Earlier this week I talked about Haiku OS's alpha 1 release (not beta, my mistake!), and thought I'd dig past the FAQ and get answers to some of my own questions about this remarkable new, free-and-open OS that's aimed squarely at the desktop.
To that end I spoke to Jorge Mare, the Haiku OS team's marketing and communications guru, who filled in a few of the blanks in my understanding of what Haiku OS is doing and where it's going.
InformationWeek: How was the current licensing for Haiku decided on? Was this something set from the beginning, or was there a process of debate on which software license would be best for the project?
Jorge Mare: I joined the project in 2006, and therefore was not there to see it first hand; but my understanding is that the leadership made the choice of license quite early on (back in 2001), in order to ensure the it was as commercial-friendly as possible. I also hear that there wasn't much disagreement when that choice was made.
InformationWeek: Are you interested in the idea of commercial software makers picking up on Haiku and using it as a cornerstone for other projects -- for instance, creating a distribution which has patented for-pay codecs included?
Jorge Mare: We certainly welcome commercial initiatives that one way or another can help advance the growth of the Haiku development and end-user ecosystems, particularly if they somehow contribute back to Haiku.
Ideally, we would also like these projects to work with us, so that we can maintain a consistent API and user experience, as well as binary compatibility throughout the platform.
InformationWeek: Licensing and desktop-stack aside, how do you see Haiku as being competitive with Linux (if only in the sense that people might have reasons to choose one over the other, rather than you trying to "beat" Linux, etc.)?
Jorge Mare: We are very realistic. Considering that Haiku is still alpha software, it is not feature complete, and its application ecosystem is still at a very early stage, we can't say that we can be competitive with other systems today. For the most part, we are not at a point where we can tell people to drop their current OS and start using Haiku full-time.
That being said, as Haiku matures and the hardware support and application ecosystems grow, there are some intrinsic advantages in Haiku that give it an edge over other systems in the personal computer space, potentially making it an enticing choice for many users in the long run. It is hard to tell how Haiku's competitiveness will unfold over time; but we do see an opportunity for a system with a small footprint, pervasive multithreads, a consistent/minimalistic GUI, and a great user experience such as Haiku's, both on a regular PC but perhaps more in the ever-growing landscape of smaller computing devices such as netbooks, tablets and MIDs.
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In the weeks to come I'll be trying out the new Haiku alpha on a variety of systems, both old and new. And when the first actual beta drops, I'll be writing about it in detail here.
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