July 29, 2009

JoliCloud (JoliOS) Day one on my netbook.

JoliCloud,  A new Linux Distribution aimed at the Netbooks we use, and shooting for the Cloud.  Leveraging the Cloud based apps around us. Right now they are in public alpha, but my initial reaction is that if this is Alpha, the Gold is gonna rock.

The literature, etc, from the site, leads me to believe that the creators of JoliCloud Linux, "get it" when it comes to Cloud Computing, and they are committed to aiming at the concept of , always on, always available computing.   They are IMHO right.  You don't need to worry about syncing 4 or 5 copies of a single data/app/configuration  set when you only have 2, current and backup. (You do, do backups of critical data don't you?) You just need that all important way to reliably access it inside the cloud.

Initial look, yielded an "Oh God not another version of Ubuntu"  However despite this initial encumbrance it is starting to rock.  Just so you know I've run easypeasy, Ubuntu-NetMix, Fedora 11, Debian, Xandros, Kubuntu, Puppee, Slitaz, EEbuntu, Elive, and Mandriva on this so far.  So I'm no stranger to the needs of my little Netbook Antique. (An EeePC 701 4G) Configuration of the hardware is pretty stock except for two additions.

    1.  Two Gigs of ram 

    2.  I run my home dir off of the SD card rather than the internal flash.   (much nicer to have a bit of data storage that is my real home not a dos based dir hanging off of the root dir. )This allows me to have executable scripts etc.  Just like a 'real' Linux box does. ;)

 OK,  The installer is casper.  'Buntu's standard live CD tool set. They have you download a tool to flash a USB device to boot the OS for the install.  The tool works well enough however if you don't want to use it you can use Unetbootin or the ever present dd to create the disk image on your USB device.  They were also kind enough to supply tools for use from OSX and the Windows cacophony. (So that the digitally deprived don't feel bad.)  That part went on without a hitch (I tried all 3 methods to create the install key.  They worked for me.)

 Let the install begin. From the get-go if you've done a *buntu install then it will look and feel very familiar. A lot like hunting rabbits with Elmer Fudd.  You know what's going to happen but you still can't resist the urge to follow along.  Once it booted all hardware was (as expected) recognized, configure wpa and boom, you are  off and running.  Ok live CD up so now to take a look around. (The install is pretty standard for any other child of the *buntu, so I won't cover it.  Suffice it to say that if you can install *buntu, this will work for you too.)

 Initially  when you login, you are presented with nothing more than the familiar *buntu netbook UI.  But click on the Jolicloud icon and that is where the magic begins.  You login to the JoliCloud application (not site, but an honest to god webapp.) and you are greated by an extrodinarily slick UI.  Responsive as heck. (Considering that I'm on a first gen EeePC and running a Celeron) and it fit's the screen size like a glove.  No left-right scrolling, no playing wheres the OK button.  it's all there without feeling cramped. 

 The Joli Cloud Catalog.

 This presents you with an array of cloud and local apps that can be installed to enhance your web experience.  Cover everything from Social (Facebook and Twitter) to Business (Zoho word processing Gmail and GCalendar) to Personal need (Google Reader, Medial Players etc.)  One click poof it's installed and available to you, Not only on this Netbook but on any other JoliCloud enabled Netbook you login to.  I haven't tried that aspect out, I've only one system with it installed so far, but you never know.

Next, thing you notice, No Synaptic.  Apt is still there for the Debianites, but synaptic is not part of it.  Why?  Well because the installer is a part of the webapp.  It allows you to be able to maintain that all important security aspect of keeping up with security based upgrades, without opening a new screen just click on the dashboard tab. 

 The JoliCloud Update Tab

 Can't IMHO get much more straight forward than this is. For those who ask, yes, it does separate out security updates from the run of the mill application updates.  Enabling you to just do secrity upgrades if that is what will fit you best.   It also prioritizes when you are doing a full, update them all, update and does the security first.  Nice touch I think.  

 But a Cloud OS really wouldn't be in the Cloud if it didn't include Social interaction, and JoliCloud seems to have it in spades.  Check out the dashboard notification page.

Ok yes the "example' page is a bit lame.  But what it does for you is allow you to keep online and in contact without the constant  in your face world of IM clients etc.  

Conclusion:

 Over all, and especially for an Alpha release it's stable enough to start using and beating up on.  It lacks, at least from my viewpoint a proper bug tracking methodology for consumer bug reporting, but it is heavy as heck with ways for you to contact the JoliCloud team (Twitter, Facebook, IRC etc) 

  1.  Usability =  4 out of 5 stars (no one gets 5)
  2. UI  =3.5 out of 5
  3. Security = Judgement is still out as I'm learning it.
  4. App selection = 4.5 out of 5
  5. Ability to distiguish itself from other distro's around it  = 4.5 out of 5
  6. Responsiveness =4 out of 5
  7. Chance of it staying on my box for a while = High

Like I noted in the title this is only day one.  I'll most likely report more later but for now.  I'm having fun.

Click Here!