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Playing With Syllable As A Virtual Machine in Mac OS X

After hearing of the BeOS-like Syllable operating system, I wanted to check it out. I'd played with BeOS in the early 90s and appreciated its speed, simplicity, and rock solid multitasking.

After an unsuccessful attempt to install Syllable as a Parallels virtual machine, I decided it was time to upgrade Parallels to the latest build (5160). I downloaded the installer, installed with no issues, attempted to reboot and waited. My Macbook would not boot, staying stuck on an endless display of the OS X boot activity indicator. Parallels, it seemed, had killed my Macbook.

I went to the Parallels support site and searched around to no avail. Then I remembered that, while trying to get Ubuntu to boot off an external drive months ago, I'd installed a utility called rEFIt that modifies the master boot record. I booted off the rEFIt CD I'd burned, reinstalled rEFIt into the MBR, and the Macbook was able to boot once again.

After all that, Syllable didn't work with the new version of Parallels, halting before installation. I was, however, able to install Syllable using VMWare Fusion.

After installation, I ran into a prompt telling me to log in as root to adjust networking settings. After clicking okay I was presented with a black screen and had to wait awhile before a login screen was displayed.

At the login screen I selected the root user, entered its default password of 'root', and gained access to the Syllable desktop. As I was unable to get TCP/IP networking operational, there wasn't much I could do other than look at the preferences and pre-installed applications (which are pretty much what you'd expect them to be).

Syllable is trying to provide users and developers with a clean, minimalist environment for using and authoring applications. It seems very easy to use, but Ubuntu is also accessible and has nurtured massive community support. It'll be interesting to see what Syllable gets used for and what kind of community emerges.