Haiku, the open-source execution of BeOS, is beautiful but buggy

“Haiku, the open-source successor to the late and lamented BeOS — that late, lamented operating system of the 1990s developed at Apple refugee Jean-Louis Gassée’s Be Inc. BeOS was intended to compete with the ‘classic’ Apple MacOS and with Microsoft Windows; by 1996, Gassée was jockeying to get Apple to acquire his company and make BeOS the basis of the next-generation Macintosh operating system,” Sean Gallagher writes for Ars Technica. “But then along came some guy named Steve Jobs, with a company called NeXT. And the rest, as they say, is history. Be Inc. was eventually acquired by another doomed company (Palm) and dissolved.”

“Haiku (initially “OpenBeOS,” but changed because of copyright assertions by Palm) was launched in 2001 to create an operating system that was binary-compatible with applications written for the ill-fated BeOS. It uses the same C++ API as BeOS, but it is a re-implementation of that API, so it shares virtually none of the code of the original BeOS,” Gallagher writes. “As it has evolved, Haiku has taken two diverging roads: a 32-bit version that retains backward compatibility, and a 64-bit version that is more forward-looking but breaks backward compatibility because of compiler issues. That’s because the 32-bit version, like BeOS before it, is based on Gnu Compiler Collection (GCC) 2.”

Gallagher writes, “Neither of these paths have yet resulted in an operating system that could be considered ready for release.”

Read more in the full article here.

MacDailyNews Take: They should’ve named it “Quixotic.” And beauty is obviously in the eye of the beholder.

Jean-Louis Gassée: Thank God Apple chose Steve Jobs’s NeXT over my BeOS – November 11, 2011
BeOS reborn as ‘Haiku’ operating system – September 15, 2009


  1. I had good times “playing” with BeOS. I own a license. And there was a version 5 floating around out there. I thought the intellectual property landed at a German firm and became part of Yellow Dog or Yellow something. I meant to spend some time playing catch-up and settle down on a VM of the OS for good times sake. Nice core group of people sharing open software compiled for the OS.

    Too bad it didn’t last. Officially ran on a limited hardware set.

  2. I’m sure Palm acquired it at Fire Sale prices around $1.98 as compared to what Gassée thought he’d get from Apple in the triple digit millions. Gassée must be feeling pretty gassy about what could have been these days.

  3. It looks very much like OS X, or even Windows … from about ten years ago. If the desire is to have a “retro” GUI, Haiku could be for you! Most of us have left that appearance in the rear view mirror.

    1. MacOS appearance hasn’t improved in the last decade. Most of us tolerate Ive’s ugly flat gray theme rather than celebrate it. Snow leopard was the high point.

      1. “Snow leopard was the high point” Yes it was.

        I am sure that Sir Jony is still devastated that OSX will not draw a line less than one pixel wide. Or that a white font on a white background just doesnt fly.

        Keep on trying, Jony

  4. I always felt that Haiku should have been a window manager on Linux and ditched backwards compatibility completely.

    It might get some use if they had went the Linux route. Now it’s just an interesting comp sci project that is aging fast. No real practical use beyond nostalgia.

  5. “beautiful”… I don’t think that word means what they think it means.

    It looks very much like a less fleshed out Mac OS 9.

    This is what the quick death Apple would’ve been looks like had Amelio gone with the $125 million cheaper option instead of the reverse acquisition of NeXT.

  6. I loved BeOS and I am hoping to fall in love with Haiku once it’s ready for primetime within circle of the BeOS users out there like myself. Sure, it won’t replace my Mac, but it’ll make for a great sidekick one day when I just want something so simple, fast, easy to use, and yet very powerful to boot😎

  7. I remember speaking with Mr. Gassee on the show floor at MacWorld-Boston (Gil Amelio era). He was very approachable, had a whole crew there, was nice to me, did not rush me off.

    We chatted in French.

    Great memories 🙂

  8. I too would like to see this as a full-fledged, operating, operating system. There is the BeOS nostalgia factor and a 1990’s desire to see it completed but, today, its purpose is more appropriate as an enthusiasts’ alternative to Linux, ChromeOS, even Windows platforms, than anything else.

    Some of MDNs’ longtime Mac people will recall that it enjoyed a lot of interest from MacOS users at the time it was created: we felt a shared kinship (Gassee was ‘one of ours’), with the new system and we very much hoped for a little sister OS that could blossom into a testbed for experimental new software and features (for later porting back to Mac).

    Alas, those idealistic dreams faded.

    One might imagine that in these days of open source and a worldwide developer communities that — with a change from C++ to modern, secure coding and a ‘cold bath’ refresh — that Haiku would progress to its gold master release and beyond.

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