Issue 4-37, September 15, 1999

Business & Marketing: What's new in Europe

By Jean Calmon

In this article and in the weeks to come I'd like to update you on what is happening at Be Europe. I'll fill you in on our Web site plans, events we're participating in, what resellers have come on board, and what else we're doing to develop our business.

You may have noticed that we have revamped our Be Europe Web pages recently <>. This has been the work of a very clever, soon-to-be computer graduate—Guillaume Laforge—who preferred to spend his entire summer in our very hot office in Paris. One of our initiatives was to show clearly from the home page that BeOS has applications that can be found and obtained easily. We'll be improving these pages to make them more complete and user friendly.

Summertime in Europe usually means "everybody's at the beach" -- especially the French, Germans, and Italians. However, this seems to be less and less true as we had a pretty active summer at Be Europe. Software developers did not rest during July and August. "Au contraire," they seemed pretty busy, judging by the number of calls and e-mails we received in the past 6-8 weeks.

We delivered the first German and French packages of Release 4.5 early to our main distributors in the three largest countries: Germany, UK, and France. These distributors (BeYond, Koch Media, and Apacabar) have done a very good job of filling the largest retailer chains with BeOS 4.5 black boxes. BeOS can now be found in well-known chains such as FNAC in France, PC World (Dixons) in the UK, ProMarkt in Germany, as well as some selected independent resellers. The good news is that it sells. All our distributors and resellers have reordered at least once since early July and we are ambitious to increase distribution and sales.

We have trained some resellers and participated in a Reseller recruitment campaign in Germany. Be Europe has distributors in Switzerland, Austria, Belgium, Sweden, Greece, South Africa, and six other countries. Check the Be Europe Reseller List if you're looking for a specific country <>. Stephane Landier is working hard to add distributors in the Benelux, Nordic countries, Spain, and Italy. We estimate that we have approximately 400 resellers active in western Europe and more have become interested.

A good way to increase our sales, and consequently the sales of your applications, would be to have them packaged with local language packaging and manuals. Very few BeOS applications, so far, are in packages. Many retailers, dealers and distributors are asking for them. We are ready to provide you with contacts for translators, publishers, and local distributors who are familiar with BeOS.

On the event side, we've already participated in two shows in Europe since August: IFA and ECTS.

IFA is a large Electronic Consumer show in Berlin. BeOS was demonstrated on the famous Silverline PCs at Fujitsu's booth. Fujitsu began to deliver beautiful aluminium-cased mono and dual Pentium 3 PCs preinstalled with BeOS and Windows a few weeks ago <>. Our next event we be SATIS in Paris, another digital media show, where we have a booth. Also, we'll be participating with a distributor in Munich at Systems in October.

We've just returned from ECTS (European Computer Trade Show) in London. There we had our own booth organized by Marie-Françoise Lelong-Weinberg, our Marcom Europe Manager, and Guillaume Calmon, our Software Evangelist. The five stations included a grand demo and some of the newest applications demonstrated by our developers. Enrico from IK multimedia showed the famous T-Racks and a totally new version of Groovemaker. We demonstrated the IPAD, a new Internet Appliance prototype, running BeOS with a completely innovative interface. It features a touchscreen with a nice interface that is geared towards a parent in the kitchen. The user can look for recipes, order groceries, check e-mail, watch the kids in another room, and play Mp3 files all at once. It was a very successful demo that attracted many people and the press. A German TV reporter even showed up, thanks to Marcus, our European DTS. In other parts of the booth we had Ton demonstrating the Blender 3D app, and some other BeOS fans demoing Quake II, Quake III, and Civilization. Since this is a Games oriented show, our Be Games Evangelist, Jon Seidenfeld, made many contacts with some well-known European games companies.

In a well-orchestrated communication campaign, we have managed to get Demo CD inserts in the following three magazines this month: PC Expert in France, PC Plus Future Publishing in the UK, and Login (an alternative OS magazine) in France. This means an impressive 300,000 BeOS 4.5 demo CDs will be distributed in France and the UK in four weeks. We expect a significant response in return. We are planning some other ones before year end in many countries.

Last but not least, we're working hard to deliver you a very interesting and successful Be Developer Conference in Frankfurt October 7-8. Registration is open <>. Hope to see you there!

Be Engineering Insights: Ethernet Drivers: What to Do When Networking Isn't Working

By Hank Sackett

You've just launched a browser and you're waiting for it to come up. And waiting. And waiting. Could there be a network fault? Yes, and it could be at any point between you and your destination host.

To check whether networking *is* working, you can look at it from many viewpoints. A packet sniffer on a hub sees all the traffic in that collision domain, which is often helpful. The Ethernet driver has another point of view, and to use it, I've added a debugger command to the AMD AM79C978 driver, which you'll receive in the release after 4.5.2.

Case in point: There was a machine configured with an IP address that looked OK, but wasn't. From the serial debugger:

kdebug> homelan R T

This toggles the display of received and transmitted frames on or off. It showed that an ARP request was received by the driver and passed up to the protocols above, but no response was transmitted back. This was the clue I needed to realize the IP address received didn't match the one configured.

The command "homelan I" traces interrupt activity, which will be absent if there was a problem assigning the IRQ, for example because of a problem with the BIOS settings.

Another view of networking is in the traffic between the driver across the PCI bus and the network interface card. "homelan p" will toggle PCI IO tracing on and off. You're probably interested in this level of detail only if you're writing device drivers. If you are, you're in luck, because you'll find a framework for writing a PCI Ethernet drivers at


To use it, first replace the string "AcmeEthernet" with the name of your new driver. Assign the vendor and device ID, which you can find in the Devices preference. Next, decide if you're using memory or port PCI I/O, and set #define IO_PORT_PCI_ACCESS. From a terminal window, the commands "poke" and "pci" will show the addresses that the hardware has assigned. At this point, refer to the hardware-specific reference and read up a register with some recognizable constant, like the chip revision number. Next, get the Mac address—usually from a serial ROM. Initialize the hardware and enable hardware interrupts.

An interrupt from hardware causes the driver's interrupt service routine to be called. But which hardware generated the interrupt? It's crucial that the Ethernet driver be able to accurately determine the source of the interrupt, and return B_INVOKE_SCHEDULER or BE_UNHANDLED_INTERRUPT correctly. If the Ethernet driver returns B_INVOKE_SCHEDULER to a video card's interrupts it will "steal" the interrupt, and the likely outcome will be a frozen screen. Returning BE_UNHANDLED_INTERRUPT to an interrupt that was actually generated by the NIC hardware will cause the kernel to be left holding an unclaimed interrupt. As a result the kernel will disable all interrupts on the line until a timeout expires, and a lot of packets will be dropped.

Getting the transmitter and receiver to work are the next two steps. A ping flood from a faster machine on an isolated network to the driver under development, with the "AcmeEthernet N" sequence number trace enabled, will tell how well the driver performs under load. Look for dropped frames and frames out of sequence.

There are lots of changes currently underway in the Be networking code; you should expect to make revisions and source code changes to stay current and take advantage of the new features. Don't let that keep you from writing a driver, but keep reading the newsletters.

Until next time, happy networking.

Developers' Workshop: Whistle While you Work

By Doug Fulton

I haven't got much time. My fans—and there are many of me—will be annoyed that this article isn't very amusing, but I have this feeling of impending, if cartoonish, dread. I can see the shadow of a sandstone boulder spreading concentrically about me as if I sat permanently in some high noon Arizona on the Equator. It's a race between that and the floor dropping out in a neat circle around me, as the sawcut from the apartment below is nearly complete. Granting, of course, that the steam roller (slow, but I'm glued to my chair, and my chair is nailed to the floor) doesn't get here first.

Or maybe it's this here new application, 'Whistle'. Whistle turns every day into a Warner Brothers cartoon. Type and everything in your cupboard falls on the floor. Move the mouse and you're running up and down stairs (in stereo!). Click the mouse and the creature walks. Plus it has an interface that's more fun than dropping bowling balls on a duck's head (featuring the new PigTail control—move it and it dances).

The literature says "Whistle makes noise in response to user events." Does it ever. To procure the source code to said program, click this URL -- it will be up soon if it isn't already:


Next, make sure you have the Beatnik software synthesizer loaded on your machine: Do a find on "". If it's missing, get out your Release 4.5 CD and reload the thing (it's in there somewhere).

That done, launch the app. The interface shows up immediately; the music won't start for a few seconds (the synthesizer takes awhile to load). The three sliders in the Whistle window (and, yes, they *are* supposed to look like that) set the volume for keyboard ("K"), mouse moved ("M"), and mouse button ("B") events. Type tab or the arrow keys to tweak the sliders from the keyboard.

A word of caution: Whistle's interface uses app server features that are largely untested, and uses them a lot. The interface *does* leak memory, but we're not sure where the leak is yet. If you see your swap space disappearing (for a quick swap space monitor: Control+Alt+"About BeOS" in the Be Menu), but you still want to run the app, use the command line version:

$ Whistle -q -k keyboard vol -m mouse vol -b buttons vol

The -q switch suppresses the interface. The other switches set the volume levels for the three event streams; volumes are in the [0.0, 1.0] range.

That's all folks.

Bit By Bit: Articles are on Hold

By Stephen Beaulieu

There will be no Bit By Bit articles for a couple weeks while DTS is preparing for BeDC Europe.

The past six Bit by Bit articles may be found here if you haven't had a chance to read them: <>

Going Public, Part III, The Road Show

By Jean-Louis Gassée

Fortunately, the worst part of our IPO Road Show preceded it. I refer to the rehearsals. We've all been involved in the hand-wringing and garment-rending that precedes presentations. Nothing works beforehand, but when the curtain rises the show goes on. Audiences can be kind when the software or the presenter—or both—bomb.

Here we faced what ultimately totalled 72 presentations in the US and Europe, with a team of four Be-ers and two bankers, two PCs, two Web appliances, sound systems, DVD players, cameras... We ended up checking a mere twelve pieces of luggage, including six fiberglass containers. But I'm getting ahead of the story.

After four of five days of rehearsing, our banker-tutors put their critique to us very delicately: You're not focused, you're not addressing your audience's concerns, you don't speak their language. You, Jean-Louis, are too reserved (!), the demos don't make clear points, and the whole thing is way too long. These guys—meaning the "institutions", the investors we were to meet—they're ruthless. You run over time, you're out.

Unfortunately, our taskmasters were right. Fortunately, they helped us out. Scott Roth came up with a retroactively obvious plan: Say good morning—that's optional—and lay out the structure of the presentation. Start with The Big Question: Are we crazy or, worse yet, naive, to bring another OS into an MS world? State the fundamental problem we solve: bloatware. Name the enablers, the facilitating trends. Then, introduce the demos, hand over to our demo god Michael McBride, comment and restate, hand over to Roy Graham for the marketing strategy, Wes Saia for the numbers, come back to present and praise the executive team, conclude and take questions.

Then, I remembered the Charlie Rose show. I fight the combined consequences of a California life style, driving instead of walking, an adolescent appetite, and so one with exercise—and TV helps mitigate the tedium of working out. On Charlie Rose's PBS program, in between reps, I saw Michael Dell forecast that there would be 2 billion Internet appliances within a few years; of these, "only" 700 million would be PCs. Within days, Jeff Bezos, Amazon's CEO, was explaining how broadband and instant-on would be a great help to his business; unfortunately, the operating system was the biggest obstacle. A few weeks later, John Doerr, the VC from Kleiner Perkins, discussed the Evernet, his vision of the Internet's next generation of instant-on, broadband connections, and how it would change everything again. Interestingly, Doerr's future Evernet scenarios described, almost word for word, something he hadn't seen—our Web appliance demo. I ordered the Charlie Rose tapes and we digitized the choice parts. We now had articulate testimonials from industry greats who independently converged on the challenges and opportunities we built our road show pitch on. That was Saturday.

Sunday morning, I came to the office with a cigarette ad. Although I got the idea in the middle of the night, it wasn't a hallucination. It was an ad for Merit cigarettes—a nice picture of a sumo wrestler in a tutu and toe shoes—the perfect illustration of bloatware, and a metaphor for "robust" legacy OS platforms trying to dance the high-speed broadband and digital media multistream ballet. We digitized the sumo wrestler and incorporated him into our Gobe Productive presentation. A great metaphor, yes, but it didn't do much for us on the road. Our bankers were right again—we weren't tuned to our audience.

Sunday night, and we still weren't ready, but we had an itinerary. On Monday, we gave a presentation to Volpe's San Francisco sales force, and a similar pitch on Tuesday to Needham in NYC. Tuesday night we flew to London, blew a transformer, and were rescued by a veddy helpful concierge who broke open a reluctant padlock. We crisscrossed London for four presentations, ending up at Brown's, an elegant but not quite functional tearoom allegedly frequented by the Queen Mum. After that we hopped on a plane to Geneva for one presentation on Friday morning. Then it was off to Paris for a luncheon audience with investors in the verdant part of Champs Elysées, where we arrived late and destroyed a couple of transformers.

From there we did three weeks in the US: seven presentations in San Francisco, followed by San Diego, Los Angeles, Houston, San Antonio, Denver, and Portland (OR). Then it was Minneapolis, Milwaukee, and Detroit in the same day, moving on to Chicago, Baltimore, Greenwich (CT), Boston, and finally New York City.

In my last column, I referred to good surprises, of which there were several. First, everything worked. Michael McBride kept the demo equipment in good health despite the rigors of air travel. We never lost luggage, our flights were on time, and skycaps were always helpful. Second, there were no ogres in our audiences, contrary to our bankers' dire tales. In 72 presentations, we met only one difficult, dismissive "customer." This was towards the end, in New York. Either happy with the way things were going, or too tired to care, we took the dissing with a smile. I ignored my Parisian roots and we meekly asked for our leave. I kidded our banker that this customer would surely buy 10% of our offering, or more. In fact, that fund actually took about 5% of the IPO shares.

Most meetings began with us facing reluctant body language: arms folded, leaning back in the chair. As we progressed, arms unfolded and bodies leaned forward and ended up on the edge of the seat. Some demanded --quite forcefully—to acquire the appliance prototype. Overall, audiences were extremely considerate, asking what we felt were good, pointed questions about the whys and the hows of our business. They were well prepared and knew a lot about the industry. They even let us run over time without kicking us out or leaving the room. So, calling our bankers taskmasters was appropriate—they prepared us and they prepared the audience as well.

Towards the end, we had one last good surprise and a bad one. Until the last minute the SEC provided good, helpful service. The day before the IPO, one of their staffers stayed late, until 9:30 pm East Coast time, to make sure we could wrap up our responses and filings. The next morning, July 20th, they called us at 6:30 am PST to give us the green light. That was the good part. Then, at 9:10 am, my usually calm, cheerful CFO was in my office, ashen. What Wes had feared all along, the reason why he had prodded everyone to move the process forward as fast as possible, was happening under our very eyes. The market was taking a plunge, the NASDAQ was down by ninety points. As a result, our bankers felt the IPO might not be possible in a climate of great worry, if not panic. Wes was hoping the market would bounce a little and I learned the meaning of a new expression: a dead cat bounce. Minutes later, the market experienced a brief rebound, during which our bankers successfully completed the IPO. In the following weeks, the market had a cold and many IPOs were pulled, at least temporarily.

Now, with the help of many too numerous to give credit here, but gratefully acknowledged nonetheless, Be is a publicly traded company, living and expressing itself under a new set of rules. Even while expressing myself within the boundaries of these rules, I'll try to keep these newsletter columns as informative and opinionated as our General Counsel and our CFO will allow.

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