My First Week with Haiku

Blog post by Animortis on Tue, 2021-04-27 09:15

As you boot your first non-Windows, non-Unix system, you may have a moment when you wonder if this thing is going to work. It’s not from the same family of systems you’re used to: It’s Haiku, and it’s totally different and unique. The great part, though, is when it works better than you could’ve possibly imagined.

And when I sat down with Haiku last week, I knew I had something special.

Like a lot of people, I grew up using Windows, spent some time at work and in college on Macs and played with Linux off and on, watching the three OS’s dominate the market and define what computing could be for billions around the world. Even when I sat down with FreeBSD for the first time earlier this year, I knew more or less what I was doing already, since Linux commands worked (for the most part) almost exactly the same with it.

How bland.

But I had often heard about Haiku: The experimental successor to BeOS, an operating system that tech-guy-and-tv-host Leo Laporte used to show off on ZDTV in the 90s. Why, it could run TWO movies at once! And this was when even running one movie without a spectacular crash was an exceptional achievement for any computer! Even Windows 95 couldn’t do that! That blew my pre-teen mind.

I was stunned to see Haiku install and boot faster than any *Nix or Windows systems could dream of. Pleasantly, it was also Posix compliant, too, meaning if I needed a quick fix for something then the command line was there waiting to help me out. It was ready to get things done.

Haiku applications were so fast they practically screamed: The Mail app opened in a split second. The new video editor Medo natively handled 4K and offered multilingual translations. Plus, it also weighed in at about four megabytes and opened just as quickly.

Haiku had all sorts of other programs available, too — everything from native, Haiku-only apps, utilities and games, to open-source favorites like LibreOffice, and tons of KDE apps brought in through HaikuPorts. These could be installed through its package manager, pkgman, or its built-in applications store, HaikuDepot, which were created by tireless volunteer developers from around the world.

As for me, what I saw was enough to make me a believer: I decided to join the promotional team for Haiku. I wanted to bring this unique work of the technological arts to the world, to help people understand that they weren’t confined to using Linux all the time if they wanted free software. They could learn about something awesome, and even help turn it into the work of art it has the potential to be.

Haiku can’t beat those mainstream behemoths without dedicated, passionate developers and volunteers. All operating systems start humbly and Haiku is no exception, even as it strives to become the best non-Unix open-source OS to hit version 1.0.

Indeed, Unix and Windows dominate our computers today. Haiku instead offers users, volunteers and developers alike something rare, something valuable that they can’t find creating another Ubuntu spin or command-line tool: A fresh, raw and totally unique operating system that still has room for them to mold it into a true success story through their feedback, suggestions and contributions. A chance to leave their mark.

With so much it can offer, Haiku needs all the help it can get from anyone with an interest in making the software world a better place.

Haiku is the OS that says, “We can have something different, something great.”

Download it here. It works really well in Qemu and Bhyve if you want to try it out.

And here’s a link to the volunteer opportunities we’re looking to fill. We could really use adventurous programmers and volunteers looking for a chance to stand out.

Get in on the ground floor. Help Haiku become the best non-Unix, open-source OS to make it to 1.0 and beyond.