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If you're interested in a Real-time Operating
System (OS) targeted for digital media and digital audio, read
Be, Incorporated was formed in 1990 to address issues for professional users, "prosumers". They are headquartered in Menlo Park, CA, north of Stanford University. These prosumers are comprised of: digital
designers, amateur and semi-professional musicians, videographers who are searching for new solutions in
areas of video data streaming, 3-D models and visualization, and graphical data.
The company states that the OS was built
from the "ground up". This means that the OS did not
inherit inefficient portions of programming code or as they stated,
it was started with a blank slate avoiding layers of sediment
of other OS's. The Operating System was built with a foundation
of base products that would allow it to grow for many years to
come. BeOS networking capabilities are based upon TCP/IP and
designed as an Internet-native system. It features fully multithreaded
graphics for fast 2-D & 3-D operations. It comes ready for
multiple IP addressing, multiple ethernet cards, has dial-in support
through PPP, has extensive modem support, built-in FTP server
for file transfers, built-in telnet server permitting remote logins
and launch of applications from the command line. Additionally,
changes to the network do not require restarting. BeOS supports
up to 9 virtual workspaces. This feature allows you to organize
based upon how you work with
applications. One such use might be previewing graphics in different color depths - desktop viewing vs. internet viewing.
The installation of BeOS was a snap and it took about 5-10 minutes to install onto a clean partition. The desktop has the look and feel of MAC OS. The GUI (graphical user interface), the folders, context sensitive menus, and drag & drop were very similar to our systems today. It supports symmetric multiprocessing from kernel to application and was tested for up to 8 processors dynamically. This will mean that by adding additional processors to the system, some significant gains can be achieved. With the right application(s) multiprocessor performance improves to nearly 100%. It comes with a basic set of applications for Audio & Video processing. The fonts that are part of the system are scalable in real-time, can be rotated to 360 degrees, and the fonts can be sheered.
The demonstration video showed the operation on a dual Pentium 266MHz, with 64MB RAM, 3GB Hard Drive, and 2 video capture cards ($70 each). The demonstration showed CPU utilization of both processors during the various executions. It ran multiple tasks as the same time (audio, video, text manipulation, heavy compute video modeling, ...) until they reached a full 100% utilization of both CPU's. And to demonstrate the performance of the software kept on going. To further illustrate its rock solid control, removed one processor. This only degraded the 3D modeling application while all the other applications continued to perform without any noticeable degradation.
Bottom line: the BeOS sells for $69-79 and
appears to be an excellent OS for the digital audio & video
arena. A few questions come to mind: Does it have the applications
of your particular interest? Will they be there down the road?
News Update: To raise some capital Be, Inc. is planning an initial public offering (IPO) next month. For more info see:
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