The “Distro Walk” column in Linux Magazine for the March issue is about Haiku, for which the column’s author Bruce Bryfield contacted the project by email, and I gave an interview for it.
You can find it online, but it is behind a paywall.
Two excerpts (not anything surprising, but I think these two bits came off well, and collect some ideas we have scattered or in more abbreviated form elsewhere):
LM: What do you mean by a cohesive operating system?
w: The general argument we make on Haiku is that such problems Linux has are inherent to the ecosystem the Linux desktop has chosen for itself. There is not one “Linux desktop” project (or even a few competing ones); there’s X11 (or now Wayland) for the display server, various differing options for a window manager, [and] Gnome or KDE or Xfce or whatever else for the desktop environment (and these are themselves huge projects with often competing interests internally). That’s before we even get to ALSA, PulseAudio, systemd, or the multiple dozen other components you have to mix together in order to come up with something that actually can boot and display a web browser.
[As an example of the complications Linux’s setup can cause,] take the bug reporting process on Linux. You have to begin by first establishing what project has responsibility for the application in question with the bug (is it Gnome? is it one of Gnome’s sub-projects? is it really in PulseAudio, and Gnome just is displaying the error message?) which requires you to basically be an expert in the first place. Then once you have reported it, you may find out that the bug has already been fixed in a newer version your distribution does not have or is due to an incompatibility created by your distribution’s packagers, or may well be a legitimate bug but is unreplicable outside of your distribution, so the developers do not care to bother with it. [By contrast,] Haiku is a fully cohesive ecosystem. There are of course still some issues with sorting out when a problem in an application is due to a bug in Haiku, a bug in our port of the application, or the application itself, but these are much easier to resolve when the boundaries between projects are much clearer. Bugs or feature requests for the base system itself are even easier: Whether it’s really a bug in the UI toolkit, the graphics server, or the kernel, it’s our responsibility, and we just need to agree amongst ourselves where [is] the best place to solve it. This means there’s a lot less wasted effort and a lot more efficient development. If someone spots a minor problem in the file manager, a developer can post a patch for it, have installable test builds available within hours, and once it’s merged, it will be in the binary update repositories for the “nightly” channel the next day. And everyone who updates their OS will get it. Whereas on Linux, if you report some issue with a default application and it gets fixed, it could take a year to trickle down into your local distribution, and you would otherwise have to resort to compiling it yourself or using an AppImage.
LM: Would you like to say anything else?
w: I started volunteering for Haiku in early high school, and I learned a massive amount in working on it all these years from the other developers and contributors – not just in technical terms, but also in community organization, how to mentor new developers, and too many other things to count. I’m very grateful for all that I’ve learned, and the patience with which it was taught, and now I get paid to pay it forward by working on Haiku and mentoring the current newcomers! Overall, it is just a great project to be a part of.
Apropos of this, later in May this year will be the 10th anniversary of my involvement with the project (I opened my first bug ticket in May 2012.) Here’s to my next 10.
Thank you Augustin, for everything you’ve done for Haiku, with all my heart.
The parts of the interview I can read are really great!
Unfortunately it seems they only accept Paypal,otherwise I’d even pay for reading the rest.
I would just like to pat myself on the back because waddlesplash learned about Haiku from my
“The Dawn of Haiku OS” article in IEEE Spectrum.
Beyond that of course is all him, ROFL. Plus these days I find myself asking him for advice about Haiku more than the opposite.
Very nice interview! I think you made a good point in what makes Haiku unique as a desktop operating system.
Here is what has been on my mind for awhile now. Everyone is excited to see Haiku R1 (stable) finally ship. The thing I feel is most important with such a release is making a first and lasting impression for the ages. Leave no stone unturned and make sure you hit this thing out of the park. There is a place for Haiku in the space of desktop computing.
Exactly right. It’s what makes Haiku such a promising alternative OS.
Interesting read Mr. waddlesplash!
Nice, but they might want to update their text, if I haven’t missed that we got Firefox ported.
Nothing newer than Firefox 2 as far as I’m aware? That doesn’t really count anymore
Maybe reach out to linux magazine so they can change their text?