Template:Infobox OS

BeOS was an operating system for personal computers which began development by Be Incorporated in 1991.



The Be Operating System, commonly refered to as BeOS, was first written in 1991 to run on BeBox hardware. Unlike other operating systems of the time, BeOS was written from the ground up to be a GUI-based operating system. Optimized for digital media work, BeOS makes full use of multiprocessor systems by utilizing modular I/O bandwidth, pervasive multithreading, preemptive multitasking and a custom 64-bit journaled file system known as BFS. The BeOS GUI was developed on the principles of clarity and a clean, uncluttered design. The interface API was written in C++ for ease-of-programming. It has POSIX compatibility and access to a command line interface through the Bash shell.

Initially designed to run on custom BeBox hardware; BeOS was later extended to run on PowerPC-based processors with the hope that Apple Computer would purchase or license BeOS as a replacement for its then aging Mac OS. However, instead of BeOS, Apple's board of directors decided NeXTSTEP was a better choice and purchased NeXT in 1996, which also brought Apple co-founder Steve Jobs back into the fold. To further complicate matters for Be, Apple refused to disclose architectual information about its G3 line of computers – information critical to making BeOS work on the latest hardware from Apple.

Due to Apple's aggressive moves and the mounting debt of Be Inc, BeOS was soon ported to the X86 platform with its R3 release. Through the late 90s, BeOS managed to create a niche of hardcore followers, but the company failed to become solvent. As a last-ditch effort to increase interest in the failing operating system, Be Inc. released a stripped-down, but free, copy of BeOS R5 known as BeOS Personal Edition (BeOS PE). BeOS PE could be started from within Microsoft Windows or Linux, and was intended to nurture consumer interest in its product and give developers something they could tinker in.

Be Inc. also released a stripped-down version of BeOS for Internet Appliances (BeIA). Unfortunately, BeOS PE and BeIA proved to be too little too late, and in 2001 Be's intellectual property was sold to Palm, Inc. BeOS R5 is considered the last official version, but BeOS R6 (codename: Dano), which was under development before Be's sale to Palm, was leaked to the public shortly after the company's demise.

Despite the end of Be Inc. BeOS remains popular among hardcore followers. The BeOS community still develops free software and has even released patches, drivers and various updates to BeOS. The main source of BeOS-related software can be found at (

The BeOS user interface was notable at the time for being almost complete unthemeable, even with third party hacks. Whilst Mac OS X is now similarly locked, the BeOS theme of yellow, changing length tabs on the top of windows, and relatively plain grey interface widgets was enforced. This UI remained relatively unchanged from 1995, but had been completely overhauled by the time of the leaked Dano release. An easter egg in the OS allowed changing the titlebar look-and-feel to a few others, and in Dano, this had been extended to be a feature allowing changing of the title bar and scrollbars. No other interface widgets could be changed.

The plain BeOS R5 GUI is commonly cloned, either as a the main UI, such as in TriangleOS, or as an available theme, such as for SkyOS or GNOME.

Projects to recreate BeOS

BeOS was well loved by many people, and the BeOS user base was disappointed when Be, Inc. failed commercially and no further enhancement of the operating system would be possible. As of 2002, a few projects have formed to independently recreate BeOS in varying ways, with the eventual goal of then continuing where Be Inc. left off. To ensure that the Be community does not again "lose" its OS, and to attract the efforts of volunteer programmers, these projects are all open source (in much the same way that Linux, BSD, and GNU set out to create open source equivalents of UNIX). The modular nature of the original BeOS facilitates recreating the operating system a piece at a time, inserting the newly coded modules into a working BeOS system to test compatibility. Eventually all of the "servers" (interworking modules of code) are to be replaced with original, freely licensed code.

Projects to continue BeOS

  • YellowTAB is believed to have the rights to use the unfinished BeOS R5.1 sourcebase, but not the BeOS trademark, and currently distributes a release (as of June 9 2005) of the OS project called Zeta. YellowTAB has never stated their legal position in regards to the BeOS code-base (perhaps for contractual reasons), and because of this, has created a great amount of controversy and skepticism in the Be community.

See also

External links

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