Jolicloud Looks Good

After trying out several different operating systems on my tiny BenQ Joybook Lite U102 netbook, I never really kept it installed for long.

My netbook came with Windows XP and it got wiped on the first day with Windows 7 (Ultimate). Unfortunately performance was somehow degraded, stuff just felt slow somehow. A few days later I decided to give Ubuntu Netbook Remix a try, it lasted a bit longer, but it was Ubuntu’s first netbook version and some annoying bugs were there. I restored it back to XP, but it didn’t last long once again, I was too used to 7 that XP felt annoying, 7 was back on my netbook. Before travelling to Brazil, I installed Ubuntu 10.04 (netbook version), but it wasn’t worth it, it lacked support of some 3G dongles. So I spent most of the time in Brazil Internetless except for times I visited the mall or some cafe that had WiFi access. Back in Bahrain, 7 was reinstalled until yesterday….

I have decided to give Jolicloud a try. It uses Ubuntu as the base OS. Applications are mostly Internet based apps (Google Docs, Gmail, Grooveshark etc…). If you do not have an Internet connection, its ok, there are some standalone apps (OpenOffice, VLC Player to name a few). The desktop or workspace is basically an embedded web page (rendered by Chromium) with buttons as the launcher for apps.

An interesting thing is that you need to register online for a Jolicloud account. I registered before installing it on my netbook. The interesting thing is that you can select the apps you want to install on their web portal and once you install the OS on your computer and login to your Jolicloud account it starts syncing and installing the apps selected. This I really liked, imagine not needing to reinstall apps manually after installing an OS! Another plus was that it automatically installed the wireless drivers (Broadcom), on Ubuntu I had to enable restricted drivers, connect using LAN, download drivers, install and reboot. Jolicloud installed the restricted drivers during install.

There were some problems at first though, nothing extreme, but might scare away those used to the ease of Windows vs. difference in Linux. I struggled installing OpenOffice at first, because I hadn’t updated the OS completely I guess. I had to get used to the fact that most of the apps are web based (but hey that’s what netbooks are for). The workspace is actually a web page, right clicking on the “desktop” doesn’t bring up a menu where you can add shortcuts etc (hitting F5 refreshes it though).

Overall I am quite impressed with Jolicloud, and I can’t wait to try Jolicloud 1.1 when it comes out (sometime in November). If you got a netbook lying around and want to try a different OS (with less configuring) I highly recommend Jolicloud!

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