Saturday, September 18, 2010

Haiku Alpha 2

Now, this is not new as Haiku Alpha 2 came out in early May of this year.
However, as I've mentioned, I was away from home for three months essentially without a usable internet which means I'm a little behind the times.
Anyway, I finally got around to installing Haiku Alpha 2.
Strangely, I just couldn't get it to install from a CD of either the iso or the anyboot image (actually, I just can't remember precisely why it wouldn't install or if I got any error messages as this happened a few days ago).
Nevertheless, when I created a Live USB from the anyboot image, it worked perfectly and installed without problems on a Dell Dimension 9200, a Dell Dimension E520 and my trusty old Acer EeePC 901.
The install is easy and quite painless and completes in well less than 10 minutes.
Getting Haiku to boot from Grub2 is very easy and I've already outlined how this is done here.
So, how does Haiku Alpha 2 look?
To be honest, not a whole lot different from Haiku Alpha 1 and this list of the major differences between Alpha 1 and Alpha 2 supports this view.
However, from my point of view, Haiku has now suddenly become usable on a day-to-day basis because of the introduction of the WebPositive browser.
Look, at least 95% of what I do on any of my computers involves a web browser (generally Chromium on Linux or Mac, Chrome Canary on Windows 7 because I want speed and an easy-to-use bookmarking or speeddial system).
Well, there's no Google Chrome for Haiku but WebPositive is not at all bad. It is FAST -- even impressively so. Unfortunately, there's no speeddial, but there is a reasonable bookmarking system.
Unfortunately too, Haiku still has no flash so this rules out a lot of stuff other than YouTube videos. For example, I can't run an internet speed test in Haiku and the analog clock that I include in my iGoogle home page shows constantly 6:31 (so it's right just twice per day).
I had hoped that Haiku Alpha 2 would give me wifi on the EeePC 901 (RaLink RT2860 wireless card) but my card wasn't picked up either by the official Alpha 2 or the nightly build ( I downloaded from this
My general view of this Alpha 2 is dominated by the positive impression I got from WebPositive and I look forward to learniong more about Haiku as this browser encourages me to use it more.
Note, that as yet I have not done a complete survey of what does and does not work on any of the computers on which I've installed Haiku. But, in the meantime, here are some specific observations and experiences I've had to date:

1. The nightly build that I installed (as mentioned above) did not include WebPositive. However, it's very easy to install using the InstallOptionalPackage command as detailed here.
2. My Dell Dimension E520 uses a very old CRT screen for which the nVidia Geforce 7300 LE card offers a maximum screen resolution of 1024x768. This is not optimal and I always use 1280x1050 on the Ubuntu and Windows 7 OSes I have installed on the same machine. These become available when I download and install the accelerated graphics driver for my card.
However, no accelerated graphics drivers are available from nVidia.
Nevertheless, the haikuware site has a lot of drivers available, so don't give up till you've checked here.
I installed the Unified nVidia Driver and, purely by chance, this provided the 1280x1050 resolution I wanted.
3. A very small but far from insignificant observation is the command listdev which is equivalent to lspci in Linux. Very useful when you can't quite remember what cards you have and where.
4. When I used earlier versions of Haiku (pre-alpha) on my EeePC 901, I was always able to mount ALL other OSes on the same machine. Of course, in those days, all of my other OSes were Linux distros.
Now, on my Dell Dimention 9200 where I have, in addition to Haiku Alpha 2 Windows 7, Windows Vista, Mac OS X, FreeBSD 8.0 and Ubuntu 10.10 Beta.
In Haiku only Windows 7 and Vista are available for mounting. The other three are apparently not mountable.
I have a similar experience on my Dell Dimension E520, where, in addition to Haiku Aplha 2 I have Windows 7, Windows XP and Ubuntu 10.10 beta. Once again, Haiku only sees the Windows OSes as avail;able for mounting and ignores Ubuntu.
On the EeePC 901 right now I have only Ubuntu 10.10 and two versions of Haiku. Here all OSes are mounteble in Haiku. So, Ubuntu, which can't be mounted on either of my desktops, mounts without problem on the netbook.
I can't find any other references to this mounting problem so I'll probably post to the Haiku forum to see if there's an explanation.
5. In either OS X or Ubuntu, I make extensive use of a dock (AWN in Ubuntu) and don't consider an OS complete without one. I've even installed the Winstep Nexus dock in Wiundows 7.
In Haiku, there's LaunchBox which serves the purpose pretty well.
So much so that I want it to be there from the boot up.
For this, you must edit (using StyledEdit) the file /boot/home/config/boot/UserBootscript which means just opening a terminal and using the following command:

StyledEdit /boot/home/config/boot/UserBootscript

Then at the bottom of this file just add the line
/boot/home/config/be/"Desktop applets"/LaunchBox

save the file and reboot and you should see LaunchBox on your desktop.
6. Now, from my perspective, LaunchBox wouldn't be complete without an icon for the excellent WebPositive.
To get this, I created a Desktop icon for the browser with the follwoing command:
ln -s /boot/apps/WebPositive/WebPositive /boot/home/Desktop/

This provides an icon on the Desktop. Next, right-click anywhere on LaunchBox (other than the orange banner) and select "Add button here".
Now, you just need to drag the desktop icon to the space you just created in LaunchBox.
7. I also like to be able to quickly reboot or shutdown my computer so I tried to create desktop icons (intending to place them in the LaunchBox) for both commands.
Now, up to now, I haven't been able to find a "reboot" command but there is one for "shutdown" at /boot/system/bin/shutdown.
So, I use this command to create a desktop icon:
ln -s /boot/system/bin/shutdown /boot/home/Desktop/

However, when I click on the resulting icon, I get a message saying
"The application "shutdown" might be blocked on a modal panel"
after which it offers me the options of Killing the Application or Cancelling the Shutdown.
If I choose Kill Application, the shutdown goes ahead as normal.
Strangley, if I run the command
in a terminal, the shutdown proceeds without interuption.
Don't understand this so, once again, I may post to the forum on this.
8. This problem only applies to the EeePC 901 install. The only screen resolution available is 1024x768 which is just a little deeper than the EeePC's native resolution of 1024x600. As a result, I find in some cases that the bottom part of drop-down lists is off the bottom of the screen. Not sure how, or even if, this can be resolved.
9. I'm actually preparing this blogpost in WebPositive on the Dimension E520 and, although it's in general working fine, I did find some annoying absences in this browser as follows:
i) I can't Add Links to words or phrases
ii) Although right-clicking on a document in WebPositive provides an extensive spell-checking menu, none of the options work for me.

OK, so that's how it looks at the moment.
I certainly intend to use, and learn from, Haiku more extensively in the immediate future. I just hope that Haiku matures into something as exciting as is widely foreseen within my lifetime. No, I'm not planning on dying soon, but this development is not going at breakneck speed.

No comments:

Post a Comment