Jan 8, 2008

[Software] A short look at gOS

Green OS (gOS) is an Ubuntu Linux derivative and the default operating system installed in gPC, Everex' entry into the cheap PC arena. gOS sports a different user interface and includes mostly Web-based applications (though it also includes offline apps like OpenOffice.org). gOS explores the idea of all apps being online (with the OS "bundling" mostly Web-based apps); this might be the first iteration of a thin-client.

The first thing you will notice is the UI. Unlike Ubuntu, gOS uses the Enlightenment windows manager, which makes the desktop look like that of the Mac OS X. It has a dock, where you can select an application to use (you can add another app to the dock as well). The main menu is represented by the green leaf at the left of the dock, and it works like Windows' start menu. A Google search form is at the top right. The system clock is represented by an analog display at the right, below an icon of two monitors. By default, clicking on that will show you networking options via exalt; you can customize the menu that is displayed as well - that is, if you know command line interface (CLI).

At the top of the desktop you can see all the disk drives you have. If you attach a removable drive, it also shows at the desktop. This is similar to Ubuntu's Gnome desktop.

If you have been using Ubuntu, using gOS is very straightforward. The choice of the network manager is not. Exalt is the network management tool used by gOS, and by golly it is not the most helpful tool out there. Using an MSI VR320 K2 laptop (dual boot with Windows XP), I cannot connect to a friend's WiFi network, even if Windows can connect without fuzz. I got to connect once, but it was useless - I couldn't go to any Web site; even ping gave up.

Web connection is necessary so that I can install Gnome-PPP. Without Gnome-PPP, I cannot use my Sony Ericsson P1i as 3G modem - my only Internet connection at home.

I loaded a DVD movie. Xine is the default movie player for gOS. Unfortunately, when the movie was played, all I could see was gibberish; the audio was OK. Must be a graphics driver problem. RhythmBox is the default audio player for gOS. While it can play music, it was not able to detect my iPod Video. gOS detects the iPod, and places an icon at the desktop to denote the disk. Using RhythmBox's Scan removable media did not work for me.

The official unofficial support for gOS is at FAQly. Unfortunately, it was cluttered, and for me it was not the right way to provide support. Fortunately, unofficial support forums are taking the slack. Unofficial forum is at GOSForums.org (this one is more organized, but relatively new), and the official one is at Cafe Linux. Since gOS is a relatively new distro, expect few answers to questions, but that would change a few months from now, when more power users test this operating system.

gOS is a nice Ubuntu derivative. It is lightweight, and it has the snazziest UI around. It doesn't work for my setup, though, so I am back to Ubuntu. How I wish I can change the Ubuntu desktop to gOS (without exalt, please). Maybe I'll try again with gOS when online support matures, and a new version appears.

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