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Deej’s Rant

by @ 5:27 pm on 8/13/2003. Filed under OS Wars

Sometimes I think this community just demands too much, expects too much, but contributes so little other than flack. Lately, the community has been fragmenting and infighting way too much to be in a healthy state. Disbelief. Disent among the ranks. The loss of values we once held dear. The ship has sunk. Get over it.

Sometimes I just get in the mood to rant a little bit, and I haven’t ranted in quite a while. Now would be one of those times. 🙂 Take it at face value and with a grain of salt.

As someone that could probably be considered “old school”, I find it funny, no mildly ironic, that it was just these sorts of arguments that we are seeing throughout the community these days that helped drive Be away from supporting the community (using “public” company as an excuse).

Be took a whole lot of flack for not updating this or that, or not doing the other, or not getting such and such driver or application done. They were focusing on the wrong parts of the OS. They didn’t focus on the “needed” parts (as defined by the person making the statement). It wasn’t done the “right way”. If such and such doesn’t happen, I won’t be using BeOS anymore, or even, I can’t use BeOS anymore. I want, I want, I want. Be finally just closed up and refocused on more corporate customers (BeIA). The demands just became to great.

Arguments over this or that OSBOS platform, they get us nowhere. There will be splits in the OS development efforts. It happened to UNIX, it happened to Linux, and it will happen to BeOS-derivatives. That’s the very nature of OSS – if you don’t like something, change it. The only hope here is to keep some collectiveness between the factions and create some symbolence of cohesiveness that once was the BeOS community.

I fully imagine this will only get worse as distros get more complete. Once OpenBeOS is complete, imagine how many BeOSMax’s and X-Edition’s will spawn up from every corner of our little universe. We are already seeing this happen with the Linux kernel variants, and it’s still really early in the game. I’m not saying this is a bad thing, but it sure is being made out to be a bad thing.

And the community has fragmented as much as the different OSBOS camps have. If something doesn’t happen soon, and no, I’m not talking about the first platform beating the rest “to market”, this community will become incoherent and cease to exist in any form that it once was. It already has. Camps are forming, alliances are being made and broken. And the folks in the middle are possed to become casualties of our own little OS wars.

Already we have seen the initial “ship jumping” from the day Be, Inc. changed “focus”, and again when they ceased to exist. That was followed by the occassional departure of others. The interesting thing here is many have come back, even if only to check in from time to time. (I still expect Chris Herborth to pop up and say “Hey” sometime soon – he always claimed he never could “find the door” out of this community. 🙂 )

One way is to avoid these wars, to prevent them, is to support and help – common APIs and open source software to help bring about some sort of user cohesiveness. These actions speak loudly against the factionism, but seldom fall on listening, open ears. Many have criticized in the past of trying to maintain control. Yes, in a way, this is true. But not control over a project, control over the end user experience, but only to the point of making a pleasant, consistent user experience. The BeOS experience. Many agree with’s objectives, including key people in the development of these platforms, yet few others stand up and say “yes, I’ll help” – and actually do.

But I’m not here to promote any further than that. I’m here to speak of other ways to support this community, and help keep it a somewhat cohesive collective of post-BeOS survivors – and avoid a coming battle between the fragments that have developed over the past couple of years.

First, accept diversity. Many of us, at least in the US, get a constant corporate barrage of “diversity in the workplace” promotions. Apply this to the post-BeOS community. Diversity is a good thing. Diversity opens options, it opens more doors. The Linux communities have a common ground in this. It doesn’t matter so much which distribution you use, just that you are using a Linux distribution. It doesn’t matter what camp you are from, you can help and accept help from others. The Cosmoe and OpenBeOS groups are already using this to their benefit.

With the post-BeOS OSBOS platforms, I’m sure that one will be better for this, others better for that. Many of us will end up dual booting different OSBOS-compliant platforms for just those reasons, just as we do with BeOS R5 and Dano, or RH9 and BeOS. I personally can’t wait to replace my Linux partition with one that is OSBOS, sitting right next to my BeOS R5 (or another) installation. A Linux-kernel based OSBOS will be much more hardware happy, a NewOS-kernel based one may have less latency, or so forth.

There are different camps for different reasons – all valid. “Can’t we just all get along?”

Second, stop the mudslinging. It only hurts feelings and hurts relations. It’s been getting worse as of late. I’m not pointing any fingers (else, that would be, in itself, mudslinging). Jumping in and taking sides in something that isn’t clear doesn’t help any. I’m sure everyone knows exactly what I’m refering to here, so I’m going to speak to it – but not point fingers, mind you.

Remember, there are three sides to every story – yours, mine, and the truth. Until all three are known and understood, nothing productive can come about. “He said – she said” will never accomplish anything but trouble. And “he said – she heard” will only cause outright battles.

I’ve known both Bernd and Chris for many years now. I’ve had numerous dealings with both of them, both through BeGroovy and through And what has transpired recently, while it doesn’t surprise me, I can’t believe what it’s becoming – what it’s doing to the community as a whole. I can tell it’s blown way out of proportion, and there’s likely an occam’s razor situation here.

Bernd’s english isn’t always clear, and he often is way misunderstood, even in his native language. I know, I’ve had a couple of run in’s with him myself, but they always ended up more a communication issue than anything else. And nearly always we have seen that we are on the same page, despite any previous misgivings. His heart is in the right place in considering BeOS and the community.

Chris also has a heart in the right place, but sometimes doesn’t come across entirely clear, and sometimes his actions and words have been taken in the wrong way by some people.

The actual situation is probably not as complicated or convuluted as everyone seems to be making it out to be. And I believe that the posting in question, with only half the conversation present, and translated at that, was taken slightly out of context and completely misunderstood. And I think it is a sign that there have been miscommunications and misunderstandings between not only them, but everyone else.

I could be acting very optimistic here, and I could be very wrong as well. But somehow, I don’t think this is the case. At any rate, I don’t think this situation has gone beyond the point of repair. Let Chris and Bernd work out their miscommunications between themselves. The more public this mess is, the more mess that needs to be cleaned up. Let them work it out, and don’t choose sides in the matter.

We now live in a post-BeOS world. One in which our environment has changed drastically. The true heir-apparent to the BeOS throne has yet to be identified, and might never be. Don’t chose your side yet, noone knows who the winner may be, if there even emerges a winner. Not only could we see multiple OSBOS platforms enjoy some success, the flipside is that Palm could pull an SCO on us and try to yank out everything from under us, without warning, years down the road.

Be, Inc. doesn’t exist. Palm owns the IP. There is no BeOS. There is no heir-apparent as yet, if ever. And there is no protection that we won’t be SCO’d out of the game. The future is very unclear at this point.

A T-shirt that was around when the movie Titanic came out comes to mind: “The ship sank. Get over it.” Be, Inc. is gone, BeOS is gone. Get over it. It’s going on three years since the fateful focus shift. We are still floating here, waiting for rescue. It doesn’t matter what lifeboat you landed in, you are a survivor in the post-BeOS world. You are still here. You are still waiting for rescue along with the other survivors. Support the other survivors. Pull together, cluster your lifeboats (efforts), and survive together.

Science fiction often tells stories of times after some sort of apocolypse. How some things change, yet how many things stay the same. History has often taught us that history will repeat itself. History is repeating itself, and we are seeing how some things have changed and yet some things don’t change.

I’d like to bring up something I mentioned earlier. Be, Inc. switched focus to a smaller, corporate user base, or at least tried to. They cut off developer support, they came to ignore the over-demanding users. Something in the posting of Bernd’s scared me. History is repeating itself. I’m sure JLG didn’t want to turn his back on the community. I know Bernd doesn’t want to do that as well – but he mentions it. But some things are different this time around. The community, or at least a part of it, is turning it’s back on Bernd and yellowTab first, even before they have something in hand to complain about.

yellowTab’s Zeta is the first inklings of a post-BeOS commercial offering. It’s the closest thing we’ll ever see to an officially released Dano. BONE as well. Remember the day when we all exclaimed that we wanted to see these released. The days when we screamed at Be, Inc. “Throw us a BONE”? We just may get there.

Zeta is also licensed from Palm, or at least reportedly so – a report I believe because it came from a trusted source that heard it firsthand. Palm cannot pull an SCO on yellowTab. So if such a fallout was to occur, Zeta could very well become the only survivor, like it or not. I don’t mean to cast any shadow of doubt on any of the other effort’s legality, or validity of success potential. But somehow I don’t think SCO’s claims against IBM are valid, but it is doing damages nonetheless. The same could become true to us as it is to the Linux and UNIX communities now.

Don’t turn your back on something you haven’t seen yet that could potentially be the most commercially successful post-BeOS platform. Don’t rely on rumors and ramblings to judge. Wait to judge for yourself.

Wait. Yes, on that note – When will we get Zeta? Who knows? Our new paradox this time around – the over-demand from users is coming before the product is even finished – any of the products. I hear the same demands I heard years ago about every single one of the currently being developed OSBOS platforms.

The thing here that hasn’t changed is a philosophy behind the wait – I remember proudly telling newbies “When it’s ready”, quoting JLG on when we’d see new, exciting things. When did this philosophy leave the BeOS community? Zeta will be out “When it’s ready”. OpenBeOS will be done when it’s done. BlueEyedOS will release the source when _they_feel_ it is safe to do so. The developers still follow this pattern, this belief, realizing it or not. So should you.

We’ve been waiting for over three years for an update to BeOS R5 now… really, what is another year on that? Seriously? Is it that bad? Are people that impatient?

Sure, it’s been a long time – three years is terribly long. We need new hardware support, many exclaim. But when did we really ever have an abundance of modern hardware support? And even then, it’s not the projects that will bring in hardware support, it’s the highly commendable efforts of Thomas, Rudolf, Marcus, and many others – their independent hard work. Don’t give me the hardware excuses. That is a separate issue, and there are many doing the best they can to help in that area.

We’ve survived on our own, without any updates, for three long years. After such an extended time, what is just a little more? Let’s be realistic about this. An OS is not an easy thing to build or update. Cut some slack, you can spare it, I’m sure.

Learn from history, don’t repeat it. Get over it. Be patient. Accept what is given, and when it comes. “RSN”, “When it’s ready”, they still need to be the belief of the believers.

Be happy we even still exist, waiting patiently. Even with the ship that once kept us afloat at the bottom of the sea, we are still here, hoping to be rescued, waiting, surviving – together.

Or, at least, we should be surviving together.


Donovan Schulteis
Chairman, Founder
BeOS user, BeOS advocate, BeOS Survivor

25 Responses to “Deej’s Rant”

  1. Zenja says:

    What, no fuel for a flame war? Tsck, what good is a rant if you cannot flame away afterwards. Just kidding, nicely said Deej, in a nice and calm matter. I dont think the fragmentation of the BeOS community is as bad as it might on the surface appear, from my point of view (limited with blinkers on), we’ve really only got 2 visible alternatives (BlueEyed, Cosmoe, FreeBe and others just dont seem serious to an outsider), the alternatives are OBOS and yellowTab. But to be honest, they actually appear to get along quite nice, they both need each other to survive. Zeta will rejuvinate the BeOS spirits, which is what OBOS needs to further motivate developers. Everyone knows that down the road, yT will end up being the biggest OBOS distributer (aka RedHat of OBOS world).

    So, where is the split, the divergance? Chris from BeUnited might have had a bad day, hell, it happens to all of us, I’m sure he’ll join the rest of us with cheering yT when Zeta finally arrives. Thats just life, you swallow the bitter, it makes you appretiate the sweet when it arrives. Nothing to see, move along, everything will be all right, etc. Cheers everyone.

  2. Well put. And I agree with all of it. 95% of the “hardware” issue is a driver issue. And as Marcus, Thomas and others have shown, most of it is just an issue of finding motivated people who can work on drivers. Probably the biggest, scariest issue for the R5 codebase is the 1GB limit. And, really, this is mostly an issue for people who dual boot. I have 384MB in my BeOS only machine. And it is *more* than sufficient for anything I have ever needed. But for people who dual boot, especially with these 256mb video cards, this limit is a real issue.

  3. Donan71 says:

    Well Deej i must say that that was a impressive piece of journalism. I do agree with what you said and hope the community will see it the same way.

    Thanks Deej

    Rick “donan71” Larochelle

  4. Sikosis says:

    I got sick of waiting so I joined OBOS. I didn’t even know how to code with C++ – I learnt so I could help and now I help others to learn the basics, so they too can contribute to the community.

    One thing I noticed when I originally came to BeOS (R5) was that the community was willing to help. Other community simple tell you to RTFM or check out the manpages.

    Nowadays, it seems like all the linuxbitches (readers of OSNews) are polluting the BeOS community.

    The cracks started with OSNews …

  5. Big Al says:

    Deej, we’re thinking along the same lines as far as the “Bernd v. Technix” thing. Seeing how poorly Bernd’s post was translated and then seeing how people started attacking it immediately, well, it just goes to show how poor translation can wreak havoc sometimes.

    I’m willing to support whoever comes out with something that advances the OS and the spirit of the OS, be that Zeta, OBOS, Cosmoe or even B.E.O.S. I know that at least between Cosmoe and OBOS there has been a lot of sharing of code both ways which is ideally how the process should work. In that sense having so many groups working on the same goal in different ways *still* work together in advancing the goal – that of a free alternative to the OS we all love so much.

    I am thinking the community will probably calm down when one of two things happens: Zeta is released or YellowTab goes bankrupt. I think the general question of “What’s going to happen?” is what’s really tearing people up. Maybe it’s residual from seeing Be, Inc. slowly tumble to it’s death. I don’t know, but it seems that many people are scared of putting their trust in another entity that could go away at some point leaving them high and dry. Even if yT goes bankrupt before releasing anything, you’ve been let down once again by putting your hopes in something only to have it dashed to the ground. It’s hard to give anyone that trust again. It’s like a relationship, really. We just need to wait and see what happens, good or bad, and move on from there.

    If patience is a virue then the community could stand to be more virtuous. 🙂

  6. BeOS Jon says:

    I must point out some issues which has brought us to this state.

    The focus shift which left the mainstream BeOS user adrift.

    The statement by Yellowtab (Bernd) that Zeta would be released last year. No apology or explanation for the delay.

    The totally useless Hardware Compatibility listing on the Zeta site. This list is so beset by misinformation it makes me skeptical about other claims made by Zeta.

    Having companies make inaccurate, misleading, or false statements is the damage being done to our community. People are frustrated with tactics used by companies who feel they have no responsibility to their customers. Microsoft uses these tactics. They promised a more secure OS. MSBlast.exe is the result. They publish release dates but miss them dramatically. They endlessly issue updates to polish a turd.

    All we are asking is for some basic essentials.

    Usability, stability, and compatibility produced by companies that are forthright and clear about their products.

    I have no problem with the various flavors of BeOS. In most cases none of these efforts are making outlandish claims they cannot backup.

    If Zeta had stated the minimum about their product until it was finished or least issue the betas to BeJournal and OsNews for review, then I think we would have been more patient. But in all cases keep expectations low until claims can be substantiated by results.

    I understand Bernd is under tremendous pressure because of the anticipation. He brought this on to himself by jumping the gun and making statements he has not been able to back up.

    I commend Deej in his attempt to calm things down.

    I implore Bernd to make a public statement, approved by a PR guy, describing the current state of Zeta and to apologize for alienating his possible customers. Having some humility and taking some responsiblity for the current state of disatisfacttion for an OS that even been released yet will help greatly. Bernd must accept a least some blame, otherwise it WILL get worse.

    I learned a painful lesson in these same matters in a previous job, so I know of what I speak.

  7. BeOS Jon says:

    I would like to add one more brief comment.

    As I understand it, Zeta started out as a hobby OS.

    As with any hobby OS, you can either approve or disapprove of the results and make suggestions, which may be incorporated into the OS or not. The designer has no obligation to make changes other than those he sees fit. He does not have to explain his rational.

    Zeta is now a commercial venture and thus those caveats do not apply. Zeta must listen to it’s customers or it will fail.

    We as potential customers have an obligation to state our opinions. Courteous with those opinions but expressed nonetheless.


  8. Big Al says:

    First, I doubt Zeta was a hobby OS since it cost at least a hundred thousand dollars (according to rumor) to license the code. It’s based off of the Dano code, you know.

    Second of all, you wrote that Zeta must listen to its customers: yes, this is true. You also note, however, that you’re a potential customer. No one is a Zeta customer yet so we don’t have a right to anything. Once they release a product, then we can be pissed about what they are or aren’t doing. Until then we’re only interested parties, nothing more.

  9. I agree with Deej. We must have patience. And i agree with Bernd too on that topic:

    I hope that what we heard from Bernd once will be true about using opensource pieces to replace closed code from Zeta. Maybe that would solve the 1GB issue using VM2?

    PS.: Yes, there’s life after Be 🙂

  10. Hello.

    I think it’s a good idea to smooth the waves. The critical mistake in the previous discussion is the fact, that some guys were getting very personaly. It’s not good to compare Bernd with Nazi- KZ- Commander.

    Zeta was founded by personal interest. Cause some people love BeOS. yT made a few little mistakes, but I think they are doing a good job. They are only not allowed to talk about it- or some developments are still secrets.

    So don’t worry. Without Zeta there won’t be any future development after R5/Dano.

  11. thies says:

    I fear Chris is too busy playing puzzlepirates at the moment. Or NWN.

  12. This is in response to thies…

    I’m in fact preparing for some news pieces for TBJ, and talking in BeShare about the power outage in the US/Canada.

    Unfortunately, I can not play NWN, since it doesn’t run on BeOS. sigh. 😉

    -Chris Simmons,
    Avid BeOS User.
    The BeOSJournal.

  13. Deej, thanks for writing this. I’m pleased to see a positive attitude about the current state of all things BeOS.

  14. Thank you, Deej!

    You really understand all that we are trying explain to community. You spoke well!


  15. so the translation of “Technix has shared Beta 3 of Zeta on BeShare” should have been “Technix has Zeta beta 3 an uses BeShare and is a really great bloke and we love him to death”?????

    fuck off.

    what planet are you guys on????

    Show me where Chris has shared beta 3….remember that Eugenia review beta 5a on OSNews in January this year……so beta 3 would be when???

    read what has been written/posted in that German BeOS users group and also the interview proclaiming nVidia support and hardware OpenGL support and a Christmas 2002 release.

    the nVidia support has been dropped and they are now using Rudolphs driver, HOGL is 3DFX Voodoo 2 and 3…..

    but hey i can greyscale connect to ODBC databases.

  16. the inquirer says:

    so it’s fair to slander Chris in a German forum that Bernd hopes that only Germans will read???

    remember that an Australian sued Reuters for a USA post which was simialr and won.

    have a read of the translation of that and then decide who you want to believe.

    “unless Zeta…blah”…well that’s my decision.
    and i’ve made it.

    vapour can consense into solids, but Zeta is not even in the cooling phase yet.

  17. Sure!
    With log of BeShare and the forum on TBJ then they can only lose!

  18. Helmar says:

    Simple solution to all this? A mechanism that delays the posting of any opinion to any BeOS forum by 48 hours. You’ll be emailed a message asking if you really want to post it, and by and large you won’t. People, myself not excluded, should think twice before posting stuff they often cannot substantiate.

  19. thies says:

    to chris simmons:

    I was writing in reference to Chris H.

  20. Sammitch Boi says:

    Can’t we all just get along? Either we accept that there will be many BeOS-type OSs in the future, and see that as a good thing, or just buy bloody Macintoshes and be done with it. Would we all prefer 50 more operating systems based on a Windows or, heaven forbid, Linux worldview?

    Super Secret BeDoper Announcement:

  21. H-kon says:

    While i have not paid much attention to the BeOS “community” as of late, i do recognize some of the problems with it, one of which was the reason why i left it.

    Sure, a lot of people are waiting for the next version of whatever comes first of the BeOS derivatives, but the big issue is missing from your rant Deej in my opinion.

    What is the BeOS community these days?

    I mean, 50 people on BeShare/IRC channel and 20 people commenting on BeOS related articles is not what i call a community.

    With all the positive things going on, i do not understand why you are just about invisible on the net busy fighting which distro is the best, which (insert project) is going to come first etc.

    Where are the web sites devoted to telling people what the hell BeOS/OBOS/Zeta/ whatever is?

    With BeNews closing shop, i am quite surprised that no one has been able to pick up where they left, but instead, things have gotten worse (Sorry technix, but your site still is not quite up where BeNews was)

    No wonder a bunch of very talented and skilled people left this community when all you are doing is being a bunch of introverted geeks that are busy fighting over which distro/project that is going to come first.

    Grow the fuck up and do something.

  22. Craig Turner says:

    There’s something positive and inevitable about the community effort to reproduce an OS like Be. Open operating systems have already reached critical mass. Platforms are headed that way too, with efforts like cygwin, java, gtk+, gcc, wxwindows, qt, the os2/unix bridge and any number of ways that people are finding to bring the various platforms closer together. Within ten yeas, operating systems will be a lot more interchangeable than they are now. OpenBeOS is bound to ride on the success of that broad community. At the moment we think of making a successful operating system as being a big deal. But if you look ahead at the promise in the industry for where we’ll be in ten years time – it’s a good picture! Hang in there, people! 🙂

  23. Damonous says:

    I just had to say that I think it’s ironic that some people must resort to using the “F” word and other uncivilized comments, when Deej is trying to make a good case that everyone needs to ‘settle down’ and focus. What does it matter what the true size of the Beos community is right now –just that it exists at all, and that there are at least a handful of good coders moving these various projects forward is good enough for me.

    I’m one of the remaining BeOS end-users: I dual-boot with several other OSes, and await the day when some sort of “Be” returns.

    The bigger issue to understand, I believe, is that to a large extent the whole future of the computing world rests on the “BeOS movement”. We already know about Microsoft’s Palladium and DRM. We know that MS has its fingers/stock interests deeply entrenched in the Mac “hobbyist culture” (-really; like Mac would ever become serious competition to Windows or DRM). On the other hand, we have Unix/Linux; which still (after how many years of successful inroads on the market?) is the most absurdly confusing OS known to mankind; seemingly unilaterally run by persons who don’t think understandable end-user documentation or user-friendliness in general is necessary. What hope in 5 years, based on the current market leaders, etc., is there really the chance of Grandma and Grandpa going out and buying a Linux-based PC?

    This leaves BeOS, as before when Be was still alive, as the only viable GUI-based OS competition to MS. –MS knew this, and that’s why they used their monopolistic, unfair business practices to stop the Dells, HPs, etc. from dual-booting BeOS and Windows on manufactured PC’s.

    I can wait a while longer for Zeta. It would be nice if they were forthcoming with their timelines, but if I were running the ship I’d like the big bad wolf (MS) not to know where I was really standing. If I were YellowTab, I’d build somthing generations ahead of R5 –but make people think that it’s only going to be something like R5.5– and then suddenly release a stellar package capable of competing. I’m sure that this is probably wishful thinking that that’s what YellowTab is up to. However, it’s another way to look at things.

    Remember, Microsoft and Intel’s goal is to make everyone’s computers 5 years from now be glorified ‘set-top boxes’, with DRM and no real user control over reformatting media. Users have a real right to be able to copy their old products to a new format for their own personal use (especially if it’s not released on the common format of the day). There are still some old Laserdiscs, VHS, and even vinyl LPs/tapes that haven’t yet been transfered to DVD and CD. Users need a workable, user-friendly OS that will give them the same freedom they have today, 5 years or more from now.

  24. Jace says:

    Okay, this is a well written rant. Thing is, Deej, I didn’t know about this controversy until you mentioned it. I get rare amounts of news these days, even being in BU. Partially my fault, for having broken email settings or computers half the time (boy I could use an ALTERNATIVE to computer hardware, at this point). But now that I know there is a scandal or a soap opera going on, I have to find out more… ;-P

  25. Jace says:

    Man… Safari sucks ass. I mean, no Submit button, no Post button, but two great big honking “FORGET PERSONAL INFORMATION” buttons. Then, on top of that, the piece of crap stops responding after I submitted. Junk. Pure Junk.

    I still don’t know if my new power supply will solve my useless computer problem… if it does, maybe I will go back to browsing on BeOS at unbearably slow 26.4 dial-up speeds…

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