Why I went from AmigaDos to BeOS to Haiku

Due to thread drift I am answering a question asked of me by california_dan in this thread why I choose BeOS/Haiku when I left the Amiga platform.

I don’t know if you want my full background but I have made a living as both a programmer and as a computer tech. I tend to build hardware where i need to write code to make it work.

The Amiga had features that after Commodore went under limited my choices in finding a replacement OS.

  1. Fast multitasking. Windows was a pig back then, there was something wrong with it when my 25 Mhz Amiga did not make me wait and Windows XP locked up for seconds at a time on a 133 Mhz machine. And while some programs were slower on the Amiga I could switch to something else while under Windows switching could be a pain.

  2. Multi-Desktops. Combined with number one it was just more fun to use Amigas.

  3. Datatypes, datatypes, datatypes. The ability to add features to a program without changing a single byte of code in said program was an eye opener. Other OS offered shared libraries, but add a new format and you have to get new programs for all and sometimes a program is no longer being updated. Datatypes add to programs even if there is no source or program updates.

  4. Scripting. AREXX do I need to say more.

  5. My custom hardware. I need to control hardware and that means the OS must let me as a user still be able to do things at a very low level.

Why no Mac? Costs and the problems creating and adding my own hardware to the machine due to the limited ports available on most machines.

Why not Amiga clones? The writing was already on the wall with the infighting between companies over rights and users not doing any development. Look at the Programming docs available for the Amiga internals, users had six year lead on BeOS/Haiku. The ARP showed the needed skills existed. If AROS of today had been available in 2005 or earlier I probably would had been interested then.

Why not Linux? Read NoHaikuForMe posts and realize just about every Linux programmer I meet locally acted like him. I would need local help to move to Linux as it was complex to install back then, but these were not the type of person I wanted to spend time with.

Why not Windows? Aside from my other complaints about Windows, back then there were few lower cost/free programming tools and reading Dr. Dobbs and other mags clearly showed that Windows API was a mess.

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This was the time period 1998-2000. It was not XP, I not sure if it was Win95 or Win98 I was using.

if you were still using DOS to run software then it’s win 95 if not it was 98…

Thanks for the nice story. I am a little backwards on this as I just purchased my first modern Amiga last week, and it should arrive in a week or two. Having never owned an Amiga before 2010, I caught the AmigaOne X1000 bug in early 2010 and have been exploring it ever since. Purchased some handfuls of old Amigas, tinkered, resold them, as the older Amiga line was not for me. But, I found I did think the newer OS 4.x would be for me in time and like that the Amiga platform actually has hardware specific for them. Today one can buy Sam based Amiga systems and I know they are far from real modern but in Amiga terms, they seem like nice little machines. Add to that that Amiga platform is still alive and kicking although it is a turbulent arena to play in. Crazy in fact.

The one thing that I don’t like about Haiku is what I consider a common hardware theme to buy that will for sure run Haiku. I am not interested in building my own system and want to buy a somewhat modern PC that is known to run Haiku. With this lack of focus, and a guessing game of what will and will not work, will I get sound, etc… is the one turn off point of Haiku for me. I sure wish they could have a yearly system that is tested and known to work for those interested in Haiku. Even go a step further and like Amiga, have a couple small companies making systems that are known to work with the OS of choice.

Meanwhile, I still enjoy watching what happens in Haiku but since my system runs Haiku but with no sound, I just don’t use it. So, I ended up spending some cash on an Amiga system and will explore it more fully now.


It was both. I am a computer tech and was always working on customers’ units. We sold and were the authorized repair center for Commodore (all their machines), IBM (computers and printers only), a range PC clones (Compaq mostly but lots of clones were bought in by customers) and the entire Apple line of computers and printers.

And yes, I was certified to work on them all.

I got to see these machines at their worse, software problems were always easier to fix on the non-PC machines. I think the real problem being the very wide range of hardware that Windows tries to support down to every feature possible.

One thing I did not like about Windows is it’s lack of generic drivers, every model of printer has it’s own special driver or shares a complex driver that tries to configure all the features of a printer. Amigas had PCLx drivers and Macs had Postscript drivers that did not depend on knowing every feature in a printer before they could print a page.

Hech I had a rebranded HP printer that says it is a Dell. In every way it is a HP printer but I have to use Dell’s drivers to make it print in Windows. Haiku I just select PCL5 and it works fine.

Haiku’s VESA driver is a good example, it does not give you all the features of a video card but it works on 95% of the cards presently being made, is there even a VESA driver for Windows?

Earl, first, thank you very much for posting your story. All the background information you provide is useful to me, and i could have read 10 times as much and it would still be useful. (And this is way, way, way off topic, but i am interested in whether your work in computers has anything to do with your interest in either boats or rockets, per your haiku bio.)

The fact that you want fine control of your own hardware and you chose Haiku means that at least for you, Haiku-controlled-hardware is within reach.

So those are all positive points.

One last question Earl is that since at least some times you’ve earned your bread through programming, have you written any Haiku applications or drivers that you feel like describing?

For me, x windows spoils linux.

But in terms of getting a system running these days, linux seems pretty easy: i just got an Dell Inspiron a few months ago and put ubuntu 10.10 on it with no issues whatsoever. And the vast majority of computers at my work place run ubuntu.

I don’t know if it is reasonable to expect Haiku to run on so much different hardware, and that is a concern. (But i’m aware of the hardware database at haikuware.com, so i guess i can look there for guidance.)

TJ — i would like to hear how your amiga experience plays out, particularly if you program on it. The idea of buying a pre-loaded computer is pretty appealing, especially if it comes with all the development tools it needs. I think it wouldn’t be proper etiquette to post here too much about amiga, but maybe it is ok to leave a link. (But if you do get a pre-loaded machine, will it have all the sources so that if the company providing it evaporates you could at least in principle build it on new hardware?)

Thanks again both of you for all the info.

It is very important to realize I was paid to develop business programs back then, ie Inventory Control, Accounts Receivable/Payable and Concrete Chemistry. In college I was taught Fortran and Cobol. I wrote/delivered business programs mostly in 1970s-1980s on micro/mini computers of that era.

For personal programming I mostly wrote in 68000 Assembler on the Amiga, so I did not develop useful programming skills when I moved to BeOS. There are tons of programmers out there who will scream in horror if they see my present code. Yes, I am that bad at it. The main place to find programs for your Haiku machine www.haiku.com,

http://www.google.ca/search?sourceid=chrome&ie=UTF-8&q=site%3Ahaikuware.com+pottinger will show you what I have written that is on that site. Look at the parallel sound driver or the digital scope program to see what type of software/hardware combos I usually do.

Hi Earl,

Thanks again for your history and especially the links to your code.

For me, this is pretty reassuring (and i’d say any screaming programmers
are acting :slight_smile: ).

I need to replace on of my systems and i want to replace it with something
that can dual boot into haiku and ubuntu. (I need the ubuntu because
i’m familiar with it and will do some work with it.)

I plan to get a tower or mini-tower.

What would you get if you were in my position?

I am aware of the hardware compatibility listing in haikuware.com, but
am interested in what hardware you’ve had the most success with.
(So thanks in advance if you have the bandwidth to send any suggestions
my way.)