eyeOS review – run a complete desktop in your browser

Imagine being able to sit down at any ordinary computer in an Internet cafe or public library, start up the resident web browser and access your personal desktop – along with your applications, messages, and information – with a click of your mouse button. Then, when you’re done, you simply close the web browser to have all of the documents you’ve just worked on safely stored on your remote server, leaving nothing on the computer you’ve just been working on. This is the goal of the mobile desktop and operating system called eyeOS.

eyeOS is an Open Source Web Desktop Environment. You either install on your computer and access it through a webbrowser at http://yourip:85 or you can use the public eyeOS server.

I really like this idea! Why install an OS on your desktop PC when you simply can have it online? Once you login you get to the desktop. You have a taskbar with a bunch of icons representing the applications installed. You have a kind of file browser where you can create folders and upload files. You have a word editor which looks like TinyMCE which is a WYSIWYG editor. You have a simple calendar, contacts, calculator and send messages to other eyeOS users.

For Internet connectivity you have a very simple RSS reader and a webbrowser. I’m impressed about the webbrowser’s speed – it’s almost as fast as my local one! It evens play YouTube and Google videos without a problem!

What first impresses me is the speed. You can move windows around and applications start without delay when you click the icon. You have several themes to choose between and you can change the wallpaper and more look’s’n feel can be downloaded.

Since it’s a specific OS, it needs specific eyeOS applications. At their public server, 20 additional applications are available. But if this project becomes successful I’m sure this will grow!

Below is a demo:

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Browser Appliance – you never have to re-install your PC

I’ve talked about having some kind of “browser appliance” to replace your desktop computer. So far – not that many hardware appliances seems to fit my needs. But here’s an interesting alternative. I run VMware (either Player or Server which are free or Workstation) and I have several virtual machines running, either Windows or some distribution of Linux.

To get you started on VMware and such appliances, here’s a quick guide to get you startedin just a few minutes.

The quickest way is to get the Browser Appliance which is the Ubuntu distribution running Firefox. Just download the appliance, open it up in VMware and start it. When it boots up you get a Firefox icon and off you go.

So now you got yourself a “surf station”. No need to re-install. If you make a mistake and crash the virtual machine, simply download the VMware image again and replace the one you have. Now wouldn’t it be good to have this functionality in a hardware appliance?

Another good thing is that you don’t have to worry that much about malware, spyware or viruses. First off – it’s Linux. And secondly, even though the virtual computer gets infected, it won’t spread to your host system!

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Install your desktop on the Internet

Have you ever re-installed your PC just because you had “too much stuff installed”. You simply wanted a clean desktop as it looked from day 1. Well, the whole thought of my site is to uninstall everything and keep everything online so why do I need to bother with my local desktop computer? All I actually want is an web browser and an Internet connection.

I was inspired by the following post by Max Limpag where he gives you an overview of the web desktops out there.

So maybe now I need is just some minimal thin client with a webbrowser and if I need a complete “desktop” with all my applications – no need to mix Google Apps, Windows Live Apps and so on. Check my web desktops for more articles on the subject.

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G.ho.st Virtual Computer and I’m back

After being very offline for a few weeks in Spain (about 25 mins of Internet time in total) we’re back with some new tips.

When I was away I got an interesting tip regarding “online computers” from Clive Fernandes. The service is g.ho.st and offers a “virtual computer” which is not installed on your PC but simply run in your webbrowser. You have your start-menu, folders etc. You can do a simple “guest login” to quickly test it out. Have fun!

Check out the interview with Zvi Shcreiber, the author of g.ho.st.

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30 Boxes – Your personal calendar and web desktop online

30 Boxes consists of a calendar, to-do list and a webtop.

The Calendar is pretty basic – you can add Events and the usual information such as reminder, repeats, notes, tags and invites. The To-do list is very simple. You can more or less only tag your entries. The interface is fast and quite “web 2.0″-ish.

30 Boxes To-do 30 Boxes Calendar

30 Boxes also offers a “webtop” – which is a web-based desktop. First it will give you an overview of your calendar, to-do list and search. You can change your desktop’s background and then the important things, add docks. Docks are small “applications” that plugin to your webtop at 30 Boxes. At the moment, the following docks exist:

30boxes_3.png

Those services will open up as a “window” on your webtop. Netvibes, My Yahoo, Personal Google offer you to add feeds and other components to a “personal startpage”. So if you’re a fan of any of these, or use several of them for different purposes – be sure to check out 30 Boxes.

Google Calendar, MySpace and Flickr – I think most of you know of those services.

Meebo lets you run ICQ, Yahoo! Messenger, Jabber, JTalk and MSN Messenger over the web! Facebook is a social utility that enables you to share information with your friends. Webshots is a service where you can upload and share photos.

I’m amazed how fast everything is. With a few new docks – this thing will be very useful. I often struggle with the fact I have several different “portals” I have to visit for specific tasks. Keeping them all together – and still use the unique features of each service is a good thought.

Here are some more screenshots of the Webtop when opening upp different services:

30 Boxes with Google Calendar 30 Boxes with Flickr 30 Boxes with Google Personal and Flickr

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Goowy – Web desktop review and screencast

Goowy is a web desktop which offers you quite many features. The interface reminds you of Gnome and is very fast. You simply go to Goowy’s website, create an account and you get your personal desktop with storage (provided by Box.net)

You have a bunch of applications available:

  • Instant Messaging (IM) – support for AIM, MSN, Yahoo, ICQ and AOL
  • Online storage – it actually uses box.net for online storage
  • Games – there are a bunch of games available!
  • E-mail client – which is pretty powerful with drag’n’drop support. You can configure to get mail from a custom POP3 account
  • Contacts – manage your contacts. Import from Yahoo, GMail, Hotmail, MSNMail, AIM or custom file. Export to CSV or VCF. You can easily search through existing contacts
  • Calendar – simple calendar with event info and invitations. Import/Export in ICalendar

You can have a custom skin/theme so your desktop looks more personal. You can do additional customizing of your desktop by playing sounds on reminders/new emails.

One powerful feature is the minis. This opens up a highly customized page with gadgets and feeds. Some examples of what you can add are calendars, calculator, RSS feeds, YouTube, del.icio.us, flickr, Itunes, Maps, MP3 player to stream music, notepad, to-do list, weather and much much more.

The first thing you notice is how fast and useful this webtop is. But does it really do what I want? Well, minis are powerful but you get that using a lot of webservices. And I miss the applications I really need such as Office Suites. I think Goowy is more a replacement for your personalized Google than a complete web desktop system with all its’ Office Suite applications.

To get a good idea how Goowy perfoms, see my screencast.

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Hardware Applicance to replace your desktop PC?

You probably have one or several PCs at your home. And I guess you also reinstall them now and then just to make them “fresh”. My thought with this site is to uninstall everything. All I want is a web browser and an Internet Connection and then keep everything online.

So, imagine this: You buy a hardware appliance for around $50. It could look like something below. All it got is output for keyboard, mouse, audio and video and it runs WLAN to connect to the Internet. It doesn’t have any moving parts, local storage nor powerful processor so it’s dead quiet. It starts up in a few seconds and all you get is some kind of desktop (Linux?) with shortcuts and a menu to all your applications which of course are kept online.

Mini PC Mini PC

Mini PC Mini PC
(Yes, they are available but I don’t want a PC – I want an $50 browser appliance)

This is what I’m looking for! Anyone of you got any ideas where I can find such appliance – let me know! In the meantime – I have my ordinary PC and run VMware to start up my Browser Appliance and run everything from there.

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