Is Haiku an alternative yet?

Hello everyone,

I’m new to this forums and I’ve already read up quite a lot on Haiku, saw the slideshow & some videos and now I’m looking for more information. Maybe one thing first: I am no programmer. Did some basic stuff with Pascal and C back in the 90s, but that’s about it. I’d consider myself as someone with experience in computer stuff, but I am not an expert or geek. (which means that I’ll probably ask a lot of stupid questions…:wink: )

Anyway, a couple of years ago I would have said that “I’m an avid Mac user and I won’t ever use anything else!” but thanks to the direction Cupertino is taking lately, I won’t buy a new Mac. I’ll keep using my old PowerMac G5 with 10.4.11 until the day it stops running.

Knowing that this day will eventually come I’m looking for an alternative operating system to use for my everyday tasks. Just like I found an alternative in the Macintosh back in the 90s when the Commodore Amiga went down in flames. I tried Ubuntu, but somehow I can’t like it for whatever reason. I just don’t feel “home” and as if I am in charge. Odd.
Also tried AROS, an Amiga inspired OS for x86 machines, but it needs a lot more polish and I can’t seriously see they’re going anywhere.

So, well, here I am. Downloading Haiku and going to try it out on a pretty beat up notebook that I got from my sister’s husband to tinker with.

My first question is - is there a catalogue with categories that gives a quick overview about what software is available for Haiku - possibly including a download option?

I was thinking of something along the lines of this one here that I know:

Second question: Do you think Haiku, as it is right now, is ready to be used as an everyday OS? (no, I don’t expect a full OSX replacement, I just wonder about major bugs etc.)

Hey there! I’m a fellow mac guy who got tired of having to go out and buy a new version of the OS constantly (or face lack of java support, third party program updates suddenly not working on my machine anymore), as well as Apple’s increasingly locked down attitude as they gained market share. I am a programmer, so your mileage may vary, but here’s my response:

No, Haiku is not yet ready to be the only OS on your machine. It’s a great OS with some real possibilities, but I put it at the kind of level of stability as the Windows 9Xs. They worked well, but crashes happened frequently enough so that you got used to them, the network support was spotting, etc… Haiku is actually great with apps.

The issues are driver support and bugs that are still being worked out. If your hardware is fully supported by Haiku then that’s half the battle there. Then I would recommend Haiku for a fellow programmer who wants to develop in system. But for a user wanting to find a new OS to replace OS X (I fall into that category too), then it’s just not ready yet. Disappointing I know, and I am psyched about what Haiku can be, but there’s no reason to lie and tell you it’s ready before it is and then have you start thinking that Haiku as is is what it’s meant to be for the casual end user.

But if you’re putting it on an old laptop or have a second hard drive in a machine and want to dual boot, then by all means give Haiku a spin.

I would suggest you to give a try with linux for now it’s a good replacement OS. But if you like Haiku donate a bit so the dev team can continue to work on this amazing OS!
Haiku could be used daily but it has some bugs that some times freaks me out but we will have to wait more until it reach beta stage…

Not for end users until mid to late Beta stage. Right now just past mid-Alpha stage. Haiku works well overall but has bugs and lacks applications. Has decent amount of programs but nothing close to Windows, Linux or OS X.

You can play with Haiku as a 2nd or 3rd OS for now. You are better off going with Linux. My favorites are Debian & CentOS. Ubuntu goes after cutting edge and not that stable.

Also better to test Haiku out with a nightly image because Alpha 2 is too old.

in terminal, type installoptionalpackage
that script will let you install some programs and libraries to start you off.

Hey everyone,

I’d like to leave a “thank you” for the honest and detailed answers. Is there something like a road map of Haiku development for the public? So that we know when to expect the beta - or is it “when it’s done” ?

Thanks also for the recommendation of Linux. However, I’m not an expert when it comes to computers and Ubuntu is said to be by far the best entry-level Linux distribution. Correct me if I’m wrong please. I think I’ll just go on using my OS X (10.4.11) the next one, two, maybe three years and check the progress of Haiku regularly.

By the way, successfully installed Haiku on my notebook yesterday. It runs very fast and feels slim & responsive, something I really appreciate in an OS. This could become something great, a real alternative to Win/OSX/Linux. Kudos to the developers!

Regarding donations I’m between jobs right now and a bit tight on money, but I’d like to donate a small sum for development and eventually another, bigger one. Is there a bounty page for Haiku somewhere or how is it organized?

You can actually donate directly to Haiku, if you like. While for some orgs a donation might go toward beer at a party or something, donating directly to Haiku means that the money donated goes toward something to directly advance Haiku – they people involved tend to be pretty conservative financially. Common expenses are marketing materials (fliers, etc.) that are usually used at conventions like Scale and Ohio LinuxFest or toward code sprints and contracts. Once in a while Haiku purchases hardware for driver development. If you’re looking for something more specific, Haikuware has a bounty program going, instead.

I will point out that with open source OSes the development is slow. Like driving in 1st gear because too few developers using little time to work on the OS. Only exceptions to this are Linux, (Google’s) Android & FreeBSD. These 3 are the only open source OSes that are getting lots of development and support.

Haiku does not have a roadmap. When developers believe they have reached a certain level they will make a release. Early Beta will not happen for 2-5 years by my rough estimate. Development speed could pick up but only with R1 (or late Beta) release.

This is the same story for other OSes like Aros, ReactOS, etc. Closed source, for profit OSes, tend to move along at much better pace. Like Windows, OS X, MorphOS (non-x86) & AmigaOS (non-x86).

Debian & CentOS are fairly easy to install & use too. They tend to focus more on stability rather than cutting edge. Debian is real good choice for someone new to Linux. Ubuntu is based off Debian and so are many other distros. You only need CD1 (& CD2) depending on options you choose for install or can get “netinst” ISO (minimal OS that installs everything else by Internet). i386=32-bit, AMD64=64-bit.

Money donated goes towards contract work, marketing and to pay for Linux conferences. If you want to donate follow the link on the page below:

unless someone get the BEOS IP rights and decide to open source it once and for all then the pace would change for good…

How so?

Haiku is partially rewrote from the BEOs R5 source code (where the binary compatibility lies) if BeOS became available under an open source license this rewrite becomes useless so the Haiku could go foward to beta stage sooner, of course. This is hypothetically speaking.

This is a notion mostly people new to the project entertain. But if I remember past chats on the mailing lists correctly, most of the current developers don’t agree with that. Opensourced BeOS code would have been a big help at the very beginning of Haiku (then “OpenBeOS”). For a few years now however, Haiku has so much progressed, been debugged and enhanced, that introducing a big code dump from exBeOS would probably make more work than it’s worth.
Consider that everything has to be scrutinized and debugged which would be a huge draw on Haiku’s resources. As a money-making company (you wish! :)) Be Inc. was probably even more tempted to cut corners and hack their way to a release than a FOSS project like Haiku…
While I bet there’d still be a few areas where an inspirational look at the BeDev’s code would be interesting, it wouldn’t be a quantum leap for the project.

Speaking of BeOS IP however: Much more useful would be the full rights to the old BeBook describing the API, which would be the perfect basis for an uptodate HaikuBook. Unfortunatly ACCESS (IP holder) has decided to keep holding on to that and only releasing it under a “Attribution Non-Commercial No Derivatives (CC-BY-NC-ND)” Creative Commons license, meaning it’s only allowed to use “as is”. Bummer.


Really? AmigaOS strikes you as moving “along at much better pace” ? The AmigaOS 4 project is older than Haiku, started out with a complete working operating system, and today it’s pretty far behind Haiku on pretty much any basis except “compatible software” if you’re willing to squint and count all the 10+ year old m68k Amiga programs.

Yes, compared to other open-source, alternative OSes.

  1. AmigaOS is actually released. Not in Alpha or Beta stages but Final. ie, less bugs to worry about, stable and not in state of change. Makes it useable today. With Haiku you take the risk that programs or the OS may not work or break by using it now.

  2. AmigaOS is at version 4.1. Having gone through many changes and improvements along the way.

The biggest drawbacks to AmigaOS:

  1. Legal battle between Amiga vs Hyperion. This delayed the release of 4.0. Seems this was resolved and will allow the OS to move along much better.

  2. Supporting specific PowerPC systems only. It would have been better to switch to x86 or ARM to make $$$. Or at very least support x86 systems with specific sound, network & graphics - ie, HDA sound, VESA + Intel/Nvidia, 3 popular network brands like Realtek. PowerPC might be cool but many will not buy any new PowerPC systems today. Look @ Apple changing over to x86. New PowerPC computers are costly and will be niche market.

  3. Not supporting Apple’s PowerPC hardware. Huge and costly mistake. They’re missing a big opportunity here because Apple sold many PowerPC systems that are still used today. People still have PowerPC Macs running MacOS X. One day Apple won’t support it anymore. People already own and are accustom to the PowerPC hardware so why not just change out the OS? This is something MorphOS is going for to increase their user base. Smart move by MorphOS that will get them more users and make them more money.

  4. They now have to compete with Morphos (& AROS) for users.

Still, AmigaOS is progressing much quicker than many other non-mainstream, alternative OSes out there. If Hyperion (AmigaOS) would address issues 2 & 3 above then they would make lots more money = hiring more developers & even faster progress.

That would be true in the early days of Haiku development but not today.

Haiku has developed differently and more mature today. Early on, you could look through Haiku code and use it to make changes to BeOS to upgrade it. Today, you would have to merge the programs. Take time looking at code from both OSes and trying to merge in Haiku code assuming BeOS was more stable option. That would require lots more work.

ie, Simpler to take Program A from the start and make improvements and add new features to it (ie, Zeta) than to take two similar Programs, A & B, and to merge them together to make them into one. Merging means you have to know the code for both OSes very well and could get confusing.

Anyways, 1) No one will buy BeOS off Access because they’d want to get couple of million for it. Not going to happen. 2) It would only give minor help to Haiku today, 3) Haiku is about same level to BeOS today and actually needs to attract more developers.

I see ACCESS doing this for 2 reasons:

  1. Haiku is MIT. Anyone can take the source and create a closed source version to sell. Which could make BEOS worthless to ACCESS. I think it is worth $5-$20M to them. Non-commercial stops person from giving copy of BeBook with their closed-source, for money, Haiku based OS. No derivatives stops someone from making a book similar to BeBook to either sell or give with their for profit, Haiku based OS.

  2. ACCESS wants credit for the BeBook so that people who use Haiku will know that BeOS belongs to ACCESS. ie, Haiku depends on BeOS API

Only 2 solutions to this problem.

  1. Use BeBook and create addition (another book/manual) with Haiku specific stuff in it.
  2. Write Haikubook from scratch that does not resemble BeBook in any way. ie, you would need to avoid using the BeBook for reference, doing everything with your own words and differently where possible.

#1 Is simplest and quickest solution
#2 Makes learning easier to follow but could cause trouble with ACCESS @ some point if Haikubooks looks similar to BeBook

For #1. The Haikubook could start by saying refer to section X in Bebook first. Then say what is different or specific only to Haiku once the developer has read the BeBook section.

For #2. You would want to look at the API and start from there to write a Haikubook without looking or using the BeBook.

AmigaOS was first released over 25 years ago. So what? That makes it older, not progressing faster.

I really suggest you look at what Hyperion have achieved with their 10 years on AmigaOS and compare that to Haiku. That’s what would give some idea of which is progressing faster. Consider USB for example, on Haiku of course you have USB 2, it’s not an entirely complete stack but for most purposes it’s fine. With AmigaOS 4 you have USB 1.1 only; Or look at wireless networking, Haiku’s wireless support is a long way from the mainstream systems, but AmigaOS users are still using 802.11b Prism chipsets like a BeOS R5 user.

I use haiku daily, Since I am learning c/c++/x86 asm its working fine for me. However the biggest problem is hardware support and bug related to that. For the most part thats the big issue. If I was leading the team I would narrow down hardware support and make that support rock solid. That would help on reducing development time and maybe increase uptake. Kind of like the MAc situation in a few ways but maybe not as restrictive.That would go a long way to adoption if people knew what would positively work.

When released AmigaOS 5 will have:
USB 2, Support for over 2GB RAM, SMP, Gallium 3D

It should also have some newer drivers too. AmigaOS 4 took 5 years of development and was released Dec 2006. I expect AmigaOS 5 to come out in about 3 years time. Haiku hopefully is in early-mid Beta by then.

The biggest issue was drawback #1 that I stated above. Fight between Amiga Inc vs Hyperion. Since resolved, it should allow AmigaOS to progress at better rate. Now that Hyperion has the rights to AmigaOS 4.x & any newer versions they develop. This should get AmigaOS development on the fast-track. Amiga Inc is the problem because they want to do 0% of the work and take 100% of the profits. That’s why AmigaOS progress has been slow (or stalled) over many of those 25 years and now with Hyperion the OS will progress much faster.

AmigaOS 4.1 Update 2 allows running an Alpha version of Firefox 3.5.

I was comparing AmigaOS to the other alternative OSes from the links I provided and not directly with Haiku. Haiku is the fastest developed OS on those links - compared to the other OSes - and shows the most promise for success and acceptance. Still, by the time Haiku reaches R1 we could be close to AmigaOS 6 release. Of course, today Haiku is further along in couple of areas because of Amiga Inc trying to find a partner that would do the development work and then find some way to screw them over. The differences should be less when AmigaOS 5 is released.

Here is a list of all the changes that were done in AmigaOS 4 and newer to show that Hyperion are actually doing work and not slacking. Fairly impressive but without getting around drawbacks 2 & 3 above the OS will not get very far. Also, Hyperion only took on the job in 2001 - 10 years from now.


Thanks also for the recommendation of Linux. However, I’m not an expert when it comes to computers and Ubuntu is said to be by far the best entry-level Linux distribution. Correct me if I’m wrong please. I think I’ll just go on using my OS X (10.4.11) the next one, two, maybe three years and check the progress of Haiku regularly.


Hey, Arminius, for the time being until Haiku is (more) ready for prime time, if you’re interested in trying another Linux distribution, I would recommend you take a look at PCLinuxOS ( I also tried Ubuntu and never really liked it much, but I use PCLinuxOS as my daily driver. It’s easy to install, offers more flexibility than I feel Ubuntu does, has a team of devs that keep its software repositories up to date and reliable, and it has a fantastic user community.