Operating Systems and their File Systems
Besides what Microsoft and a number of other software developers were doing,1996 saw the emergence of yet another new operating system, called simply “Be“. The Be operating system was intended to be an alternative to the heavy weight (literally) operating systems used by most people. The developers decided to first support the Apple PowerPC, and then in 1998 came the BeOS for x86 computers. Unlike many of its competitors, the BeOS was developed from the ground up and was designed especially for multimedia applications involving video and audio on consumer-level hardware. While this operating system enjoys only a very small percentage of the overall operating system market, it is an important option for audio and video hobbyists and power users.
This new operating systems primary file system is its very own, unique, BeOS File System, which is abbreviated as BFS or befs. Although unique to BeOS, the file system most resembles the UNIX file system. Its primary strength is that has built-in capability to access a multitude of other file systems. Initially BeOS could read or write to FAT 12, FAT 16, VFAT and HPFS partitions, and support for FAT32 has either been added. BeOS can even read NTFS partitions with the appropriate drivers added.
The first thing you’ll see as you enter the BeOS GUI is the screen shown in Figure 1, below. It was the desire of the developers to have Be make a lasting, but yet un-intimidating, impression on those who used it.
In the upper left hand corner of the screen you’ll find the Disks icon, which very much resembles the My Computer Icon under Windows®. Double clicking on the Disks icon will provide a listing of all drives and partitions located on your computer that have been recognized by Be.
The Disks Window will NOT list devices that aren’t present at the time of opening!
As an example, if you don’t have a CD in the CD-ROM drive, your CD-ROM drive will not appear in the BeOS Disks Window. Sticking a CD in the drive however, results in the drive appearing in the box. Keep in mind that your CD-ROM drive, providing that it has been detected properly and is supported by Be, is there, it just remains hidden until you actually place a disk in the drive. The same applies to the Floppy Drive, except for the fact that you must manually mount any disks you insert in the floppy drive.
Only disks carrying the BeOS File System will be recognized as mountable!
Right next to the Disks icon you’ll find the Trash can. Similar to Windows®, this is where everything you delete will be found. Selecting an item and then hitting the ‘ALT + T’ key combination results in the Windows® equivalent of hitting the delete key while selecting an item. Like Windows®, the BeOS doesn’t physically delete the data from your hard drive when you place it in the trash can. Instead, the data is kept in a special folder, able to be recovered. The trash can be emptied by selecting the Empty Trash option from the trash can’s pop-up menu.
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