The developers of the Haiku operating system, an open source effort to build a BeOS-inspired, desktop-oriented operating system, have made their first formal test release. The Haiku R1 Alpha 1 release is available for daring testers from the project web site.

I wrote a bit about Haiku last month. It is one of my favorite open source projects. The various Linux and BSD Unix distributions are great operating system for what they are, and they can’t be beat for server purposes, but they don’t ‘just work’ as well as they should as desktop systems. Despite the strides made by some key projects like Ubuntu which have finally made Linux usable by mere mortals, it still isn’t totally ‘put together’ for desktop end users. Haiku, however, is being built differently. It’s target user is the desktop user. It, like BeOS before it, approaches the user with a simple, beautiful, minimalist interface that stays out of your way. It doesn’t expect you to be a nerd to use it.

Of course, at this early stage, being a nerd helps—Haiku doesn’t yet support wireless networking and may need some nerd-attention to get running on some computers. The system is off to a great start though. Check it out!