Community Page - BeOS Living On

BeOS was initially developed for software and computer engineers to toy with. It was designed for an eventual end-user, but it didn't work out for Be. Between being passed over by Apple and the company's debts, BeOS never managed to find a niche.

Today, there are essentially two variations of BeOS in use. The first of these is the modern iteration of BeIA, the BeOS for Internet Applications. This version of BeOS came about when Be was bought by Palm, as a last-ditch effort to gain some kind of market relevance. BeIA continued in the form of Zeta, another OS built on the BeOS framework. BeIA and Zeta continue to run several Internet appliances, such as:

•Roland Corporation's TuneTracker radio software and Edirol DV-7 video editors
•The Tascam SX-1 audio recorder
•iZ Technology's Radar 24 and Radar V audio recorders
•The Aavelin line of digital signs produced by Magicbox

The second variation of BeOS is, technically, not BeOS at all. BeOS is not an open-source operating system. This meant that when Be faltered and fell, dedicated fans could not take up the code and continue work. Instead, numerous projects rose trying to adapt and reverse-engineer the BeOS code. The majority of these projects have fallen out of favor and are no longer worked on or supported. The one exception to this rule is the Haiku operating system.

In 2001, when Be and the copyrights to BeOS were bought by palm, Michael Phipps founded the OpenBeOS Project. The goal of the project was to continue with BeOS support by making a new version of BeOS that was open source and backwards compatible. Phipps registered Haiku Inc. as a non-profit to support the project, partly when rights to the BeOS name could not be secured.

In this way, BeOS has lived on with its dedicated community. BeOS lives on through the complete backwards compatibility of Haiku. Haiku only supports the version of BeOS that worked with Intel x86 processors, however, which means that older BeOS versions running on PowerPC chips have compatibility issues. Haiku benefits from this arrangement by being able to immediately compile and run BeOS applications without need to port them.

Haiku continues to receive dedicated attention as a stand-alone OS. It has many of the same features that BeOS was acclaimed for, including a relative lack of bugs and a high level of responsiveness. The clean, uncluttered design draws people to it as a secondary OS, though it is still something of a niche compared to giants like Apple's OS line, Microsoft's Windows line and the various distributions of Linux.

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