Appendix B: BeOS Directory Structure

Appendix B: BeOS Directory Structure

This appendix contains a complete list of directories and subdirectories in the BeOS system, along with a description of their contents.

Overview of the BeOS Directory Structure

The BeOs directory (or folder) structure is designed to simplify file organization and lay a foundation that will allow multiple user accounts on a single machine. Three primary goals guided the setup of the folder structure:

General Information About BeOS Directories

The following table summarizes the directory structure and contents at the highest level.

Directory Contains
apps Stores links to the standard BeOS applications. You can place new BeOS applications there.
beos Clean BeOS system is installed in this directory.
demos Interesting demo applications are placed in this directory.
develop Header files and libraries used in software development are stored in this directory.
home All user added files, fonts, libraries, etc., can be stored in this directory. See the chapter "Customizing the BeOS ."
optional Optional items (movies, MIDI files, etc.) are installed if you chose the optional install option.
preferences Links to the preference applications are stored.

In the BeOS there are two classes of directories: system and user. To ensure system reliability, you can install or delete items in the user directories, but the user should never modify the system directory.

The /beos and /develop folders are system software directories and the user should not modify them.

The apps, home, optional, and preferences directories as well as any you create via the Tracker are user directories and can be modified or deleted as desired. We encourage you to install applications in the apps directory, and working files in the home directory.

BeOS Directory Hierarchy

The information that follows describes the hierarchy of folders and summarizes the folders' contents.


The /apps folder inside the /boot folder contains symbolic links to all apps that ship with the BeOS. For purposes of organization, you can place any third-party software you add to the system in /boot/apps. This saves you the trouble of digging around in other folders for your applications.

Alternatively, you can keep all user-added files in your /home folder, and put third-party applications there. You can create a symbolic link to it either in the /boot/apps folder or on the Desktop. To create a link, do one of the following things:


The /boot/preferences folder contains aliases (or links) to the preference apps shipped with BeOS. This is where you should put third party preferences files for apps you add to the system (for example, a preference app for a PCI card).


This is the core folder. Most files shipped with the BeOS go into the /beos folder, and nothing in /boot/beos is user deletable:

beos/apps/--This folder contains the BeOS application executables, as distinguished from the symbolic links (aliases) to the applications found in /boot/apps:

beos/bin/--contains all your favorite command line tools. These are used only in the BeOS shell. User-added shell commands should go in /boot/home/config/bin. Even if you don't use the shell, don't delete the /bin folder or anything in it, because the system needs these tools to operate.

beos/documentation/--the basic BeOS user and programmer documentation, Release Notes, and additional information files (demos, upgrade info, product info, etc.) reside in this folder.

beos/etc/--contains configuration and support files (i.e., data files) for various BeOS tools:

beos/preferences/--contains files for setting preferences for all BeOS applications.

beos/system/--the core folder of the BeOS. You should never add, delete or modify anything in the /system folder. Eventually, the contents of this folder will become read-only and you will not be able to modify them unless you have special privileges. The /system folder contains:

/boot/demos/-- demo apps included with the BeOS:

/boot/develop/--contains the files developers need for programming the BeOS:

/boot/home/--this is where all user files should go; that is, all the files you add or create:

/boot/optional/--contains extra goodies shipped with the BeOS, but not operationally necessary:

The Be User's Guide, in lovely HTML, for BeOS Release 3.

Copyright © 1998 Be, Inc. All rights reserved.

Last modified February 19, 1998.