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From iA wiki
An operating system like Microsoft Windows, Linux, or Mac OS X. It was developed on the design principle of simplicity and easy for developers to create applications for it. Started in 1990 by Jean-Louis Gassee, a former Apple Computer executive, BeOS was usable on Apple computer hardware while being POSIX-compliant, making it compatible with many UNIX applications. It was later ported to PC (x86) hardware.
- beunited.org - with links to those keeping the dream alive
- www.beincorporated.com - Be company Web site
- wiki.bebits.com - Be's own community wiki
- Bebits - BeOS software site
- Excellent, very fast file system for Web serving and many other applications
- Excellent multimedia tools and applications (most notably, treated compact disk tracks as WAV files)
- All the basics including an office suite, Web browser, security features, and a fast-bootup
- Crashproof and reliable before Windows 2000 or Mac OS X came along to improve desktop reliability
- Add compatible hardware, it auto-recognizes it and installs software. No driver issues - no user intervention at all.
- Compatible with many *Nix programs due to its POSIX compliance
- Minimal driver support
- Not many applications available for it
- No longer being developed
BeOS is no longer available but is succeeded by Zeta who had access to the source code of the last BeOS available and is trying to re-release it to business customers. For an overview, here's an editorial on why Zeta is great from http://www.osnews.com.
Several other projects also exist in the wake of BeOS's demise:
According to developers exposed to the project, BeOS is no longer commercially developed as its market was largely swallowed by the Mac OS X. Similarly POSIX compliant, OS X captured attention for the new surge of Macintosh customers in 2001 and 2002. Although a move to PC hardware should have diversified the company away from OS X market share in the 1990s, quote: "Microsoft's licensing agreements prevented computer makers from offering the BeOS on the same systems that ran Microsoft's Windows operating system (quote)" for which they are now involved in a lawsuit.
While there was talk of making the source code of BeOS open, "the sale of substantially all of its intellectual property and other technology assets to Palm, Inc." (quoted from the BeOS Web site) may prevent that from happening. If it were to be GPL'd, many believe the Operating System would be a great competitor/alternative to Linux. Many of the BeOS alternative projects above are open-source.