Haiku giving life back to BeOS

Jack Wallen
Sep 15, 2009
Updated • Feb 13, 2018

If you've been around long enough you will probably remember the Be operating system. Be began life in 1991 by Be Inc as an operating system for BeBox hardware. There was a lot of excitement about this operating system as it was going to be the be all end all OS for multimedia.

The operating system was written specifically for multimedia and promised it would have features to to take advantage of modern hardware like no other operating system could. Unfortunately this project fell through and Be was purchased by Palm. Since then Be had little interest, save for a few enthusiasts.

But it looks like those enthusiasts have given life to Be in the form of Haiku. The Haiku OS has been released as an alpha  and is installable on x86 hardware. It is an open source project and, from the looks of it, has a lot of promise. I have installed the alpha and have worked only briefly with the desktop. From what I have seen it has promise. It's far from ready for public consumption, but if developed correctly, could be something special.

The Haiku projects' aim is to create an operating system focused specifically on personal computing with features like:

  • Custom kernel designed for responsiveness.
  • Fully threaded for multi-core CPUs.
  • Database-like file system.
Figure 1
Figure 1

I would like to say Haiku is something most Ghacks readers should download, burn, and try. If you have a VirtualBox installation up and running it would certainly be worth the time. If you do decide to do so I will warn you not to go directly to the installer when you boot up the ISO image. You will want to first run from the desktop and then the installation from the clickable icon on the desktop (see Figure 1).

The installation will require you to partition the drive, but the Haiku partition setup tool is quite easy to use.

Out of the box, under VirtualBox, Haiku could not use my network. It took some digging around but eventually I found the solution. With the virtual machine stopped and closed you will want to go into the Settings of the Haiku VM and then take care of the following configurations:

  • Change the adapter type to Intel Pro/1000 MT (82540OEM)
  • Make sure it is attached to NAT

That should get you up and running with networking. There is also a strange issue with using Haiku in VirtualBox in that it can not write the boot loader properly. I believe the only solution to this is to use a VMWare image under VirtualBox. To do this you will need to create the VirtualMachine (using "Other" operating system as the type) and then mount the VMWare image (You can find an image on the Haiku Download Page) through VirtualBox.

What can you use Haiku for?

If you can imagine the Windows operating system installed with nothing more than what it ships with, you can imagine what you can do with Haiku. The applications that ship with Haiku include:

  • Wonderbrush: A bitmap image editor.
  • BePDF: A PDF viewer.
  • BeZillaBrowser: Web browser.
  • Pe: Programmers' editor.
  • Plenty of system tools.
  • Plenty of media players (Including Television viewer).
  • Teminal applications.

and more.

Figure 2
Figure 2

To Haiku's credit, the applications all run smoothly and quickly (even in  a VM). Some of the applications are rather hard to find however.  There are two menus: Right click mouse on the desktop and then the Main menu in the upper right corner. To get to the entire list of applications click on the Main menu (upper right hand corner) and then click Applications (see Figure 2).

Final thoughts

I like where Haiku is going. I was a fan of the BeOS when it initially appeared and was disappointed that it didn't find traction. I hope Haiku can fully bring back to life what BeOS promised. What do you think? Have you tried Haiku? Did you ever have the chance to run BeOS? Let us know your thoughts.

Haiku giving life back to BeOS
Article Name
Haiku giving life back to BeOS
The Haiku OS has been released as an alpha and is installable on x86 hardware. It is an open source project and, from the looks of it, has a lot of promise.
Ghacks Technology News

Previous Post: «
Next Post: «


  1. Dels said on September 15, 2009 at 4:48 am

    i have tried it since 2007, but the progress seem slowed lately (they usually have huge amount code donated at google summer code)

    most user asking for live cd/installation cd to try, but what we get only a virtual machine image for long years…

    guess it was alpha 1 now… i’ll recheck and install in on my vbox then

    i also watching for ReactOS as MS Windows alternative, you should also look it

Leave a Reply

Check the box to consent to your data being stored in line with the guidelines set out in our privacy policy

We love comments and welcome thoughtful and civilized discussion. Rudeness and personal attacks will not be tolerated. Please stay on-topic.
Please note that your comment may not appear immediately after you post it.