, 2011

Haiku, the poetic OS

I assume most of you who are reading this blog post already know what Haiku is! Most of you will have seen a link to this blog on the Haiku forum or the IRC chat. If not, then let me explain! I am not referring to Japanese 3 line poetry! I am referring to a project which develops an OS that is a reimplementation of the Be OS 5 that strives to be source code and binary compatible with Be OS 5! The following in quotations is an excerpt from my haiku post in my "GNU/Linux and Free Software" blog.

"Back in the mid to late 90's, there was a company named Be Inc. which produced a computer called the Be Box. This Be Box ran an Operating System developed at Be Inc. called Be OS. Be OS was and still is today considered by many one of the most advanced Operating Systems in existence. Be OS had features that no other OS had at the time or since. Be OS was a pervasive multi threaded, Preemptive-Multitasking, Symmetric Multiprocessing OS with protected memory for user and system processes! Be Inc. and Be OS enjoyed a small but loyal fan-base, many of whom are still loyal today! But the future of the Be OS was in jeopardy when Be Inc. went out of business. Since the Be OS was proprietary, it's users had no upgrade path, nor could they fork it.

All seemed lost when some loyal Be OS users decided to re-implement all of Be OS back in 2001. They wanted the new Be OS clone to be binary and source code compatible with Be OS 5.0. In this way they could continue using the native Be OS programs unmodified, without a recompile(if the source code was available). The Be OS clone was named OpenBeOS. OpenBeOS had some trouble though! It used the name "BeOS" which was owned at the time by Palm Inc. The new project was facing a lawsuit if they did not change the name, they did. OpenBeOS was renamed to Haiku in 2004. One may ask why the name Haiku! What is a Haiku? Haiku is a form of Japanese 3 line poetry. The old BeOS used Haiku as their error messages! Sure beats cryptic messages by a long shot! Haiku did not see a first Alpha release until 2009, followed by Alpha 2 in 2010 and Alpha 3 in June 2011"

Below are some screenshots of the Haiku Desktop. Please note the background image has been changed from original.

Currently, Haiku is under heavy development as they plan for the first Beta release! At this stage, Haiku will be feature complete as far as planned features for release 1. There will be bugs which limit or deminish features, but they will be squashed by the time R1 gets released! The one feature that has yet to be implemented that is holding things up is package management! It is the last big pin to fall before Haiku stikes it out! I hope it will be soon!