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2022: The Year of the Haiku and Serenity Operating Systems
Two systems with distinctly 1990's style... both set to make big moves in 2022.
“It’s the year of the Linux Desktop!”
That statement has been repeated every single year for the last 20+ years. It has been said so often that it has become a running gag.
And I get it.
I get why that phrase has been said by so many — including myself on more than a few occasions — for oh-so-many years. The truth is that we all love to see an underdog succeed. For the last few decades, Linux has represented the best hope for an underdog Operating System — one built, with love, by a rag-tag crew — to take significant marketshare from the big, corporate, entrenched systems.
Now, in 2022, something truly amazing has occurred.
As Linux has captured a not-insignificant chunk of marketshare… two other “underdog” Operating Systems — ones that have flown under the radar of many — have matured to the point where they are primed to become viable as daily, primary Operating Systems for many people.
I’m talking about Haiku and SerenityOS.
The Haiku Operating System
Haiku has its roots in the fabled BeOS of the 1990s (a truly unique and fascinating system started by an ex-Vice President of Apple).
After Be Inc. (the company behind BeOS) failed and was sold off for parts to various companies… the OpenBeOS project launched with the goal of rebuilding a completely open source version of the system. In the years since, the system became “Haiku” — a reference to the heavy usage of haiku poetry in the error messages of the original BeOS — and has continued slow, but steady development by talented and dedicated crew of developers.
Things really kicked into high gear with Haiku over the last several months — as the project has been in a financial position to hire a full time developer to work on a wide range of aspects of the system. This has resulted in numerous improvements every single month.
At this point Haiku is quickly becoming a stable, fast, full featured Operating System — one with a large software ecosystem.
Many, many open source packages have been ported from Linux over to Haiku. Including LibreOffice, and many GTK and KDE applications.
The system, naturally, is not going to be ready — right now — for everyone. Hardware support for a WiFi chipsets is somewhat limited (though improving), and the lack of solid 3D GPU acceleration creates some limitations for certain types of applications (such as realtime video compositing).
Just the same, Haiku has matured so rapidly that it is now usable — for many (including myself) — as a daily driver Operating System.
While Haiku has been around for many years, and is now becoming truly mature, there is another system that appeared very recently…
On October 10th, of 2018, the following screenshot was posted of what would become SerenityOS:
Flash forward just a few short years, and this is SerenityOS today:
Described as a “love letter to '90s user interfaces with a custom Unix-like core”, SerenityOS has recreated the general style of that Windows 95 era of computing… with a modern, stable, fast core.
The pace of development and improvements with SerenityOS is nothing short of astounding. A good example of how impressive this is: SerenityOS now has its own web browser — developed from scratch — that fully passes the Acid3 web compatibility tests.
A major thing worth noting with SerenityOS: There is a distinct focus on building new, native applications for the system (as opposed to porting software from other platforms).
This is a bit of a double edged sword. It means that the software that is there tends to all have the right look… and perform incredibly well. That said, it also means that we will not likely be seeing many of the applications that we are used to using ported to the system (at least not any time soon)… and that the total number of available applications is going to, obviously, but much smaller.
But with the rapid improvement of the SerenityOS Web Browser, the whole system is going to rapidly become usable for many people.
Over the course of 2022 we will see both systems continue their recent trend of rapid improvement (in terms of stability, feature set, and available software)… to the point where both systems will be usable for an increasing number of people each and every month.
Does that mean that Haiku or SerenityOS will be taking huge marketshare away from Windows, ChromeOS, Linux, or macOS? No. No, it doesn’t.
But it does mean that those of us looking for — and rooting for — the underdogs… will have two new Operating Systems becoming viable.
As such I expect to see the user bases of both systems to absolutely explode — both developers looking to contribute to each system, and your average nerd simply looking for a fun system to move a few of their computers to.
Now, the big question for me: Will I be using either of these systems?
The answer is simple… I already am.
This article written — and posted — using Haiku. With a few improvements to the SerenityOS, I expect to be able to do the same from that system very soon.
Which means that right now, in 2022, we have two new underdog Operating Systems we can root for. And that’s pretty darn exciting.
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