A Poignant Plea to the Powers (Th)at Be
There's something likable and self-effacing about an operating system that grants its users and developers leave to pop the hood and make modifications-the closed-box designs of Mac OS and Windows both seem to say that Cupertino and Redmond, respectively, know best. With Linux, there's no part of the operating system's codey underbelly with which you may not fiddle, but if you've spent much time trolling through the spaces where the Penguinistas gather, chances are that "likable" and "self-effacing" are not the words you'd use to describe Linux and the Linux community.
This brings me to BeOS, the technologically unique but application-poor desktop operating system that, with its speedy, attractive GUI and tightly integrated terminal application, offers something for newbies and hackers alike. What's more, the large degree to which BeOS is POSIX-compatible makes most command-line Unix programs available to its users.
The BeOS Tracker and Deskbar interface components are open source, and what remains of the BeOS faithful benefits from the fairly frequent performance and feature updates that come out of the OpenTracker project.
Unfortunately, the BeOS aficionado has little else in the way of system updates to look forward to, since the now-Internet-appliance-focused Be Inc. appears to have allowed development of its operating system to lapse.
Scarcely a day goes by in which some new piece of bad news does not cast fresh doubt on whether Be will ever make a mint on Internet appliances and give BeOS a chance to reach its next release. Needless to say, I'm not holding my breath.
Before the lights go out in Be's Menlo Park headquarters for good, I'd love to see the company release the reworked BONE (BeOS Networking Environment) that's been circulating among a limited group of beta testers for some time.
BONE is rumored to bring the network performance of BeOS in line with the world's Linuxes and BSDs. It's the BONE delay that's held back BeOS compatibility with X-based applications and has stalled progress on Windows application compatibility via WINE as well.
Operating systems run applications. Why doesn't Be give its orphaned OS all the options it can?