Standort: / Meldung: "Today's Webtip: BeOS"

Dave Dempsey

Dave digs the Dirt, webtips, IT-memes and other online geekery. Also as Podcast.

13. 4. 2010 - 12:16

Today's Webtip: BeOS

the little system that could have.

One of the first "alternative" systems I ever played around with was BeOS. It was pretty much the only other system you could install on Apple hardware (other than AIX and some other, really finicky and rather limited versions of UNIX).

Check The System

FM4 unterwegs im Betriebssystem.

There wasn't a whole lot you could do with it, but it had a lot of promise. Watching multiple videos playing simultaneously on a PowerPC processor was an eye-opening experience. Current processors of the time (both intel and PowerPC) could handle a single video, usually, but anything more would reduce playback to a stuttering mess.

It wasn't terribly useful, but it did give one the feeling that something was keeping me from getting the most out of the hardware I had at my disposal.

I also like the idea behind the file system. It supported extended metadata, and acted like one giant relational database. It provided a whole new way of looking at your files, and was my first exposure to one of my all-time favorite things. Smart Folders.

The history of Be is a bit too convoluted to recount here, and there are more than enough resources available elsewhere for you to read. In the end it was something really cool, that could have been but never really was.

The curious could try starting here.

Of course, being down isn't the same as being out, and it doesn't mean people have stopped using it.

BeBits was one of the central resources for me while I was still using the official software. It's a great source of information, software and guides, and it is still up and running and helping to keep a small community of active BeOS users happy.

BeOS is a fun way of getting the most out of ancient hardware, but it can also run on more current computers. Despite the demise of the official release, hardcore fans have made multiple attempts at keeping the system alive. The most successful seems to be Haiku.

It's an open source BeOS alternative that is being actively developed and is capable of running original BeOS software. I haven't had a chance to try it out yet, but it is probably a better bet than trying to get one of the old system CD's installed on a current machine.

It's probably not a system for anyone who wants to play flash games or create the next great film. But for anyone who wants a taste of things that could have been, or just want to watch an old machine learn a few new tricks, it could be worth a look.