Haiku (operating system)

Developer Haiku, Inc.
Written in C++
OS family BeOS
Working state Alpha
Source model Open source
Initial release 2001 (2001)
Latest preview R1 Alpha 4.1 / November 14, 2012 (2012-11-14)
Marketing target Personal computer
Available in Multilingual
Platforms IA-32, ARM,[1] and x86-64[2][3]
Kernel type Hybrid
Default user interface OpenTracker
License MIT License and Be Sample Code License
Official website haiku-os.org

Haiku is a free and open-source operating system compatible with the now discontinued BeOS. Its development began in 2001, and the operating system became self-hosting in 2008.[4] The first alpha release was made in September 2009, and the most recent was November 2012; development is continuing as of 2016.

Haiku is supported by Haiku, Inc., a non-profit organization based in Rochester, New York, US, founded in 2003 by former project leader Michael Phipps.[5]


Haiku began as the OpenBeOS project in 2001, the year that Be, Inc. was bought by Palm, Inc. and BeOS development was discontinued; the focus of the project was to support the BeOS user community by creating an open-source, backward-compatible replacement for BeOS. The first project by OpenBeOS was a community-created "stop-gap" update for BeOS 5.0.3 in 2002. In 2003, the non-profit organization Haiku, Inc. was registered in Rochester, New York, to financially support development, and in 2004, after a notification of infringement of Palm's trademark of the BeOS name was sent to OpenBeOS, the project was renamed Haiku. However, development only reached its first milestone in September 2009 with the release of Haiku R1/Alpha 1. As of May 2016 R1/Alpha 4.1, of November 2012, remained the latest release, but the Haiku Web site reported in 2016 that work continued,[6] and nightly builds continued to be released.[7]


Main article: BeOS API

Haiku is written in C++ and provides an object-oriented API.

The modular design[8] of BeOS allowed individual components of Haiku to initially be developed in teams in relative isolation, in many cases developing them as replacements for the BeOS components prior to the completion of other parts of the operating system. The original teams developing these components, including both servers and APIs (collectively known in Haiku as "kits"), included:

A few kits have been deemed feature complete and the rest are in various stages of development.

The Haiku kernel is a modular hybrid kernel and a fork of NewOS,[9] a modular kernel written by former Be Inc. engineer Travis Geiselbrecht. Like the rest of the system it is currently still under heavy development. Many features have been implemented, including a virtual file system (VFS) layer and rudimentary symmetric multiprocessing (SMP) support.

Package management

Main article: Haiku Depot

As of September 2013, Haiku includes a package management system enabling software to be compiled into dependency tracking compressed packages.[10] Packages can be activated by installing them from remote repositories with pkgman, or dropping them over a special packages directory. Haiku package management mounts activated packages over a read only system directory. The Haiku package management system performs dependency solving with libsolv from the openSUSE project.[11]

Compatibility with BeOS

Haiku R1 aims to be compatible with BeOS at both the source and binary level, allowing software written and compiled for BeOS to be compiled and run without modification on Haiku. This provides Haiku users with an instant library of applications to choose from (even programs whose developers are no longer in business or have no interest in updating them), in addition to allowing development of applications to resume from where they had been terminated following the demise of Be, Inc.

This dedication to compatibility has its drawbacks though — requiring Haiku to use a forked version of the GCC compiler, based on version 2.95, released in 2001, which is now 15 years old.[12] Switching to the newer version 4 of GCC breaks compatibility with BeOS software; therefore Haiku supports being built as a hybrid GCC4/GCC2 environment.[13] This allows the system to run both GCC version 2 and version 4 binaries at the same time. The changes done to GCC 2.95 for Haiku include wide characters support and backport of fixes from GCC 3 and later.[14]

Note that this compatibility applies to 32-bit x86 systems only. The PowerPC version of BeOS R5 will not be supported. As a consequence, the ARM, 68k, 64-bit x86 and PPC ports of Haiku use only the GCC version 4 compiler.

Despite these attempts, compatibility with a number of system add-ons that use private APIs will not be implemented. These include additional filesystem drivers and media codec add-ons, although the only affected add-ons for BeOS R5 not easily re-implemented are Indeo 5 media decoders for which no specification exists.

R5 binary applications that run successfully under Haiku (as of May 2006) include: Opera, Firefox, NetPositive, Quake II, Quake III, SeaMonkey, Vision and VLC.

Driver compatibility is incomplete, and unlikely to cover all kinds of BeOS drivers. 2D graphics drivers in general work exactly the same as on R5, as do network drivers. Moreover, Haiku offers a source-level FreeBSD network driver compatibility layer, which means that it can support any network hardware that will work on FreeBSD. Audio drivers using API versions prior to BeOS R5 are as-yet unsupported, and unlikely to be so; however, R5-era drivers work.

Low-level device drivers, namely for storage devices and SCSI adapters, will not be compatible. USB drivers for both the second- (BeOS 5) and third- (BeOS Dano) generation USB stacks will work, however.

In some other aspects, Haiku is already more advanced than BeOS. For example, the interface kit allows the use of a layout system to automatically place widgets in windows, while on BeOS the developer had to specify the exact position of each widget by hand. This allows for GUIs that will render correctly with any font size and makes localization of applications much easier, as a longer string in a translated language will make the widget grow, instead of being partly invisible if the widget size were fixed.

Beyond R1

Initial planning for R2 has started through the "Glass Elevator" project (a reference to the children's novel Charlie and the Great Glass Elevator). The only detail confirmed so far is that it will switch to a current GCC release.

A compatibility layer is planned that will allow applications developed for Haiku R1 to run on Haiku R2 and later. This was mentioned in a discussion on the Haiku mailing list by one of the lead developers, Axel Dörfler. Suggested new features include file indexing on par with Unix's Beagle, Google Desktop and OS X's Spotlight, greater integration of scalable vector graphics into the desktop, proper support for multiple users, and additional kits.[15]

System requirements

See also


  1. https://www.haiku-os.org/guides/building/compiling-arm
  2. https://www.haiku-os.org/blog/xyzzy/2012-08-28_x86_64_port_final_report
  3. http://www.phoronix.com/scan.php?page=news_item&px=MTE3MDI
  4. Bruno Albuquerque (2008-04-01). "Haiku self-hosting.". Retrieved 2008-06-25.
  5. "What is Haiku?". Haiku, Inc. Retrieved 2014-08-05.
  6. "Home". Haiku. 2016. Retrieved 9 May 2016.
  7. "Recommended Nightly Images". Haiku. 2016. Retrieved 9 May 2016.
  8. "Haiku: BeOS for the 21st Century". Retrieved 2015-09-29.
  9. "Haiku Kernel & Drivers Team". Archived from the original on 2008-06-09. Retrieved 2008-07-17.
  10. "Package Management now live". Retrieved 2013-11-04.
  11. "The libsolv Open Source Project on Open Hub". www.openhub.net. Retrieved 2015-09-29.
  12. The GCC team (2007-07-25). "GCC Releases - GNU Project - Free Software Foundation (FSF)". Free Software Foundation. Retrieved 2007-08-16.
  13. Stephan Aßmus (2008-05-18). "Steady Progress towards Alpha 1". Haiku Inc. Retrieved 2008-05-28.
  14. "Haiku legacy build tools sourcecode history".
  15. "R2 Ideas – Glass Elevator Summaries".
  16. 1 2 3 "Release Notes | Haiku Project". haiku-os.org. Retrieved 2013-06-08.
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