Build Date: Sat Feb 24 08:30:32 2024 UTC

Can you subpoena the elements?
-- Head Freezin' Gene

Free to Be You and Me

by Mr. Bad

2000-03-13 16:18:59

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 use.

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!

Over.  End of Story.  Go home now.

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