The next big thing in consumer computing is the cloud-based operating system. The most anticipated of these is Google’s Chrome OS, a Linux-based OS meant to be ideal for netbooks and tablet-like devices.
While Google makes promises about a release date for Chrome OS, others are already moving into this space.
One of the first is Jolicloud, which has already released a version 1.0 edition, is readying version 1.1 and has already announced a Jolicloud-based netbook in the UK. The so-called “Jolibook” will run version 1.1 of the cloud software.
Paris-based Jolicloud is forging ahead into a market which many expect to boom over the coming years. With bandwidth and web applications increasing at a rapid pace, the future of consumer computing lies in a mix of web-based and desktop-based applications. Google is well positioned to play in this market as it already has a range of web-based applications on offer, including GMail and Google Docs.
Like the Chrome OS, Jolicloud is Linux based – originally Ubuntu – and designed to work with a range of web-based and web-focused applications.
Although based on Ubuntu, the Jolicloud OS uses its own interface for the launcher. Pre-1.0 versions used the Ubuntu Netbook Remix interface but it now uses its own HTML5-based launcher.
Interestingly, Jolicloud uses Google’s Chromium browser for rendering web applications. Each “application” is loaded via a desktop icon as if they were installed applications. So, for example, Facebook, Twitter and similar sites have their own icon and launch in separate windows just like traditional style applications.
Chromium can also still be run alongside these applications for normal browsing.
Jolicloud also has an application manager, along similar lines to that on Ubuntu and many other applications. The application manager offers a selection of regular applications for install as well as web-based applications.
These are treated as equals and managed the same way, except that web applications simply get a dedicated launcher icon, while full applications are actually installed.
Building on the web-based nature of the OS the applications on offer are rated by the user community and users can opt to “follow” other users and see which software they “like.” It’s still a little basic but it shows the direction the Jolicloud makers are taking.
Storage wise, the OS can browse local storage and also has links to a range of cloud-based storage services such as Dropbox.
Where Jolicloud does start to look different is in synchronisation. Because the OS is designed for PCs connected to the web most of the time, synchronisation is a big part of its make-up. Any number of Jolicloud instances can be linked together so that moving from one device running Jolicloud to another brings all configuration data with it.
Not only that, but users can also access their Jolicloud setup via any web browser and even install applications via the Jolicloud website.
Jolicloud 1.0 is still an early version of the product. It is by no means a perfect OS, but it does have enough good ideas to make it worth taking for a spin.
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