In my earlier Evolution of Operating Systems article, I failed to cover too many operating systems because it would have been too much to write about. After a few of the readers expressed their concerns, I decided to write an article on one OS I should have definitely mentioned, BeOS. This relatively new operating system has been gaining popularity in the last couple of years. I remember hearing about BeOS in 1998. A friend of mine had gotten a copy and tried it on his computer. I was kind of ignorant about that sort of thing back then and didn't really see anything special about the new OS. Windows 98 and NT was all I needed. Then I started learning about Linux. A friend of mine built a little Linux box and put up a Quake 2 and ftp server. I dabbled a little with Linux but didn't really get into the real guts of the system. While I was in this state of curiosity, I decided to try a new BeOS release my friend had. From my point of view, it didn't seem much different from Linux. The installation process was a bit more complicated than it is now.
I had heard that BeOS specialized in digital media, such as movie editing, sound editing, and graphics applications. The old release I had didn't really impress me. Although I had it on my system, I rarely really used it for everyday stuff. The same pretty much went for every other OS I tried besides Windows. So now, a couple years later, BeOS has grown much since I first encountered it. The database of software applications and hardware supported is growing daily, as well as the user base. The point of this article is not only so much as to review BeOS, but to also introduce people to it that don't really know much about the operating system in general. It's not the definitive guide to BeOS either, but if you're an avid BeOS user and want to know more, you should probably check out the BeOS Bible.
Be, Inc. was formed back in 1990 by a former Apple employee, Jean-Louis Gassée. The intent in forming this company was to write a new operating system sporting next generation technologies (multiprocessor support out of the box, digital media support, 64-bit file system, and more). The fruit of their labor was named BeOS. Contrary to some reports out there, BeOS is built from scratch and not based on Unix. So this isn't just your average Unix flavor. It's actually a new operating system... Originally BeOS was to be implemented on custom hardware, which they called the BeBox. The increased cost of hardware manufacturing lead to the rethinking of the idea. Then they decided to focus on a version that would run on Apple hardware. That would have went well, unfortunately, Apple didn't want this new OS walking all over their already established MacOS. Thus, Be was ported over to the x86 platform. The early releases didn't have much in terms of software and hardware support, which is to be expected from a new OS. Be didn't give up, and improved upon the OS with subsequent releases. Today Be has Release 5 out, which has support for much more hardware than the previous releases. Along with that, software application support has grown a considerable amount. BeOS has really come a long way...