David Artiss

Jolicloud – a Linux OS for Netbooks


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A friend of mine has started using Jolicloud on her Netbook. This is a Linux distro that has been designed specifically for Netbooks. Indeed, they boast 98% compatibility across the Netbook market.

Now, it’s not the only one available, but unlike the others, this allows you to install the OS via Windows – the installation resides on the drive to what looks like Windows as a very large file. No messing with partitions, etc, and you can simply uninstall it via the standard Windows process.

Installation was easy and all my Aspire Ones hardware was recognised and configured.

The default interface is very black, although you can change this, with program categories down the left hand side. Down the right hand side are your various document folder shortcuts (including a shortcut to your Windows files, which is very welcome – although this doesn’t work until you perform your first system update). Click on any category and the main centre of the screen is filled with the programs available.

The “cloud” part of the name is a clue to how a lot of this works – many “programs” are merely shortcuts to websites, but running under a toolbar free version of the Chromium web browser so they look like a standard application. Unfortunately, without forward and back buttons some sites are not particularly easy to navigation – Gmail being an example of an exception.

And they’ve avoided a lot of the hassle of Linux installations, by making you select programs from their site. This means the choice is a lot more limited, but ensures that installs are incredibly easy.

And, Jolicloud even integrates Wine so you can, theoretically, run Windows applications (I tried one and it crashed, but that was hardly a good test!).

So, am I keeping it? No. An uninstall beckons. I have to say, it is good. But for power users it lacks badly. And I found it slow – delays occur often and at one time the main “desktop” appeared to crash (and disappear) entirely.

If you’re after an easy to use alternative and all you use your Netbook for is basic office tools and internet use, then this may be perfectly adequate. Unfortunately, it lacks a lot of the applications I need on a day-to-day basis. Yes, I can continue to dual boot with Windows, but Jolicloud doesn’t offer me anything extra. Boot times are quick, yes, but using XPs hibernate feature means that Windows is just as speedy. Now, if someone wants to offer a more powerful Linux distro but with just as easy to install applications, then I’d be interested.


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