Haiku OS: The Open Source BeOS You Can Daily Drive In 2024

Haiku is one of those open source operating systems that seem to be both exceedingly well-known while flying completely under the radar. Part of this is probably due to it being an open source version and continuation of the Be Operating System (BeOS). Despite its strong feature set in the 1990s, BeOS never got much love in the wider computer market. Nevertheless, it has a strong community that after twenty-two years of development has now reached a point where you can daily drive it, according to the [Action Retro] channel on YouTube.

One point where Haiku definitely scores points is with the super-fast installation and boot. [Action Retro] demonstrates this on real hardware, and we can confirm that it boots very fast in VirtualBox on a low-end Intel N100-based host system as well. With the recently introduced QtWebEngine-based Falkon browser (formerly known as QupZilla) even JavaScript-heavy sites like YouTube and retro Mac emulators work well. You can even get a Minecraft client for Haiku.

Although [Action Retro] notes that 3D acceleration is still a work-in-progress for Haiku, his 2014-era AMD system smoothly played back 1080p YouTube videos. Although not addressed in the video, Haiku is relatively easy to port existing software to, as it is POSIX-compatible. There is a relatively modern GCC 11.2 compiler in the Beta 4 release from 2022, backed up by solid API documentation. Who doesn’t want to take a poke at a modern take on the OS that nearly became MacOS?

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An E-Book Reader, But Just For Haiku

E-ink displays haven’t revolutionized the world so much as served us humbly in e-book readers such as the Kindle and its ilk. Most such readers are designed for extended sessions reading novels and the like, but [Roni Bandini] decided a haiku-sized device was in order.¬†

The diminutive device runs off an ESP32, which has plenty of clock cycles for easily driving displays. It’s paired with a 2.9 inch Waveshare e-ink display, upon which it delivers poetry in the popular Japanese haiku format – 5 syllables, 7 syllables, 5 syllables. Writing to the display is easy with the GxEPD library, which is compatible with a variety of common e-ink displays.¬†Presently the poetry is hardcoded in the program, and there’s plenty that could be included with the ESP32’s roomy program storage. However, [Roni] notes it would be simple to have the reader pull poems from an SD card instead.

It’s a fun project, and a great way to get familiar with the basics of working with e-ink displays. We’d love to see a WiFi-enabled version that pulls down the hottest daily haikus fresh from the web, too. Funnily enough, our own archives only feature one other reference to the famous Japanese art, which has little to do with poetry. If you fancy changing that, make something relevant and drop us a line. Video after the break.

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Tatjana Van Vark


Go to this site and you’ll be greeted by a crazy looking woman wielding a giant egg and a blunt object that looks like Jupiter with mischief in her eyes. This is Tatjana van Vark. ¬†Her library of projects ranges from the mundane such as a couple of incandescent lamps, to a fully functional Antikythera mechanism. As you browse around at things like her one of a kind cipher based on the enigma machine and her inertial navigator platform shown above, you’ll find the quality of her work astounding. Randomly peppered haikus give us a brief glimpse into her mind as we look at, literally decades, of amazing work. We’re sure many of you are drooling at the thought of some build details, but you’ll have to work for it. Decipher the haiku on the coding machine’s page for the build details… if you can.

[thanks Verimius]