Issue 2-46, November 19, 1997

A Few Interesting Facts...

By Valérie Peyre

The other day, I was chatting with a few co-workers and one engineer told me "Hey Valérie, if someone asks you how long you've been working at Be, or how old you are, you can now answer: 'I'm one hundred Be Newsletters old'"! Don't get me wrong, I love to work with these guys, but I had never thought to look at the past two years of my life in this way. I do like this delicate and tactful approach!

The Be Newsletter is publishing issue 100 this week. To celebrate this event, I invited a few guests to contribute to this special edition. All have been important players in the growth of the Be community. Taking initiative, helping us to spread the word, taking part in our decisions, criticizing, sending us feedback, creating for us and supporting us in new challenges everyday. This issue gives me the opportunity to thank them, as well as all of the contributors at Be and in the developer community who have been an important part of the Newsletter's success.

One hundred issues old. If this number is impressive to us at Be, it's because we know that a lot has happened in 1996 and 1997, how much work it has taken to reach a few milestones, and what we still have to achieve. 1998 is looking very exciting!

The Be community is growing, and to give you a better idea, here are a few interesting facts.

The Be web site has become quite popular lately, especially with the release of the downloadable version of the BeOS. Over 10,000 people downloaded the BeOS in the first four days of its release. This took us a bit off guard, and required some last minute scrambling to reconfigure our servers for the high loads.

These folks are reading up on their BeOS software, too, as the BeWare section of the web site had over 40,000 pages viewed. Thanks to this, over 30,000 files flew off our FTP site last week. So it looks like people who take the time to download a 9 megabyte file are likely to try out the BeOS and go hunting for the best in BeOS applications. Great news for our developers!

The site had nearly 2 million hits last week (files transferred, not page views), which is extraordinary, considering it used to take us a few months to accumulate that much traffic. Several months ago we were happy to see 250,000 hits in a week; now we handle that in a day without breaking a sweat. The web and FTP sites transferred over 100 gigabytes of information last week, filling up hard drives around the world; but we aren't done yet.

New applications appear every day on BeWare, and we're coming up with better ways of alerting users to these new applications, hopefully encouraging them to try the latest BeOS software. Our goal is to get people around the world to use the Be web site for all their information, application, and support needs, and so far, our usage curves indicate we'll need beefier servers in the future. That's a good problem to have.

On the developer side, we are working on a few projects such as Be Developer Programs, a BeOS bundling license agreement, even better marketing positioning, more exposure, and of course the first release of the BeOS on Intel-architecture machines in the first quarter of 1998.

Some developers are working hard to finish their applications, while others can't wait for the Intel release so they can finalize their projects. Third party applications are coming along every week; we should be able to offer end users an ever-expanding set of Be applications.

The interest in the BeOS and the Be Developer community are growing. We have to remain focused on the same goals: To provide customers and developers with a good and stable release, to constantly improve service, to offer easily accessible information, and top quality technical and marketing support. A lot to do, many more people to hire. That's another good problem to have.

There are over 12,500 subscribers to our Newsletter. We now offer developers the ability to send us topics they would to see covered ( We have opened an ad section for Be developers. The Newsletter is one of the many tools we use to serve you better and to continue building the Be community. We welcome your feedback on it, as well as on any of our other programs (please feel free to send it to me at:

More and more end-users are reading the Newsletter and looking for new applications for the BeOS. Most probably, our readership will increase and change considerably within the next few months. We will have to figure out a way to respond to everyone's expectations.

But that is the best problem of all.

Thanks for your interest.

Future or Now?

By Scot Hacker

In the future, babies will be genetically engineereed to perfection. Their parents' deficient genes will be stripped out and replaced with SuperDNA, resulting in a race of ultra-awesome beings with the kind of intelligence and strength about which previous generations could only fantasize. Oh,wait—did I say in the future? I meant now. But the experiment is being performed not on humans, but on an operating system.

It's been almost a year since the first incarnation of BeHive ( hit the pages of ZDNet. At the time, the exciting-but-obscure BeBox was the only platform supporting this butt-kicking newcomer OS. Already, the BeBox is in the minority of all BeOS installations out there, and is soon to grow proportionally even more rare. I feel privileged to have an example of one of computing's brightest moments sitting on my desktop, even if it is destined to be outstripped in raw performance by my Intel clone in a few months. Nevertheless, the Blue Wonder hums merrily along, eating upgrades for lunch, as this genetically perfected OS grows more exciting with every point release.

Maintaining BeHive in the midst of the ZDNet atmosphere has been an interesting experience. Because ZD is a mainstream publisher, editorial decisions are typically made on the basis of potential to drive large amounts of traffic. To champion an alternative operating system that has a smaller audience than MacOs, smaller even than Linux, is to invite speculation from colleagues. How do I cost-justify the site to my boss? Easy: I do it for free, in my spare time, as a labor of love. Well, I'm not totally without recompense: I get to keep the BeBox at home :-).

In the very first BeBox Journal ( I stated that I was an early end-user, not a programmer, and that my mission was "to stop using Windows 95 and the Mac OS and to turn the BeBox into my primary work and play machine, a process I expect could take from six months to a year." While it's true that with every passing week I find more and more apps and utilities that will help me get my daily work done, there are still a few bridges to cross. It's not enough that an HTML editor or imaging app for BeOS simply exists—it's got to be as good as or better than the tools I'm using now, which is a tall order when you're comparing brand-new apps on a beta operating system to well-evolved tools on grizzled old OSs. An excellent tool needs time to move through the upgrade cycle as users feed back to developers their needs and desires.

Fortunately, thanks to BeOS' ease of development, programmers are bringing their apps up to snuff with incredible speed. One note here: end-users can help to accelerate the transition by being vocal. Don't just sit back and wait for the tools to arrive where you want them -- drop developers a line and tell them you support their efforts, but can't wait to see feature X or shortcut Y.

The turning point for me is right around the corner, and my enthusiasm for BeOS is mounting exponentially. I think many of us are in this boat right now, eager to wear these new shoes out of the store, but not quite ready to give up our time-tested, beach-worn sandals. PR2's awesome stability represents the crossing of a major bridge for me—one less reason to stay on NT—and the Big Switch is right around the corner, meaning my original forecast won't have been too far off the mark.

The public is starting to get more curious about BeOS all the time. As Microsoft becomes more frightening every week and Apple continues on its wayward path, more and more of my mainstream ZD co-workers are beginning to ask pointed questions about BeOS—questions I'm happy to answer with a 15-minute demo of RoColor messaging, the movie cube, 3D StarChart, synthesizers, keyboard emulators, and more, while cycling through a few independently churning workspaces. BeOS isn't even a 1.0 release yet, and already the futurist contagion is spreading. Here's to a new generation of genetically perfect young Replicants.

Ain't Life Strange...

By Heidi Roizen

Just before I took my job at Apple, Jean-Louis had lunch with me and gave me some guidance. He wished me well, and said that he still hoped Apple would succeed, but warned me that Apple's new product "Copland" had, as he put it, "cancer of the operating system." When I asked him what he meant, he said, "You'll see."

A few months later, Copland was cancelled, and Jean-Louis' path and mine crossed again, this time to discuss the potential of Be and Apple working together. Also at that time, my team moved into CC4, 7th floor. I had the corner office, with the sleek black furniture which had been custom built in rosier times. When I asked some old-timers whose office that had been before me, they told me that the furniture had been made for, you guessed it, Jean-Louis Gassée.

I called him and said, "Guess what, they just gave me your old office in CC4!" To which he replied, "Well, be careful, because three weeks after moving in there, you get shoved out the door!"

That prediction wasn't perfectly accurate, but in fact, a few months later I was packing my belongings, having resigned my position. As I was packing, I ran across a clipping from the San Jose Mercury News. There was a picture of me, Jean-Louis, and Steve Jobs, under a headline that ran something like "Apple Needs a New Strategy."

The article was not about Apple's acquisition of NeXT instead of Be—it was from 1986, and talked about what had followed Steve's ouster, about Jean-Louis' desire to go high-end, and about the developers (represented by me) wanting a low-cost Mac for volume and market share. Ain't life strange...

With our history of fateful overlap, I think it was inevitable that I would end up working with Jean-Louis on the Be Board of Directors, given how often fate has caused our paths to cross.

The computer industry is about to experience rapid proliferation into new categories of usage. And Be is challenging the industry premise that "one platform fits all" is the most effective strategy for developing new classes of applications.

I think that Be is well positioned to become the OS provider of choice for many of these applications. I'm pleased to be working with Jean-Louis and the Be Board in helping to identify, define, and deliver the best and most compelling solutions to new markets, in concert with Be's vibrant, entrepreneurial developer community.

From MacOS to BeOS

By Leland Raymond

When I first started using the MacOS the choice was very easy. DOS or a GUI? It did not take a geek to figure out which was better. Sure the MacOS didn't have any software, but who cared?

Today the choice to use BeOS is almost as easy. You can go with the masses to Wintel/Internet Explorer or join BeOS/Netscape. It's about that easy. The major advantage is that BeOS is just an awesome OS company. They are not in bed with Microsoft and they are not trying to control everything. But if that is not enough, BeOS runs on computers with both PowerPC and xxx86 CPUs. How cool!

So look out world. Here comes BeOS! I am just happy to Be getting in with Be at the Beginning. :-)

Awake with the BeOS

By Fumihiko Shibata

I'm very happy to be here to celebrate the 100th issue of the Be Newsletter. The reason why I was invited here is, I believe, because of my contribution to the "overwhelming" popularity of the BeOS in Japan. I have written many articles about BeBox and BeOS for computer magazines, and I wrote a book, too. I don't know exactly why I devote myself so much to Be, but I know I cannot help doing so.

I started my career in personal computers with the Apple ][, more than 15 years ago. It's not difficult to remember that using a personal computer at that time meant programming it too. Especially with the Apple ][, we had all the circuit schematics and even firmware source code. And although it's just 2 KB of so-called "system monitor," we were able to learn a lot from the code. We felt as if there were infinite possibilities to explore.

Of course there was lots of good third-party software, but we felt a real satisfaction when we were able to program our machines in exactly the way we imagined. There were many empty slots to fill, and by filling them we found other one to work with. By exploring the possibilities of personal computers, we were actually exploring the possibilities of ourselves.

This attitude began to change after the introduction of Macintosh. It's the first personal computer that is a "software player" with which we can satisfy ourselves only by being given something. I don't have to mention what follows. Recently, the diffusion of the Internet seems to put the tendency forward. There is too much information and software unilaterally given to us.

Then there is the BeOS. It breaks away from the PC the trend. In a way, it's a very old-style personal computer, because it comes with rich system software documentation and with a programing environment in native language. In other ways, it's a very new personal computer, armed with all the modern OS technologies. So we see it as a very different system from what we've experienced prior to Be.

There are many empty slots open to us. If we cannot see these possibilities, it means we are just immune to see something new. We might be able to be satisfied only by being drowned in the flood of information. It's time to take another look at what personal computer really means to us.

In Japan, I believe the "to be given" syndrome is conspicuous. The reason is simple. There is a lot of excellent software written in the US, and fresh information flows in beyond the Pacific Ocean. This is a trade imbalance, and must be fixed.

I assume the BeOS is a key. It can give people a chance to reconsider what they can do with personal computers and how they use it. I expect people to reawaken to the possibility of the PC with the BeOS.

The BeForever Adventure

By Jody Sweeton

I was first introduced to the BeOS back in fall of 1996 when Be appeared on the scene as a potential buyout candidate for Apple Computer. I remember thinking how cool it would be to have a multiprocessing, preemptive multitasking OS on my Power Mac 8500. I jumped on the opportunity to sign up for a one-year subscription to MacTech magazine to get a preview copy of DR8 for Power Mac. Of course, I was immediately impressed by the early release's responsiveness and stability.

That week, I e-mailed Valérie at Be about starting a BeOS User Group in Lake Charles—LAMUG'BUG. Remembering my experiences with Apple, I could not believe how helpful Be was and how quickly I received my start-up kit. So I decided to create a UG web site, which soon grew to include daily news. Much to my surprise, people actually started to look at the web site. Before long, I had to separate the daily news from the UG. A small personal investment, some free time, and friendly competition from Ephraim (formerly Be Up-to-Date) and Jay (formerly BeOS Central) helped create BeForever and the Developer Depot.

BeForever has had its up and downs. In the beginning, I spent a considerable amount of time collecting news and meeting developers. It was at this time that I managed to post news as often as five times a day, and Developer Depot entries were rolling in. I made contacts throughout the International Be Community. Ephraim, Jay, and I became good friends and even worked together briefly.

Unfortunately, each of us realized the impact that a daily news site can have on one's personal life. Now, Be Up-to-Date is no more, BeOS Central has changed ownership, and even BeForever was close to disaster. BeForever gets as many as 1000 hits a day, and I am trying to keep going.

Response from the developer community and BeOS users has been very positive. Several people have even volunteered to help out and I appreciate each and every offer. My goal is to increase the BeForever staff and provide a wider variety of content, but all that takes time to coordinate (I have a day job too :-). For anyone out there looking to create a BeOS web site, there are opportunities and niches galore. On the web, even a small-towner has a voice.

Maintaining a daily news site is hard work. I can only imagine that creating an operating system can be overwhelming, but Be has managed to meet or exceed most of its deadlines and create a powerful base for developers to present their wares.

Not that it's been easy.... Many developers were frustrated when Be announced that they would no longer sell the BeBox, but Be obviously had to get focused on what was important to its business...the BeOS. User loyalty was also tested when fredlabs cancelled the VirtualMac project because of insufficient funding.

Looking back, there was simply no way a company Be's size could afford to finance this effort. Instead, Be looked forward and spent resources funding a port of the BeOS to the Intel platform. Down the road, I think the Intel port will benefit Be, developers, and users far more than VirtualMac ever could.

Speaking of the future, I recently received a new UG start-up kit that included Preview Release 2. What impressed me most was the depth of applications that were included. Developer efforts are finally paying off, but there is a long way to go. I am waiting for the application that puts the BeOS into the spotlight. Only time will tell, but my hopes are high because the BeOS developer community is young, bright, and imaginative. Overall, 1998 looks bright...the first official release of the BeOS, a shipping Intel port, and lots of cool new apps. I can't wait...

Be Leading Edge

By Thijs Stalenhoef

Recently I moved to another apartment. Along with new people to live with, I got something called Cartoon Network on my TV now. Toons 24 hours a day! One of my favourite cartoons is "Dexter's Laboratory," about a boy-genius who has a secret lab under his parents' house. He is really small, and since nobody knows about his lab and his achievements, they pat him on the head or squish his cheeks when he says something scientific. "Aaaaw! Isn't he cute?"

That's the way a lot of people seem to think about the BeOS: "It's cute", but they don't see the real power the system provides. They have yet to find the secret lab and Be amazed by the wonders it holds. Yet the tide is turning rapidly. The people in my new appartment where amazed by what it could do, but were not initially interested in running it. Now I get the "where's the Intel-version?" question every day.

It's ironic, considering how things started for me with the BeOS. I saw a BeBox for the first time last year at the Amsterdam Apple Expo. Immediately afterwards I enrolled as a developer and bought one. This year I was in the same building, same hall, same stand, but this time it was *me* amazing people instead of being amazed myself.

After buying my BeBox so many things happened! One I will mention is the reason for this little piece of text. As many of you may know, I run Be Leading Edge, a BeOS daily news site, at:

Not alone, mind you! The Edge wouldn't be what it is today if it wasn't for my friends Frederic Tessier, Mikael Hjerpe and Erwin Wessels, who keep me constantly provided with news and who update the site when I'm not around. Together with all the people sending us their bits of news, we make Be Leading Edge worth reading (so stop by and check it out!).

When I started it, though, I had no idea it would take off like this. I did some cheesy graphics and HTML, just so I could start posting news items. The first posting actually said something like "I plan to improve this site a lot over the coming weeks"!

The problem was that from the moment I started The Edge I stopped having time to do anything of the sort, it's almost a full time job! Well, that's not entirely true. Soon Be Leading Edge will receive a major facelift, about which I won't tell you anything. We hope to do what Be does: Under promise and over deliver.

One Hundred Newsletters...

By Jean-Louis Gassée

This week, my task was simpler than usual: I just had to step aside and leave room for guest contributors. But I still get to say thanks to all who made this Newsletter possible, from my colleagues at Be to correspondents who offered questions, encouragement, and criticism.

The goal of this Newsletter is to bring you personal perspectives on all facets of our business—engineering, marketing, and technical support —the Be staff discussing the why and the how of their work. I hope you enjoy reading their contributions every week as much as I do. I realize that for some of us, writing newsletter articles can politely be described as an acquired taste and I thank them especially.

Professional writers such as Doug Fulton occasionally produce pieces that remind us of the difference between a Sunday cook and a chef. They - Doug, Michael Alderete or Linda Ackerman - discreetly perform cosmetic or even prosthetic surgery on our prose, thus sparing us too much embarassment. This is much appreciated.

Last but not least, this Newsletter would not exist but for Valérie Peyre. For the past two years, she has worried, cajoled, scheduled, chased, and edited contributions, while juggling other tasks such as demo tours, user group meetings, and developer conferences, to name a few. My special thanks to Valérie for producing Be's first 100 newsletters.

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