Right on. Someone can’t just “extract the window manager and move it to linux” as quoted. There’s really only two routes I see that someone can go.
– The first path or approach, tried by the Cosmos and BlueEyedOS developers, was (far as I know) to provide an abstraction and/or compatibility layer between Linux and Be applications. Personally, I believe this in 2020 to be a waste of valuable time and resources to carry out both because BeOS was 19 years ago by now and more importantly because Haiku already provides an open source environment to run BeOS applications (in its 32-bit edition). It would be impressive for a person or team to get classic Be apps going as is on Linux, but in the grand scheme of things, the workload involved in getting both classic Be and native Haiku applications to work flawlessly with Linux would take dedication and time, and at least two projects have already tried. It could be done (on the Intel side), however, but again, my honest outlook is… why?
– The second path or approach, somewhat tried by myself, was to try to have an accelerated Haiku VM on top of a Debian distribution as part of the “Couplet” edition of the failed Poem project. Of course, the whole project caved on itself as it tried to do too much without QC or a solid roadmap that went beyond dreams and promises on the blog… but that’s another point. The main thing I want to mention here is why the Couplet edition itself failed, and that reason is that it’s just not enough to just throw a VM on top of a Linux distribution, give the desktop a coat of blue and yellow, and call it good. In order to really do this second method (well), what someone would realistically need is something that would work with it. In other words, in my humble opinion, this would be the way forward if any hopeful developer was to choose Linux as a kernel/foundation for a Be inspired or Be-like OS:
Wrapper for vintage apps. To me, (and I could be wrong), but I believe that if a developer or dev team is serious about creating a Be desktop on Linux, they will have to build a shiny new desktop environment that isn’t a recycling of current Gtk or Qt enviroments, etc. Why? For several reasons (which are part of the next point) but also because the file manager will have to work like Finder does with Classic in Mac OS 10.0-4; when a vintage Be app is launched, the user will either be automatically launched into that environment (or be asked to). And the rest of the environment will need to center around this principle. It’s there to be a Be inspired desktop unique to itself, not yet another Linux DE with a theme pack.
Such an effort will also need to move beyond BeOS applications. Yes, really. People here will think I’m insane on this point, but here’s my reasoning for this second point. Macintosh is my #1 favorite (Be/Haiku is a close #2 for me; both are really cool systems), and a big part of why with the Mac is because of how well the OS X transition was made. In short, minus all the variations, etc. one could delve into, there were three classes of applications: Classic, Carbon, Cocoa. And on the end of this basic trio was Cocoa. So, if anyone (you, me, or someone else) were to create a BeOS environment, it would have to do two jobs: run classic apps through an integrated VM with acceleration (the easy route I’d prefer, although one could go with integrating BeOS app support in the kernel per route 1), and on the other side, ship with a new, next generation class of applications that would support dynamic user interaction, animation, and a whole new API to bind to. It’d literally be a way to move forward and give a fresh kickstart to the desktop (if one was indeed building a Linux system around it). Without that vision in place, this really is where Couplet failed, and where I believe any Linux-based OS or distro will also fail if it doesn’t strive to be a true Be desktop.
Will I ever work on this? At this point, I can say I both do dream of building this as a proof of concept someday… and also am not sure. And the reason behind the half doubt here is because what I’ve mentioned isn’t easy as it sounds on paper, and would take long hours of dedication and work to make happen for whoever does see the vision and builds it. Again, I really believe it’d have to go beyond recycling and be a new environment in heart and soul.
But hey, to the hopeful Be fans reading this wanting to use Linux: if you have the vision to build a real Be-inspired system using Linux as your base/core, then go for it! I just wanted to chime in and mention it’s not as easy as ‘port the window manager over’ to make it work right.