What’s Haiku in the first place?

It is an operating system, period. What might cause a small surprise is that it is not based either on Linux or on BSD — and yet it is (probably) runnable in your modern computer/laptop!

What I most like on it is that the system is integrated with the GUI, so the end user gets a nice experience. This is not so common as it sounds: most Linux distributions are simply a collection of programs and utilities put together in one place, but they are not necessarily integrated — however, you can integrate them. This makes all the difference between user-friendly and user-centered paradigms1.

Anyway, Haiku is simple, so for me this post is more a hobby than something useful that I will use in the future; however, I find that knowing about more and more about different operating systems has its own advantages.

For more, see https://www.haiku-os.org/about.

Installing Haiku

Note: most of those instructions come from here. Also, thanks David Couzelis for kindly giving me some advice and pointing me out to them.

  1. Get Haiku. You can do it either from here, or get nightly releases from here. I personally recommend the nightly releases; I first installed the latest non-nightly one, but later on I discovered that is was very old (circa 2012): it didn’t even have a package manager.
  2. Which image should you download? In this post, I am assuming we’ll install Haiku directly to a (real) disk, so I’m downloading the raw image. Actually, the anyboot image can also be downloaded — and this is the one you will get if you opted for a non-nightly version; however, the anyboot image will be converted to a raw one in step 3 before we proceed. So, skip the next step if you downloaded the raw image.
  3. Got your anyboot image? Now, convert it to raw (run this from a bash compatible shell):
$ dd if=haiku-anyboot.image of=haiku.raw bs=1M skip=$(expr $(od -j 454 -N4 -i -A n haiku-anyboot.image) / 2048)
$ dd if=/dev/zero of=haiku.raw bs=1 seek=506 count=4 conv=notrunc

Update (2022): These days dd supports status=progress to display the image writing progress.

  1. Now that we got a raw image, we are writing it directly to a disk partition. First things first: find 3GB or more of free space in your disk. Then create room for a partition in there (for example, with fdisk or gparted). Got it? Now create a partition in there. I’ll assume the partition is /dev/sda42. Please change 42 for the appropriate number in your case.
  2. Copy the raw image to the partition (this should be done as ROOT); WARNING: double check the partition and the disk number, otherwise you might lose data.
$ dd if=haiku.raw of=/dev/sda42 bs=1M conv=notrunc
  1. Make the installation bootable: you’ll need to compile and run the makebootabletiny program, which can be downloaded from here. It is a simple C program, so:
$ gcc makebootabletiny.c -o makebootabletiny
% ./makebootabletiny /dev/sda42  # this one: as ROOT
  1. Make your bootloader know about Haiku. If you’re using grub2z, you can add something such as the following lines to /etc/grub.d/40_custom:
menuentry "Haiku OS" {
    set root(hd0,42)
    chainloader +1
  1. Then run as root: grub-mkconfig -o /boot/grub/grub.cfg

Done! Now you should be able to boot into Haiku.

Now what?

This post is not a review of Haiku, so I’m stopping here. However, if I write a review about Haiku, I’ll do that from Haiku 🙂.

I’m just leaving this here: https://www.haiku-os.org/slideshows/haiku-1

  1. By the way, Arch Linux is user-centered, which means that you’re supposed to integrate the system as you wish. If you don’t wish that then you’re screwed anyway, so go away 🙂 ↩︎