Haiku (operating system)

Screenshot of Haiku (Beta 3)
DeveloperCommunity contributors and Haiku, Inc.
Written inC/C++
OS familyBeOS
Working stateBeta
Source modelOpen source
Initial releaseFebruary 15, 2002; 21 years ago (2002-02-15) (test release)
Latest previewR1 Beta 4 / December 23, 2022; 11 months ago (2022-12-23)
Available inMultilingual
Update methodSoftware Updater and pkgman
Package managerhpkg
PlatformsIA-32, x86-64, RISC-V
Kernel typeHybrid
user interface
LicenseMIT License and Be Sample Code License
Official websitehaiku-os.org

Haiku, originally OpenBeOS, is a free and open-source operating system for personal computers. It is a community-driven continuation of BeOS and aims to be binary-compatible with it, but is all original software. The Haiku project began in 2001, supported by the nonprofit Haiku Inc., and the operating system remains in beta.

History and project

The OpenBeOS project began by Michael Phibbs on August 18, 2001, after the announcement of Palm, Inc. purchasing Be, Inc. marking the end of BeOS development, to support the BeOS user community by creating an open-source, backward-compatible replacement for BeOS. Palm refused to license the BeOS code to a third-party, meaning that OpenBeOS had to reverse engineer. In 2003, Phibbs founded the non-profit organization Haiku, Inc. in Rochester, New York, United States, to financially support development.

In 2004, the project held its first North American developers' conference, WalterCon; it was also announced on this day that OpenBeOS was renamed to Haiku to avoid infringing on Palm's trademarks. The BeUnited.org nonprofit organization, which promoted open standards for BeOS-compatible operating system projects, announced that Haiku would be its "reference platform". In February 2007, the project held a Tech Talk at Googleplex, attended by ex-Be engineers as well as Jean-Louis Gassée who voiced his support for the project. There is also an annual conference, BeGeistert, held in Germany since 1998 when BeOS was active.

At the end of 2010, a FOSDEM talk was titled "Haiku has No Future".


Apart from the graphical user interface (Tracker and Deskbar, which were open sourced with BeOS 5), Haiku is original software. The first project by OpenBeOS was a community-created "stop-gap" update for BeOS 5.0.3 in 2002.[citation needed] The kernel of NewOS, for x86, Dreamcast (SuperH) and PowerPC, was successfully forked that same year from which Haiku has been based on since. The app_server window manager was completed in 2005. In July 2006 Haiku developer Stephan Aßmus introduced Icon-O-Matic, an icon editor, and a storage format (HVIF) with a rendering engine based on Anti-Grain Geometry.

A pre-alpha build of Haiku from 2006, showing its then-codename Walter

Java support was eventually added by a team from BeUnited who had ported it to BeOS. Alongside a port to GCC4, the first alpha release finally arrived followed seven years of development. After the initial full BeOS 5 compatibility as target, a community poll was launched to redefine the future of Haiku beyond a free software refactoring of BeOS from the late 1990s, and decided to expand vision to supporting basic contemporary systems and protocols with more ambitious support for modern hardware, web standards and compatibility with FLOSS libraries. On October 27, 2009, Haiku obtained Qt4 support.

In September 2013, a package management system was released. Wine was first ported to Haiku in 2022.

Release history

Version Release date OS name Architecture
Haiku R1/Alpha1 September 14, 2009 hrev33109 IA-32
Haiku R1/Alpha2 May 10, 2010 hrev36769
Haiku R1/Alpha3 June 20, 2011 hrev42211
Haiku R1/Alpha4 November 11, 2012 hrev44702 IA-32, X86-64
Haiku R1/Beta1 September 28, 2018 hrev52295
Haiku R1/Beta2 June 9, 2020 hrev54154
Haiku R1/Beta3 July 26, 2021 hrev55182
Haiku R1/Beta4 December 23, 2022 hrev56578


As with BeOS, Haiku is written in C++ and provides an object-oriented API. The modular design of BeOS allowed individual components of Haiku to initially be developed in teams in relative isolation, in many cases developing them as replacements for the BeOS components prior to the completion of other parts of the operating system.[citation needed]

The Haiku kernel is a modular hybrid kernel which began as a fork of NewOS, a modular monokernel written by former Be Inc. engineer Travis Geiselbrecht. Many features have been implemented, including a virtual file system (VFS) layer and symmetric multiprocessing (SMP) support.[citation needed]

It runs on 32-bit and 64-bit x86 processors, and recently has been ported to RISC-V; there is also a port for ARM under development, but is currently far behind the x86 port.

A KDL (Kernel Debugging Land) screen, a serious kernel error which causes Haiku to drop into the kernel debugger.

Haiku is POSIX compatible and has translation layers for X11 and Wayland.

Haiku Vector Icon Format (HVIF) is a vector storage format designed to store icons in Haiku. It is aimed at fast rendering and small file sizes.


Haiku kernel icon in Haiku's icon editing tool Icon-O-Matic

Package management is done by the graphical application HaikuDepot, and a command-line equivalent called pkgman. Packages can also be activated by installing them from remote repositories with pkgman, or dropping them over a special packages directory. Haiku package management mounts activated packages over a read-only system directory. The Haiku package management system performs dependency solving with libsolv from the openSUSE project.[citation needed]

It comes with a number of preloaded applications, such as a WebKit-based web browser WebPositive, a document reader BePDF, a simple web server PoorMan, a text editor StyledEdit, and a Bash-based terminal emulator Terminal.

Compatibility with BeOS

Haiku R1 aims to be compatible with BeOS 5 at both the source and binary level, allowing software written and compiled for BeOS to be compiled and run without modification on Haiku. The 64-bit version of Haiku, however, does not have BeOS compatibility at the binary level, but the API still does.

BeOS R5 binary applications that run on Haiku include Opera, Firefox, NetPositive, Quake II, Quake III, SeaMonkey, Vision, and VLC.[citation needed]


In 2013 after the release of Haiku Alpha 4, Ars Technica reviewed the operating system and praised it for being fast, but ultimately stating that it "may not be much more than an interesting diversion, something to play with on a spare bit of hardware". Haiku Beta 4 was reviewed by ZDNET in 2023 where it stated: "Haiku is for those who experienced either NeXT or AfterStep and want an operating system that looks and feels a bit old school but performs faster than any OS they've ever experienced." It further praised Haiku's kernel, file system, and object-oriented API.

As of 2018, the Free Software Foundation has included Haiku in a list of non-endorsed operating systems because: "Haiku includes some software that you're not allowed to modify. It also includes nonfree firmware blobs."

See also

This page was last updated at 2023-11-27 03:21 UTC. Update now. View original page.

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