Haiku is an open source operating system designed to be compatible with applications developed for BeOS, an old school operating system that was acquired by Palm in 2001 and then largely abandoned.

The first alpha version of Haiku was released in 2002, and the last official alpha was released in 2012. But development of the operating system is ongoing, and the Haiku team hopes to launch the first beta release by the end of the year.

Until then you can download nightly 32-bit or 64-bit builds or check out the latest monthly activity report to see what’s new. Among other things, the team is working on kernel, driver, and bootloader updates. But last month’s report pointed out something pretty cool: a port of the popular free and open source office suite LibreOffice.

I installed the latest nightly build of Haiku OS in a virtual machine and I was impressed at how quickly the operating system loaded and how responsive applications were.

The operating system has a pretty barebones look by modern desktop standards. But since it’s designed to be compatible with a nearly 20-year-old operating system, it’s optimized for old hardware and runs pretty nicely on modern machines.

Haiku comes with some basic apps pre-installed including a web browser, media player, file manager, sound recorder, calculator, and email utility. It supports workspaces for multiple virtual desktops, and the Haiku Depot utility is a package manager that lets you search for and install third-party apps… now including LibreOffice 6.

For the most part LibreOffice on Haiku works like LibreOffice for other platforms including Windows and Linux. But the first time you load the application it will close after a few seconds. It works fine after that. And there are a few other oddities: you cannot change the font, most of the user interface ignores Haiku/BeOS native design elements, and there may be some rendering issues.

Still, it’s pretty nifty to see an operating system designed to be compatible with software that’s two decades old continue adding support for newer, more modern applications.

via Hacker News and Phoronix

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10 replies on “Haiku OS inches toward beta, adds LibreOffice support, driver and EFI updates”

  1. Hi,
    The name of the operating system is just “Haiku”. Not “Haiku OS” or “HaikuOS”. Thanks 🙂

    1. Noted, thanks. I’ve updated the post (but not the headline, because I think OS is a descriptive term that makes it slightly more clear what the article is about before you click on it).

  2. Your screenshot reveals that their LibreOffice version is 6.2, which is not even the pre-release version (6.1) of the office suite. So I have to wonder why they chose such a new and likely buggy version and if the issues you mentioned are generated by LibreOffice itself.

    Anyway, things are becoming quite interesting and exciting for Haiku. Currently it feels like it’s capable of handling daily usage for some use cases, and it’s great to know we have one more option when it comes to operating systems. I can hardly wait to see how their first beta will look like. 🙂

    1. The port itself is bleeding edge work and needs back and forth discussions with the LibreOffice team, so it makes no sense to port an old version. The changes required for Haiku support are being upstreamed so the LibreOffice team can take care of it (it is not up to Haiku developers to keep all applications in the world working and up to date).

    2. Additionally, issues mentioned in this article are related to Qt backend, and the screenshot shows KDE one. Sure, KDE builds on top of Qt, but they are two independent backends (Qt doesn’t have native controls support, KDE does).

  3. I liked the 2002 version of Haiku. I’ll have to give this one a try in a VM. It probably won’t replace Linux Mint as my main OS, but it’s worth a try. It’s interesting that Haiku was originally supposed to be the next evolution of Mac OS, until OS X based on Darwin Unix came along instead. This would be really cool if it ran on an ARM processor, like a Raspberry PI.

    1. Judging by the downloads page, they have an ARM port in the works – but it’s very experimental, and it may not even boot yet.

  4. I test drive Haiku OS every now and then on bare metal (older dual-core laptop). Impressed that WiFi worked out of the box. Could not get sound to work (though it could be fixable if I knew more about the system). Web Positive, their web browser, would crash consistently on Youtube but seemed to handle other pages ok-ish. Very impressed that it was able to play local video (h.264, no sound) with no tearing or glitches.

    You’re right about how fast it is. It’s remarkable: Like running Windows 98 on modern hardware – only it’s blazing fast on even ancient systems. They also have their own “package manager” for their archive of software. VPN and a solid browser could make this a viable alternative in the future for some use cases.

  5. I forgot all about HaikuOS. I used to check the progress of it every 6 months or so, but I think its been 2 or 3 years since I’ve looked at it. Cool to see they’re still plugging away at it.

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