What other operating system aside from those made by Microsoft, Apple, Linux, Google do you know? Have you ever heard about Haiku Alpha 3?

On June the 20th the great Gurus from Haiku Inc. decided to indulge us with a new release of the treat that this OS truly is. Well so you are probably asking yourselves: what is this Haiku?

Back in the days when Mac OS X wasn’t even on the drawing board and I probably just learned to say my own name, there was this OS called BeOS and he was the crème de la crème back in the early 90’s.

It showed an impressive design and features that made all the other OS on the playground appear like old geezers and looked at it in envy. Before Steve Jobs got back to Apple the rumors were saying that BeOS will replace the aging Mac OS on their hardware. Sadly, that didn’t happen. Steve got back, brought his own designs, technologies and from there on, you pretty much know that history as you probably have a little part of that in your pocket.

BeOS couldn’t survive the completely legal and not intentional pressure from Microsoft and it slowly faded away, eventually being bought by Palm, a company, which, with all their amazing technology, didn’t do too much to continue the BeOS development. But, as they say, the spirit never dies, and this couldn’t be truer for BeOS as its legacy of visionary design stays alive through the community. A community that over the years has tried to bring forth its reincarnation, if the big companies were so blind to let it slip. Thus OpenBeOs was born, later knows as Haiku.

As I said, Haiku is a complete rewrite and evolution of the BeOS operation system under an open source MIT license. So why all of this fuss over a 90’s OS? We have Mac OS X (whatever big cat they are on now), Windows 7 (eagerly preparing for the 8 version), and, if you love freedom and beer there are a million Linux distributions out there.

Where does Haiku fit in?

The answer can be given through one word: SPEED, not the methamphetamine. BeOS was known for its speed, crazy speed, and being able to do things back then on old hardware that many of our modern Pc’s have trouble doing, or use a whole lot more resource to do them. You know, silly stuff like, not having to have 1GB of RAM for an OS to (kind off) run. In Haiku I can play HD video on my netbook with vesa graphic drivers better than with any other OS.

So from where all of this speed? Could it be that it lacks features that haven’t yet slowed it down, or are magical PC pixies helping it? I’d have to answer with a No to both questions. Though, as a side note, I still do believe in PC pixies.

The thing with BeOS, and, of course, Haiku, is that they were built with multi-threading in mind. Every process, GUI element, etc., has its own thread. It’s almost insane how threaded things are. The entire OS is also very modular, being composed of “kits”. Each kit serves a certain purpose and also making developing for Haiku much easier.

As the Os is still under heavy development many of these kits are still not feature complete. Different then Linux or other Unix like OS’, Haiku has been solely designed for desktop use.

Alpha 3 has brought many goodies in the form of: Wi-Fi support, though only WEP encryption; a vast number of USB printer support through Gutenprint; improved read/write support for most file systems out there and much more. Check out the release notes here.

Also coming quite soon should be 3d and 2d acceleration for new ATI HD graphic cards. APU netbook + Haiku might just be a match made in heaven. Stability has increased a lot, not showing any crashes on my hardware, long gone being the days of too much time spend in kdl.

The main thing keeping me from using it as my main netbook OS is the lack of the before-mentioned ATI drivers and also the lack of flash support, the current port of gnash being unmaintained. The coming beta series should mark the completion of all features and a move of focus to bug hunting and optimizations.

If I have spiked up your interest head on down to the project’s website, grab a live cd ISO or VM and give it a little fondle and you might just find yourself wanting more. She quite gets under your skin.

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