Haiku

Haiki is a re-implementation of  BeOS, much like AROS is a re-implementation of AmigaOS.  BeOS was an advanced operating system for its time, much like AmigaOS (although we know the OS is just one part of Amiga’s greatness).  BeOS suffered the fate of most “small shop” operating systems, even those that are better than the current offerings.  Microsoft and Apple already had the home computer operating system market wrapped up.  And if you didn’t want an operating system from a big commercial monopoly, Linux was already a popular alternative.  BeOS couldn’t seem to stir up enough interest to keep the product going.  At least, that was my opinion at the time, as a casual user/observer.

Haiki has a lot of neat features that are unique to Haiki.  Most of those were in BeOS as well, although they may have been improved in Haiki.  One of the features that I find most interesting is that the end-user can customize much of the Haiki experience without knowing anything about programming.

The file system is one example.  Each file has attributes such as size and date created.  But you can create any attribute you want.  You could create a folder named :”Recipies”, then create a new file type for that folder called “Cuisine”, and then give the attribute a set of values such as “Mexican”, “Italian”, “Under 15 Minutes”, “Great Dessert”, and so on.  Each file in the folder would be a separate recipe.  By creating Recipe specific attributes and applying them to the files, recipes can be searched and located very quickly without searching the file contents themselves.  In today’s world of social media, think of it as hashtags for your file system, which you have complete control over.

There are lots of other neat features, including:

  • Replicants are small, self-contained parts of an application that can be integrated into other applications or the user’s desktop.  An application’s replicant may be “torn off” and placed on the desktop, then the original application may be closed and the replicant will keep working.  Sort of like the various desktop widgets and gadgets that are common today, although they’re integral and integrated with an installed application.
  • “Stack and Tile” is a neat way to actually “stack” desktop windows on top of one another.  All windows have the same size and are contained inside a single “window” from the user’s perspective, with tabs along the top for each application.  Very similar to opening multiple tabs in most web browsers.  Although you can “stack” any and all applications together.  The OS handles it.  The applications don’t even know they are “stacked”.
  • “Workspaces” are essentially multiple desktops.  Not multiple monitor support, but multiple desktops using a single monitor, if you will.  I know Linux and/or x-windows has supported something like this for years.  From what little I’ve used Haiki, this feature is very well implemented.  It is very quick and efficient to switch between workspaces and to move windows between workspaces.

Because BeOS was designed to work on newer processors than the 68000, it has some low level OS “stuff” that AROS lacks, such as being able to use multiple processor cores and memory protection.

In summary, there is a lot that I like about Haiki.  If I didn’t have any other interests, I would probably keep playing with it.  But there is a lot more that I like about AROS that Haiki doesn’t have, so I’ll shelf it for now and probably come back to take another look in a few years.

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Author: Jon Robertson

Software developer, Commodore hacker, and a fortunate husband and father!

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