BeOS was a semi-POSIX compatible UNIX-like operating system released in the late 1990s by Be Incorporated.


Geektonium Flashback

BeOS, a partially POSIX compatible, UNIX-like operating system (and my second favorite operating system of all time), was released by Be Incorporated (Be Inc.) in October of 1995 and was initially designed to run on AT&T's Hobbit-based hardware called the BeBox. It was later ported to the Apple's PowerPC platform and eventually ported again to the Intel platform in 1998. BeOS was unique at the time in that it sported a 64-bit journaling file system known as BFS, ran on affordable hardware, and supported advanced operating system features like pervasive multi-threading, modular I/O bandwidth, symmetric multiprocessing, and preemptive multitasking.


In fact, BeOS was so good that it was initially considered as the potential replacement for Apple's aging Classic MacOS. Apple's board of directors eventually balked at the $300 million that Be Inc. wanted and settled on another proven upstart operating system, that being Steve Jobs' NeXTSTEP. BeOS, having managed to build no more than a niche user base over the years, ceased to exist in 2001 when it was sold to Palm, Inc. for $11 million. The last official version of BeOS was BeOS R5. However, BeOS R5.1 "Dano", which had been under active development, was leaked to the public shortly after the sale to Palm. BeOS fans, displeased with the sale of their beloved operating system, reacted by launching a complete, backward-compatible re-implementation of BeOS known as OpenBeOS. Many years later OpenBeOS was renamed Haiku.

HaikuOS Beta R1

Haiku is still under active development and is freely available to anyone wishing to relive the glory days of BeOS. You might be wondering about the fate of the original BeOS source code. The source, like Be Incorporated itself, has a long and complicated history. However, what we do know for sure is that it moved with each owner over the years and eventually landed at LG where it now lives on as webOS, the basis for their advanced HDTV user interface.

A proper Geektonium review of both BeOS R5 and the latest version of Haiku is in the works.

— Patrick

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