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3 Cloud Operating Systems You Can Use Right Now

February 1st, 2009

Have you taken the leap into the cloud? If you don’t want to start with data centers in the sky, you can start with a desktop in the sky. Microsoft has offered Live Mesh for a while now. I wrote about live mesh on this blog. Live Mesh, even though it offers a desktop, is not much of a cloud OS. It’s more of a synch and remote desktop tool.

You could wait for Microsoft Azure. That’s MS’s services based, cloud OS. It’s still mostly fog at this point though. Fog, vapor? Get it?

Anyway, there are a few Cloud desktops that you can start using today. They run in a browser, offer desktop apps like word processing, email and file storage. Below I discuss three different desktops that are usable today (even though they may be in beta or alpha). All three of the desktop solutions below are either offered as an open source download and/or are free to use online.

EyeOS

EyeOS is an open source cloud desktop that you can download and run in your own data center. Download the software, install it and you have an instant Cloud OS and remote desktop for your organization.

EyeOS will install on any web server that supports WordPress or Drupal. EyeOS is a PHP application and does not require a database. Just Apache and PHP 5. Installation takes about 10 minutes and that includes the download time.

You can try it out by signing up for the EyeOS free server at EyeOS.info. You probably won’t want to host a large organization here but it runs well enough that I use it. If you don’t want to run it on your own servers and you don’t want to take the risk of using a free server, you can sign up for paid professional EyeOS hosting with safehosting.

You can get much more information from the home page or from the EyeOS blog.

Some applications that ship with EyeOS include:

  • Office Tools (word processing, spreadsheet, presentations, calendar, etc)
  • Games
  • File Explorer and Archive Browser
  • Note pad
  • Network Tools (RSS reader, Internet Browser, Email, FTP, IM)
  • Multimedia (mp3 player, video player)
  • Desktop Widgets

View a demo of EyeOS.

iCloud

I first mentioned iCloud a few months ago in this blog. iCloud is a product of Xcerion. iCloud is a very nice, very stable cloud based desktop. I think it has the richest interface of any of the current crop of cloud desktops. On the flip side to that, EyeOS is more responsive when using it.

iCloud is not meant to be a download. It is a cloud service. You signup for an account and use the desktop. I’m honestly not sure what the business model is. The parent company offers a cloud OS called XIOS. Here is the blurb from the web page:

Xcerion Internet Operating System/3 (XIOS/3) the clean, carefree, zero-footprint XML-based OS, running within the browser. Since the OS and its applications executes in the browser it also works offline. The Internet OS boots itself (takes around 3 seconds) and runs in the primary memory of the computer. As soon as the browser is shut down, the OS disappears from the computer. Using XIOS/3 you never has to think about installing patches, updates or new versions of software again. The OS updates itself. You may also access your applications and documents from any Internet connected computer.

After playing with it for a while, I have to say I really like the look and feel. Check out the video below. It is a very rich OS.

iCloud comes with all of the tools that you would need (and expect) on your desktop.

  • Office Tools (word processing, spreadsheet, presentations, calendar, etc)
  • Games
  • File Explorer and Archive Browser
  • Note pad
  • Network Tools (RSS reader, Internet Browser, Email, FTP, IM)
  • Multimedia (mp3 player, video player)
  • Desktop Widgets
  • Application Development Tools

iCloud offers a basic interface for mobile access. I was able to reference my documents from my Blackberry which is a nice feature.

View a demo of iCloud.

g.ho.st

The award for coolest name (and URL) would have to go to g.ho.st. Yes, that’s actually a URL.

g.ho.st is built on an open software stack but is not a downloadable project. You signup and use it much like icloud. Actually, very much like iCloud. You get some file and email space with the other two services but I am not sure exactly how much. g.ho.st spells out exactly what you do get: 5GB of file space and 3GB of email storage. You can get an additional 1GB of file space for each user you refer who signs up.

I believe the business model is going to be built around selling extended services. For example, you will be able to upgrade file storage beyond 5GB by paying a subscription fee. They may also offer some professional level applications.

g.ho.st comes with pretty much the same tools and applications as EyeOS and iCloud but with some tweaks.

  • Office Tools (uses zoho and google docs)
  • Games
  • File Explorer and Archive Browser
  • File Storage on D.ho.st Drive
  • Note pad
  • Network Tools (RSS reader, Internet Browser, Email, FTP, IM – meebo)
  • Multimedia (mp3 player, video player, Internet radio – last.fm and Pandora)
  • Desktop Widgets
  • Application Development Tools
  • Login management

g.ho.st offers a detailed interface for mobile access. I was able to reference my documents and files from my Blackberry which is a nice feature.

As a side note, the company is a unique blend of collaboration is a hard situation. From the web site:

G.ho.st is a collaborative company meaning that G.ho.st relies heavily on its partners to provide the outstanding technology and services that G.ho.st delivers to its users. G.ho.st partners with its users, with Web-based service and software providers, with developers and with hosting companies.

Collaboration is at the heart of what G.ho.st does. The G.ho.st team is itself a rare Palestinian-Israeli collaboration. Ghosts go through walls and the very first wall that G.ho.st goes through is the 425 mile wall that Israel has built in the West Bank between itself and the Palestinians and which physically divides the G.ho.st team into two. However the Internet and collaboration between human beings transcends all physical boundaries.

That may not make a difference in your business decisions but I think it’s a pretty cool note.

View a demo of g.ho.st.

Summary

So there you go. I wouldn’t say that Cloud OSes are a mature niche as of yet but I think the field will grow. If you are ready to start playing, here are three very robust and usable environments.

LewisC

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  1. Rikard
    February 2nd, 2009 at 09:35 | #1

    Right on spot!
    But in the end I think Icloud rules. Esp. if you like to develop your own stuff.

    /R

  2. February 2nd, 2009 at 10:01 | #2

    I really like iCloud. I haven’t yet developed anything with it but of the three, I probably lean most towards iCloud.

    However, I like the thirdparty integration of g.ho.st and the ability to run EyeOS on my own servers.

    I like’em all I guess. 😉

    Thanks for the comments.

    LewisC

  3. February 2nd, 2009 at 13:44 | #3

    Nice new blog Lewis, very usefull and fun. I wonder in how many blogs you’re writing right now.

    Regards

    Fernando

  4. February 2nd, 2009 at 18:27 | #4

    Thanks Fernando.

    Actually, I’m just keeping two blogs updated. I occasionally post to about a dozen blogs but this one and my oracle blog are my primary ones.

    LewisC

  5. Antoine
    December 16th, 2010 at 04:19 | #5

    Hi,

    Thx for this article, I found it quite helpful. However, this technology should have existed 10 years ago and be far more accessible as well as efficient. Probably only a very scarce amount of people know this, but this was put to the point in the year 2000 by a French company called “VirtualBureau”. This company no longer exists due to a power struggle that occurred between the founders of the start up and the investor.

    Antoine

  6. Lew
    December 16th, 2010 at 06:37 | #6

    Antoine,

    I agree with you to a degree (about this being available in 2000). However, I worked for an ASP and the bandwidth and technology just wasn’t there yet. IE 3.0, Netscape, etc just couldn’t do the legwork on the UI and bandwidth was expensive for most and non-existant for others.

    I’ve never heard of virtual bureau though.

    Thanks for the comment.

    LewisC

  7. September 10th, 2011 at 06:26 | #7

    I think eyeOS is a great piece of software as long as Open Source, so our team decided to improve it with great new tools and make it a really useful service.

    You can read about it at: http://www.nubeoffice.com/

    Nice blog by the way!

    Cheers,

    Yago.

  8. November 21st, 2012 at 16:03 | #8

    I find that icloud suffers on a few hosts due to the memory restictions. Only a few hosts allow such a thing. one I have found that is free us free uk hosting, http://freeukhosting.org is basic but free and allows eyeOS and other similar software.

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