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Tuesday, February 7, 2017

Vintage image preview released (and updates)

The release candidate image for the Vintage image (Soliloquy) is now available for download. Soliloquy is an (unofficial) flavor of the Haiku OS that will run inside Vintage as a VM. However, it can also be run standalone, though this is not supported by the Poem project!

Upgraded to nightly branch

Soliloquy switches focus from its old goal of being a fork to a simple flavor of its parent for the upcoming Vintage tool, now based on nightly 50810. It uses the Haiku repository for applications, and uses the haiku package names, suffixed by soliloquy1.

Testing new look

This image experiments with a new look, with a purple-blue palette reminiscent of Dano and Mac OS 8-9. Tabs are also a faint shade of yellow, and radio buttons are flat and more modern. Buttons and scrollers now are glassy with sharp borders... but more importantly, they are larger and taller. The reasoning for this is that Vintage will be running inside Couplet, which may be used with tablets.

Known (and unknown) bugs

When using Terminal or extracting an archive, you may get a message about lifting locks; this is a known issue in this build. Soliloquy uses its own icon set, but a few icons from Haiku are still lurking in here. As this is based on a nightly snapshot of Haiku, there are other bugs which will inevitably be in this release. Unlike Couplet, Soliloquy will not be supported by Poem.

/!\ Only a minimal CD is available!

On the downloads page, only a minimal CD is available -- it does not include fonts, artwork, or help, and defaults to a standard serif font. They will be included in the official image, so please be patient. Also note that because this is a preview release, the final copy may deviate from this build.

What about the full release (Couplet)?

While it is taking a while as Poem is a small project, Couplet is still under construction. The schedule page has been renovated to better show where the project is now. What's currently stopping release is Deskette, Pointer, the default application set, and help. Once these are to the point they are usable, the meter should leap forward to 90% and the R1 release candidate will be uploaded.

Currently, the release window for Poem is set for Spring 2017. A more precise estimate will be posted once we're close enough to release. As always, for current progress, see the schedule or roadmap page.

Thanks for reading.

Saturday, January 7, 2017

A new year ahead...

Hopefully, everyone reading had a wonderful holiday season. With this being the start of 2017 and today marking the end of the first week of the new year, here is what is currently happening with the project...

One notable update is that Soliloquy has been rebuilt (shown here as a testing build; this doesn't reflect the final image!)

For those new to the project, Soliloquy is basically an unofficial flavor (or distribution) of the Haiku OS, whose primary purpose is to serve and run as a virtual machine inside Vintage (qemu/kvm) on the full Poem OS release (Couplet).

Moving forward from the original alpha 4 foundation means that the image will switch to packages. Though this change was not originally planned for Vintage, with BeBits totally gone, using repos and the Depot from Haiku is clearly the future for anyone who wants to use compatible titles or classic Be applications in Vintage. While there are still a few final tweaks to be made, this is an exciting announcement, as it represents one component that is nearly ready.

As for the other components of the Poem OS (Couplet), a lot of time and effort, such as noting the layout of several user interfaces on desktop and tablet form factors, have went into deciding how the final environment should look and feel. Several changes to various elements and its overall design are still being made now and will be announced here on the site blog before releasing an R1 Preview image later this spring. A release date for Poem OS still can't be given at this time; as the system gets closer to release, a realistic estimate can be posted. For now, please continue to check Schedule regularly for any progress.

Thanks for reading!

Sunday, October 30, 2016

Changing course for R1

Alpha 2 may have been canceled earlier, but this doesn't mean plans to finish and get to R1 have stopped, either. After being stuck in alpha stage for months now, the project is making a sudden change to its roadmap to go for the first release directly, rather than following the traditional release path. While this new change probably means that R1 may be a rough first release, it will help bring the project back to life faster.

Unlike any earlier announcements, however, no release window or dates will be set for R1 until we reach a point where the release is close to being ready, in order to give a realistic estimate. However, you can check the progress (or how close R1 is to being built) at any time by clicking Schedule. R1 is most likely still months away at this point, but it should hopefully be worth the wait once it is ready for launch.

Thanks for reading... and looking forward to what's ahead!

Wednesday, September 28, 2016

Why alpha 2 isn't launching today

The project blog has been quiet for a while, as I've continued to focus on alpha 2. Poem is my first software project of this size, and it is challenging to be crafting it solo. Because of this, Poem has been teaching me valuable lessons and has been quite the crazy adventure for me since I started it... as reading the project's history on the about page will show for itself!

But, here we are -- right now. The next release was scheduled to launch as Alpha 2 before the end of this month into mid-October... but to be honest, here are the two major reasons we're just not ready for Alpha 2 to launch today...

1. Desktop work

Right now, Couplet apps still do not have a menubar, there are no per-app shortcuts, no usable desktop, and other missing details that I consider solid requirements for alpha 2 to be ready to launch.

But the other reason that alpha 2 for Couplet had pinned me down is that I was trying to stuff the whole environment into Firefox. It sounded awesome when I thought of it, but window movement and usage was limited to one canvas, which meant that windows were crammed in one area, amongst other issues I saw with that model working on a full desktop. Recently, I've decided to alter course, and am going back to using X.org/Fluxbox paired with a more compact browser as a backend for powering the new Couplet apps instead, as building it this way has proven to be superior. At the moment, though, it needs work.

And as for Soliloquy (the Haiku distribution that powers Vintage), it would still ship based on Haiku alpha 4.1 gcc2 if it did launch today. Whether or not we will switch to a more recent Haiku revision as the base for the image is still something that I'm actively debating before releasing its next iteration to the public. While I appreciate the long work and the efforts the Haiku project has done (and still is doing) with the Depot, I also am not willing to follow the package centric ideal in Poem, as I believe it takes away freedom from the end user to control the contents of his or her filesystem -- something that BeOS and earlier revisions of Haiku believed in... and I still believe in.

2. Mobile work

As a sidenote, Poem really is aiming for a mobile edition of Couplet that will run on Pi with the next release, but it's also not ready for this stage either. To explain this, while you could run Couplet on the Pi on a full-size monitor or TV as a desktop-like experience, elements do not scale down to provide a good mobile experience. On the average 5-7" display with a 640x480 or 800x600 resolution most kits include for these computers, realistically, they need their own UI. This is why (at least in my opinion) having the everyday Linux desktop is a royal pain on these the same sense running CE 2.0 on H/PC was. To realistically solve the small screen problem, Poem will need to have a separate mobile shell that will run applications fullscreen and without needing to have a traditional desktop. And so, in a sense, Poem is essentially 3 big subprojects (Couplet, Soliloquy, mobile) with one goal because of this realization. And even if we decided to ignore any plans toward mobile for now and upload and launch alpha 2 anyway today, it would still not offer the experience on the desktop I'd expect.

No alpha 2

So, there it is. I apologize for deciding to halt this release; I know that there's been anticipation over it, and people reading the project's blog will probably be disappointed after waiting since the project's rebirth for a fresh build to have fun playing with.

But please know that I really am dedicated to finishing a system that has the look and feel of the Be desktop, as I believe that both the BeOS and MacOS were the simplest (and best) desktop systems ever built. While I definitely do not want Poem to slip into vaporware lore or to have no plan to it, I also want it to be a passionate effort that doesn't crank out junk.

That said, I just wanted to be open with everyone and explain what's happening with Poem. The next release really is on the way... it's just going to need to wait longer than I had hoped for. Right now, my plan for Poem is that we will get a new release out once I can conquer at least a few more areas I see hindering it from launching... and I'm not sure exactly when this will be done, but I am hoping to try again for releasing a new build before November and possibly move up to beta if enough features are finished... but only time will tell.

Thank you for reading -- and for your patience!

-- Andrew Greimann

Tuesday, August 9, 2016

Roadmap for alpha 2

Now that Poem is back online, work on Alpha 2 has quietly been resuming from the point where the project was almost quit for good. Alpha 2 is going to be a huge milestone for the project, and a significant leap forward from Alpha 1 once it is released. Current plans for the upcoming preview (a2) builds are:

1. "Aubade"

All major Poem projects and editions are named after poetry; an aubade is an ode or a song to the dawn. Aubade is the codename for the all-new UI which will run utilizing Firefox as a backend. It will power all new Poem (Couplet) applications. The UI be heavily inspired by and modeled after Dano -- but will also take tablet computers into consideration as well in its design as a hybrid.

Please do not expect it to be complete or do much in its first appearance in alpha 2, but it should prove to be an exciting starting point for all future builds once it debuts.

2. Deskette

One of the primary goals for Poem is to create a new environment inspired by Be, but the problem has been that up until now, Poem hasn't been able to truly start doing this yet. Starting with alpha 2, early builds of Deskette and Pointer will be introduced to Couplet to imitate and be elementary substitutes for the Deskbar and Tracker.

3. Vintage

The previous 'Throwback' concept from alpha 1 has been merged into a new internal project named 'Vintage', and will include several major improvements as an active frontend to qemu for running Soliloquy in a virtual machine. With the upcoming preview, Vintage will be able to set various preferences. For example, you'll be able to define the memory size of the guest, the number of cores you'll be using, and whether to use acceleration. You will also be able to create and delete virtual hard disks.

4. Finding a new core

And finally, this was a really huge decision, but one that had to be made before going any further.

After evaluating the performance of alpha 1, it was clear that Poem needed to find what base it would use for R1. Debian Gnu/Linux simply could not be what defined the main edition of the Poem project, mainly due to increasing support around systemd, along with other reasons.

Several systems for the new base for Couplet were considered, including illumos, NetBSD, and several distributions of Linux. illumos is an excellent system that almost became my final choice, as it has an awesome feature set and legacy. In the end, however, I found flavors of it didn't work well with Vintage or the x86 tablets I tested with it. While NetBSD was also a good candidate I considered due to its incredible manageability and ports, several new machines didn't play that well with the release I tested (i.e. my MacBook and HP Stream Pro). And so, after reconsidering whether to resume building Couplet as a Linux-based system, I decided to evaluate a small handful of distributions that I considered to be qualifiable candidates.

Finally, after long hours of testing and comparing potential systems to utilize as a base, starting with Alpha 2, the Couplet edition will transition to Void in order to have a much more solid release that meets the goals of the project for R1. Like Slackware, Gentoo, and a select few others, I find that though Void is small, it is systemd-free, well-built, extensible, very configurable, solid, and so far, has been performing well.

That said, while Poem cannot (due to project constraints) pursue more than two base systems (Haiku and Gnu/Linux)... if you really don't wish to use the Linux kernel (or just miss Debian), a kFreeBSD i686 flavor of Couplet will also be maintained as well for those that want to escape the norm.

5. Release estimate

Alpha 2 is currently planned to be released as a live image for both editions sometime this Fall, between early September to mid October 2016, depending on the speed of development. Please keep following the Poem blog for any new updates or changes!

So there it is, and I'm really excited about what's coming next!

-- Andrew Greimann

Monday, July 18, 2016

Hello again, Poem

This post was actually supposed to be a farewell. I had completely quit Poem back in March, after becoming discouraged with it for varying reasons. But now that the domain is within days of expiring, there is a part of me that isn't willing to just let it fade into oblivion.

I kept thinking of how I could apply the ideas for 1.0 into a whole new project instead of this one, but each time, my mind jumped back to Poem. I then realized that Poem was meant to be just one thing: something I'd love looking at every morning. It didn't have to be anything else. This is the critical part I missed before, and if any project (like this one) doesn't have that one idea behind it, it's not worth asking people to even read about it.

That said, Poem will not endeavor to be another Senryu, Haiku, etc. If you are hoping for that sort of thing here, kindly use Haiku. While Poem will continue to use a Soliloquy image (distribution) for the classic VM, its primary goal will remain different - to create a new UI modeled after Be on a new foundation. The accompanying mission of Poem will be to focus on what's next, and if that means rethinking how something works, tinkering with new ideas, and choosing to go with them, then that is what Poem will do.

I say all this because as of right now, I've decided to take back the helm of the project I left... and I'm truly hoping you'll love what's ahead. :-)

Thank you, all.