ArsTechnica Review of R1/Beta2

Featured on HN is a review of R1/Beta2 on ArsTechnica under the headline “A decidedly non-Linux distro walkthrough”. Hey, great!, I thought, but it’s a rather disappointing, even unfair piece. The author seems to regard an OS as a kind of platform to launch a web browser, focusing almost entirely on the perceived shortcomings of WebPositive, then complaining about “applications names you have never heard of” in HaikuDepot (what did he expect in a “decidedly non-Linux distro”?), and going on about the GUI not looking “modern” enough (I guess because the windows have borders instead of melting into one another, as seems to be the fashion now). The reviewer proceeds to test Beta2 on an underpowered laptop, the logic being something like “well, perhaps this dinky little OS won’t overload the dinky little machine”. Sigh. Well - any publicity is good publicity. HN and AT readers are notoriously curious - they’ll want to see for themselves. They’ll be surprised.


“The world will let no fame of theirs endure;
both justice and compassion must disdain them;
let us not talk of them, but look and pass.”

I was a bit disappointed with the article. It would be nice if, instead of dismissing a project, to bring up ideas on why people should be interested in it.

Poor journalism. The author basically wrote this as if he were reviewing a production-ready, mainstream OS. Haiku doesn’t have a billion dollar company backing it like Windows, Mac OS, and even Linux. It doesn’t seem like he put much time or effort into this story at all. It’s fine to point out the faults of Haiku, but now thousands of readers will walk away from this article writing off the project as a joke. Instead, he could have put a little effort into researching the features that makes Haiku special and talked about some of the many virtues of the OS in addition to its faults – maybe attracting some new interest at the same time.


Notice the bio, “Jim is a mercenary sysadmin” read that as a cynical arsehole.


A modern browser is one of the things that a modern operating system must have. Until haiku can fix this problem, it cannot be evaluated as everyday use. I hope that the efforts being made with the webkit lead us all on the right way. Any normal user, the first thing they do when starting an operating system is to open their favorite web browser … if it doesn’t work, the implication is that nothing works.

Many may disagree with me, but no one will convince me that this is not true. After the information and communications (browsers / etc), come the office applications, then graphics and video editing, then the games, and other tons of apps that many of the most important are already ported.


Oh, I’m all for merciless, dissecting reviews. What I’d like to presume in the reviewer, though, is competence and an open attitude. This is someone who obviously has never heard of the Dooble Browser (which runs on all great platforms) and dismisses everything unfamiliar to him as bad. Putting Haiku on a par with TempleOS(!) is not just snide, it’s objectively false. HaikuOS is not a hobbyist, niche OS, but has the scope of a major Linux distro, and it doesn’t have to hide from those. Still, as I said, HN and AT readers will want to check, which just might get us some new users - at least I hope so.

I don’t disagree but don’t fully agree, how can you have a web browser if you have no operating system? Web Browsers work with the Operating System. You still need to build those bits before you can even get to that step.

Hardware Acceration would vastly improve Haiku a lot, but again that’s another compicated engine part that needs to be designed and implemented.

The fact is that the demand from Youtube is so much that unless your a $$$ corperation and take a fork from an pre-existing browser you’ll stuck in a very muddy puddle. You’ll find that Youtube now struggles to load on Windows 7 which was Microsoft’s flagship OS at one point.

It’s great having a cardboard box and four wheels, but you still need something to turn those wheels.


@paw: You’re right, of course, when you observe that a lot of computer users actually do reduce their machine to a background system for the web browser which in turn is measured by whether it can run YouTube. (Which is a monster of a site in terms of performance demand on the browser and host system.) Actually, for all of us not wasting their days clicking through the mindless debris offered on the YT main page but actually doing work on the computer, the browser situation in Haiku isn’t bad. You can see that a lot of work has gone into WebPositive. It has enough JS support to access my email provider, a site where you can’t even log in without bloody Java. For fast fact-checking I prefer Lynx anyway. Haiku has LibreOffice, one of the best word processors and my everyday workhorse, it has its own PDF and image viewers, IDEs, and whatnot, the full range of applications you need, even the BASh CLI, multiple desktops (which I had to sort of hack in on my Ubuntu Gnome desktop), and its GUI is the most intuitive and customisable I’ve ever seen. None of these features are mentioned in the review. What it offers is not a walkthrough by an expert but a cursory first impression for those people who’ll always ask “But can it run YouTube?” Disappointing.

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I agree with both, but the reality is that if you do not direct what you do for the majority, you are actually doing it for only a few. Simply what I am trying to say is that the guy who wrote the note in arstechnica, the first thing that was tested is the browser, after this didnt work, the rest seemed like a disaster.

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@dogcow Welcome, and thanks for writing! +1 to this idea, and if a reviewer doesn’t mention a “killer app” for an OS still under development, it’s because he didn’t research properly. So far, the only application I’ve come up with for Haiku that’s not just a minor difference of convenience compared to Windows or Linux, is the file system with basically a built-in database manager. It has other neat things going but nothing else I’ve found that truly sets it apart. And his mention of the leaf logo as a feather tells me he didn’t read much. I made the same mistake when I first started.

Afraid you’re right there, nhtello. What I was trying to say was that the AT reviewer should know better. (Even the established OSes have their problems running the behemoth browsers of today, btw.) But again: Any publicity is good publicity, and HN and AT readers are not that type of mindless YT consumers. I hope they’ll check out Haiku for themselves.


We have Otter. I’m posting this using Otter. From my own observation, Otter is the best browser for Haiku. I usually visit a local forum that overused ads. WebPositive just crashed loading this site and ask to be terminated. Netsuft couldn’t load it at all. Only Otter loaded it just fine.


If this “reviewer” lived in the UK I would send him a laptop that runs Haiku properly and get him to use LibreOffice and Otter. I can’t think what websites he visits; in my experience both Web+ and Otter are usable most of the time, and crashes are quite rare.

He’s clearly more arse than technical.


Well, guys. After this post I just have Otter crashed for me, the first time. So I have to agree with you, Haiku doesn’t have any decent browser. I only said about decent, not modern.

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This review is indeed disappointing. But I think we should not let that demoralize us but just see it as a view of Haiku from a newcomer’s perspective. Jim is not a dumb guy, and I read his other article about that terrible Walmart laptop he tried at the end of this review, and he will probably push harder than many other people to get past roadblocks. Let’s use the things he got caught up on to improve the user experience. I think he comments about drive partitioning in the installer are pretty spot on. That could be better.

WebPositive still needs a lot of work, I think we all know that. We need other people to step up and help out and not just keep dumping the work on PulkoMandy, who has done a great job given the circumstances. YouTube is probably indeed an example of an extremely resource intensive site, but we should still do what we can within the limitations of Haiku (such as no video acceleration nor GUI GPU acceleration) to make it run well.

Also I do think Haiku is lacking some marketing or a more clear mission statement that can help set it apart as not just another Linux distro. In fact one thing I am quite disappointed in from the Ars Technica author is treating Haiku like a Linux distro. That really belittles what it truly is: a usable (if incomplete) desktop operating system which is NOT Windows, macOS or Linux. But I guess that is part of the problem, defining something based on what it is NOT is really not the best approach…

What has kept me involved with the Haiku project for almost its entire 20 year history is that vision of having a cohesive open source operating system where a single person has hope of contributing to almost any part of the system, which no other OS can really claim. If we can keep pushing that vision and make Haiku as nice as we can I think it will definitely have a good niche in the world, and maybe get reasonably popular. Will it supplant Windows or macOS or even Linux on the desktop? Probably not, but that doesn’t mean we should just quit. I think a lot of people don’t quite get that. There is a middle ground between hugely popular and totally niche and hobbyist and I think that is where Haiku fits.


Did you visit sites that overused ads? If you only visit sites that only have mostly text then you are fine with any browsers. I have WebPositive always crashed for me with a particular site. Otter just crashed with this site, too. The previous time it could load that site properly, perhaps because I’m lucky that time.

Even without a modern browser, I have a use case for Haiku. The requirement is just a decent browser. I use Haiku inside Vbox, with a decent browser open to read manual and tutorial online, and use the terminal to ssh to manage my remote servers running Linux. Thanks to being Unix-like, Haiku has bash and most of the utilities I familiar with and I could work on the terminal without any major problems.

My favourite weather forecasting site ( doesn’t like either Web+ or Otter, but other than that most websites are fine.

Good day,

I started this post already 4 times, and cleared it 4 times already.

Just will say that when I joined Haiku didn’t even show up on Distrowatch. Today is at 69 (sexy :heart_eyes::star_struck:) on the list.

Keep up the good work (I’ll hopefully catch up). Haiku is getting better and better.

We should remember that Good Work always drives/draws attention, well, a bit of marketing also helps :wink:.



If we really must measure Haiku by the capabilities of its default web browser, then the appropriate comparison would be not with Linux, Mac, or Windows, but with those OSes sharing a similar fate: Starting out as commercial enterprises before the rise of the Internet, then being abandoned by their proprietors and maintained by a dedicated community unable to afford the host of full-time developers you need for a “modern” browser. Think of RISC OS (Acorn) and AROS (Amiga). They both have community-developed and/or -maintained system browsers like WebPositive, and compared to NetSurf (RISC OS) and OWB (AROS), WebPositive really is a prodigy! I have some experience using NetSurf on RISC OS - it’s a valiant effort, but after 18 years as quasi-official RISC OS browser, it still has no JS support I’m aware of, there is no tabbed browsing, and its bookmarking system is impractical as hell. And on RISC OS there’s no BASh shell to call up Lynx… Btw, even though RISC OS is so independent it feels almost alien in structure and handling and even uses its own unique CPU architecture, even their community does have to fend off allegations of it being some weird Linux “distro”, so when a casual user sees the UNIX-like features of Haiku it’s no wonder they’ll think “ha, thought so - another Linux distro”. Any actual user of Haiku will know better.

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