Posted Dec 8, 2012 21:10 UTC (Sat) by commodorejohn
In reply to: Mmm
Parent article: Haiku edges toward general release
I can't speak for everyone in general, but here's why I want to use Haiku:
I want to move to a free (as in beer) open-source OS, but I've found that Linux, on account of being the end product of several decades of turning an OS for PDP-11s driving serial terminals into a professional workstation/server OS and then into something usable on personal computers, is far too labyrinthine for my tastes, and that the large majority of efforts to "simplify" it for general use have consisted of hiding away that complexity behind "manager" interfaces. Oftentimes those interfaces are pretty good, but they don't actually do anything about the underlying complexity, and when something breaks, you're actually worse off for not having learned how the complex systems work because the interfaces aren't going to be any help in getting the very thing they're supposed to keep you from having to deal with fixed. It's just all a lot more complicated than an OS for personal computers really ought to be.
On top of that, I've found that a lot of Linux software suffers greatly from what I call "programmer-centric UI" - by which I mean that the user interface is often designed largely as an afterthought by someone who would much rather get back to tweaking the backend functionality but knows that nobody's going to appreciate all their hard work if they can't use the thing, so they cobble up something adhering to whatever random subset of every UI convention in computing history springs to mind and gets the job basically done, and then go back to working on the technically interesting stuff. It's understandable why that happens, but it doesn't make it any less frustrating when I just want to get stuff done - and the attitude a number of advocates have that "usability is for wimps, if you don't like it why don't you just write a different UI, it's open-source after all!" doesn't help matters, either.
Haiku offers a better alternative on both counts. It's much simpler under the hood and it's well-documented to boot. It doesn't have the enormous learning curve that Linux in anything other than an "Ubuntu as a browser launcher" sense does. It also offers a clean, simple, and consistent UI and has a very usability-focused developer culture. It's coming from what is, in my opinion, exactly the right place: trying to simplify anything that's unnecessarily complex, but not trying to dumb down or gloss over the stuff that has good reason to need a little work to understand. Because of that, I fully believe that, when it reaches a state where it's ready for general daily use, it's going to be a system where the benefits of switching over outweigh the comparatively minor learning curve - which is not something I can say for Linux.
You're right that the article is a bit lacking in its overview. Yes, drivers are an issue, and yes, development is slow (mainly because the vast majority of open-source developers think that Linux is the only open OS!) But there's plenty of reason to look forward to what comes out of the Haiku project.
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