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Mailbox Clearout – MS vs. Be, Newbie Letter, Dev #’s, and Lionhead B&W

by @ 4:39 pm on 6/27/2001. Filed under Bits N' Pieces

So I’m way behind news in my mailbox… here goes:

First off, this interesting editorial at Wireless News. Short, nothing new, a bit old (May), but interesting nonetheless.

Sander van Dragt, a newbie to BeOS, writes in with an open letter about his experience. Should act as sort of a motivator, considering these are the first impressions of a new user to BeOS even in these “late” days. Click Read More to read the letter.

Ryan Christiansen, long time BeOS advocate, did a Rebol Script to scrape the email addresses of developers that have apps on BeBits, and while many of these devs are probably long gone, the number is 1,013. Just a bit of trivia for ya. 🙂

And Scar wrote in with this from Lionhead found on Voodoo Extreme – nothing we didn’t know already, but a final word, nonetheless:

“The Linux and BeOS never managed to get anywhere. We haven’t necessarily given up hope but the publishers we have been speaking to about this are not too optimistic about the marketplace for selling Linux or BeOS titles. Black & White is a VERY big project to convert and I guess for some people the cost of converting it, is just too restrictive.”


Yesterday I was surfing with Windows 98.. I came to and
the secret files that microsoft uses in Outlook and IE that keeps track of
your PGP key, emails and attachment, every site you visit, every
searchengine query, it just made me sick. It made me look for another OS.

Yesterday I discovered BeOS.

I tried linux in the past, which made me either fuck up the system in a
week, or never interested me enough to make the soundcard work. For I am
studying Digital Media Design in Holland, I needed a OS that was Media
oriented, to be able to do graphic design, web content and music composing.

I downloaded BeOS, I rebooted and everything was working. My soundcard, the
shell, my graphics card, my cd burning hardware, it was all working
perfectly. The first 10 seconds I experienced with the OS almost had a
magical reaction on me. I thougt I needed some hours to get my cable modem
working, instead I only had to switch DHCP on, and within 2 minutes I was
surfing the internet!

BeOS is still ahead of all competing OSes, I don’t get such alternatives as
porting BeOS to that other AtheOS thingie.. it’s as stable as linux, a
better media OS then windows, runs faster then Mac OS X…. the basis of the
OS rock. I don’t see why peoiple should abondon it. I am in love with it.

People that can program, get programming open source software for BeOS
instead, or learn to program if you always wanted to. (I can’t program). I
read about people complaining that there were only image-editing and audio
related programs released and such.. Why don’t get a domain ( if
that wasn’t taken already for example), and get there a website so that
people that can program will be albe to create ONE or TWO applications.
What’s the need of 15 programsthat do the same trick mediocre? Share your
knowledge, this OS is made for this sort of stuff. Create a killer app
instead of 15 mediocre ones.

My point: if you can’t program: set up a website and a forum, mail people
who think alike and get together. BeOS isn’t outdated, it’s the support and
lack of new software that is the key. If we had about 5 great projects such
as this, wouldn’t it convince Be Inc. to keep updating it after all?

If you port the BeOS basics to AtheOS, what difference does it make? You
still need to make new software, so why don’t make new software for a os
that still rocks!??

I hope you could publish this letter so that maybe this will at least make
some people thinking about everything. Maybe it could be the start of a real
community and be a turning point which hopefully make BeOS what it’s
deserved to be. An outstanding OS.

Best regards,
Sander van Dragt

16 Responses to “Mailbox Clearout – MS vs. Be, Newbie Letter, Dev #’s, and Lionhead B&W”

  1. bkakes says:

    Nice thought, but it’s more complicated than that

    I’m glad that some new users are still excited about the system, as we all were when we first tried it out. It still is an attractive, powerful, and usable system, and its “just works” philosophy can be remarkably convenient. In my experience, those first few hours are filled with exclamations of, “Wow! That’s really how it should be.” However, I think Sanders underestimates the requirements for an operating system to be usable by many people and preferable to the competition.

    In many ways, the BeOS is a lot of potential which has largely been unrealized at this point. There is a huge penalty for using an alternative operating system: you have to give up all your applications and drivers. Furthermore, you have to forfeit the knowledge that –with very few exceptions–your system can run every new program, use every new piece of hardware, view every web site, etc. in the future. You just heard about a cool new file sharing service? Damn. Gotta wait for a port. Read that review of the latest graphics card? Dang…no drivers. You get the idea. Leaving that comfort is a huge penalty, and the benefits of the alternative must outweigh it.

    So the question becomes: what benefits can that alternative provide you?

    Well, with the BeOS, you have stability, for one. Of course, with Win2k/XP and Mac OS X taking over for the competition, that point is erased, for all three systems are rather stable (and a few extra crashes wouldn’t tip the scales; remember, the penalty of the alternative system is extremely large, and since the matchup is no longer one-which-never-crashes to one-which-crashes-ten-times-a-day, it’s a mute point).

    What else do you have? Well, the BeOS provides a remarkably comfortable working environment (provided you are fairly experienced with computers). I’d argue that it’s by and large a better interface–again, for more experienced users–than either Win2k/XP and Mac OS X. But it’s not that much better, and alone can’t make up for the penalty as mentioned above.

    Well, what else? A solid foundation for media, for one, but that’s irrelevant since the current codecs and hardware support is so poor. Posix compliance? Well, certain deficiences keep a lot of high-profile applications from being ported. Great sound? Not if you like multichannel (for playing DVDs through your Live!, etc.). Web page viewing? Not with a slow network stack and less-than-able browsers. Games? Sure, if you don’t like 3D. Querying? Yeah, but is searching so useful to you that you will trade everything else for it? You get the idea.

    This highlights the biggest problem: because of Be’s lack of commitment to an update, you can’t judge the system by its potential; you must judge it by its current state. That means no DVD, no multichannel, no 3D, no IMAP, poor Samba, poor web browsing, only decent Real support, no QuickTime, few games, few high-profile applications, no dual Athlon, no new graphics cards, poor movie viewing, no WMA/MP3 Pro, no interface improvements, no graphical development environment, etc. etc. Sure, a third-party could fill in the void for some of these, but not all, and we all know there isn’t much incentive for third-parties in the current climate (and by that I mean Be’s lack of support, not the community’s; a community can only be expected to put up with so much). So what is there to tip the scales? What is lifting the huge burden of incompatability?

    All in all, I hesitate to see how Sanders expects the BeOS to not only survive, but thrive. Sure, it works now. DOS and 1-2-3 worked back then, but computers evolve. Without continuing development from Be, strong support from third-parties, and a healthy user community, the BeOS faces stagnation and not growth.

    Remember, most people use an alternative operating system to increase their possibilities, not to limit them.

  2. Anonymous says:

    In Response To bkakes @ 06/27/2001 5:39:40 PM

    Re: Nice thought, but it’s more complicated than that

    Spoken like a true computer user.

    There are those who complain, and those who do something about it. I challenge you to do something more than whine and piss and moan about how difficult it all is.

    Or get the hell back to Windoze. Your call.

    For my part, I’m committed to BeOS which I regard as the premier O/S for the personal desktop. I continue to develop for it, and will even if Be, Inc. go belly up tomorrow.

    The Linux community – while I have some philosophical differences with GPL – do a fine job of creating drivers for just about any piece of hardware extant. There’s no reason the same can’t be done for BeOS.

    You need dual Athlons?? Why??? BeOS runs better than “just fine” on a single Duron 800 over here, and it ran OK on a dual Pentium 150 before that.

    The problem isn’t Be, Inc. since if it were, we might all just as well give up now. The problem is perceptual, and the answer is to change that perception. Sander should have reminded you that yes, BeOS IS a great O/S. And that if you looked at it now from the same viewpoint you saw it from when you first used it, anything is possible.

    Stop whining and get coding, or get out of my face.


  3. Deej says:

    In Response To Anonymous @ 06/27/2001 10:27:16 PM

    Re: Nice thought, but it’s more complicated than that

    Well, I’ll jump up in Billy’s defense…

    First, he was just giving a good dose of the “reality point of view”. He has been a believer of BeOS for a very long time.

    Second, he does code for BeOS. And he’s the maintainer of the Flotsam project – the BeUnited shared library project, that, it seems, only he does work on these days.

    Thanks for the work Billy. 🙂

    Know who you are talking to before slamming them for “whinning” and challenging them – they might be one step ahead of you already. 😉


  4. Anonymous says:

    [No Subject]

    I see the merit of the argument from both sides.
    As a pro musician who was looking for something new, I found the BeOS. I have a certain fondness for Turtle Beach sound cards, especially some of the older ones. After much testing I have found that as far as sound quality goes, things not only sound much better played through the BeOS, they sound better recorded, mixed and saved to a .wav under the BeOS. When these files are brought back into Windows (since there just aren’t enough audio apps for the type of work that I do under the BeOS to finish a full project)they sound much better than if I had just done the whole project in Windows. So I have one foot in each pool. I am a realist and realize that without Be’s committment to their OS, there isn’t much to hope for as far as a future for my favorite OS. But I am hopeful that, as the current computer climate starts to change for the better, things will eventually even out for Be. Since BeOS seems to have found a home in higher end audio products (IZ Technologies Radar 24, Tascam’s higher end audio workstations, LPC’s live console board) this should boost the company profile and hopefully it’s coffers. If this technology can trickle down to where the average musician can see this as a viable alternative to either Windows or the Mac, this would be a good thing. I am also amazed at the quality of the BeOS applications that are currently available. I’m currently using alpha and beta apps that are a lot more stable than released products that I have used under Windows. So…where does this leave us? Companies need to make money or they can’t survive. So, looking for Emagic, Steinberg or Bias to port or develop apps for the BeOS, at this time, is not something you are likely to see. However, the applications that are available are truly top notch from the current crop of developers. There are quite a few applications that are worth purchasing, or at least tipping the developer’s, if it is not a commercial application, so that they can truly continue to bring the outstanding projects that they have brought, to the table. Companies such as ohmforce, angry red planet and softjee need our support. If you have been checking BeGroovy, objektsynth can no longer afford to continue BeOS development. Nor can MeepMeep. If you use the BeOS and create music, post it and let people know the tools that you have used. Marketing and advertisement do work. Remember what it was like when you first used the BeOS? The BeOS community is an amazing group of people with many diverse talents. If pooled, this could be a formidable force. If enough like minded developers pool their talents to create a few killer apps, who knows. We may not be looking for the big companies to port apps that we are used to using, they may be looking to license from the community the apps for another OS. Wouldn’t that be interesting?

  5. Anonymous says:

    In Response To Deej @ 06/28/2001 03:26:39 AM

    Re: [No Subject]

    You are right, the new mediakit will have some nice features that are needed in the pro world. But that doesn’t have to stop people from developing music apps right? If they get started now and create a nice app, it will probably be easily adjustable to the new mediakit when/if it comes.
    I hope that Emil get’s some time to work on Dynamic Composer, cause that is IMO the most important audio app for BeOS right now. It will allow people to write “machines” that does just about anything. It will create a stable ground for developing new audio tools and make them work together in one nice environment.
    It benefits both the developers and the users.

  6. Anonymous says:

    In Response To Anonymous @ 06/28/2001 12:30:12 AM

    Re: [No Subject]

    forgot to sign that 🙂

    rain (who looks pretty anonymous sometimes)

  7. bkakes says:

    In Response To Deej @ 06/27/2001 10:37:43 PM

    Re: Nice thought, but it’s more complicated than that

    Thanks for the defense, but in all truth I have to admit that nothing is going on with Flotsam right now. It’s a project that would require a lot of work, which is fine, but to be useful would need a strong developer base using it (as it’s a library for other programmers to use). Until the situation clears and my time frees up (full-time jobs over the summer don’t leave a heck of a lot of time), it’s going to remain that way.

    Although it might be worth mentioning that although most of it hasn’t seen the light of day, I’ve done quite a bit of coding for the BeOS.

  8. Anonymous says:


    I feel better, at least the lunix lusers won’t get any B&W luv either, haha!

  9. Anonymous says:

    In Response To Anonymous @ 06/27/2001 10:41:15 PM

    Re: [No Subject]

    Yes, Yes, YES!!! These are exactly the points I have been trying to make (in as many places as possible) lately.
    Look – the OS is damn cool when it comes to music. Musicians want to be able to do their thing, not fuck around with computers all the time.
    BeOS lets you do that, & that is an extremely valuable commodity. Plus, we got some great coders here, doing excellent work on many fronts.
    Can’t we pool the talents, fill in some of the gaps in applications, & make this “media OS” business a reality? BONE & OpenGL are irrelevant to doing music work.
    If we – WE – can make it an attractive alternative for music creation, and LET PEOPLE KNOW WHERE IT CAME FROM, then maybe Be can become more than the
    Little OS That Could, eh?

    Christopher Kemp

  10. Deej says:

    In Response To Anonymous @ 06/28/2001 01:31:59 AM

    Re: [No Subject]

    But Christopher, aren’t there some limitations with the current media kit that would require be to finish up the new media kit beta? No knowledge here, just what I’ve heard… a new media kit is needed for professional apps to kick some ass? Even without BONE or OpenGL, that beta media kit that was spotted on the Be Bug base a while back would be nice to have as well. We need all three to keep things moving with BeOS in the coming years without a Be, Inc., IMHO.

  11. cedricd says:

    In Response To Anonymous @ 06/27/2001 10:27:16 PM

    Re: Nice thought, but it’s more complicated than that

    Wow.. you have to be the developer of BRS/TT or SoundPlay or something (hint: this is rhetorical) to speak like that; I myself
    code for BeOS very much but would never talk like that to bill (in general) and follow up like that to this
    post (in particular).

    Actually the above is more the kind of post I’d read from a linux zealot willing to impersonate a fake BeOS “enthusiast”
    and flaming a “peer” as a oh-so-smart insidious manoevers; yeah, fighting fire with fire with this theory o mine
    but you never know with anonymous postings :-}…

  12. Anonymous says:

    In Response To Deej @ 06/27/2001 10:37:43 PM

    Re: Nice thought, but it’s more complicated than that

    Ah, yes … BeUnited. The site with the long unmaintained list of unfinished projects and broken links.

    I can’t see a link to Flotsam from there, or from BeBits. I can see links to projects I’ve completed from BeBits. Stop giving kudos to underachievers, and we’ll all see some results.

    You don’t need BONE, I proved that with Xitami. You don’t need access to the kernel code to write drivers, just a well-documented interface and knowledge of the hardware. This is the point I’m making.

    All those people who have unfinished projects awaiting BONE, get a copy of the OpenKernel Toolkit and have at it again. Why the hell do you think I ported it 12 months ago?

    And anyone who has abandoned a project, get a link up somewhere to the current code and I’ll mave a look at finishing it, if the project isn’t just another waste-of-time Tracker add-on.


  13. Anonymous says:

    In Response To cedricd @ 06/28/2001 08:07:01 AM

    Re: Nice thought, but it’s more complicated than that

    Linux and all her derivatives and associates (NetBSD, FreeBSD, et al) are primitive commandline O/Ses. I wouldn’t be seen dead using one.

    And I’m not anonymous, the registration system on this website has been broken for ages. Another symptom of the problem I’ve been outlining.


    We either need to get our collective acts together, or we’re going the way of the Do(s)do. That’s reality, that’s life.

  14. bkakes says:

    In Response To Anonymous @ 06/28/2001 11:07:03 PM

    Re: Nice thought, but it’s more complicated than that

    >Stop giving kudos to underachievers

    What kudos? He just pointed out that I have put some effort into the system, in my defense to your rather rude and irrelevant reply; instead of rebutting a single point, you simply said I should code or “get the hell out of [your] face”. Definitely a good view to have if you want to attract new users and new paying customers.

    I didn’t realize that coding and releasing projects was what defined the merit of an argument.

    >You don’t need BONE

    As one of the many people who have had net_server crash on me, and have seen less-than-stellar transfer rates, I would disagree with you. Not to mention the help it’d give Mozilla, etc.

    >You don’t need access to the kernel code to write drivers

    When did I say you did? I just said that right now, those drivers don’t exist, making the system a lot less viable for other people. Of course, for things like OpenGL and 3D sound support, you’ll need to change system libraries, but you’ve conveniently ignored that fact because it would detract from the “effectiveness” (read: rudeness) of your reply.

    >I ported it 12 months ago

    We’re all very proud. And because of your earlier logic, I now see that your porting OpenKernel rebukes the completely-unrelated-to-OpenKernel points made in my earlier post.

    >and we’ll start seeing some results

    Another good way to see results is to not alienate users by posting rude replies to reasonable opinions. It’s not like I said “d00d…beos suckz”; I had a thought-out assesment of the current BeOS situation. Of course, I only have one listing on BeBits, so I guess your argument is stronger. Maybe next time I could throw in some rudeness to even the score…?

  15. Anonymous says:

    In Response To Anonymous @ 06/28/2001 01:11:06 AM

    Re: Well…

    dont worry, linux already can run it with the hacked wine

    I feel good cause be still has no real games and linux has plenty, like q3 ut halflife (emulated) tycoon civctp etc (dont even flame about your crappy games, im talkin games that the average user would wnna play who isnt used to not having any programs for his os)

  16. cedricd says:

    In Response To Anonymous @ 06/29/2001 1:28:23 PM

    Re: Well…

    funny how the reason given for the lack of linux port was “no market”.. the same as for BeOS.

    I mean, that’s to be expected for us after all, as we’re what, a few thousands max, but for the “multi-millions Linux(tm) users en route to take over the world by storm” that’s fairly much more ironic.

    Oh well, guess you can’t have all: a community made of 5% reaosnable people / 95% free-as-in-cheap fanatics AND embody a market for Adobe (and other productive softare houses) and the likes of Lionhead (and other A games houses). Tough luck.

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