spacer graphic


Be Developers:
Put your banner here!

spacer graphic browsericon graphic [Bar]

The Be Operating System Product Specifications
BeOS Release 3


  Features Details

Foundation Level Services
Microkernel Pervasive multithreading The entire OS is heavily multithreaded, from the kernel to the file system to the graphic display. This allows for smoother system responsiveness and better performance on single and multiple CPU systems.
  Symmetric multiprocessing The BeOS is optimized for a multiprocessor environment, supporting 1, 2, 4 or more processors using a symmetric multiprocessing architecture.
  Preemptive multitasking Supports true preemptive multitasking, resulting in faster task switching and better overall performance.
  Protected memory Protected memory ensures that a single misbehaving application cannot crash another application, or even the operating system itself, providing better overall stability.
  Virtual memory Extends memory by swapping less frequently used code to disk.

Client-server internal architecture

The client-server model increases performance and reliability and allows virtually all operations to be multithreaded -- even if an application doesn't explicitly create threads. Servers are modular and can be added and/or replaced in the OS as capabilities are expanded and improved.

File System

64-bit file system

Be's 64-bit file system allows for extremely large files and volumes -- of terabyte size and larger. This greatly simplifies programming and increases performance when dealing with extremely large digital audio and video files.



Journaling keeps constant track of changes in the file system, and speeds recover from conditions such as a power loss. The file system is always in a consistant state, and ensures a maximum boot time of only a few seconds.



The Be File System is multithreaded, spreading processing over any number of processors.


Integrated attributes & indexing

The Be File System maintains file attributes and indexes which can be used by applications as the foundation for databases.


MIME-type based identification

MIME-type identification provides a generalized approach to file identification and association with applications, and ensures flexibility and a high degree of Internet-data identification and compatibility.


External file system support

The Be File System recognizes foreign file systems such as FAT16/32 (Windows), ISO9660, HFS (Mac OS), NFS and others. This capability is modular and can be extended by third parties.

Graphics System

Multithreaded, client-server architecture

The BeOS graphics system is handled in a client-server architecture, permitting a highly multithreaded approach and sharing of tasks between processors.


Direct access graphics

The Game Kit provides direct access to the graphics frame buffer in a protected manner for applications with high bandwidth video and specialized graphics algorithms or other needs.


Extensive 2D library

An extensive, floating-point based 2D library is provided in the Interface Kit.


Anti-aliased fonts

Outline fonts are standard in the system, with anti-aliasing turned on by default, providing smooth text on screen, as well as on paper.



Industry standard high-resolution 3D graphics and rendering is provided via the OpenGL® library.


Modular capabilities

Graphics capabilities are modular, and can be extended and modified through a flexible driver architecture.

I/O System


I/O drivers in the BeOS are multithreaded, allowing for the distribution of I/O tasks across multiple processors, and faster response on single processor systems.


Modular, dynamically loaded

I/O drivers are dynamically loaded as needed, without requiring a system restart. The architecture is modular, allowing developers to add new capabilities.

Clarity & Simplicity in Design

Object-oriented design

The foundation level services are based on C and C++ in an object-oriented design, allowing for subclassing and code reuse throughout the system.


Inherently multithreaded

Foundation level services are all designed to maximize the use of multiple threads, without complicating programming effort. Many components of the object-oriented programming framework provide multithreaded objects and classes, automatically.


"Simplicity" design criteria

Overall, the design of the foundation services is guided by a rule of "simplicity," maintaining a small set of powerful objects rather than a myriad of objects and complexity.

Application Level Services
Internet Services


BeOS networking is highly multithreaded, providing high-performance network access while taking full advantage of multiple processors.


TCP/IP native

BeOS networking is based on TCP/IP, the native protocol of the Internet.


Integrated file sharing

File sharing capabilities, based on the Internet FTP protocol, are built into the system, allowing you to share files with people on BeOS, Windows, Unix, Mac OS or any other system connected to the Internet.


Integrated web server

Basic web serving capabilites are integrated in the BeOS, allowing you to publish web pages from the first day. These capabilities are modular and can be replaced by more powerful third party services.


Integrated web browser

NetPositive, a BeOS native web browser, provides a lightening fast way to surf the Internet, or browse the BeOS documentation provided on the CD.


Integrated mail services

Internet mail client services, including a POP3 mail client, are integrated into the BeOS. These capabilites are modular and can be extended or replaced by third party developers.


Remote access

Internet standard Telnet services are integrated into the BeOS, allowing you to access your system from anywhere on the Internet.


AppleTalk printing support

The BeOS supports printing to AppleTalk-based printers over standard Ethernet networks, allowing access to standard AppleTalk laser printers. The BeOS also supports TCP/IP-based printers.

Media Services

Format translation services

The BeOS Translation Kit allows applications to access standard, system-wide translation capabilities for standard data formats.


Audio services

The BeOS has an extensive set of audio services, provided by an integrated audio server which is multithreaded and multiprocessor aware.


MIDI services

MIDI services are integrated through the MIDI Kit, including software MIDI synthesis of instruments and other sound samples.

Interacting Application Services

Messaging and scripting

The BeOS has an extensive messaging architecture which allows applications to send messages to each other -- and allows any part of an application to message any part of another application or process. This messaging provides the basis for system-wide scripting capabilities. Facilities for distributed messaging over the network also exist.


Replicant services

Replicant services provide a way for active data and code from one application to be "replicated" and stored in another application, document, or even the BeOS Desktop. Replicants are fully active and can be manipulated just as if they were part of the original application or document.


MIME type identification

Application messages and data are passed using the Internet standard MIME typing system.

International Services

Integrated Unicode

The BeOS supports multibyte Unicode text throughout the system, permiting the use of multibyte languages, and serving as the basis for new localization capabilities. The encoding format used is UTF-8, the format also used by the Java language.


Unicode font support

Unicode fonts are supported throughout the system.


Unicode-based text utilities

Various utilities provide useful tools for managing in a multibyte character environment. BTextView, the basic text class within the BeOS, is also multibyte character-aware.


Posix compatibility

The BeOS has a fully functional Posix integration layer, allowing a wide range of Posix compatible code to be compiled and run as-is, including the GNU library of command line tools, many of which are included in the BeOS.


Unix-style command line and bash shell

A Unix-style command line interface is also provided as an alternative method of manipulating the system, including scripting and bash shell support (bash is the same shell used by Linux). These capabilities can also be accessed remotely via Telnet (see Internet support).

User Interface and Printing

Industry standard interface

The primary user interface of the BeOS is the industry standard Desktop metaphor, "files and folders" user interface, so users new to the BeOS feel immediately at home.


Tracker services

BeOS interface services are provided by the Tracker, a powerful library of functions that provide services to the user, as well as to applications directly, leading to a more pervasive and consistent user interface.


Print services

Multithreaded print services are integrated within the BeOS, and provide background printing services, PostScript and direct printing, and more.


Extensive preferences

The BeOS has an extensive set of preferences, allowing for the customization of virtually every aspect of the system.

Object Oriented Design

Object-oriented framework

The application level services of the BeOS are based on an object-oriented application framework, rather than a remedial procedural design. This simplifies the overall architecture, speeds programming, and allows for extensive reuse of code and subclassing.


Modular software design

Software designed for the BeOS generally falls into four categories: Applications (graphical or command-line), shared libraries, add-on components (plug-ins), and device drivers.

Development Services
Development Environment

Native CodeWarrior IDE

The CodeWarrior IDE is native for the BeOS and makes use of BeOS features -- such as a fully multithreaded IDE and concurrent compilation on multiple processors.


Debugging capabilities

CodeWarrior also provides extensive low-level and source-level debugging capabilities.


Bundled CodeWarrior Lite

CodeWarrior Lite is bundled with the BeOS and is able to build executables and libraries up to 64k in size. The full version of CodeWarrior is also available from Be.


BeOS Architecture


The BeOS architecture is made up of three layers:

- Microkernel and device drivers
- BeOS Servers
- BeOS software Kits

The full BeOS API and technical documentation is available in the Be Book. It is also available for download from the Be web site in HTML format.

All specifications subject to change without notice.

Information on the Be Operating System:

Copyright © 1998 by Be, Inc. All rights reserved. Legal information (includes icon usage info).
Comments, questions, or confessions about our site? Please write the Webmaster.