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Chapter 3

Using Be Applications

The BeOS comes with over two dozen applications you can use to create documents, to get or share information, and to demonstrate the potential of the BeOS. Most of the applications and demos that come with the BeOS are in the /apps folder. This chapter explains how to use each application in /apps, in alphabetical order.

The previous chapter, "Learning Be Application Basics," tells you how to perform tasks that are common to many Be applications.

The BeOS also comes with a number of applications you can use to customize how the BeOS works. These applications are in the /preferences folder and are described in the next chapter.


BeBounce demonstrates how applications can communicate with each other in the BeOS. When you start BeBounce, a window with a bouncing ball opens. If you start a second copy of BeBounce, its window has no ball, but you can move the windows near each other to open a path between them. The ball can bounce from window to window through this path. You can't run more than two copies of BeBounce.

For details on the code that makes BeBounce work, see the article "Opening the BeBox," in the January 1996 issue of MacTech magazine. A copy of the article is available in the developers area of the Be Web site (http://www.be.com). Commented source code for BeBounce is included with the BeOS, in /develop/projects/BeBounce.


When you start BeLogo, it opens a window with a 3D rendition of the Be logo, which rotates in three dimensions on a black background. The logo is a 3D model, which is mathematically rotated at 120 frames per second. BeLogo was designed to take advantage of all the CPU resources it can get, so while it's an interesting way to test the power of the BeOS, you may not want to leave it running when you're trying to get real work done.

BeLogo was written long before the creation of the Be 3D Kit, which is demonstrated in the Live3D application (as described in "Live3D").


BeMail is a basic application for creating and reading Internet-style electronic mail—usually referred to as e-mail.

Before you can use BeMail to exchange e-mail with others, you need to use the Network and E-Mail preferences applications to configure the BeOS to communicate with an e-mail server. For more information, see "Network", and "E-Mail".

Checking for Mail

You can tell if you have new mail in a couple of ways. The easiest is to observe the Mailbox icon in the dock: The icon changes from an empty mailbox to a mailbox with letters in it if you have unread mail:

You can set E-Mail preferences to check for new mail on a regular schedule, as described in "E-Mail". You can also check for mail (and send any mail you've created but haven't sent yet) by clicking the Check Now button in the E-Mail preferences application or in the E-Mail Status window (if that window is open).

The E-Mail Status window tells you how many pieces of e-mail you've received since you last checked for mail. It also tells you how many pieces of mail you've received that you haven't read.

In the BeOS, each piece of e-mail you create or receive is stored as an entity in the Be database—not as a file in the file system. To view a list of your mail, you use the Browser's Find command to find "E-Mail" items in the database. Each time you use the Find command, the criteria you specify in the Find window is saved as a query in the Be database (for more information on the Find command and the Be database, see "Finding Items").

The BeOS includes five premade e-mail queries. The Mailbox query is initially in the dock, but all five are listed in the query window that opens when you double-click the Queries icon, which is also in the dock. The five premade queries are:

When you double-click the icon for an e-mail query, a query window opens with a list of e-mail in the database that matches that query. For example, when you double-click the Mailbox icon in the dock or in the Queries window, the Mailbox query window opens with a list of all the mail that's been sent to you.

Initially, query windows sort e-mail alphabetically by the name of the person who sent it or the person you sent it to, but you can use the Fields menu to add other fields to the window and then click the field name to sort mail differently. For example, to sort mail in the order it was sent, choose When from the Fields menu and then click the When field title in the window. (See "Working in List View" for more information about sorting items in list view.)

Reading E-Mail

To read a piece of e-mail, double-click it in an e-mail query window, such as the one that opens when you double-click the Mailbox icon in the dock.

The sender and subject of the e-mail message are listed at the top of the window, followed by the body of the message. If the sender enclosed one or more files with the message, they're listed at the bottom of the window. Unlike the body of a message, enclosures are stored as files in the Be file system, not in the Be database, so the path name of the enclosure is listed after its icon.

The BeMail application's main menu contains a Preferences submenu, which in turn contains Font and Size submenus you can use to change the face and size of the font used to display messages.

E-mail messages typically include a number of lines of information before the body of the message. These lines include detailed information about the sender, the addressees, and the route the message traveled. Initially, this information is hidden, but you can view it by choosing Show Header from the Message menu.

If you have a LaserJet IIp or compatible printer connected to the BeBox's parallel port, you can use the Print command to print the message.

When you're done reading a message, you can choose Delete from the File menu to remove it from the Be database. A panel asks you to confirm that you want to delete the message. (If you prefer not to have to confirm the Delete command, choose Expert from the User Level submenu in BeMail's main menu.) If you close the message window instead of deleting it, the message is kept in the Be database: It remains in the list of e-mail in the Mailbox query window, but its status changes from "New" to "Read."

Replying to and Forwarding Messages

You can use the commands in the Message menu to reply to or forward the message in the window.

Choose Reply to Sender to open a new message window with the original sender's e-mail address entered in the To field, "Re:" followed by the original subject in the Subject field, and the body of the original message "quoted" in the message area of the window. Choose Reply to All to include the addresses of all the people the sender sent the original message to in the Cc field.

Choose Forward to open a new message window with the subject and quoted body of the message. You can then enter your own message and edit the addresses and subject as you would any other message you create. If you select text in the body of a message before you choose Reply or Forward, only the selected text is included in the new message. Enclosures are retained in messages you forward, but not in those you reply to. (Creating new e-mail messages is described in "Creating E-Mail").

Saving a Message as a Text File

If you want to save a message as a text file (so you can work with it in the Edit application, for example), choose Save as Text File from the File menu to open a standard Save As panel (see "Saving a File" for more information on saving files).

Creating E-Mail

You use the BeMail application to create and address new e-mail messages. Start the BeMail application to open a new message window, or if BeMail is already running, choose New Mail Message from BeMail's main menu.

You enter the e-mail addresses of the people want to send the message to in the To field. If you want to send the message to more than one address, enter each address followed by a comma. Enter the e-mail addresses of people you want to send a copy of the message to in the Cc field. You can also enter the addresses of people you want to send "blind copies" of the message to in the Bcc field: Other recipients can't tell who you "blind cc'd" the message to.

Tip: If you've used the Browser's Create Person command to add people and their e-mail addresses to the Be database, you can double-click the People icon in the dock and drag an icon for a person from the People query window into the To field to enter that person's e-mail address. Or drag an icon from the People window onto the BeMail icon to open a new message window with the person's e-mail address entered automatically.

A common convention when "quoting" parts of other people's messages in your own is to start each line with the greater-than symbol ( > ). You can select text in the message area and choose Quote from the Edit menu to add a greater-than symbol to the beginning of each selected line. You can also remove the greater-than symbols from selected text by choosing Remove Quote. When you forward or reply to a message, the text of the message is quoted in this way.

The BeMail application's main menu contains a Preferences submenu, which in turn contains Font and Size submenus you can use to change the face and size of the font used to display messages.

You can include one or more files with your messages as enclosures. Drag any file you want to include into the Enclosures area of the message window. You can also use the Add command in the Enclosures menu to open a panel where you can select a file you want to enclose. If you change your mind, select a file in the list of enclosures and choose Remove from the Enclosures menu. (In DR8.2, the Info command in the Enclosures menu isn't implemented.)

If you created a signature, you can paste it into the message by choosing the signature from the Add Signature submenu in the Edit menu. (To learn more about signatures, see the next section, "Creating a Signature.")

When you're done creating an e-mail message, you can choose Send Now from the Message menu to send the message immediately. Or choose Send Later to store the message in the Be database until the next time the Be software checks for new mail (you set the schedule for when mail is checked with the E-Mail preferences, as described in "E-Mail").

Creating a Signature

Signatures are lines of text, typically with your name and information on how to reach you, that you add to many of the messages you send. You can create and save as many signatures as you like; for example, you might have one signature for mail you send as part of your job outside your company, one for inside your company, and one for personal mail.

To create a signature, open the Signatures window by choosing Signatures from the Preferences submenu, which is in BeMail's main menu. In the Signatures window, type a name for the signature in the Name field and the text of the signature in the Signature field.

When you're done, choose Save fro mthe Signature menu. The signature you created and named is added to the Add Signature submenu, which is in the Edit menu in the windows for messages you create.


If you have a CD-ROM drive, you can use the CDPlayer application to play music and other audio CDs through the internal speaker and line-out ports. You can also use CDPlayer to copy audio data from an audio CD to a file on a disk.

Note: CDPlayer works best with Toshiba model 3401, 3601, and 3701 CD-ROM drives. Some of its features—such as fast forward, fast reverse, and saving audio data—may not be available if you're working with a drive from another manufacturer.

Playing CDs

When you start CDPlayer, it opens a window with controls very like those on a home CD deck. If you have a CD deck, you'll recognize the Stop, Play, Back Track, Forward Track, Fast Reverse, Fast Forward (or "scan"), Eject, and other buttons.

If you have more than one CD-ROM drive, choose the one with the CD you want to play from the Devices submenu in CDPlayer's main menu. You can also open a CDPlayer window for each CD-ROM drive: Choose each CD-ROM drive you want to open a window for from the New Player submenu in CDPlayer's main menu. CD-ROM drives are listed in these two menus by their SCSI IDs.

You can double-click the CDPlayer icon to start as many copies of CDPlayer as you want, so if you have more than one CD-ROM drive, you can listen to more than one CD at a time.

The Fast Forward and Fast Reverse buttons scan the disk at double speed; you can hear what you're scanning. Holding down the secondary mouse button when you click Fast Forward or Reverse scans the disk at quadruple speed.

The volume slider adjusts the output of the CD-ROM drive. You use the Sound preferences application to control the input and output volumes for the computer's headphones, line-out, and other ports, as described in "Sound".

Note: In the current version of the BeOS, the shuffle button isn't hooked up.

If you click the rightmost button in the CD Player window, a lower part of the window opens with a list of the tracks on the CD. You can replace "Track 1," "Track 2," and so on with a description of each track—perhaps the title of each track from the play list. Click in the Title column and type the description you want. You can also replace "Audio CD" at the top of the window with the title of the CD. The information you type is stored in the Be database as "AudioCDs" data; the next time you use CDPlayer to play that CD, it recognizes the CD and includes the information you typed. You can also use the Browser's Find command to search for AudioCDs data, such as a track or CD title you typed in a CD Player window (for more information on the Find command, see "Finding Items" ).

Saving Audio Data

One button you won't recognize from a CD deck is the Disk button. When you click the Disk button, the Save Audio window opens, where you can save some or all of a CD track to a file on a Be disk. Choose the audio format you want from the pop-up list: "Raw" and Audio Interchange File Format (AIFF) are supported now; Waveform Audio File Format (WAVE) files will be supported in the near future.

Drag the green start marker and the red end marker to the starting and ending points in the track you want to save. The blue marker shows the current place in the track when you're playing it. The numbers next to the markers indicate the hours, minutes, and seconds from the beginning of the track. When the markers surround the section of the track you want to save, click the Save button to open a Save panel, where you name the audio file and select the folder where you want to save it (for more information on the Save panel, see "Saving a File").

You can play the tracks you save with the PlayAudio application (in /apps). Simply drag the track you want to listen to onto the PlayAudio icon.


The Clock application is as simple as its name: When you start it up, it displays an analog clock. Clock has a number of faces. Click in the clock face to switch among them. If you prefer not to see a second hand, click in the face with the secondary mouse button—click again to restore the second hand. You can also uncheck the Show Seconds command in the main menu to hide the second hand.

You set the date and time with the Time preferences application, as described in "Time".


You use the Connect application to communicate with computers and other kinds of devices. You can use Connect to connect to a device directly, via a cable that connects the your computer directly to the device, or via a modem.

When you start Connect, a blank window opens, and there is no connection established (if you type in the window, parrot, one of the command-line tools Connect uses, reminds you that no connection is established).

Setting Communications Parameters and Other Preferences

Before you establish a connection, you need to set the baud rate (the speed at which you'll exchange information), parity, and other communications parameters using the Settings menu. You can also use the Settings menu to change the colors in the window, the window size, and other preferences. Choose Save as Defaults to use these settings each time you start Connect.

Note: On the BeBox, serial ports 1 and 2 are reliable up to 155,200 baud, and serial ports 3 and 4 are reliable up to 38,400 baud.

If you connect to a number of different kinds of devices that require different settings, or if you prefer to use different color schemes as a reminder of which device you're connected to in which Connect window, you can choose Save as Settings File from the Settings menu to save the current settings in a Connect Settings file. Whenever you want to connect to a device using those settings, you can double-click the settings file to open a Connect window with those settings in effect.

Connecting Directly to a Device

If you connect to another device by attaching a cable (typically a null modem cable) to one of your computer's serial ports and to a serial port on the other device, you can use Connect to exchange messages between the two devices.

When the cable is connected and you've set the communications parameters, choose Connect Directly from the Connections menu.

When you click Connect in the Connect Directly panel, what you type in the Connect window is sent out the serial port you chose. Any messages the other device sends across the cable also appear in the window.

Connecting to a Device via a Modem

If you have a modem connected to one of your computer's serial ports, you can use Connect to dial the modem and establish a connection with another device that's connected to a modem.

When the modem cable is connected and you've set the communications parameters, choose Connect via Modem from the Connections menu.

Enter the phone number for the other device's modem in the Phone Number field. Don't forget to enter a 9 or other number if you normally need to dial a number to get an outside line. Also be sure to enter 1 and the area code if you're dialing long distance.

If you need to log in to the device you're connecting to, enter your user name and password.

Connect uses the /system/connect/dial-o-rama script with the /bin/ali utility to establish a connection with devices via modem. If you want to use another script, enter its path name in the Dialing Shell Script field.

Different modems require different commands to establish connections with other modems. The Modem Init. String initially contains a general-purpose set of modem commands. You can replace this string with another if you wish (see the modem's owner's guide for information on the commands it uses).

Choose the serial port the modem is connected to from the pop-up list at the bottom of the window.

When you've entered the appropriate information in the Connect via Modem window, click Connect to dial the modem and establish the connection. When the modems establish the connection, what you type in the Connect window is sent to the other device. Any messages the other device sends also appear in the window.


When you're done communicating through a serial port with Connect, choose Disconnect from the Connections menu. The connection is severed, and you can establish a new connection through the serial port with Connect or with another application.


Dominos is an application that demonstrates the BeOS Game Kit. When you start Dominos, it takes over the screen of the current workspace with a 3200-pixel by 3200-pixel game board. Dominos then plays the game of Dominos with itself, adding tiles until the board is filled. The red numbers on the lower right of the screen show you how many dominos have been played.

When Dominos can't find any new locations for tiles, the game ends. You can then use the arrow keys on the numeric keypad to move around the board and view the results. In a typical game, Dominos plays about 2600 tiles in six or seven minutes.

You can switch workspaces to leave Dominos to amuse itself while you get back to work (for more information about working with multiple workspaces, see "Workspaces"). To quit Dominos, press Command-Q.

Complete, commented source code for Dominos is in the /develop/projects/Dominos folder.


Edit is a Be text editor. You can use it to read, create, and edit text (ASCII) and script files.

Edit is not a word processor: It doesn't wrap long lines to fit in a window, you can't change font and paragraph settings for individual words or paragraphs, or do most of the other things you may be used to doing in a word-processing application. But Edit is great for editing programs and shell scripts.

You type text, copy and paste, and type symbols and other special characters just as you do anywhere you work with text in the BeOS. For details, see "Working with Text".

If you have more than one Edit file open at once, you can switch from one to another by clicking in the window of the file you want to work in. You can also choose the name of the open file you want to work in from any Edit window's Document menu.

Changing the Font

You can display an Edit file using any font. Choose the font, style, and size you want from the Font menu.

Note: Changing the font in an Edit file isn't the same as setting a font in a word processor—the font you choose is used for all the characters in the file.

For information on adding additional fonts to the BeOS, see "Adding Fonts".

Automatically Indenting Lines

When you're writing code, it's often convenient to have lines that follow an indented line be indented automatically when you press Enter. Initially, Edit files are set to act this way. To end a series of automatically indented lines, press the Delete key at the beginning of the fist line you don't want indented.

You can turn off this behavior by choosing Auto Indent from the Settings menu (this unchecks Auto Indent in the menu).

Indenting and Unindenting Lines

You can indent selected lines by choosing Indent from the Edit menu.

Unindent selected lines by choosing Unindent from the Edit menu.

Changing the Width of Tabs and Indents

Initially, when you press Tab or indent lines with the Indent command, each Tab character or indent moves lines four characters to the right. You can choose to indent eight characters instead of four by choosing "Tab Size of 8" from the Tab Setting submenu in the Settings menu. Or you can set the width you want by choosing Tab Size Other, entering a number for the width you want, and clicking OK. When you change the tab setting, all indented lines move to match the new setting.

Commenting and Uncommenting Lines

You can select lines in the programs you write and "comment them out," that is, add the appropriate character or characters to the beginning of lines that you don't want to get compiled, but rather to serve as comments.

The characters prepended to lines when you choose Comment depend on the kind of file you're editing, which Edit determines by the file's extension: the period and following characters at the end of the file's name.

File Extension Comment Characters
.c, .h, or .cpp //
.a ;
All others #

You can remove the comment characters from the beginnings of selected lines by choosing Uncomment from the Edit menu.

Finding Text

You can find a string of characters in an Edit file.

  1. Choose Find from the Edit menu.
  2. Type the string of characters you want to find.
  3. Check any Find options.
  4. Check Search Backwards to search for the characters in the part of the file that is before the insertion point (in lines with lower line numbers) rather than after the insertion point.

    Check Wrap-Around Search to keep searching for the characters from the beginning of the file, after the search reaches the end of the file (this works the other direction if you have Search Backwards checked).

    Check Case-Sensitive to search for characters that match the capitalization of what you typed in the Find panel. Otherwise, searching for Cornichon finds both Cornichon and cornichon.

  5. Click Find.
  6. The first occurrence (after the insertion point) of the characters you're searching for is selected in the window. If the characters aren't found, the insertion point doesn't move.

    You can choose Find Again from the Edit menu to search for the next occurrence of the characters.

As a shortcut to using the Find command, you can select the characters you want to search for and choose Find Selection to find the next occurrence of those characters in the file.

Replacing Text

You use the Replace command to automate replacing one string of characters with another string.

  1. Choose Replace from the Edit menu.
  2. In the Replace panel, type the string of characters you want to replace and the string of characters you want to replace them with.
  3. Check any Replace options.
  4. The Search Backwards, Wrap-Around Search, and Case-Sensitive options work the same as in the Find panel.

    Check Replace in All Windows if you want to replace the string in all open Edit documents when you click Replace All.

  5. Click Replace to replace the next occurrence of the string. Or click Replace All to replace all occurrences of the string at once.

You can repeat the last replacement by choosing Replace Same from the Edit menu.

Showing Line Numbers

You can display a column that shows the number of each line in an Edit file by choosing Show Line Numbers from the window's Settings menu. Choose Show Line Numbers again to hide the line numbers.

Going to a Specific Line by Line Number

You can move the insertion point to the beginning of any line in an Edit file. Choose Go To Line from the Edit menu, and in the panel that opens, type the line number you want to go to and click OK.

Creating and Using Markers

You can create and name markers in your Edit files that make it easy to jump directly to whatever locations in the file you want.

  1. Select an insertion point where you want to create the marker. Or select text to use it as the marker name.
  2. Choose Create Marker from the Markers menu.
  3. Type a name for the marker.
  4. If you had text selected when you chose Create Marker, that text is inserted in the Create Marker panel. You can keep that text as the name of the marker or edit it.

  5. Click OK.
  6. The marker (which is invisible) is inserted at the insertion point or beginning of the text selection, and the name of the marker is added to the Markers menu.

Once you've created a marker, you can go directly to its location by choosing the name of the marker from the Markers menu.

You can choose Alphabetize Markers from the Markers menu to list the names of makers alphabetically, rather than by their order in the file.

Deleting Markers

You can delete one or more markers when you're done with them.

  1. Choose Delete Marker from the Markers menu.
  2. A panel opens with a list of the markers in the file.

  3. Click a marker and click Delete.
  4. The name of the marker is removed from the list in the panel, and the marker is removed from the file.

  5. Delete more markers if you want. Then click Done.

Creating a Script File

Script files are text files that take advantage of the Be shell, bash. You can write a script file in Edit and then save it as a script file by choosing the Convert to Script File command from Edit's File menu.

You run a script file by double-clicking it.

To edit an existing script file, drag its icon onto the Edit application (you can't double-click it to open it, because double-clicking it runs the script).

For more information about the Be shell, see "Terminal".


Flight is a simple flying and shooting game.When playing Flight, you fly across a barren landscape and shoot down unarmed helicopters (for 1 point) and other players (for 10 points), while trying to avoid crashing (losing 5 points), shooting down a teammate (granting the other team 10 points), or getting shot down yourself. Flight works best if you set the screen resolution to 800 x 600 or higher (see "Screen"). At lower resolutions, you can't see all of Flight's windows without overlapping. You can play Flight alone, with two players on the same computer, or as a network game with up to eight players.

Preparing for Battle

When you start Flight, a darkened window opens: Dawn doesn't break until you start a game.

To set up a solo player (or a single entrant in a network game), choose the item from the Control menu that matches whether you'll control your flight using the keyboard or a joystick. Then ally yourself with the yellow or purple team by choosing the appropriate item from the Options menu.

To set up two players, choose Second Player from the Play menu and then set the control and team alliance for each player using the Control and Options menus in each window.

Engaging Battle

To start a game, choose Play Game from the first player's Play menu (only the first player can start and stop the game). To host a network game, choose Play NetGame. To join a network game hosted by another computer, choose Join NetGame.

When the game begins, Flight's main window provides a cockpit view of a plane flying through a landscape populated by unarmed helicopters. The crosshairs in the center of the window are for aiming your shooter.

If you're using a joystick, see the instructions that came with it to learn how to steer, change speed, and shoot.

If you're using the keyboard, use the arrows in the numeric keypad to steer, but think of a joystick as you use the up and down arrows: The up arrow points your nose down. Use the left and right arrow keys to the left of the numeric keypad to increase and decrease your speed. Shoot by pressing the right up arrow key that's to the left of the numeric keypad.

Each player can choose Map from the View menu to open a window that shows his position in the landscape. Yellow and purple team players are represented by crosshairs. Unarmed helicopters are represented by black dots. The other commands in the View menu control how wide a view is displayed in the window.

If you find it hard to fly, you can choose Crash on Ground from the Options menu at any time: When it's unchecked, you plow along the surface instead of crashing.

A game of Flight can't be said to have a real conclusion: Each player has an unlimited supply of ammunition and is reincarnated endlessly. However, the landscape does seem bleaker when the last unarmed helicopter is gone.


FontChart opens a window with a chart of the characters in a font.

You can use the secondary mouse button to drag a character or the text from any of the fields in FontChart to another application. For example, you can drag a character from the FontChart window onto a keycap in the Keyboard application or into an Edit document.

At the bottom of the window, the bit field shows the raw keyboard key number, in binary form, as you press and release keys singly or in combination. This information is useful for game developers and others who rely on raw keyboard data.

The BeOS uses the same symbol set as the Macintosh operating system. For more information on symbol sets, see "Keymap".


FontDemo shows off the BeOS's speed and versatility with fonts. When you start up FontDemo, two windows open: A window that displays some sample text and a Controls window.

Use the Size scroll bar to change the size of the font in the Display window. Use the Shear scroll bar to shear (or slant) the text. Use the Rotation scroll bar to rotate the text.

Type the text you want to display in the field above the Cycle Fonts button.

Select the font you want to use for the text in the Display window in the upper scrolling list. Select a symbol set from the lower scrolling list.

Click Cycle Fonts to have FontDemo select the available fonts in order. You can use the other controls while FontDemo cycles through the fonts.

For information on adding fonts to the BeOS, see "Adding Fonts".


IconWorld is an application for editing the icons of applications and their associated files. You also use it to assign application resources. Using IconWorld is explained in "Creating Resources for a Be Application".


You can use ImageViewer to open and view two kinds of image files: Color Tagged Image File Format (TIFF) files and files in the image file format used by the BeOS. The custom Be image file format is the file format of "screen dumps," the images of the screen you can create by pressing the Print Screen key (F13 on some keyboards). ImageViewer is also useful for converting image files to a format that's compatible with Adobe Photoshop on a Macintosh and for showing off the Be drag-and-drop metaphor.

For information about creating screen dumps and ImageViewer's role in the process, see Appendix A, "Creating Screen Dumps."

To show off the Be drag-and-drop metaphor, open an image file (a screen dump or one of the files in the /optional/images folder on the BeOS CD-ROM) and select an area you like by dragging across it. Then drag the selected area to a Browser window: A new image file is created, called clip. You can double-click the new file to see that it contains just the area you selected.


The Installer application has two purposes: Preparing disks so you can use them with the BeOS and installing the BeOS. Installing the BeOS is described in Installing the BeOS.

Initializing or Formatting a Disk

You can use the Installer to prepare IDE, SCSI, and floppy disks for use with the BeOS by initializing them or—if necessary—by formatting them.

Note: The current release of the BeOS supports only high-density floppy disks. (These are usually labeled "HD".)

Initializing a disk prepares it to work with the Be file system. You must initialize a disk before you can mount it the first time and store Be files on it. It takes only a few seconds to initialize most disks.

You may need to format a disk if it has never been set up to work with a computer or if it has been damaged. Most disks come preformatted, so it's rare that you'll ever need to format one. It can take a very long time to format a disk: The better part of an hour for large disks. After the Installer formats a disk, it also initializes it.

If you're not sure whether you need to format a disk, try initializing it first. The Installer inspects the disk and lets you know if you need to format it.

Caution: Both initializing and formatting a disk erase everything on the disk (in fact, initializing a disk is a good way to erase it quickly), so make sure you've backed up any files you want to keep before you initialize or format a disk.

  1. If you're initializing or formatting a SCSI or IDE disk, make sure it's connected to your computer.
  2. Depending on the number of disks you connect to your computer and how they're connected, you may need to configure each IDE disk as a "single," "master," or "slave" disk or configure each SCSI disk with a unique SCSI ID and terminate it correctly. For more information, see your computer's owner's guide and the owner's guides that came with the disks. Uninitialized disks don't appear in the Browser.

  3. Double-click the Installer application.
  4. Choose Initialize or Format from the left pop-up menu. Then choose the disk you want to initialize or format from the right pop-up menu.
  5. If a disk was previously initialized for the BeOS, it appears by name in the right pop-up menu. If a disk hasn't been initialized, it appears in the pop-up menu by its device name:

    Device Name Description
    ide - master The single IDE disk connected to a BeBox, or the master IDE disk if there are two connected
    ide - slave The slave IDE disk, if there are two IDE disks connected to the BeBox
    scsi - id n The SCSI drive set to SCSI ID number n (n can be from 0 through 6)
    floppy disk The disk in the floppy disk drive

  6. Click Begin. Then click Initialize (or Format) in the panel that warns you that initializing (or formatting) the disk will erase it.
  7. When the disk is initialized, a message informs you that it's now available in the BeBox window. Floppy disks are named "fd" when you format them. Other disks are named "NewDisk."

    You can now initialize another disk, install the BeOS, or quit the Installer.


Kaleidoscope is a simple line-drawing application: It opens a window where it draws patterns of colored lines as fast as it can. It's interesting to see the effect of multiple Kaleidoscope windows on the BeOS's performance.


Live3D is an application that offers three demonstrations of the 3D Kit.

When you start Live3D, a window opens with an image of a spinning spacecraft. This image is a 3D Kit model, which is being rendered in real time, with light sources that move as well. Choose Stellar Pulse or Be Logo II from Live3D's main menu to open a window with one of the other 3D Kit demonstrations.

You can drag an object in a Live3D window by any point to rotate it in three dimensions. Use the keyboard arrow keys to move the "camera": The left and right arrow keys between the main part of the keyboard and the numeric keypad move the camera forward and back; the four arrow keys on the numeric keypad (on the 2, 4, 6, and 8 keys) move the camera up and down and left and right. The models continue to be rendered in real time as you drag an object or move the camera. To stop the automated movement of the models and the light sources, check Pause in the main menu.

Complete, commented source code for Live3D and its three demos are in the /develop/projects/Live3D folder. For a detailed discussion of the 3D Kit, see the white paper, "Welcome to the 3D World," on the Be Web site: http://www.be.com/developers/3DWhitePaper.html.


The Magnify application displays a greatly enlarged image of the area of the screen next to the cursor. This is useful for inspecting the pixel-by-pixel details of icons and other objects on the screen.

When you double-click Magnify, it opens a window that displays an area 32 pixels high by 32 pixels wide. If you want a different-sized window, start Magnify by typing Magnify's path name in a Terminal window, followed by a space and the number of pixels per side you want for Magnify's window. For example, type /apps/Magnify 100 in a Terminal window to open a 100-pixel by 100-pixel window. The number you type must be a multiple of four.

Initially, Magnify uses a grid pattern to separate the pixels in its window. You can choose Show Grid from Magnify's main menu to hide the grid.


The Mandelbrot application demonstrates the power of the BeOS by drawing images based on the "Mandelbrot set," a set of mathematical formulas invented by Benoît Mandelbrot, the Polish mathematician. If you're running Mandelbrot on a computer with two PowerPC processors, Mandelbrot uses one CPU to compute the odd lines in the image and the other to compute the even lines.

It's interesting to zoom in on areas of the image in the window. Drag across an area you like to recalculate the image so the area you dragged across fills the window. You can do this indefinitely. To zoom out, hold down the Shift key and click in the window.

You can choose a color palette from the Palette menu. You can choose the level of iteration you want from the Iterations menu. The higher the number you pick, the more precise—and time-consuming—are the calculations used to draw the image. Higher numbers are more important as you zoom further into an area of the image.


Midi is an application for playing Musical Instrument Digital Interface (MIDI) files on a MIDI synthesizer. (If you don't have a MIDI synthesizer connected to the MIDI-1 Out port on the BeBox, MIDI will play MIDI files, but you won't be able to hear them.) You open a MIDI file by dragging it onto the Midi application icon, which opens the MIDI window.

A number of MIDI files are included in the /optional/midi folder on the BeOS CD-ROM.

The full MIDI window is visible only if you're using a screen grid that's 800 pixels wide by 600 pixels tall. You set the screen grid with the Screen preferences application, as described in "Screen".

Note: When you first copy a MIDI file onto a BeOS disk, the file doesn't have a MIDI file icon and isn't associated with the Midi application until the first time you drag the file onto the Midi application icon.

Each track in the MIDI file is represented by a vertical set of controls. You can play a track as a solo, mute the track, pan the track between the left and right audio channels, adjust its volume, and see it play on the keyboard, all by adjusting the controls for that track.

You can synchronize the beginning and end of the MIDI track with other applications' files by dragging the clock icon to or from the Midi application's scroll bar.

Note: Be has arranged with Igor's Software Laboratories to develop a software MIDI synthesizer for the BeOS. This will allow you to play MIDI files without a hardware MIDI synthesizer. Be will make the software MIDI synthesizer available to everyone running the BeOS as soon as Igor's is done, possibly before the next release of the BeOS: Watch the Be Web site for the announcement.


Minesweeper is a game you may be familiar with. When you start Minesweeper, a window opens with a grid of squares, representing a mine-infested sea. You play Minesweeper by finding and flagging the mines in the sea as quickly as you can, while trying not to blow up a mine.

When you click in a square, a number tells you how many mines are in the eight squares adjacent to it. With practice, you can determine from the numbered squares where the mines are. You flag a square you know contains a mine by clicking on it with the secondary mouse button (initially the right mouse button, though you can change that as described in "Mouse"). If you want to flag a square as a possible mine, you can mark it with a question mark by clicking it with the secondary mouse button twice; click again to clear the question mark.

The number at the top left of the window tells you how many mines remain unflagged. The seconds that have elapsed since you clicked the first square are displayed at the top right.

If you click on a square that hides a mine, the game is over: The smiling face turns to a frown and all the mines are displayed.

If you flag all the mines, you win. If you had one of the best winning times, a panel prompts you to enter your name. You can choose Best Times from Minesweeper's main menu to see who the current leaders are and how well they did.

To start a new game, whether you won or lost, click on the face.

As you get better, you may want to increase the challenge. Choose Intermediate or Expert from the main menu to start a game with a larger, more perilous sea.


MiniPlayer is a basic audio CD player-the antidote to CDPlayer's bells and whistles. If you just want to listen to a CD, MiniPlayer can handle it without taking up a lot of screen real estate.

MiniPlayer's controls are a subset of those in the CDPlayer application. For information about MiniPlayer's controls and menu items, see "CDPlayer".


If you've used the Network preferences application to establish a direct Ethernet or a PPP connection to the Internet, you can use NetPositive to surf the World Wide Web (for information on Network, see "Network"). Even if you're not connected to a network, you can use NetPositive to read HTML documents on disk, such as the HTML editions of The Be Book, the reference to the Be API, and Metrowerks' CodeWarrior Documents for Be. (HTML, the Hypertext Markup Language, is the formatting language used for world-wide web documents, or "pages.")

When you start NetPositive, a window opens with a starting page.

You navigate the World Wide Web by clicking links, text or icons that open other Web pages. Text that is a link is marked with an underline. You can tell whether an icon or other art is a link by observing the text field at the top of the window: If the text in the field changes when you position the cursor over an icon, it's a link. This is also a convenient way to tell what page a link refers to.

You can open a page directly if you know its Universal Resource Locator (URL). These start with http:// and are followed by the unique address of a page. For example, http://www.be.com is the URL for the Be, Inc., home page. Type the URL for a page in the text field at the top of the NetPositive window to go to that page. If you choose Open Location from NetPositive's main menu, you can type a URL for a page and click Open to open a new NetPositive window with that page.

You can open an HTML file that's on disk by dragging the file onto NetPositive's icon. You can also open an HTML file by dragging it into an open NetPositive window or by choosing Open File from NetPositive's main menu. This is how you open the starting pages of the online documentation.

You can click the left-pointing arrow button at the top of the NetPositive window to go back to the last page you had open. Click the right-pointing arrow to go forward again.

Some Web pages take a long time to open because they contain large graphics or other large pieces of information or because they're coming from a computer connected to a slow part of the Internet. You can stop loading a page by clicking the square button to the right of the arrow buttons at the top of the NetPositive window.

NetPositive can play QuickTime movies that were saved using the Cinepak compressor with the "Playable on other computers" option checked (that is, they're "single-fork" or "flattened" movies). If you have QuickTime movies of this kind, you can transfer them to the BeOS, add the ".mov" extension to the ends of their file names, and drag them onto the NetPositive icon to play them. Most movies have information about how fast they should be played. If you check Fast Movies in NetPositive's main menu, NetPositive plays movies as fast as it can. If Fast Movies is unchecked, NetPositive tries to play movies at the speed they were designed to be played.

If you're interested in the HTML code that created the page you're viewing, choose Show HTML from NetPositive's main menu to display the page's HTML code.


You can listen to an audio file by dragging it onto the PlaySound icon. PlaySound can use a computer's digital-to-dnalog converter (DAC) circuitry to play audio files in raw, Audio Interchange File Format (AIFF), and Waveform Audio File Format (WAVE) format.

When you drag a sound file onto the PlaySound icon, a small window opens with a Stop button. Click Stop to stop playing the sound. Depending on the Sound preferences application settings and the devices connected to your computer, you hear the audio file on the internal speaker or on a device connected to the line-out ports (see "Sound" for more information).

A number of sound files are included in the /optional/sounds folder on the BeOS CD-ROM.


PoorMan is a simple but effective World Wide Web server. A Web server is an application that makes a Web site available to a network: Either to a company network or, if the network is configured to allow it, to the whole Internet. PoorMan can host a Web site made up of files in HTML, JPEG, and GIF formats. HTML (the Hypertext Markup Language) is the formatting language used for World Wide Web documents, or "pages." JPEG and GIF are graphics file formats commonly used for illustrations in world-wide web pages.

When you double-click PoorMan, a window opens with a status area and two buttons. When you click Start, PoorMan looks for a "home page" (the starting point for a Web site) named index.html in a folder named /public_html on the boot disk. If they don't exist, PoorMan creates them. The index.html file PoorMan creates is a very simple Web page in HTML format.

When PoorMan is running, others on your network can use their Web browsers to view the pages on your site. Depending on how your network is set up, they may be able to simply type your computer's hostname or IP address to open your site's home page (the /public_html/index.html file).

Each time someone browses a page or image on your Web site, the "hit" is recorded in the total in PoorMan's window. Click "Clear Hits" to return the count to zero.

Unfortunately, you can't use NetPositive to browse the pages PoorMan is serving on the same computer (though you can use NetPositive to browse pages PoorMan is serving on other computers on a network). For more information about NetPositive, see "NetPositive".


The Pulse application shows you the relative load on your computer's PowerPC microprocessors—an on-screen version of the information displayed by the two LED arrays on the front of a BeBox. Pulse also shows you the model and clock speed of the CPUs.


Part of the BeOS system software for the BeBox is actually on a programmable "flash ROM" chip on the BeBox motherboard. If Be sends you a file with updated software for the flash ROM, you update the ROM chip by dragging the update file onto the ROMUpdater application.

Nothing happens if you simply double-click ROMUpdater.


You can use SCSIProbe to find out information about SCSI devices. When you start SCSIProbe, a window opens that lists each SCSI device connected to the computer. The computer itself is always at SCSI ID 7. Other SCSI devices are listed in the window, in order of their SCSI IDs. In the Type column, hard disks are listed as "DISK" and CD-ROM drives are listed as "ROM."

If you can't read all the text in a column, you can make a column wider by dragging a column divider. Hold down the Option key (the key labeled "Ctrl" to the right of the spacebar on most PC keyboards) while you click on a column divider to restore it to its original position.

To ensure that all devices are listed, click the Update or Mount button.

You can cause the drive light on a SCSI device to flash by clicking its corresponding number in the ID column. This makes it easier to determine which physical disk is at a particular SCSI ID.

SCSIProbe was originally written as a Macintosh control panel, and some features of this port are available in the BeOS version but not recommended: The Update button changes to Reset if you hold down the Option key, but clicking Reset resets the SCSI bus, which will likely crash the BeOS.


The Terminal application opens a window where you can work with the Be shell. The Be shell is a UNIX-style, command-line environment based on bash (the Bourne-Again Shell, created by Brian Fox and Chet Ramey).

Most of the programs you work with in a Terminal window are in the /bin folder.

You can open as many Terminal windows as you want: Just keep double-clicking the Terminal icon or choose Start New Terminal from the Terminal menu. The Switch Terminals command in the Terminal menu makes another open Terminal window the active window, so you can cycle through them quickly from the keyboard by pressing Command-G.

You can use the commands in the Settings menu to customize how Terminal displays the text in its window:

Choose Save as Defaults to use the current settings every time you start Terminal. You can also use the Save as Settings File command to create a Terminal settings file. You can double-click a Terminal settings file to start Terminal with the saved settings in effect.

You can use the keyboard to scroll the contents of the Terminal window:

Press To scroll
Shift-up arrow Up one line
Shift-down arrow Down one line
Shift-Page Up Up one windowful
Shift-Page Down Down one windowful

The default shell environment is set by the /system/profile file. You can modify the environment by making a copy of that file, changing it, and saving it in the root folder of the boot disk with the name .profile.

Learning about bash and the Programs in the /bin Folder

Explaining how to work on a UNIX-style command-line is beyond the scope of this user's guide. In fact, there are lots of good books on the subject available in any bookstore with a well-stocked section on computers.

A copy of the man pages for bash and for a great many of the programs in /bin are included in HTML format in the /documentation/Shell Tools/HTML folder. Man pages are the traditional, descriptive (if terse) documentation for UNIX-style programs. You can read the man pages by dragging the index.html file (it's in the HTML folder) onto the NetPositive icon (for more information on NetPositive, see "NetPositive"). The index.html file contains an alphabetical list of the man pages, with links you can click to open the man page you want to read. Because the man pages make heavy use of the <pre> HTML code, you may also find them readable in a text editor, such as Edit.

When you're working in Terminal, you can also get a small amount of information about many of the programs in /bin (often enough to get by) by entering the name of the program followed by the --help flag (that's two hyphens followed by help). Enter help in Terminal to read about bash itself.


When you first start working with the BeOS, you have one workspace: A desktop and a set of windows that open on it, which you arrange to suit your projects. With the Workspaces application, you can arrange up to 32 such workspaces.

When you first start Workspaces, a window with nine panes opens. Each pane represents a workspace, with a miniature version of the dock and each window open in that workspace. Click in a pane to switch to that workspace. You can also switch workspaces by holding down the Command key while you press the function key that corresponds to that workspace (counting from left to right, top to bottom in the Workspaces window): Command-F1 to switch to the first workspace, Command-F2 to switch to the second, and so on.

The workspace you're currently working in is called the active workspace. When you open a window it opens in the active workspace. Many windows can be open in only one workspace at a time. This is true for Edit document windows and the windows that open when you start most of the preferences applications. If a window is already open in a workspace and you open it again, you switch to the workspace where the window is already open. Other applications and their windows behave differently. For example, when you start the Clock application, the Clock window opens in all workspaces (this is also true for the Workspaces application itself). A third model is offered by folder windows in the Browser: They open in the active workspace when you double-click their folder icons, even if they're already open in another workspace.

If a window is open in more than one workspace, you can move it to a different location in each workspace. However, changing the size of a window, minimizing it, or closing it in one workspace does the same to all copies of the window in all workspaces.

You can drag an application's icon into a pane in the Workspaces window to start it in that workspace.

You can use the Screen application to give each workspace a different desktop color—this can help keep them distinct. The resolution (number of pixels on the screen) and color depth (bits per pixel) also only apply to the current workspace. See "Screen" for more information.

If you want to work in more or fewer workspaces, choose the number you want from the Workspaces submenu in the Workspaces application's main menu. If you increase or decrease the number of workspaces, panes are added or removed from the Workspaces window in order, starting from the bottom right. You can't reduce the number of workspaces if it would remove a workspace that has open windows: Close any open windows first. Avoid the higher prime numbers of workspaces—the Workspaces window can't lay them out very legibly.

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BeOS User's Guide, DR8.2 for Power Mac Edition, 1/16/97.

Copyright © 1997, Be, Inc. All rights reserved.

Please send corrections, suggestions, and comments to userdocs@be.com.