So, here's the diddly-d0: the once titanic BeOS is now
moving into the same boring space as other also-rans like
SCO. They're going to be giving away the new version of
their interesting operating system to all comers. Yippee for that!
This Be company has been a humongous disappointment for the entire world. It's a
sad sad thing! Started a bunch of years ago by disgruntled Apple hackers and
a florid French nutbag, Jean-Louis Gassee, Be came out strong with this nutty
ol' computer called the BeBox. It had dual PPC processors (with killer little
flittery CPU-meter lites on the front) and bad-ass multimedia support and etc.
But the key part was the fabuloso BeOS, a crazy OS with all kinds of multimedia
optimizations and brutal threading and brilliant oopy filesystems and such.
Like, at trade shows, they'd have these nutty BeBoxen out on tables, and they'd
do weird spinning cubes on the screen with live video feeds on each side of the
cube, to show you how violently ass-kicking the multi-threading was. Everybody
loved that! It would be great to have a spinning live-feed video cube on your
desktop, for a little while, at least.
The BeBoxen were so hot that at one point Apple was considering licensing BeOS
to become the new Apple OS for all eternity. Mac crazies were all going freaky
at the very thought, because Be was so great, and since the only people left
using Macs at the time were total fanatics who would spray your face with
indignant spittle if you suggested that Macs weren't the technological hot shit
that they'd been in 1986.
But then for various evil political reasons Apple decided to buy the nutty
NextStep (since it had a special sekrit prize Steve Jobs in every box), and Be
got all forgotten in the snow. They did a lot of crazy-ass shit, like porting
their weird BeOS to Intel platform and PC compatibles, but truth be told it
never really panned out. Everybody who was looking for an alternative OS in the
90s was looking at a free Unix clone, like Linux or *BSD, not a creepy
closed-source French hillbilly package made by strange hipsters who like to put
videos on cubes. And the people who needed high-end multimedia blarg were
sticking with their Macs and Amigurs and SGIs and whatnot.
Not to say that there's not a fanatical fringe of crazed BeOS fanatics out
there, because there is. They've done all kinds of nutty ports of stuff like GNU
software to BeOS, not only because it would be a pretty useless OS if all you
could do was make spinning video cubes, but also because it's supposedly a
pretty peppy little baby to work with. Be people love Be! is the point I'm
trying to make.
SO, Be has continued is grievous downward slide into the last desperate refuge
for operating system scoundrels, EMBEDDED SYSTEMS. Their BeIA is for some kind of
bletcherous Internet appliances, which everybody hates because you can't play
good pornos on them. Even goobs like Larry Ellison have pretty much given up on
these things, but far be it from me to pull out the lifeline for Be. God love
'em, I hope this BeIA thing works out.
BUT, more to the point: Be is going to be giving away binaries of their BeOS
version 5.0 "sometime in late Q1 2000." They've got a good strategy: make your
OS boot straight from Windows, so people who would normally be too scared to
install a new OS can do it and think they're just running, like, Quake on their
Winbox. I'll probably try this damn thing out when it's available, just for the
hell of it.
Hopefully, though, someone's working on open-sourcing that damn BeOS, so when
Be, Inc. goes belly up, the source will be out there for fanatics to continue to
develop. Who knows? There might be some good tidbits in there for other OSes to
Anyways, go get you some free BeOS, or at least go slaver over how you're gonna
get you some free BeOS once Q1 is over, and salute yet another brave soldier in
the alternative OS market. Dream of a alternative timeline where a Dieter
Frenchman runs the dada Apple empire! Beaujolais for Be!