Asking - Why Haiku ? Which progs are ?.. (switching from Windows, as a non IT expert)

Look at the HaikuDepot to find software:

Libre office works!
No Thunderbird, Haiku has its own Mail apps
Web Browser: Web Epiphany and WebPositive

Thanks for that. Do you use Haiku as your main OS or as a secondary?

“How long is a piece of string?”
It all depends on how you use your computer. For example, because I don’t game, not having hardware 3D acceleration is not a sacrifice for me. If you do, it’s a showstopper, because there are very few 3D games available, few the average gamer will play, and those run slow.
Some websites have trouble displaying correctly with the browsers available. If you can’t do without them, it’ll impact your day-to-day usability.
The list goes on and on…

I’ve been using Haiku as my main OS for well over a decade. That’s probably because Haiku is my main reason for using a computer in the first place… :slight_smile:

All that said, I don’t think you will gain much from the answers posted here. Only anecdotes why Haiku works as main OS for someone or doesn’t. Doesn’t help you decide if it’ll work for you. Luckily you can just download an image, put it on a USB stick or run it in a virtual machine and see if it fits your needs.


As above…try it running ‘live’.

I’m only a casual user of Haiku, Linux & BSD are my main O/S, having said that, I could probably survive running just Haiku, as a basic desktop user, (internet forums, music, videos, etc).

Certainly I understand the generalization of peoples opinions here and that their strings vary in length. If you’re trying to understand what usable length of string is then each person adds to answer.
For instance the gaming comment. I’ve seen some on this and it wouldn’t be for gaming. But it would be for work. The link to get to the repository which either I missed or wasn’t directly available from the main site. From the main site you end up here (and the FAQ mention is also not a link):
Which tells about the depot but it was not the depot. I am certainly trying to shortcut to answers. I would have eventually tried a searching specifically for Haiku Depot and found it.
I believe that reasonable questions asked of knowledgeable people with intelligent answers leads to the transfer of knowledge. Also there is fundamentally too much crap on the internet and it takes some knowledge to determine what is and what is not reasonable. I prefer to come to the source.
But my post is not about that and I drift into beliefs. Although I believe a beginners guide rather than a users guide would be helpful for people exploring Haiku. Even a section in this forum for Noob Questions could be compiled into a ready set of answers. The FAQ has general information but isn’t really targeted at a “can I use this as my main OS” beginner. Working with Haiku in a Windows/iOS world? Users create demand, demand creates development, well until some company offers enough money to obtain it.

Why is Haiku you main reason for using a computer? Are you a code slinger? Do you not use a computer in some form for work? And if so does it run on Haiku?

@camtaf What does you use Haiku for? Is it just because you’re interested in other OS or is there something that attracts you to it? Do you find the combination of the 3 work well? Do you use it in a work environment? Which Linux are you using?

Other questions:
Can Haiku talk with other computers on a local network if the other computers are windows?
If running from the LIVE CD/USB and I install something like WINE to test it, will it mess with my windows or other aspects after I am not using the LIVE?

That is discussed here:

and I think the simple answer is “No”.


I love haiku, i think it is a beautiful OS with great potential.

However in answer to your question, it is probably NOT the system you are looking for.

Try it, play with it, by all means.

But if you want to replace your windows 7, i would recommend Zorin OS or Linux Mint

Have Fun


Thank you for the concise answers, they’re helpful. Anything can be done with enough effort, and for myself it hard to determine what level of effort it would take.

What makes it beautiful? I am beginning to think you are correct and Haiku may not be the system I’m looking for. I liked what I read about it and the flavor I’ve seen from the site.
Is the beauty the thought out methods of operation? I have often used programs that …“flow” and others that are like trying to stack spheres.

Well, you are coming from Windows, that means always you have to learn a lot to get around with another OS. Because in Windows everything is simple and automatic, in other OSs mostly not. And Haiku is not completely finished, this is another reason why you must “invest” some learning if you want to get along with Haiku.

If you stay on USB, you can’t do much wrong. Try it. I think what Humdinger and Ubu want to say is: Try it!

(In case you install Haiku on HD, you should do a backup before. But that’s already a bit paranoid.)

I plan to. A big part of my goal is a replacement and playing with it certainly progresses that forward but takes a bit of time to really explore. I wasn’t sure about the LIVE as I didn’t want to mess up my current system and have to spend a lot of time repairing. I was going to put it on a comp just to play with just to ensure that. Being able to play on my current system and not worry makes it much easier.
I don’t mind a learning curve, but want to find something that works and I can stick with. I keep my mobile phone for 5-10 years.
I’m going to look at Zorin as suggested and Unbuntu and Debian as possible fits.
What do you see in the future for Haiku? The fact that it was reborn from BeOS seems to show it has a dedicated following.

I think not only the future, but also the present of Haiku is far beyond just BeOS. But that’s more an intuitive impression. And Haiku has followers, yes, it is cool. It is further developed than some indie OSs (like ReactOS), but less than others (BSD? maybe Hurd?) You CAN use it as a daily driver, but you have to restrict yourself. As said, no 3D accelerated games (but games yes), not every Windows product, but some office (Allegra Office or what was it?), and two email clients (“Mail” and “Beam”). So we really can’t give you a clear “Yes” or “No” on the question “Is it good as a daily driver?”.

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Certainly. No one can answer if it works for you but you. I’m looking for the experiences and comments and answers that I didn’t find in the general reads I’ve done. I’m considering it for work (no games) which most of what I do on this system is pretty basic. Although I have to consider the other people and computers I have to interact with.
I never played with many OS other than windows and well DOS. I’m somewhat aware of others but with no experience.

Haiku lacks some feature to be a daily driver for most people:

  • HW accelerated 3D Support
  • Multi Monitor Support
  • Disk encryption
  • Security (only root user, no password, …)
  • Sleep Mode
  • Really modern Browser (even if Epiphany / Gnome Web is pretty good)
  • Webcam Support
  • probably many others …

Why i find it beautiful is the Look, the package management, the simplicity, the window management (Stack and Tile), the vector Icons (i think the icons screensaver is gorgeous), the files attributes and the indexing in the filesystem …

I think you REALLY should try Zorin OS (Core), it is based on ubuntu but with a really nice windows like interface.
I am using Linux for over 25 years now and zorin is what i suggest to all windows users who want to switch


Thanks for that. I’m a mechanical Mad Scientist so elegant devices that you look at and say… that’s a nice design certainly appeal to me. I am going to take Haiku for a drive and get my own experience with it. I had FORTRAN 77 long ago and realized that I was not meant for programming.
Zorin is on my list to look at. I’ve been sorting through all the content on Ubuntu and Debian. A lot to digest.

I’m curious why I don’t see things like Zorin come up in comparisons. I’m not even sure how I found Haiku but it wasn’t a well beaten path. Are most of the comparisons and writeups just more crap for advertising views?

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Dear @Xtract ,

Switching from an other OS always requires A LOT to learn.

Previously you wrote above what I filtered so, you are still in discovery and decision really :

→ Why macOS ?
→ Why Linux ?
Why Haiku ?

So you had not decided, and you would like a (rich) list of applications
that worked on Windows – and … works here as well

The questions about Wine also implicates this -
you indeed want to avoid the learning curves - if possible - that needs to be walk through as even the familar programs on ANY OSes ABOVE will be available …

I must share the sorrow truth : the OS itself - and how it is working -will be different. Always.
So they won’t work as a little bit other Windows. I tell it as you wrote you are not an IT expert.
I can assure you :
anyone can learn macOS , Linux, Haiku
if accepts that … it will be new for them, and they have to learn A LOT.
The OS, and the new programs those available for them for a task they want to execute.

I say so as I can take myself an IT expert - on a scale :slight_smile: – as I had worked as IT admin on several UNIXes, Linuxes and also in work and at home used Windows (from 3.1 to Win7) and Linux (different distros) for longer years …
… and now Haiku for longer a year
and almost a year as daily driver.
For me also : Haiku is a learning curve.

As from last questions we can see …
you wouldn’t finally terminate the usage of Windows - even you would asked how Haiku is a daily driver - also mentioning your question regards Haiku as a work environment.

Then your decision is to switch to an another OS than Windows is easy.
I accept your decision you would use longer as many familiar programs as you can to your working environment.

Select the next OS depending on
which offers the most familiar programs – natively !..

This way you would not need to learn how to /use/configure Wine or face to that : that program cannot be used with Wine (such things can happen! ).

Such “talk” should be scpecified …
Anyway, if you interested in … Haiku knows the Win workgroup domain. You can add your existing workgroup on Network config panel and install Samba which is the open source solution to that (File and printer services) protocol, so file transfer among them can be secured this way.
However, how to configure you must learn. The Other OSes also use Samba, so to learn it - useful … in case any other OS you would select finally.

From your question I understand you had not used LIVE CD / USB earlier
not even Linux or Haiku.

Live CD / USB is still an installer material - just a special one.

The simple installer materialcontains :
→ bootloader (BIOS and/or UEFI one : Haiku since Beta4 surely offers both)
that will boot into installer
→ installer software
→ the OS and the bundled apps with it - in a kind of installing packages.
And also there so called network install, in this case a minimal config exists that enables that installed OS components and apps selected downloaded and installed from (a) network destination(s) - so called repositories (or repo, as they called aslo :slight_smile: ) .
Of course there is a hidden, small OS under the installer that is booted to have the installer software running, but that is not available in case a simple installer.
In case Windows installer - the Windows 7 installer media was the first that enables to have a reduced OS - other than the installer, but this is rather for recovery purposes. Anyway - back on track …

… So Live CD / USB differs in that - it contains
→ bootloader (BIOS and/or UEFI one : Haiku since Beta4 surely offers both)
→ installer software (in case Haiku it is within the OS image)
→ the OS and the bundled apps with it - in a read-only image file

On a Live installer you can boot into the Installer or onto the Live OS, that will be booted from the image.

So the full OS is available in an “image” (basucally read-only due to the CD/DVD itself) format on the install material.
The image means that in a same way as it is would in installed form on the final destination … e.g. in the hard disk in your computer.
So not installable, but executable way … this way you can try out.

The Live CD/DVD/USB can use up this - you can select the Live version when the installer boots.
In this case not the installer starts BUT the OS itself from this image file.
I said this image is read-only - if it is on a CD / DVD as they are read only in itself - the ISO CD ROM format basically not writable - at least not the OS images as they are not written to an optical disc that way – but in a ISO ‘CD-ROM’ not in packet writable CD session or DVD RAM that requires special optical drive. (Thanks to God and engineers – it would be reeaaalllly slooooow ! :slight_smile: )

It can be different
in case USB thumb drive - in that case the USB contains the image such way that is writable (or not, I will describe it later).

So if you install something from a Live CD/DVD’s running OS

it will be installed into your RAM onto a ramdisk :
it will be in the RAM until you shutdown or reboot the machine.
As I used Haiku mostly from Live USB not CD/DVD when I tried to install packages, I am not certain as in case Haiku itself. As Haiku is on a BFS on CD/DVD and do not assume devs prepared a different way
you may get error massage to unsble to install as it would try to install into the BFS image on the CD/DVD - that not possible.
So without certain - I think Haiku does not use a ramdisk for this as Linux distros does where no persistent storage present (at most ones).

One exception that can harm your installed Windows - if you do something with your hard disk using the available commands programs in the running Live Haiku.
For example
you start the Haiku Installer
and then
there is a part when you have to prepare install place for the Haiku install – even on your hard drive - if no other drive available.
Of course
you can select an USB thumb drive

  • or external drive or other drive in the machine you have -
    to create and install there
    or not install anywhere as you have a Haiku already in the a Live format.
    SO in case CD/DVD
    primarily hard to damage your installed Windows, but possible.

Ok , so in case USB, and many Linux distros the same as in case CD/DVD installer as often there is no so called ‘persistent storage’ prepared. The installer and the CD image resides on a FAT32 partition - so you must create manually a filesystem and mount it - otherwise the Linux install will be doing into a ramdisk.

Not in case Haiku Live USB - in case Haiku image resides on a valid BFS (Be Filesystem) partition - this way if you try out to install something the installation will be happen here (on the USB drive and until the available free space on it).

But you must consider the Live image partiton is small, especially in case Haiku 64bit - to avoid huge download size when get it in ISO file :
Beta4 DVD : 1.4 GB
Nightly CD : 700 MB

So if you want install Wine here then the Haiku package manager might want update the OS as well and you won’t fit here, as for safety purposes Haiku
saves the old packages that those update,
download the new packages
and Wine as well
Finally then you would put here the Windows software to install.

So in case experiment with Wine from a Live Haiku - we are there what others suggested
install Haiku in a test place - at least with 14 - 20 GB to have enough free space. Haiku won’t occupy large space like Windows

Welcome to the Haiku shell.

~> df -h
 Mount             Type      Total     Free      Flags   Device
----------------- --------- --------- --------- ------- ------------------------
/boot             bfs        14.0 GiB   9.9 GiB QAM-P-W /dev/disk/usb/0/0/0
/boot/system      packagefs   4.0 KiB   4.0 KiB QAM-P-- 
/boot/home/config packagefs   4.0 KiB   4.0 KiB QAM-P-- 
                  ramfs             0  29.6 GiB QAM-PRW 

Thisd is my install now - Haiku 64bit R1B4 base install (first line : /boot ) no updates available installed until now.
This is ten times bigger than Live Haiku ISO image.
As you can see almost 10GB is still free. However I had not unselect packages from base install - so a base developer environment and the usual demo progs also installed.
I installed 2 command line progs 2 packages to have themes installed and StreamRadio, as those have not dependencies or had not pulled the whole update to latest as others I issued and finally cancelled.

So, the decision on you.
You may continue your discovery –
look at the same things at

macOS (that requires new HW as well) ,
GNU/Linux distros (many-many selections to decide :
which distro ?

which graphical server : standard X11 or Wayland ?
which window manager ?
which graphical environment : Gnome, KDE, XFCE, etc ?

Without intention and dedication moreover hard will to learn NEW and A LOT - you may stay at Windows.

I think that’s true, but I also think Zorin OS is a good way to try something other than Windows.

I appreciate the reply. I am willing to put the effort into a viable solution. I’m trying to avoid having to do it multiple times, or at least minimize the times, which is more difficult based on my familiarity.
Also glad for the warning about operations on the HD when running LIVE.
Just to clarify macOS is not an option I’m considering at the moment.

I agree that any new item has a learning curve. Even versions of the same item. A better phrase than “avoid a learning curve” would be to minimize the learning curve unless there is some significant benefit in the result.

This is my intent. Part of that is the discovery of what programs are available and the general feel of the OS. Haiku has been my first exploration in that. I’m not sure what originally attracted me to it after so much reading. It still seems interesting.

I think you cover it. There are files on a local windows OS server that I would need to be able to access.

It sounds like a LIVE USB with enough room to let the OS play with files on the USB would be the way to test drive Haiku?

Both Zorin and Mint seem to in that category of easier windows user migration. It would be nice to have the desktop be similar but certainly not necessary. I don’t know how feasible it would be to get the entire work group to change OS. So the ability to live on a local network with windows users would be a plus and if it proves out then potentially a non windows environment.
We have no really dedicated IT which makes a unified choice harder. So doing some front end work to hopefully smooth the process if it is feasible.

Linux in general has good networking, including Samba which can connect to a SMB Windows.