Sometimes surprises come from unexpected places. Wal-Mart for example. I mean : The mom and dad computer department store ? Not realy where one would think of finding a cutting edge peace of technology. So what’s the story ? A few weeks ago Wal-Mart Us started offering cheap-ass 199 dollar pc’s for standard office and internet use. What Onboard ? Some cheap hardware (a via processor of all things) so the performance under XP or Vista would be sure to suck. Except : They did not ship it with XP. To push the price down they decided to go for a different operating system. Now we all know the chances of 5 of these "alternate OS computers" ever selling to the average mom and dad : None ! There is no Whoopy-doo-daah way that a non geek would ever touch a linux distro without having a geek in the room. The solution ? lets give it a different name : Lets call it G O S … Sounds a whole lot like
"Google – OS" and in a way .. it is. GOS fills the gap that was gaping between the average Joe and his XP machine and the geek-without-a-girlfriend running his own version of Debian Edge. Ok , maybe its not that extreme but the GOS operating system builds a bridge between the computer desktop and the Web 2.0 as we know it today. Offering easy access to (google) applications like Google writer, Google spreadsheet, Gmail, Google earth and so on. Including direct access to Youtube, Wikipedia and so forth. Underneath the slick graphical interface ( called E17 ) that is mild for the eyes and the processor hides a Ubuntu distro. So with your little synaptic package manager you can still install just about anything you want on it. The guys at howtoforge have written up a great manual on how to beef up your GOS to realy become a powerful workstation.
As for me i’m having kittens over this : Why ? Because I’m sick of friends and family who fuck up their computer just because they love surfing porn, downloading crap with napster and bearshare and stuff like that. The average user (and I’m not talking about somebody in an office environment) only uses a select amount of software on his computer. He surfs the web (firefox) He reads his email (web based via firefox) he chats with friends (meebo or gaim) looks at video’s (youtube) checks stuff on wikipedia an may whack together a powerpoint presentation. Well you know what ? GOS offers it all. And not in an ‘advanced ubuntu package’. Because one of the reasons that the desktop integration of Linux fails is that people just get lost in the GUI. Take KDE for example : 50 ways to do things. Gnome : 30 different ways to do the same thing. For geeks like us its not really a problem, but for the average n00b its just an overload. When I configured Ubuntu for my wife’s grandmother, the first thing I did was dumb down the interface in order to get everything simplified enough so she could do her thing. And now with GOS that philosophy has been carried over onto a lighter and fresher desktop environment.
So : My plan. Last week the harddrive on my brothers computer crashed. My brother uses that computer only to surf the web and check his email and stuff, so no office related shit. Because I’m kind of tired of having to fix Windows Pc’s all the time AND I was planning to set up a linux server over there I’m going to do the following : 1 Take an old computer I have lying around (PIII 600) and install GOS on it. Tweak it just a little bit so he can check his email using thunderbird (he’s used to using thunderbird). I’ll also activate the SSH and webmin functions so i can control that computer (as a server) from my place. So i’ll kill two birds with one stone. 1 : I have a working linux server at a remote location. 2 : My brother has a computer he can use to surf the web and do his thing. And all of this using low-end hardware and providing me with a mall ware safe desktop. I’ll keep you posted on how things are going with this little experiment.
Links : Howtoforge’s guide on pimping your GOS. The GOS Homepage (for downloading GOS)
Make sure also to check out the latest episode of Fresh Ubuntu. A Linux-related podcast where I was a guest host and we talked about GOS.