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MacOSX Vs BeOS ShootOut 416

Jolie writes: "After Palm purchased Be's assets, the future of BeOS became uncertain and a lot of users have left the platform. One of these users was Scot Hacker, mostly known for his 'BeOS Bible' book among other things. Scot tried to stick to Windows, then to Linux but he ended up with MacOSX. He has written a long and detailed article comparing, from the user's point of view, his beloved BeOS to his new favorite, MacOSX."
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MacOSX Vs BeOS ShootOut

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  • I could have sworn that I heard that BeOS was going to be given away, or something along those lines. Is this true? Does anybody have a download link or two?
  • BeOS... (Score:2, Informative)

    With a little more polish (multi-user, better networking) it coulda been a contender. You can still get it at http://free.be.com, the free version. I think that Palm should open-source it; because it has some nice features (multi-thread apps, REALLY nice interface). Alas, it seems it is doomed.
    • Re:BeOS... (Score:5, Interesting)

      by Anonymous Coward on Monday December 17, 2001 @05:44PM (#2716685)
      With a little more polish (multi-user, better networking) it coulda been a contender.

      Frankly, no. For a system with such a small user base and development team as BeOS, the product was *highly* polished. It contained virtually every feature of a modern operating system with outstanding features ranging from the kernel (true multithreaded processing) to the interface (the textual "move to" and "copy to" options are some of the most ingenious interface considerations in a long time). Tet it's obvious that BeOS wasn't a finished product, but it was definitely going places quite fast-- and if the company was actually able to get money, the rate and quality of development would have been quite impressive. Ever hear of BONE or BeOpenGL? Besides, does an OS really need to have "polish" to market? Think of a little company in Redmond and define "polished".

      The real reason BeOS wasn't "a contender" is because Microsoft screwed Be over with the fine print in its OEM contract. I suggest that you read this article [byte.com] by Scot Hacker with an accurate description of Be's demise.
      • Re:BeOS... (Score:3, Insightful)

        by sheldon ( 2322 )
        Oh puh-leeze!

        Nobody screwed over Be, as it was never a real contender.

        I have BeOS version 3 and 4 at home, and while they were pretty cool I never found anybody who was remotely interested in them except some really perverse geeks like myself. Even the anti-MS Linux zealots universally derided it every time it was mentioned on slashdot.

        Now this Scot Hacker might blame Microsoft for preventing dual boot, but it would not have mattered. If OEMs had installed BeOS on their systems along with Windows, they would have simply received a few million phone calls asking how they could free up the used space.

        There was even talk at one time of Apple adopting Be, but instead went with this OS-X. But even then I don't believe Apple screwed over Be, because BeOS wasn't ready to replace MacOS and it needed the Apple commitment.

        Be lacked applications, hardware drivers and all sorts of things which were necessary for it to succeed. But what it lacked most of all was a problem that needed to be solved that only it could do.

        Nobody screwed Be over. Be was simply in the wrong place at the wrong time with the wrong solution.
      • Two words "Linux Ready" I'm pretty sure that the current OEM License doesn't prohibit leaving empty space on the hard drive, or shipping a CD with the system that includes another OS. If I could find a site that had the infamous OEM Licence on it I could be certain. Worst case scenario they would have to ship the Linux CD seperately. Those OEMs that provide Linux-only models could overnight add a 'linux ready' option to thier windows PCs. A modified linux CD that installed linux in one click setup correctly for that model of PC could be shipped either seperatly or if the license allows with the PC itself.

        Of course since this is posted to /. Microsoft could well be reading it and sending the legal staff to draft up a New OEM license as we speak. However, I doubt that even Microsoft could win a court battle about leaving a hard drive partially unformatted as a user option. The trade secret status process should also delay things long enough that an OEM could start shipping systems with the 'linux ready' option before Microsoft could act, and could then SUE Microsoft for damages ala the Dr. DOS case.
    • Re:BeOS... (Score:5, Interesting)

      by nehril ( 115874 ) on Monday December 17, 2001 @06:50PM (#2717084)
      One of the reasons it died is sort of summed up by this comment in the linked article:

      Most of this applications section isn't really about operating systems, but about the apps available for the operating systems, so you might want to skip it if you're just looking for the OS comparisons. However, I believe that the applications landscape is an integral part of the total OS experience, so included it here.

      The problem is that apps are not "an integral part" of a computing experience. They are almost the totality of it. With the exception of some supergeeks, nobody buys a computer in order to run the operating system. People buy computers to run apps. No matter how lickable the shutdown/adduser/finder screen interface is, without real apps a system is doomed. If Be had all the killer apps that people buy computers for, it would still be alive today.

      Nobody cares about threading, "multimedia support", or POSIX. Users want Photoshop, MS Word, Quicken, Halo and that goofy little custom VB app that runs your small company's entire finance department.

      Spare me the "OS Shootouts." Gimme the apps.
      • Damn straight! It's this that the alternative OS communities need to realize, once and for all. Focus on the apps, and the masses will beat a path to your door. Focus on the OS, and they'll shrug their shoulders.
  • by rcatarella ( 239076 ) on Monday December 17, 2001 @05:27PM (#2716587)
    For those who don't like to click all day long- Here [osnews.com]
    • For those like me who kept getting a 404 looking for the PDF, an HTML version of the entire article is available here [osnews.com].

    • One of the more interesting innovations in OS X is the fact that PDF technology is pervasive in the operating system -- the Quartz display engine is built on top of Display PostScript, as was NeXTStep's. This means it's possible to output from any application that can print directly to PDF. Select Print, then click Preview. The document is rendered to PDF and displayed in the built-in Preview application. Do a Save As... and you've got your PDF. No need to purchase or install Acrobat, and no need for 3rd party software to integrate with particular applications. It's just there. Very nice.

      The printable version of this document was created with this technique.

      No wonder I can't find the PDF. It's on Scot's desktop machine. &lt/humor&gt
  • Wow. (Score:2, Funny)

    by PopeAlien ( 164869 )
    One of these users was Scot Hacker

    I'm just jealous of that name.. are you sure thats not a psuedonym?
  • OS Preferences (Score:3, Insightful)

    by Mr_Matt ( 225037 ) on Monday December 17, 2001 @05:35PM (#2716625)
    From the article:

    Bio-diversity is both the greatest strength and the greatest weakness of open source software. It is what will keep Linux thriving no matter how depressed the tech industry gets (unlike Be), but it is also that which practically guarantees that the Linux experience will never feel internally consistent.

    That last sentence was the one that intrigued me - is "internal consistency" something that people really look for in an OS? Speaking for myself (somebody who spends 90% of their time at the CLI) I've never really had a complaint in the "internal consistency" department - in fact, I've always liked the fact that Linux has kind of a TMTOWTDI feel - I can set my desktop up completely differently than the guy in the next WorkCube and be productive as hell.

    Maybe "internal consistency" is something that a mass-marketed OS might want, but for the legions of DIY'ers out there, is this something to be worried about in an open-source OS?
    • Re:OS Preferences (Score:5, Insightful)

      by Violet Null ( 452694 ) on Monday December 17, 2001 @05:56PM (#2716759)
      Maybe "internal consistency" is something that a mass-marketed OS might want, but for the legions of DIY'ers out there, is this something to be worried about in an open-source OS?

      Internal consistency isn't about making your desktop look like the next guy's -- it's about making the way the user interface works consistent. Experts tend to overlook this, but it's important when introducing someone new to computers.

      You may or may not have used DOS systems, but every application in DOS that had a GUI looked (and worked) differently. Some had mouse support, some didn't. Some had menubars, some didn't. Some would use accelerator keys (Alt+whatever), some wouldn't. Some would have right-click context menus, some wouldn't. One of the ideas behind a good OS is that all of that would be consistent: all windows should resize the same way, so that once you learn how to resize one window, you know how to resize them all. That sort of thing. The point of the quote was that, since Linux apps are written by lots of people with little in the way of an overseeing body, it won't have the consistency that a "monolithic" OS might.
      • Re:OS Preferences (Score:2, Interesting)

        by Mr_Matt ( 225037 )
        Internal consistency isn't about making your desktop look like the next guy's -- it's about making the way the user interface works consistent. Experts tend to overlook this, but it's important when introducing someone new to computers.

        Right, I misspoke. Thanks for clearing me up. :) Your last point (new computer users want just one way to do it) is the heart of what I'm getting at - is "internal consistency" (using middle-mouse only or CTRL-C, CTRL-V only for cut-n-paste) something that users of an open-source OS really want?

        You may or may not have used DOS systems, but every application in DOS that had a GUI looked (and worked) differently.

        And boy, were they confusing, too. :) But then we made the Great Leap Forward from DOS 6.22/Win 3.1 to Windows 95, all of a sudden, my computer knowledge was useless, and my computer got really boring. You make an excellent point that the fractured approach to user program interfaces is confusing as heck to a newbie, and I agree wholeheartedly. I guess what I'm wondering about is this: is making Linux (or insert your favorite open-source OS here :) more "internally consistent" something that we, as its users, really want to do? I mean, if all you want is one way to do something, then Windows works just fine :)
        • Re:OS Preferences (Score:2, Interesting)

          by Samrobb ( 12731 )
          I guess what I'm wondering about is this: is making Linux (or insert your favorite open-source OS here :) more "internally consistent" something that we, as its users, really want to do?

          Yes. Most emphatically yes.

          This does not neccesarily mean that my desktop will look (or behave) anything like yours. To me, it means that when I configure my system so that "shift-rightclick" means "copy the current selection to the clipboard", all my applications pay attention to my configured preferences.

          This is a real basic issue of *nix user-friendliness (primarily for X apps - GNU tools have gne along way towards helping "standardize" command line interfaces.) I expect my computer to do what I tell it to do, and what I have configured it to do, not what some l33t hax0r d00d thinks it should be doing.

          • This cannot be done the way X works.

            PS: I am NOT defending this lame-o design!

            Under X the window manager (and other programs, but few, if any, actually do this) can "grab" a key or mouse combination. A key combination is a specific set of shift keys held down plus a single key on the keyboard. For instance "Alt+A" can be grabbed, but this will leave A and Alt+Shift+A and all other combinations ungrabbed. A mouse button can also be grabbed in the same way.

            I think it is possible to grab a "set" of mouse buttons like left+right+Alt, but I know of no programs doing this. There are also numerous options for limiting the cursor to certain windows and forcing the cursor icon to a certain value, this functionality was originally designed for screen-capture programs, and all this stuff is quite irrelevant to the main use for window managers.

            When something is "grabbed", when the user types that combination, it gets sent to the window manager, and the program that would have normally gotten it *does not get it*. There is absolutely no way for that program to know that it missed the keystrokes, and in fact it is impossible for a program to even find out what keystrokes are being "grabbed".

            A typical Linux window manager will "grab" Alt+Tab to switch windows and Alt+left-mouse to move the window around. This means no program can use Alt+left-mouse for anything, and also means the user must hold down Alt even though there is no other reason to click on an area than to move a window.

            A better design would be to have X programs indicate if they "understand" each keystroke. Keystrokes that are not understood would be passed to the parent window (ie the window manager window frame, or the desktop). This would allow window managers and other programs to "grab" as many keys as they want, with no setup (the can just look at the keys as they come in) and the applications get first dibs on all keystrokes.

        • Re:OS Preferences (Score:3, Interesting)

          by Violet Null ( 452694 )
          Your last point (new computer users want just one way to do it) is the heart of what I'm getting at - is "internal consistency" (using middle-mouse only or CTRL-C, CTRL-V only for cut-n-paste) something that users of an open-source OS really want?

          Well, personally, I want everything done my way. =P I, for instance, don't like to use the mouse, and if CTRL-C copies highlighted text in all the applications I use and CTRL-V pastes it, I'm a happy person. I'm not tied to CTRL-C and CTRL-V (that's just what Windows uses, so everyone else does too), but I would like it to be consistent. IMO, the best way to handle this would be to allow the universal keystrokes to be definable so that I could make, say, CTRL-P be the "paste" shortcut in all of my applications. The OS (or it's GUI shell) would catch the preferred keystroke and pass on system-defined messages, which the applications would look for, instead of keystrokes. Not going to happen anytime soon, but still nice to think about.

          As to making Linux internally consistent: I'd like it to be so, yes. I prefer that all of my computer knowledge become obsolete only with major upgrades, as opposed to each time I install a new application.
          • This cannot work, because it requires the defintion of a "set" of operations that everybody agrees on.

            Imagine we have this giant set of actions (like cut, paste, copy...) and the system turns keystrokes into these. Then I invent a new program that has this really good action called "frob". If this system is badly designed, it is impossible for me to make this program work without registering "frob" with the X consortium and every single machine being reprogrammed to produce "frob".

            Now that would be a stupid design, so lets assumme I can just put "alt+F in my program does frob" and it works on all normal setups. But what if somebody has said "alt+F is Copy". Either Copy does not work in my program, or it is impossible to get "frob". You lose in either case.

            The only thing that will work is standardization of what the keystrokes themselves do.

        • I guess what I'm wondering about is this: is making Linux (or insert your favorite open-source OS here :) more "internally consistent" something that we, as its users, really want to do? I mean, if all you want is one way to do something, then Windows works just fine :)

          You are still confused. "Internally consistent" doesn't mean that there is only one way to do things. It's perfectly fine for my computer to use CTRL-C for cut and yours to use some kind of weird mouse gesture, for instance.

          What "internally consistent" means is that when I tell my computer I want to use CTRL-C for cut and you tell yours that you want to use that weird mouse gesture, the system and all applications obey our preferences.

      • Maybe "internal consistency" is something that a mass-marketed OS might want, but for the legions of DIY'ers out there, is this something to be worried about in an open-source OS?

        For end-users, it's important. As an example, if I go to the Control Center thingy in my desktop and change the Theme, not all of my windows change to match it? Why? because xemacs, xedit, ddd and koffice don't actually take any notice of the GTK settings. As an end-user, I shouldn't have to care about things like that - they should work together, and in a predictable way.(*)

        Assuming for a moment that the general desktop is a target audience for Linux, then it's an important thing to behave at least as consistently as say MacOS or Windows (not that I find MacOS all that consistent, personally).

        (* Yes, I know it's a bit contrived, and I seem to recall there's a GTK xemacs nowadays, but whatever...)
    • Re:OS Preferences (Score:2, Informative)

      by SlamMan ( 221834 )
      Well, sure it is. Being a mac and windows person, I'm trying to learn linux, using yellowdog on some apple hardware. Half the basic programs refuse to run (such as shutdown, even. I have to use reboot). Consistancey of such basic things is really an impediment to using and learning linux. When man pages reference commands that don't exist on your system, also, an impediment to learning.
    • I can set my desktop up completely differently than the guy in the next WorkCube and be productive as hell

      That's not what people mean by internal consistency. Consider, say, scroll bars. How many ways could scroll bars reasonably work? Let's look at some decisions that a scroll bar designer could makes:

      1. Direction. Is the scroll bar logically moving the document in the view, or the view over the document?

      2. Does the thingamajig in the scroll bar indicate just the position of the view, or the siz also?

      3. How do you control scroll direction? Clicking in arrows, or do different mouse buttons scroll different amounts?

      4. What specifies the distance you scroll per click? One line? Or maybe it depends on where you click (classic X behaviour)

      Internal consistency means that whatever choice is made for all these (whether made by the system designer or by you) applies everywhere. You aren't going to be "productive as hell" with 10 apps open if each one is doing scrollbars totally differently, and menus totally diffently, and uses its own keyboard shortcuts for common operations, etc.

    • Re:OS Preferences (Score:3, Insightful)

      by benedict ( 9959 )
      Internal consistency is what lets you know that "-r" is likely to mean recursive and "-v" is likely to mean verbose, etc.
    • is "internal consistency" something that people really look for in an OS?

      Yes. For a desktop OS, when you are "deploying" 1000s of laptops to salespeople and adminstrative assistants, it damn well better be "internally consistent" to make training possible (surprising as it is to me, many, many people need training to use a PC) and to keep help desk costs under control.

    • is "internal consistency" something that people really look for in an OS?

      Yes!! Most people have been pointing out that consistency is important in the UI particularly for first time users. Of course UI consistency is usefull even for advanced users - after all even the most advanced user might on occasion use a piece of software that he is not familiar with - if there is no consistency he is not able to take all the knowledge and skills that make him an "advanced user" and apply it to the new unkown application. For that application he is essentially a "first time user" and must struggle through the learning curve all over again. If the UI is consistent he probably already knows how to use it even though he has never laid eyes on it before.

      But internal consistency goes beyond just the UI. Consistency is important under the hood too. Why do you think the Linux crowd is always pushing open standards? A standard is simply a way of maintaining consistancy. Without some level of consistency you wouldn't be able to get anything done. A system that is designed as a whole rather than cobbled toegether from a variety of components has the potential advantages of enforced compliance and more comprehensive standards. The decentralized organic evolving "cobbled together" compenents of GNU/linux has other advantages but the more it can be standardised and so become "internally consistent" the better and more useful it will be.

      but for the legions of DIY'ers out there, is this something to be worried about in an open-source OS?

      That depends: Do you want it just for the sake of being a DIY'er or do you want it to be an effective tool? Do you want it to be an effective tool for other people to use it or is it just for yourself? If actual use is a secondary concern to the joy of doing it for yourself and you don't care if anyone else will use it then consistency is not so important. If on the other hand being a useful tool is important then internal consistency is very important.
  • I loved BeOS, too. It was a great operating system, ahead of it's time. BeOS beats both Windows and the classic MacOS, by far.

    Unfortunately, BeOS is for all intents and purposes dead. Nothing me or you can do will change that. That's why I'm going to put my money on MacOSX every time. We all know the advantages of OSX--I mean, it's certainly the first time anyone has combined user-friendliness and good-design with the power of Unix (and a real Unix, at that).

    So, sad is I am to say it, this article is sort of irrelevant. Sure, I'll keep BeOS around as a toy. But for serious work, OSX is my new OS of choice.

    I support a US first strike [slashdot.org]
    • We all know the advantages of OSX--I mean, it's certainly the first time anyone has combined user-friendliness and good-design with the power of Unix (and a real Unix, at that).

      True, but anyone who really believes OSX to be user-friendly never really got to know the classic MacOS line.

      In terms of GUI usability OSX is about 10 years behind OS9.

      I agree that overall OSX is a wonderful thing, but IMHO Apple made a serious error by not making it feel more like OS9 WRT the interface. Why is a customizable Apple menu denied to us and the dock forced on us? Why is the method for changing file ownership even MORE obfuscated than OS9? I could go on.

      I could use all my Mac apps in Classic mode in OSX, but I still spend 99% of my time in OS9. Why? For the productivity apps I use, it just works BETTER. Easier to manage files and such. By a huge margin. Lots of that is due to years of experience, sure. But a lot of it is also the design of the system.

      I do love having bash on my mac though, when I need it.
  • by Anonymous Coward
    "And Mac OS X is MUCH better at serving web pages than BeOS ever was..."

    thud thud thud, his site gets slashdotted

    "Wait, what am I saying? Beos was a horrible web server."

  • by shacker ( 11455 )
    Looks like osnews is getting bogged in the traffic. I'll try and get a mirror of the article online soon.

    - Scot Hacker

    • by ryanvm ( 247662 )
      Looks like osnews is getting bogged in the traffic. I'll try and get a mirror of the article online soon.

      That was your entire post and it got modded '+5 Informative'!?! Feh - real fuckin informative.
  • by .sig ( 180877 ) on Monday December 17, 2001 @05:38PM (#2716643)
    It's like comparing SUVs to cars to trucks. They're all different, suited to different people's needs.

    (A brief example, I'm sure everyone knows each individual point already)

    Windows is for the everyday user, who doesn't mind a few crashes here and there if it means all their favorite software will run on it and the whole thing can be as user friendly as possible.

    Unix is usefull for those who know what they are doing, and is usually considered faster and more reliable, and is in general more suited to business and (especially) software development.

    MacOS combines the two, with a GUI similar to windows (suprise!) and more support for games and home use software, but with a Unix kernel and better reliability. I don't use them much myself, but I hear that mac's are the best choice for multimedia development (graphics especially, but they also seem to have some of the best music editing apps)

    I myself prefer Windows for home use (it's all about the games) and Unix (solaris8 to be specific) for work development.

    Why compare any of them in general though when they're all suited to different applications?
    • 1) I've never hear anyone describe Windows as "as user friendly as possible". You may have never used a Mac

      2) "with a GUI similar to windows" --- It would be more realistic to describe Windows as having a GUI similar to the Mac, considering which came first.
    • What I saw will also be dogmatic and anecdotal, as it is being drawn from my own life.

      Comparing Macs to Windows is not SUVs to cars and trucks. It is not about different, or suited to different needs, though one can very clearly make that distinction.

      It's *almost* like talking about luxury vehicles though, as noxious as car analogies are. You pay for the Mac experience, where the Windows world spans the whole gamut of econoboxes to SUV.

      I'm going to leave out Linux and Unix for simplicity and because with Mac OS X you get BSD 'for free' since it's built atop it.

      For the average (not the specific individuals), a Mac is drop in compatible with a PC, about the same way that an AMD Athlon is compatible with the Intel P4.

      Macs have less quantity software, but it is not without the entire spectrum (except, perhaps, maybe only in the short term, for VB virii)

      What Windows has is the ability to transform nearly any machine into a Window's platform device. Think borg, think virus. A 486? A P2? A P3? A Duron? A MP P4? You can install Windows. It's not perfect, it's not seamless, it's not graceful, but it works. That seems to be the catchphrase that is Windows.

      The Mac is arguably more tightly bound to it's hardware. It *is* seamless, graceful, and clean. Perhaps it wasn't like that in the past, but right now, and for the next few iterations, OS X is going to be hand tailored for the hardware and the hardware is going to be hand tailored for the OS.

      If you prefer the simplicty of a single setup, like I do, you can get one Mac PowerBook G4 for home use (video, graphics, games, movies, etc) and for work (BSD, bash, gcc, etc).
    • But then your analysis depends on what you mean by "Windows".

      Are you talking about Windows 98, or Windows XP? The two are quite different. You appear to refer to Windows 98.

      On the other hand Windows XP plays games, does not crash, will run all their favorite software, is useful to those who know what they are doing, considered faster and more reliable, generally more suited to business and (especially) software development.

      So why do we compare them when we already have a solution that is great for all practical uses? :)
  • Metadata Reviewed (Score:3, Insightful)

    by Lysander Luddite ( 64349 ) on Monday December 17, 2001 @05:40PM (#2716654)
    Since I returned to the Mac in 97 and was using it for web work I got used to typing in the extensions to file names. I never thought this was a big deal having done it ion Windows a lot. When OSX came out and the metadata controversy reared its head I was unsure what the rancor was about.

    After reading this article I can now understand why some people want a different system than that used in OSX. In some ways OSX takes a step backward by getting rid of the resource fork. On the other hand, it acknowledges the fact that to be compatible in a heterogeneous network you have to accomodate Windows and UNIX. The system Scot mentions that was used in Be sounds very intriguing. The fact that MS is moving to a database structure for their file system is also interesting.

    While I would love the ability to use attributes in files like Be did, Apple doesn't have the luxury of starting from-the-ground-up. Still this was THE feature (aside from performance) that I wish OSX had. Would make Sherlock much better. Scot seemed to find some of this functionality in iTunes. Wish it was in the Finder.
    • Re:Metadata Reviewed (Score:2, Informative)

      by Skirwan ( 244615 )
      In some ways OSX takes a step backward by getting rid of the resource fork.
      Minor quibble: metadata (type and creator codes) isn't saved in the resource fork, but directly in the file system.

      Either way, the thing many people seem to be missing in this debate is that metadata and resource forks have not be removed from OSX so much as they've been deprecated - code that uses these apsects of the filesystem still compiles and runs just fine. It's really more of a change in Apple's recommendations and documenation than any technical difference. If you work at it, you can even get the Finder to open files using the old type/creator heuristic (more or less).

      While I'll agree that BFS definitely had some far more interesting applications than HFS does, don't sell HFS short - it still beats the pants off FAT.
      • Thank you for the clarification. Here is what caused my confusion:

        "The official Apple recommendation to developers regarding the storage of file type metadata in Mac OS X (as expressed in the Mac OS X System Overview document at the time of this writing) is as follows

        In Mac OS X, you indicate the type of a document by specifying two things:

        • Type and creator codes stored as attributes of a file (if it is created on an HFS or HFS+ volume)
        • One or more file extensions relevant to the type (for example, .html and .htm)


        The "consequences" of removing a file name extension are actually determined by Mac OS X applications, not by the operating system itself. If I email a Photoshop document named "Logo(Second Revision)" to a Windows user and my email application does not encode the file type information in the file name by appending the appropriate ".psd" file name extension, then the recipient may have trouble opening the file.

        Unfortunately, Apple does not recommend that applications that move files across platforms behave in this manner. Instead, as we've seen, Apple recommends that Mac OS X applications encode file type metadata in the file name as soon as the file is created. This "solves" the interoperability problem in that any file created in this manner can be sent to another platform without encoding file type metadata in the file name at the time of the transfer. But it requires Mac users to live with file name extension the rest of the time as well.

        From: http://arstechnica.com/reviews/01q3/metadata/metad ata-8.html#macosx-file-types

        More info is also available at:http://people.ne.mediaone.net/siracusa/proposal .html

        In any event, I apologize for my stupidity. In any event, what I want is to view files in the Finder and be able to sort by attributes similat to Hacker's Be equivalent.

        Hey, I admitted I was wrong, surely a /. first!

    • Re:Metadata Reviewed (Score:4, Informative)

      by bnenning ( 58349 ) on Monday December 17, 2001 @06:53PM (#2717098)
      In some ways OSX takes a step backward by getting rid of the resource fork.

      It's a common misconception, but filesystem metadata has nothing to do with Mac resource forks; metadata is not and never was stored in resource forks. The concepts are completely orthogonal; you can have either one without the other. Resource forks are deprecated in Mac OS X (replaced by bundles), and both the pro and anti-metadata factions support this.

    • The resource fork was quite salvageable. There was nothing to prevent any normal file from having a .normal file cousin. And that could have been an XML file, which could easily map onto the Mac resource fork.

      The Mac resource fork was quite useful. It had some problems, but what doesn't. (Admittedly, this solution would require some tinkering with the GUI version of the system commands so that the pieces of the file would move together.)

      If I ever design an OS, it will have a resource-fork equivalent. (I'll probably use an version of the option that I suggested. This allows text editors to edit the resource fork, but also allows specialized editors to handle them. But I may make the file location a bit more inaccessible. And I'll certainly have separate permissions.

      OTOH, magic numbers and the #! solve many of the problems that resource forks handled. Any application can use structured data to place it's resource where it desires. So it's less important than it was. Except for plain text files.
      • You probably want to use a directory to make these files. The "data" is one file in the directory, each "resource" is another file in that directory. Then modify the gui and command-line tools so that directories work like single files unless you use the right tools to look into them.

        I think you meant that magic numbers and #! replaces the metadata, and I agree with that. It would help a lot if Windows and KDE and Gnome would go back to using magic numbers rather than registries of file name extensions. The main reason they don't is that on current file systems it is way faster to read a file name than to read the first few bytes of the file.

  • The perfect user (Score:2, Interesting)

    by Otter ( 3800 )
    Excellent article. I say this every time an OSNews article is linked but it's still true so I'll say it again: it's a terrific site.

    Scot Hacker seems like the ideal OS X user. Unlike hard-core Mac users, like most of the OS X audience, he doesn't have Mac desktop environment that's tweaked exactly the way he wants and his hands don't automatically issue Finder commands. He's extremely at home at the command-line and can tap the power of the Unix underneath but still appreciates an elegant, consistent GUI. (Unlike desktop Linux fans, who consider middle-button text pasting that may or may not work between apps from different toolkits to be perfectly satisfactory integration.) And, as he said, when you're coming from Be, it doesn't take a lot of software to look like a vast cornucopia of available apps.

    The one thing that surprises me is that the speed didn't bother him more. The biggest thing BeOS had going for it, besides that file system, was blazing, silky-smooth speed, whereas all the OS X systems I've seen dragged their butts. (Admittedly, I haven't used 10.1.) He did have a really fast box, though.

    • The one thing that surprises me is that the speed didn't bother him more. The biggest thing BeOS had going for it, besides that file system, was blazing, silky-smooth speed, whereas all the OS X systems I've seen dragged their butts. (Admittedly, I haven't used 10.1.)

      That's what you're missing, then: the speed jump from 10.0 to 10.1 is massive, even on what now amounts to "lower-end" machines.
    • Re:The perfect user (Score:2, Informative)

      by shacker ( 11455 )
      Hunh? I spent quite a bit of time - a couple of pages - talking about how painful the speed difference was. I also noted that i'm not sitting on my thumbs waiting for OSX, but that multitasking compared to BeOS is abysmal.
  • scripting in MacOS (Score:5, Informative)

    by frankie ( 91710 ) on Monday December 17, 2001 @05:46PM (#2716693) Journal
    Scott's essay says: I don't mind AppleScript. I wish the system were open to other languages

    Actually, the system is open to other languages, although I don't know how many of them have OS X ports. MacOS uses Open Scripting Architecture [google.com], which means that pretty much any scripting language can operate your Mac, given an appropriate OSAX plugin.

    I've toyed with the ones for JavaScript, Perl, and Python, but decided to stick with AppleScript since I already know (some of) the syntax.
    • by e271828 ( 89234 )
      Also, the release notes for AppleScript Studio [apple.com] states as a "known issue" that "AppleScript Studio does not currently support other OSA languages."(emphasis mine) This holds out hope that this excellent tool [apple.com] will support Perl etc in the future.
      • by 90XDoubleSide ( 522791 ) <ninetyxdoublesid ... t ['ail' in gap]> on Monday December 17, 2001 @09:23PM (#2717665)
        Just a few comments for readers less familiar w/ AppleScript, first you should note that AppleScript Studio is not the only way to write AppleScript; Script Editor remains the default and what most home users will continue to use. AppleScript Studio, an extension for Project Builder, lets you add advanced interfaces built in Interface Builder to your scripts to make them much more capable and able to handle tasks that would previously have required a full-blown application. Your perl and shell scripts are still written in your text editor of choice (the wonderful BBEdit for most OS X users, although vi and emacs are of course used by many), and you can run your shell/perl scripts using Apple's great Script Menu.

        Secondly, it is very possible to connect shell scripts to an AppleScript Studio project, you just have to call them in AppleScript, and you could go on to have your shell script run a perl script. Here is an example that comes with AS Studio; the interface is a dialog with a text field and the script executes the shell script the user types into the field:

        (* Application.applescript *)

        (* ==== Event Handlers ==== *)

        on action theObject
        set theResult to do shell script (contents of text field "input" of window "main") as string
        set the contents of text view "output" of scroll view "output" of window "main" to theResult
        set needs display of text view "output" of scroll view "output" of window "main" to true
        end action

        (* © Copyright 2001 Apple Computer, Inc. All rights reserved. *)

    • Scott's essay says: I don't mind AppleScript. I wish the system were open to other languages

      Actually, the system is open to other languages

      He also says that Be's BMessage system is more advanced, and then goes on to explain it. His explanation makes me wonder, does he even know how AppleScript works? There are several things in his essay (which is very well done and an overall very balanced view, especially for an ex-Mac hater) where he complains about OS X saying "Be had it," where he knows 100% about Be and about 10% of OS X :P

      If you replace "BMessage" with "AppleEvent" in his description, you basically end up with a description of the AppleEvent model, and AppleScript is just a front-end to that model.

      It's cooler in OS X's Cocoa environment, where you don't have to use AppleEvents, the Cocoa objects are the AppleScript objects. If you do

      tell app "My Cocoa App"
      myString = "foobar"
      count myString
      end tell

      You're basically telling the Cocoa app

      myString = [NSString stringWithCString:"foobar"]
      [myString length]

      Unfortunately, with Cocoa apps I've noticed in a few places the behavior of some things are a little broken from traditional AppleScript... hopefully they'll get around to fixing them... and I'll file some bug reports.

      And other Objective-C objects/Cocoa objects (including view objects with AppleScript Studio [apple.com]) behave that way. Plenty of coolness and advanced-ness there, IMO. Try to hack that with C++ :)

      Also similar is the cropping example about picture clippings. Mac OS had that since 7.5, it's just that the Preview app doesn't let you drag & drop clippings :P The very cool SimpleImage X [simpleimage.com] does, though.

      Apple has a habit for leaving blatant holes in their stuff to leave room for developers (unlike MS, who wishes to be the only developer). Sort of like how the AppleScript Script Editor app didn't have search and replace for years :P

  • by WildBeast ( 189336 ) on Monday December 17, 2001 @05:49PM (#2716709) Journal
    I mean this guy always manages to become an extremely experienced user of a doomed OS.
  • ...than clicking on a slashdotted link is clicking on a link that works, getting 3 or 4 pages in and interested, THEN having the site get slashdotted....
  • by jcr ( 53032 ) <jcr.mac@com> on Monday December 17, 2001 @06:28PM (#2716976) Journal
    He said: "Because the Quartz display engine is vector-based, it's possible to do things like providing sliders that adjust the size of the photo-quality icons from miniscule to immense with no dithering."

    That bitmap-resampling that you see in the Dock isn't a simple dither, but it has nothing to do with vector drawing, either.

    • For those interested, from the Apple developer site here [apple.com]:

      "Quartz is a powerful graphics system which forms the foundation of the imaging model for Mac OS X. Quartz offers a sophisticated two-dimensional drawing engine and an advanced windowing environment. Quartz's feature-rich drawing engine leverages the Portable Document Format (PDF) drawing model and offers Mac OS X applications professional-strength drawing functionality. Quartz's windowing services provide low-level functionality like window buffering, event handling/dispatch as well as dynamically creating the translucency and drop shadow effects found in the Aqua user interface."
  • OpenBeOS (Score:2, Informative)

    by Anonymous Coward
    New BeOS software appears consistently at http://www.bebits.com/ [bebits.com]

    Also, a quite large group of people are working in OpenBeOS http://open-beos.sourceforge.net/ [sourceforge.net] and after it matches functionality of BeOS5, it will be further extended. Development is early, but you can't help but take notice at the healthy amount of activity (I keep my eye on the project).
  • by jcr ( 53032 ) <jcr.mac@com> on Monday December 17, 2001 @06:32PM (#2716995) Journal
    "Freeware just isn't a part of the OS X culture, and shareware apps cost about 50% more on average than equivalent BeOS shareware apps."

    There's plenty of Mac OS X freeware and shareware available, particularly for developers. You can find it at www.stepwise.com/softrak.

  • Arrgh!!! (Score:2, Funny)

    by sulli ( 195030 )
    To burn a data CD, you drag the volume toward the Trash.

    When will they ever learn? Don't those numbnuts at Apple know that this is the #1 most annoying and stupid thing about the OS, and has been since - oh, I dunno, 1987?

    • Dorkenheimer Maximus, feel free to click on the disc and select "Burn Disc" from the File menu. Sheesh.
    • Re:Arrgh!!! (Score:2, Informative)

      by MadMoonie ( 223264 )
      To burn a data CD, you drag the volume toward the Trash.

      When will they ever learn? Don't those numbnuts at Apple know that this is the #1 most annoying and stupid thing about the OS, and has been since - oh, I dunno, 1987?

      They have learned. The Trash icon on the dock is only the Trash icon for files. Grab a volume (CD, Zip disk, external hard drive, NFS mount, whatever), and it turns into an Eject icon. Grab a volume you created to burn and the Trash changes to a Burn icon. Drag, drop, and it does just what it said it would do. Very useful...
  • by aussersterne ( 212916 ) on Monday December 17, 2001 @07:59PM (#2717371) Homepage
    I'm an old school Unix user, and I will forever believe [forever] that users who say "command line is great, but for normal work, you want an integrated experience" --

    these users do not really know what the hell they're doing in front of a command line interface. They may think they've mastered the shell of Unix or Linux, but they haven't --

    because once you have, you will never really have a use for anything else -- the beauty of the shell is that all things and all functions are subsumed below it in consistent fashion, in one magnificent world-view, and all things no matter how complex become possible with a single, well-constructed command, almost like magic.

    Some of my fellow Linux or Unix users will understand what I am talking about here -- using the command-line interface is not, as this author says, like carrying around a heavy toolbelt all day when none is needed. Instead, once one has truly mastered the CLI, one is like a Jedi master -- all acts are balanced, rapid, skilled, both intricate and simple at the same time -- and all things are possible and as simple as one another. I can get more work done in ten minutes with my CLI -- including editing video streams and audio streams! -- than most users can get done in days using GUI-only tools.

    Of course, OSX and BeOS both have a CLI -- but neither is very useful because much of the rest of the system and the set of standard tools is gutted or malformed in peculiar OSX and BeOS ways. Users of BeOS and OSX think they are getting a CLI, but it's as though they've been trained only by Obi-Wan and never by Yoda -- the real essence of the system is muddied and lost and the benefits are never realized -- or worse -- they are driven from the concept of a CLI unduly.

    That is my belief: that users who claim to want a desktop in which CLI use is normally avoided really don't understand and haven't yet mastered the CLI -- because once you have, anything else feels like a straightjacket.

    • Of course, OSX and BeOS both have a CLI -- but neither is very useful

      Have you used Mac OS X? What's wrong with its CLI environment? It's pretty much a full BSD installation.

    • ...and I will forever think that users like you forget that the Jedi all went extinct in the Star Wars movies. Being an uber-master of the command line is a great thing -- hey, I love it too, I'm typing this on OSX right now and I pretty much always use the Terminal over the Finder, for exactly the reasons you describe. But I also know that my fiance couldn't give a damn about typing into the Terminal all the time -- she is very adept with the mouse and doesn't want to have to learn all the commands and syntax that the CLI demand, and I don't half blame her (or my parents, or our friends, or any of the millions of others that prefer GUIs to CLIs).

      When Scot Hacker was talking about how having to carry around a toolbelt, he wasn't dissing the commandline, but rather the lack of point & drool simplicity that, while lacking the finesse of the command shell, also doesn't need years of training to become adept with.

      And as for your comments about the CLI of BeOS or OSX not being "the true CLI", well, you're just talking out of your ass on that one. I have never seen a system that better balanced command line & graphical interface functionality better than BeOS did -- for the most part you could use whichever one you felt more comfortable with, and one would be just fine driving the other environment. Lovely. And as for the Mac, it has had AppleScript for generations now and thus could have been automated in the same ways without even having to adpot a shell until now. With OS9 and before, the "real essence of the system" *was* the graphical shell, and none of the available CLI interfaces for it (msh, tclsh, etc) ever felt like anything more than a kludge, and a broken one at that.

      You seem to be making the assumption that, like Linux and (old school) Windows, the graphical shell is a crude wrapper around the text interface. That's just not the case. BeOS and MacOS have always booted directly into a graphical mode, and whatever text interface has been available has always been a service provided on top of that graphical shell, not laying underneath it as a foundation.

      Your argument is thus a bit like saying that anyone that tries to change channels on their television without knowing how to manyally rewire the circuitry is missing out on the true power of the machine. Not only are you flat out wrong, you just sound silly. Knowing how to perform command line surgery is indeed an elegant trick to know, but it is not the end all & be all of modern computer systems, and hasn't been for going on 20 years now, the admirable rise of Linux notwithstanding.

    • The only problem is that it requires you to remember too many commands.

      The average person can only remember 7 things in their short term memory. Usually less, due to the lack of exercise given to their brains. Regarless, most people cannot remember all that a cli has to offer unless they use it all day long. IMO, a gui is easier to use when you don't know anything and easier to remember.

      Most people can't touchtype. They have to look at the keyboard while they are typing to do anything.
    • Sounds to me like you have never used OS X (or BeOS for that matter). If you were truly a jedi knight of the command line, you would have little trouble with OS X. I think you have only been trained by yoda (Solaris/Linux etc) and not by Obi-Wan (bsd, next).

      If I am wrong, please tell me how the CLI on OS X is gutted or malformed.

    • by TheAwfulTruth ( 325623 ) on Monday December 17, 2001 @09:28PM (#2717688) Homepage
      Oh yeah, I'd LOVE to see a command line only Photoshop. I bet that'd just be GREAT. Or how about commandline only games? THose are the nest. See what people like you amazingle fail to realise over and over again is that a lot of us actually use our computers to do things. Not just ftp files around and write scripts to ftp files around. We create CG, we create music, we do all kinds of things that require software that IS NOT COMMAND LINE BASED.

      Different people need different things from their machines. For a lot of us the CL is completely unnessesary, even useless. For others it's indespensible. But if it's indespensible for YOU, don't try to tell me it's indespensible for ME becuase it's just not so.
    • I know bash, some python and C, and administer CLI Linux servers for my day job. At hoem, and on my office destkop, I do about 95% of my work via a GUI. Here's why...

      On a techncial level, poor engineering is evident in the CLI's lack of consistency. Nobodies quite sure how formatted output should look. ifconfig looks different from host that looks different to route. Any good CLI should seperate content from presentation, but this is never the case (unless talking about runlevels). Hence `text processing' which is as nasty way of dealing with data in the order of Microsoft Word.

      But more importantly: an ordinary computer user writes documents, send email, does archiving, has PDFs top be printed of shown on screen, wants to view web sites with plugins, etc etc etc. Some people just want to get their work done. Sure, they could learn tar, zip, bzip, lha, lhx, their various switches, and learn about piping and redicrection, but maybe they're got actual work to do (remember, the computer is an means to an end, and most people want their means to be easy to pick up and use. I'm know all these command lines switches of the top of my head myself, but remeberingtyping tar -zxvf "whatever" takes longer than clicking the file and hitting enter or clicking three times in KDE to extract it. yes, the GUI saves time. Something that takes multiple uses of ls, sort, and wc is easily accompilished with a single click using Konq's sorted list widget.

      You might be a mechanic, others want to drive. And if you didn't build your own car fram scratch I'll bite your troll and call you a hipocrite.
  • I bought BeOS 4.5 and Scot Hacker's Bible, years ago. He convinced me then that BeOS was one of the greatest OSs that could have been. BeOS had more potential than Linux could ever dream of. (sacrilege, I know)

    I have been very interested in Mac OS X since I first heard about it. I've been drooling over Mac Hardware since I first saw the G4 Towers and their translucent shells. Scot Hacker has a way of cementing a person's desire for something. I simply must have a Mac.

    I'm beginning to think that if Scot Hacker began to extoll the virtues of lobotomy or the life of a eunuch I would fall in line. He's like the Pied Bloody Piper
    • Agreed.
      I own a copy of BeOS 4.5 and his BeOS book. I've been tempted to aquire a Mac and OS X. Why? Because Nothing else makes sense.

      I've used PCs since DOS 2.01, I've used Windows 2.01-W2K, OS/2 2.0beta-Warp Connect (complete with pull-away menus), Linux (RedHat 5+), and BeOS 3.0, 4.5 and 5.0.

      I upgraded my computer at one point, installed a new motherboard (From P166 to PIII-500) and said 'Watch this...' to my girlfriend as I booted each installed operating system for the first time.

      BeOS took its usual short time to boot into full GUI. Worked fine.

      Linux booted in its leasurly time as per usual. X didn't run, but that was my fault, not the upgrade.

      Windows95 took 3hrs to get working correctly.
      No, I'm not kidding.

      I liked BeOS. It was quick, smooth, awesome filesystem. Lots of potential. (I liked OS/2 before that...)

      So, I figure if I buy a Mac they should go bust in 6months.

      Every negative thing that Scot said about Linux I agree with. I'm an experienced user but I'm tired of all the stupid interface issues under Linux. (I don't use it enough to eliminate the problems by familiarity alone). I figure a lot of people here are blind to the issues because they are so used to adapting to it.

      I was so used to the right-click menus in OS/2 for a while I felt crippled under Windows. When I sit down at Linux I don't feel empowered, I feel hog-tied. Even though it IS far more powerfull than Windows. BeOS didn't make me feel that way.

      If OS X had a filesystem like BFS I'm not sure I could stop myself from buying a Mac.
  • One thing that drives me nuts in Linux is that the dam file system is case sensitive.

    Can someone tell me WHY a file system needs to be case sensitive from the user's point of view?
    • You would have loved OS/2's file system then. It was (is) cases insensitive, but does keep the case of the file. Very nice, and how it should be IMHO.

      You would name a file MyFile, and it would show up as MyFile, but you could find/select it using mYfIlE, if you wanted.

  • "Tech workers spend all day, every day dwelling within the environments provided by their operating systems. After a while, that environment needs to begin to feel like home."

    Amen. I love the environment I set up with my iBook, Airport, and OS X.

    I sleep with my iBook.
  • by gig ( 78408 ) on Tuesday December 18, 2001 @04:00AM (#2718730)
    > OS X does not have a journaled file system
    > (although, to be fair, I have lost power on
    > this machine and found that it booted back
    > up in a normal time span without appearing
    > to do anything special).

    Mac OS X runs fsck on each and every boot, but because of the way the HFS+ file system is constructed, running fsck multiple times on an 80GB disk takes only a few seconds, so you don't notice it.

    If you check a disk with Mac OS X's Disk Utility, it actually runs fsck, and you'll notice it is done in a blink. Same with formatting disks ... takes a second or two to format an 80GB drive.

    > The [long] filenames were truncated with garbage
    > characters when viewed in the Finder.

    They're not actually random garbage characters ... it's some kind of node number or something that is unique to that file, and so keeps shortened file names from conflicting. This is one of the top two or three "it's not going to kill me, but I sure wish it wasn't the case" types of things with Mac OS X. All you can say that's positive about it is that Apple is dealing with this issue better than Microsoft did with the similar issue on Windows.

    > I don't mind AppleScript. I wish the system
    > were open to other languages, but
    > AppleScript does a fine job, and is very powerful.

    The system is open to other languages. What most people call "AppleScript" is actually called "Open Scripting Architecture (OSA)", and AppleScript is just the default language. You can already get a JavaScript plug-in for Mac OS X.

    http://www.latenightsw.com/freeware/JavaScriptOS A/ jsDownload.html

    Once installed (drop it in /Library/Components for the whole machine or ~/Library/Components for just yourself), the Mac OS X Script Editor will now have a menu on the bottom left of its window where you can select the language you want to script in. Other languages are available for Mac OS 9 as well.

    The Mac OS X Script menu also launches Perl and shell scripts in addition to OSA scripts.

    > This is fairly minor, but it seems that some apps
    > remember their window positions when closed
    > and some do not. Mail.app and Internet Explorer
    > do remember their exact size and position
    > between runs, but Terminal and many
    > others do not. This is another good candidate
    > for consistency in the user experience.

    Mac OS X can hosts apps with a number of different heritages, so it's definitely true that there is great inconsitency between apps than there was before. As time goes on this will probably get better, as the "Mac OS X way" emerges completely and developers are all familiar with it to some degree.

Adding features does not necessarily increase functionality -- it just makes the manuals thicker.