Jolicloud OS Alpha on ASUS EeePC 901 mini review
a couple of months back i signed up for an invitation code for the cool looking Jolicloud OS. a few days ago the invitation code hit my inbox. i quickly downloaded the 600MB disk image of this exciting new OS, i borrowed my sister’s EeePC, followed the excellent setup instructions on the website and i was quickly on my way to new OS goodness. unfortunately, i was a bit disappointed, i was expecting a brand new GUI experience. i had assumed (from screenshots and so on) that this OS was a mix of the linux kernel and a new sort of window manager or GUI program running on top of an existing WM. what i found was what looks like a modified version of Ubuntu Netbook Remix with a different look and feel and a different set of default apps installed. now, this isn’t necessarily a bad thing, in my opinion ubuntu is the best desktop linux distro, solid community and high app availability and compatibility.
all that being said, i enjoy very much using jolicloud. tailored specifically for netbooks, all the hardware works out of the box. wifi, ethernet, video, sound and microphone all work out of the box. when lauched, applications take up the entire amount of the available screen. the taskbar, window switcher and home button take up only a small amout of space at the top of the screen. the taskbar icons and notification area is pretty slick, showing the standard wireless connectivity, battery level, sound, caps and number lock indicator, clock and calendar as well as Growl like notification popups. there were some applications that don’t work well (ie. i was unable to get Skype to output sound), but most applications behave as expected. Flash 10 comes installed by default and works good (fullscreen video is laggy, but not to discredit the jolicloud theme, flash performance especially in fullscreen mode has always been laggy in all my linux computers). installing applications is different from ubuntu, and other package based distros. in jolicloud, you log in to your jolicloud account and through this very nice looking interface you can modify your account, view friends and followers, perform system updates and install the various applications guaranteed to be compatible with the OS. be aware that while you can install regular native applications available in other linux distros (like VLC, Skype, Gimp, OpenOffice), most of the applications listed are actually self contained versions of popular web applications (such as Facebook, Gmail, Twitter, Google Docs, Google Reader and so on), don’t expect a native Facebook or Twitter app like on the iPhone.
having it used throughout the weekend i can say that the OS is pretty stable, the look and feel is very nice and the social aspects of it look promising. even though i haven’t fully gotten used to the system, i can tell that the developers have their hearts in the right place, making an OS to make the most out of these tiny laptops and make it enjoyable to use is not an easy thing to do. good luck.
ps. check out the jolicloud set on my flickr page for screenshots