Please Don't Ruin Haiku
I love Haiku. It's very useful even in this alpha stage, it has a promising future, and I have nothing bad to say about it.
I just hope that nobody ruins this beautiful OS.
Correct me if I'm wrong, but Haiku seems to have the goal of offering the freedom and power of Linux, with elegance like Mac OS, which comes from having an overall focus and control over the entire system. This is the holy grail to me.
I think Haiku could become the perfect OS. I've used many, many OSes in my life, including the free version of BeOS before that went away. Back in 2000, when I was still in high school, I got into Linux and thought I would stay with it forever. But, you know, it's so balkanized. My life became more about fine tuning and installing stuff to get it the way I wanted than just using the thing.
I'm not afraid of compiling a new kernel. But it's wonderful to have the simplicity of, say, the original Macintosh System Software, where you stuck a Finder and a System file on a disk and that was it.
Linux can be painful because to keep it the way I want, I have to update all this software, some of which is obscure (I don't use the popular window managers or desktop environments). Sometimes things are incompatible. Sometimes things break. This is super annoying.
When Mac OS X came out, that became my main platform. It was Unix like and didn't bother the user too much with stupid stuff. Now, it is becoming more of a platform to dominate and lock in the user. I never thought Apple would become the new Microsoft, but worse.
What I really want, and I hope other people want too, is an OS whose core features will stay reliably the same for a long, long time, so I can depend on it for a long time.
The best kind of UI to me is minimalistic, or can become minimalistic. I like to use Openbox on Linux and remove the taskbar. I right-click a blank desktop to launch programs. You can't do this on a Mac, because you're forced to have that menubar at the top of the screen.
I hope you guys don't ever dumb down Haiku, or try to make it accessible to "normal people". These are the people Apple is going after now. I know how bad it is because I make a living writing iOS software. I placed a big "off" button on the sole screen of an iPhone app and actually got emails about how terrible I am because the user couldn't figure out how to turn the app off. Seriously.
I see this dangerous trend which is sometimes called simplification, but is really dumbification. Like Gnome 3. You can't have close boxes anymore and you have to have a clock right in the middle of the screen and a truly bizarre workflow. But hey, it looks like an iPad.
Or Unity. We're going to take GTK apps and put their menus up here, have a dock over here, and make a lot of choices for you that you can't change.
Please don't give in to the obsession to make interfaces that work on both desktops and on tablets. These interfaces suck. Desktops are for getting real work done and they need a UI that is right for that form factor. I can handle having a unique UI on a tablet computer or a phone.
I hope Haiku never gets onto tablets. When Microsoft and Apple eventually abandon the PC, I hope that Haiku becomes the king of classic desktop OSes. That would be great. Let 'em have the stupid tablets.
I like that Haiku doesn't get in my way. Windows is notoriously bad at that, Apple mostly better (but getting worse). One of the first things I did in Haiku is disable notifications. To me, these are evil. I don't like things popping up on the screen unless I directly ask for it. As long as I will always be able to disable notifications, I'm happy.
I also dislike verbosity. Windows is extremely bad at this. You open the Start menu and every icon has a title and a subtitle. Like, "Internet Explorer\nBrowses the internet." or "Outlook\nSend and receive mail." This junk is even spreading to Linux. Have you seen that big menu thing they put into Mint? It's big and ugly and verbose. Haiku is great because the Applications menu is just a simple menu, no explanations, no blown-up user icons, no "smart" menus that try to guess what I might want. Just a listing of the Apps folder. Awesome.
Speaking of ugly things, a lot of people these days think that widgets and chrome are ugly. Apple is becoming very aggressive in removing them. They're trying to kill the scrollbar. They seem to think that everyone is using a laptop with a trackpad or a mouse with a scroll wheel. I like having scrollbars on my windows. They do not bother me and they are visually useful, showing where I am in the document. I don't want you to take them away from me because you assume I'm using a laptop.
Also, I like gray. A lot. I think the visual appearance of Haiku, across every element of the system, is truly awesome. It is subtle and refined. And yellow orange just happens to be my favorite color. Some people might complain that Haiku looks like it's stuck in the 90s. Yes! UIs were very usable then, is that a problem?
I saw a screenshot of "Dano". Gaaaahhh. They thought that was an improvement!? Look, if you guys decide to offer skinning and themeing... as long as I can always have Haiku look and act like it does now, I'm a happy guy. Simple and unobtrusive is good. I don't need things to resemble real-life objects (ahem... Apple), and in fact, I prefer things on screen to look computery. Because, you know, it's a computer.
The stack and tile decorator is inspired. It makes me not miss xmonad.
I don't care if you never make it multiuser. My computer is for me and only me, like 95% of the population. What's so necessary about allowing multiple users?
I am so happy that you don't offer anything like Apple's Launchpad or the Windows 8 tile screen or Gnome 3's or Unity's full screen app searching things. I know where my apps live, and I understand filesystem hierarchies (it's well within the reach of the average user, despite what Steve Jobs thought). Another thing that they're doing (especially in Gnome 3 and Unity) is blending internet searches and local searches. It's as though they honestly think it's good for the user to click on the system wide search box and see matching installed apps, file content, and Google results in one window. To me, Google belongs in my browser, and I know how to get there. I really, really, really do not want forced upon me a full screen app launching window with category icons like "Games" and "Productivity" and a search feature that doesn't discriminate between what's on my computer and what's on the internet. If you make one for the stupid people, please offer it as a standalone app that I can erase forever.
I don't think you guys will ever do this, because it seems like you want a lot of the same things I want. But you never know. I was very surprised that intelligent people wasted time and energy on anything as putrid and anti-user as Gnome 3.
I have a few suggestions for improvements / additions to Haiku. I offer these humbly, with the understanding that this is not my project to dictate changes to.
- Allow me to auto-hide the Deskbar. I do like the Deskbar, but it would be so great to have nothing on the screen except the window(s) I'm working in. (I typically keep icons off my desktop)
- Characters in the terminal appear cut off at large sizes (I'm sure you know about this). I like my terminal to have a very large font and use it as a text editor, so as it is the terminal doesn't work too well for me.
I'd be willing to contribute funds to help any of these things come true, if they are deemed appropriate. I hope at some point to create a few simple but useful apps for Haiku, but unfortunately I can't get into other coding projects at this time. Haiku really only needs a few great apps in the major categories to be useful to a large number of people.
Haiku holds great promise. I hope that bad UI design is never allowed to infect Haiku. I have been waiting so long for an OS like this. It's free software (yay), friendly to a Linux power user, simple and focused like a Mac, and nothing at all like Windows. And it has none of the downsides -- balkanized and sometimes painful (Linux), controlling and oversimplified (Mac), and increasingly dumbed down (everybody).