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My Opinion of BeOS
It is another closed, proprietary system. You trade your Windows chains for BeOS chains. It still leaves you at the mercy of the proprietor. The Linux kernel is free and open. So are the GNU components of the typical "Linux" installation. No one can "cut off [your] air supply". FreeBSD gives you the same guarantee of freedom. The GNU General Public License concentrates more of freedom for the user and future users while the BSD license focuses more on the freedom of code. Both make sure that you can't be forced down one company's restrictive path.
I saw a part of a BeOS demonstration on ZDTV one afternoon while channel surfing (ZDTV occupies a transponder in between SpeedVision and The Discovery Channel on C-band satellite). The 'host' (sorry, didn't catch any names) was discussing BeOS with one of its representatives. The rep made glowing promises about never having to edit little text files to set up your hardware, which I took to be a direct shot at Linux. They both talked extensively about the ease of installation alongside an existing Windows installation. Then they moved to the PC and giant monitor to demonstrate the installation. It completely bombed and froze up. They talked around it for a couple of minutes while it did nothing and I was rolling around laughing like a complete nutcase. Then they moved over to another, pre-configured, pre-installed system. Still laughing, I changed the channel and made a comment that maybe the rep should learn how to read plain text ASCII files to customize program configurations.
Anyone who has dealt with computers for more than a few minutes realizes that things can go wrong at any time. I don't know how it is with the big mainframes, but you better expect the unexpected with commodity, consumer, personal computers. I like the ability to edit those little text files the BeOS rep disparaged before the demo. The (mostly) human readable initialization and configuration files in Linux are a strong plus rather than a minus. It gives you a way to get things back in shape when some part of the machine goes nuts or some "automagical" software has the wrong magic in it. Thanks, but I'll stick with the penguin.