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Text to Speech

Until Haiku has a working TTS system, which should be very shortly, we can use this website:
Works great!


Upgrade Haiku nightly build with this simple script

If upgrade your Haiku install frequently and want the latest and the best from the Haiku SVN, then you can follow these steps to create a script that will do just that:
1. Create a simple text file and name it ”upgrade”
2. Paste the following into the text file:

pkgman add-repo http://packages.haiku-os.org/haikuports/master/repo/x86_gcc2/current
pkgman add-repo http://download.haiku-os.org/haiku-repositories/master/x86_gcc2/current/
pkgman update -y
sleep 1
shutdown -r

3. Make the text file executable from the Terminal:
chmod +x upgrade
4. Launch the script from the Terminal with ./upgrade
Optionally you can move the script to /booh/home/config into the /bin directory so you can invoke it from anywhere.
What the script does is download the latest HPKG of the operating system, together with the latest WebPositive and bootloader, install them then reboot your computer.
Contributed by Razvan T. Coloja – cypresstwist@gmail.com


Avoiding awkward file placements on Desktop

If you use the desktop applet LaunchBox, or keep some other tool open at some fixed position on the screen, you may have experienced this: Newly created or re-ordered files on the Desktop can happen to appear below such a panel. Since these panels are just normal windows, there’s nothing you can do but at worst having to move the panel a bit, right?
Wrong. Here’s the trick:
Since Replicants protect their space on the Desktop from icons being placed there, you can use e.g. the Workspaces desktop applet to fence off your LaunchBox panel. Move your panel to the side temporarily, adjust the Workspaces window to roughly fit the panel size and grab the Replicant handle to drag the Workspaces panel to the desired LaunchPad position.
Move LaunchBox back on top of the replicated Workspaces panel and you’re all set.


Don't duplicate commands

When you start working in Haiku, it is tempting to hit the repositories and download everything in sight. A lot of command-line files can be found there from the BeOS days. But you might want to check if you don’t already have them.
Take wget, for example: an excellent command-line utility that will reach out over the net and retrieve a file. You will find it on both Bebits and Haikuware, and if you download it you should install it into /boot/home/config/bin.
But wait a minute! Haiku already has its own wget, in /boot/system/bin. Now suppose you had both, which one would activate if you typed  wget in the Terminal? That is easy to find out, just type the following command:
echo $PATH
and it will spit out a list of directories all ending with „bin“ (for „binary“). Whenever you type a command in the Terminal, it will search those directories, in that exact order, for something to execute. On a typical system, /boot/home/config/bin always wins.
In fact, Haiku contains a lot of these command-line utilities that used to be separate downloads in BeOS. When I examined my bin directories I found duplicates of wget, top, reindex, clear and tput.  Now maybe the one in /boot/home/config/bin really is more up-to-date, in which case you can just leave it alone. But will you remember to check after Haiku next receives an update? And there is a real possibility that you are using an out-of-date version.
So before you download and install anything for the Haiku command line, just open a Terminal and type that command to see if it isn’t there already.


Missing NetPositive?

If you are an old BeOS user, likely one of the things you miss about Haiku is NetPositive, the native BeOS browser. Let’s all agree that its days as an actual web browser are over, this still leaves it as a great little reader of HTML documentation. MUCH faster than Bon Echo.
You can get Net+ running on Haiku if you are prepared to download a 39Mb file to get it. That file is BeOS for Linux. If you expand the tarball you will see a floppy image and a file called image.be. Don’t let the .be suffix fool you – it is actually in RAW format, and RAW images can be converted and/or mounted in different ways.
In my case, I use VirtualBox to run Haiku, so the following command in the Host OS:
VBoxManage convertfromraw –format VDI image.be beos.vdi
converts the .be file into something VirtualBox can mount as a second „hard disk“. From then it is just a question of drilling down to where Net+ is found (/boot/home/beos/apps – the one in /boot/apps is just a symlink) and dragging it to /boot/apps on your main Haiku disk.
Net+ requires a few directories in your settings folder, but it will recreate them the first time you run it.


Finger relief for the switcher

It is bad enough to switch between a Windows  or Linux machine, where you copy text with Ctrl-C, to a Mac, where Command-C is used. Now throw in a Haiku setup  with its use of Alt-C and things get really confusing. Moreover, if you are running Haiku in VirtualBox with Mac OSX as the Host OS, the merest twitch of the left Command key will take mouse and keyboard control away from Haiku and restore them to the host.
The solution comes in two parts. First of all, in VirtualBox’s preferences, set the magic key to something that you don’t hit out of habit a thousand times a day. Just changing from left to right Command did the trick for me.
Second, Haiku’s Keymap preference let’s you perform surgery on the signals Haiku expects from the keyboard. Open Keymap and a graphical representation of your keyboard will appear. Now just pick up the left Option (Alt) key with the mouse and drop it on the left Command key. They will exchange places onscreen. Now you can use the same key combinations on Haiku that you are used to on the Mac to cut, paste, copy, exit programs etc. on Haiku. Just remember to save your new keymap and it will automatically become your new default.
People used to the Windows/Linux standard should be able to use the same trick to switch their Ctrl and Alt keys around.
Of course, one day, when Haiku Rules the World, we will all have to retrain our fingers …
UPDATE: when you apply this tip, all the menu shortcuts change to CTRL instead of ALT. They still work as expected, though.


Use a filepanel in your script

BeOS has long had the alert command. With alert, you can put up a little message on the screen with one to three buttons:
alert „Hello World“ „go away“ „hello“ „ok“
With Haiku alpha1, the dev team seems to have slipped something else in quietly: filepanel
filepanel -d ~/Desktop -t „Open a File“
filepanel returns the full pathname of the selected file to standard output. This means that scripts can now ask the user where an app should be installed, for example, or whether to put a symlink in the Deskbar menu and what to call it.
Documentation seems limited to running filepanel with the –help parameter.


Synchronize Bon Echo bookmarks

If you use Xmarks to synchronize your bookmarks across browsers and OS’s, you will know that life without your bookmarks is intolerable :-).
Xmarks requires Firefox 3 to run. But it used to be known as Foxmarks and the last available version (2.6.2) of that runs on the Bon Echo / BezillaBrowser included in Haiku alpha 1.
Download it at http://wiki.foxmarks.com/wiki/Foxmarks: Release Notes. In fact, from Bon Echo you just click on the link there to install the .xpi file.
Another little step towards making Haiku a full citizen in the world of OS’s 🙂
UPDATE: Sometimes Foxmarks in Bon Echo will get stuck. But you can always go into its settings and force an update from the server.

Installing Haiku Alpha1 in VirtualBox under OS X

VirtualBox is a Virtual Machine Manager. That means that it is a program that pretends to be a separate computer, onto which you can load different operating systems. Unlike Parallels or VMWare, it is free. Unlike Q, it has a gorgeous fullscreen display when running Haiku. Using VirtualBox enables you to try out Haiku Alpha1 without buying a new machine or partitioning a disk.
This is not necessarily the only way to install Haiku into VirtualBox. It is a way that worked for me, after much tinkering. Feel free to adapt these instructions to your own circumstances.

  • VirtualBox version: 3.0.6 r52128
  • Host OS: Mac Os X 10.5.8
  • Guest OS: Haiku R1 Alpha1

1. Install VirtualBox in Mac OSX.
2. Download the .ISO image of Haiku. Burn it to CD (This is optional. You could boot directly from the .ISO. I just like having a physical CD.)
3. Start up Virtualbox and create a new VM. In the Wizard, set the Operating System to Other and the Version to Other/Unknown. Name it Haiku.
4. 512 MB memory should be plenty for Haiku.
5. Create a new „hard disk“. Leave the „Boot hard disk“ box ticked. You can use a dynamic disk. Make it 4 GB or more if you can spare the disk space.
6 Now click on Settings and use the following:

  • General | Advanced: Disable the shared clipboard (won’t work anyway). Check Remember Runtime changes.
  • System | Motherboard: Make sure the CD/DVD is checked in the boot order. Uncheck Floppy.
  • System | Processor: If you have a Core2Duo processor, you can specify 2 cpu’s. If you have an 8-core Mac pro, well, I hate you. Don’t specify more cpu’s than you actually have. Enable PAE/NX, it doesn’t seem to hurt.
  • System | Acceleration: Enable everything.
  • Display | Video: Go on, be daring, give it 32Mb to play with. Enable 3d.
  • Display| Remote Display: Disable.
  • Storage| Select the host CD/DVD drive and enable passthrough.
  • Storage | Floppy: Don’t bother. I spent a whole day trying to make Haiku on VB see a floppy image.
  • Audio: If you get this working, leave a comment. Please.
  • Networking: The default PCNET-Fast adaptor does not work. There are three Intel Pro/1000 adapters available and they all seem to work. You have four slots available, so try all three and compare the speeds once in Haiku. In each case, use Attached to Bridged adapter and attach to either Airport or to your wired connection.
  • Ports: Don’t bother. VB will see all your USB stuff, but Haiku does not seem to pick them up. Like everything else here, this may change after Alpha1.
  • Shared Folders. Don’t even try. This requires VB to supply OS-specific Guest Additions. Which they certainly don’t have for Haiku.

7. Insert the CD you made in step 2. Now close Settings and press the Start icon on VB. Your VM will boot from the CD and start the install procedure. You will need to initialise the virtual hard disk. Don’t bother with a partition scheme, just put BeFs on it. Continue installing. Remove the CD and „reboot“ the VM. Welcome to Haiku! The only Setting that you really need to consider within Haiku is screen size. On my 20′ iMac, I find that 1280×1024 works best in fullscreen mode. If you are going to use windowed mode, you’ll want to use less.
8. Use Command-F to toggle between windowed and fullscreen modes. The Command key by itself will toggle the mouse and keyboard between Host and Guest OS.
FAQ: doesn’t a VMM impose a heavy performance penalty?
A: Yes, but on today’s machines, and with a lean Guest OS like Haiku, who cares? That teapot is spinning so fast I can’t really make out the framerate.