Feb 24, 2010

Haiku:An open-source OS specifically for personal computing

This post introduces you to an operating system called Haiku,which can be used as a starting point for aspiring students of computer science and for those who are interested in hacking operating systems.

Haiku is a descendent of the popular BeOS.It is a POSIX-compliant operating system project that started in 2001.It was initially named OpenBeOS since it was inspired by BeOS. it mainly intended for personal computing space. A clean interface and highly responsive kernel are the striking features of Haiku. It will be a wonder to know that it took almost took nine years to get the fist alpha release of the OS out on September 14,2009.

The key highlights that distinguish Haiku from other operating systems include:

  • Specific focus on personal computing
  • Custom kernel designed for responsiveness
  • Fully threaded design for great efficiency with multi-processor/core CPUs
  • Rich OO API for faster development
  • Database-like file system (OpenBFS) with support for indexed metadata
  • Unified, cohesive interface


personal computing

Just like BeOs,Haiku also delivers an open source OS with simple,yet attractive user interface,and supports x86 based architecture. Many applications that are developed for the BeOs are available for Haiku.


Unlike other Linux distributions,Haiku does not use the Linux or any other existing kernel.The Haiku project has built its own custom kernel using C++ language.This kernel is highly responsive while running user applications on top of it.The kernel is so designed to exploit the features of modern day processors.

The filesystem

Haiku uses a 64-bit journaling filesystem capable of handling volumes close to 2 exabytes (1 billion gigabytes),with a maximum single file size of 260 GB. It is a database-like filesystem that supports indexed metadata.

The ISO image of Haiku is 380 MB, and is easy to install it on a hard disk using a few simple steps. The ISO  image  can also be used to evaluate the OS in live CD mode.

image desktop of Haiku

features of the Haiku:

  • simple user interface
  • Takes less than 10 minutes to install the OS to the hard disk.
  • booting takes less time.
  • The required icons are available on the desktop.
  • Comes with Fire fox web browser.
  • Other applications like PDF viewer,paint,document editor are also available.
  • Developmental tools for the Haiku are also included.

In spite of the above features there are some in Haiku.These are:

  • No boot loader and partition editor.
  • Wireless support is not available.
  • Many hardware drivers are missing.

Overall,Haiku looks like a promising and simple OS. The project has a well-established collaborative environment for development,ranging form mailing lists to bug trackers and version control.

download Haiku at http://www.haiku-os.org/