Haiku strategy with open-source softwares

Hello from a new member,

I just subscribed myself as I am so curious about this interesting project that I discovered recently. I could not resit testing Haiku on a USB memory key. What I can say: well done, congratulations to your community!

I am glad to see that there is a common vision on this open source OS that aimed at avoiding where Linux distributions are failing: the desktop (even if some distributions are sexy with eye-candy stuffs à la MacOSX). The vision of Linux is more or less: “freedom” and “choice is good”. To my point of view, too many choices kill the choice. And when you jump from one distribution to another, you feel lost … learning again the basics to get your marks. If Haiku follows a common UI strategy like Windows or MacOSX, I am for it!

Now, I have a couple of concerns regarding open source softwares:
First, how do you plan to control and do some Quality Assurance to make sure that developers who port softwares will follow your guidelines? (like in your FAQ, same copy-paste shortcuts everywhere!)

Regarding the best open-source softwares, would it be better to have a new branch in charge of adapting the look and feel and ergonomics to Haiku? I guest it involves complexity as some applications have different approaches in the UI layer and use different UI framework.

Another approach: Actual open source softwares ported to Haiku are just a transition, new softwares will come only for Haiku later.

If this doesn’t happen, I don’t see what could motivate people to switch to Haiku instead of Linux, Windows or MacOSX. Gimp, OpenOffice, Evolution, etc … will always be the same on any platform. Look at MS Office adaptation on MacOSX, a total different experience (that makes you enjoy MS for the first time).

What do you think?


We should probably have a list of interface guidelines for developers creating GUI applications for Haiku. When those guidelines are met, the applications can be added to the list of officially recommended apps.

There will be nothing like Apples iPhone rules.

We continue to ‘prefer’ native applications of ported applications such as KOffice, but choice is good.

Mail app >>>>> Evolution

If only open source projects are welcomed, it will be hard to motivate such developers, who are not willing to share the sources of their creative work for free. I e.g. have written an 8x8 and 10x8 multivariant chess program (GUI + engine) released as Windows donationware. But I do not intend to make its sources public.

In my opinion there’s really not much Haiku as a project can do against any app that is downloadable from somewhere and runs on Haiku, even if it wanted to (which it doesn’t, on the contrary: everyone wants more apps!). True, most of the current users and developers prefer native applications. Very few I’d say are FLOSS-only advocates, most, coming from the commercial BeOS platform, are not against paying for good software either.
Haiku is really a level playing field. Everyone is welcome to play! :slight_smile:

If an applications sucks, be it a native or a port, it won’t be successful. The included Haiku applications can be used as blue prints of good citizens with regard to GUI and usability. There’s also an old draft of a Haiku HIG that can help to better fit in.

For anything more, like doing QA for apps/ports, the project is too thinly spread as it is.


Yes, I agree with Herr Humdinger. I would also say that in general people in the Haiku project are less interested in propagating Richard Stallman’s GPL open source revolution than we are in just having a good BeOS compatible system and applications. If someone wants to create a commercial application and sell it for profit, that’s fine with me. In fact there are already dozens and dozens of commercial applications left over from BeOS. Wouldn’t it be wonderful if development were started again?

When we test BeOS applications on Haiku I will often send an email to the original company or developer and ask them if they want to continue development. Sometimes we have good results. The developers of BeCalc open sourced their code for us.

  • Andrew

I agree as well.

Following my main concern (UI consistency in apps), I don’t think it would be an issue with new commercial or shareware apps. I reckon that they will follow haiku’s dev and UI recommendations to get the best experience in terms of navigation and interaction design with the OS.

For the FOSS projects coming from the Linux’s world mainly, that’s another story: The day QT, GTK+, wxWidgets and company will be ported, you will get the same unconsistency between apps as Linux distributions. But I agree with your proposition: refering in official releases only applications when developers made the effort to use native API and followed guidelines.

I think people over-emphasise the importance of UI consistency. Windows is a lot more inconsistent than most major Linux distributions, and Mac OS isn’t a lot better.

Re Quality Assurance, the Firefox model seems to work pretty well. They allow people to freely modify and distribute the software but restrict how they can use the Firefox name and branding. The Firefox logo becomes like a Quality Assurance stamp, and only distributions of Firefox that meet a certain criteria can use it.

Reply to George: To me, UI consistency is important because that’s what it makes you feel at home when you use the computer of somebody else. If a friend of yours has a problem and both are using Windows or MacOSX, you can manage to solve something because you know how things are set up. Regarding desktop Linux distributions, it is almost hell! How can you help a friend or somebody else using RedHat when you are used to playing with SuSE or Ubuntu for instance: configurations tools are different, menus are different, packages may not be the same, even Windows can be different (is he using Gnome or KDE or something else?). When you guide him on the phone “click on the right corner of your window”, he may have a different Windows manager, may he?

End users with little experience should not ask themselves these types of questions. To me, that’s also why there are so few commercial Linux applications: there are too many constrains to stay compatible with all distributions. Without mentioning online support for all of them. If Linux distributions were consistent enough at the desktop level, I’m pretty sure we would have seen nice commercial applications or good ports from high demanding apps from Windows or MacOS. Some governments, institutions or companies would have made the switch to Linux with less hesitation.

I have never heard any good success stories with Linux at the desktop level. We hear from here and there that some institutions, government (Germany) are making the big jump … and then nothing, no news anymore.

If I understand the vision behind Haiku and just by reading the General FAQ, it’s clear to me that Haiku’s community wants to avoid that.

As just a potential user and not a developer. I just want quality apps. I do not mind paying for them. I really don’t… One of the reasons I don’t use linux as my primary os is that so many of the apps are not ‘polished’ or even what I would call complete. Free yes, good well… What I don’t like about Windows is the sheer price of the software. $200.00 for a windows license, $100.00 for a good CD/DVD burning/creation application. etc…etc… They gouge the consumer at every turn. I don’t use 1/2 the features of most of the apps I have bought. Just give me good, useful software at a reasonable price. I will gladly pay for it. Anyway, just my 2 cents.