Sunday, April 10, 2011

JoliOS vs ChromeOS


The things that is most apparent when you see these two OSes running side by side are the similarities.  You get a clock and other indicators in the top right, a search box in the top middle (which also happens to be a url bar in ChromeOS), and a screen full of icons, many of which are the same.  Each OS is founded around the idea of turning the internet into the primary experience, as most of the program launchers you see on each of those screens just take you to web pages.  Each system boots and resumes from sleep significantly faster than a fuller OS like Windows on similar hardware. 

The main advantage of JoliOS is that it can also run local apps.  JoliOS is built on an Ubuntu base and gives you access to all the programs available in the Ubuntu repositories.  This includes the wine windows emulation layer which allows for the running of some windows programs.  You also get clear access to the file system and local file storage.  JoliOS is also available to run on any machine with driver support.  It’s targeted primarily at netbook hardware and works best on those machines.  JoliOS’s desktop environment, which now carries the Jolicloud name, can be run in the browser on many full desktop OSes, so you can have a similar desktop experience across many machines. 

Right now, the ChromeOS is only available on google’s Cr-48 pilot hardware.  This is a big advantage allowing for instant on, built in 3G (which is vital as the crhome book is close to worthless without internet access), and really long battery life.  There is a related project called ChromiumOS that can be run on any hardware with driver support.  ChromeOS is also linux based, but much more stripped down, with a fastboot system and very minimal userspace.  ChromeOS is basically the Chrome browser full screen.  This gives a similar continuity to the Jolicloud experience, as the app shortcuts and bookmarks sync across chrome browsers and with the OS.  The OS really is just like running chrome full screen, the internet is all you get.  There is access to a shell and some basic file system access for media playback.  But for the most part, all you get is the net.  It’s nice to have the interface get so completely out of the way, as long as the internet is all you need. 

Both systems make for fun secondary machines when all you need is a quick access to the internet.  It will be interesting to see what happens when netbooks with ChromeOS start hitting the market.  There is a netbook available with Jolicloud preinstalled, but it didn’t really take off.

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