Desktop - 2013-05-19

I just switched over to Crunchbang Linux, on my ageing desktop. So far so good!

CM9 for the HP TouchPad is Almost Ready

I can’t wait for this; I bought the TouchPad in the ‘Fire Sale’ with the express purpose of putting Android on it, but Gingerbread just isn’t quite good enough for tablet use.

When is an OS Not an OS? When it鈥檚 Jolicloud.

I鈥檓 pretty OS agnostic. I鈥檒l use the best tool for whatever the job is at the time. For my main computer I鈥檝e switched between Windows and Linux, replaced the PC with various Macs for a time鈥 just whatever is needed.

My Netbook has had Windows, Linux, and Mac OS X on it at various times. OS X works suprisingly well on such a little machine, but I wanted to try something designed specifically for working with the constraints of a netbook. Knowing I have some Linux/LAMP work ahead of me, I also wanted something Linux-based so I could refresh my CLI-Fu.

Enter Jolicloud

I鈥檇 heard mention of Jolicloud, as some sort of Netbook-centric Linux distro. The selling point was supposedly the very 鈥渦n-Linux鈥 GUI, optimised for a small Netbook screen, which in most of the screenshots posted around the web looks something like this:

Looks good, doesn鈥檛 it? The official site bills Jolicloud as 鈥a cool new OS for your netbook鈥. Intrigued, I applied for an Alpha invite to try it out. A day later I had been accepted, downloaded the install image, and was ready to go.

Confusion Sets In

After installation I was presented not with a screen similar to the above, but with what looked, acted, even sounded like the Ubuntu Netbook Remix. Hrmmm. There was a Jolicloud 鈥淕et Started鈥 icon, so naturally I clicked on that; up popped the dashboard I had been expecting to see at startup.

At this point, Jolicloud isn鈥檛 an OS; it now looks like an application installer/launcher with some 鈥淪ocial鈥 features built in.

Speaking of those Social features, it appears Jolicloud has it鈥檚 own social network in the making to power the friends and notifications. It would be nice if I could instead use my existing networksinstead. However, I digress鈥

A computer is nothing without applications. Jolicloud presents a lot of applications for installation, a mix of 鈥渘ormal鈥 applications with a heavy dose of web apps. Everything from Google Apps toZoho is available to install. This fits with the marketing pitch for Netbooks 鈥 processor doesn鈥檛 matter when your app is run 鈥渋n the cloud鈥. Installing these applications is so simple it almost hurts.

Logically, one would expect to be able to launch the apps I have installed from the Jolicloud dashboard. Well, simply put, you can鈥檛. Applications are launched from the Netbook home screen 鈥 the one we were given at logon.

So now Jolicloud isn鈥檛 a launcher/installer, it鈥檚 almost just a installer. An App Store for Web Apps if you will.

There鈥檚 a big difference between 鈥渁 cool new OS for your netbook鈥 and an installer.

So What Exactly is Jolicloud?

In the words of the Jolicloud developers:

鈥淛olicloud is an Internet operating system. It combines the two driving forces of the modern computing industry: the open source and the open web.鈥

In my words:

鈥淛olicloud is a simple means to add Site-Specific Browsers (SSBs) for your favourite web applications to your Netbook by utilising Mozilla Prism on top of Ubuntu Linux Netbook Remix.鈥

I guess my version isn鈥檛 as buzzword friendly as the official statement.

In Defence

Maybe I鈥檓 being harsh. In fact I probably am, as I鈥檓 feeling a bit grumpy today. Jolicloud is still alpha software (that鈥檚 pre-beta, for those who鈥檝e forgotten), and will no doubt morph and change before it goes to wider release. I just find calling it an OS is a bit鈥 wrong.

Next week on 鈥淕rumpy Netbook OS Ramblings鈥 鈥 Moblin.