Tuesday, August 30, 2016

Edging closer to Alpha 2...

With the beginning of September here, we're getting closer to approaching Alpha 2. To give a quick summary of what to expect with the new build coming up:
  • The Soliloquy (Vintage) image will still be based on Haiku alpha 4.1 for this release. However, several tweaks will be made to better fit with the new Vintage application in Couplet first. Once this is done, either alpha 3 or the beta will focus on upgrading the image.
  • As mentioned in the last post, Couplet will gain the planned UI powered by Iceweasel, currently codenamed "aubade", along with the Deskette. Couplet will be powered by Linux or alternatively, an optional kFreeBSD flavor.
The release window for Alpha 2 is for sometime this September; when Alpha 2 is ready, it will be posted here. Until then, thanks for keeping updated on Poem!

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.

As for the vintage image (Solioquy), the distribution will still be based on Haiku alpha 4.1 for now, but will include several tweaks in various areas to bring it closer to where it can finally make the jump to a more recent Haiku revision in the near future.

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.