JoliOS

by [PH]

Robby-alpha2b is not a forbidden planet but a Jolicloud.

I recently stumbled upon a nice piece of software on my “extra-unity” journey aka Jolicloud. I need to warn you about one or two things before i start. This is not a test but rather a feature walkthrough, hieratic and confused. This article is a review written real time wile browsing the OS features.

I’m not a big fan of distro hopping. I don’t often jump  but stays where i am until I need to move on due to some restriction. Since I have a net-book (asus eeePC 701) and Since I use a lot of remote services like Google apps & social network like Facebook. So when I’ve been “Joliclouded”, it took me less than 1 hour before my first boot!

I had not read trough all the infos about the OS but it was fair (according to the interface) that it was some “Easy-Peasy” spawn. This Distribution is some Ubuntu remaster dedicated to net-books like mine and installed on it since the first alpha release. According to the experience i’m living with Jolicloud… it sounds like Easy-Peasy is going to get wiped…

The real powers of Jolicloud are in its “cloud” feature. It lets you install software, sync computers, socialize with friend from one single interface. ITs yet very different from the eeePC Xandros shipped with the original 700 models but something (yet running Gnome) that can be used as both a full featured desktop OS but also as a net app terminal client to work and have fun with a minimal configuration. Nothing needs to be saved to your computer since you can do everything on google apps, the footprint of the OS is also minimal since except the base os, some browser apps and a few media players and codec … you can do all you need online.

Of course its not a workstation OS but its base. Its an Ubuntu so you can mutate it … We all know its not as easy as they say and that its not 50% as stable as the lovers pretend it is … but its yet the most commonly used Linux OS ! You may install wine to run your favourite Win* applications. You can connect to a regular Ubuntu repo and test the building of a desktop OS but it would be nonsense. Its a net-book OS. Tiny, light and speedy so that my 7 year old kid could use it.

This is something bitter and sweet at once when one involved (even from far) in the development of a distribution discovers something as efficiently built as this. I wish that Unity-Linux will reach trough one of its branch, such a level of excellence. Yet there is a lot of bugs to fix and elements to remove to get it to bee as speedy as it should but its yet one of the best distribution in the last 5 years. I wish it will run on a compressed file system and take some good ideas that the eeePCLinux project had implemented and i guess it will stand a chance against the big ones …

Really refreshing…

Something else is really nice about this os launch and that is something that other Linux distro should draw inspiration from. It uses a lot of viral marketing techniques to get the users/consumers being the brand ambassador. This is yet dangerous but really efficient at once… Its dedicated for an audience used to viral media. It buzzes and spread (despite the closed alpha status) real fast and finds pretty efficiently its target audience. This, in my very opinion, is the way all free software should built their communication : On top of the users. By entrusting them to spread the image of the product they use.

Not to look like geeks in caves but real competitors towards the commercial retrograde omni corporations, nowadays Linux enthusiasts, needs to set up real glamorous graphic identity with inspiring visual, fashionable and fresh, backed up with real marketing strategies. They must not do what they like but what the people like, and especially what their little sister, children and grand children would like. Even information went viral nowadays. So looking at future usage and using nowadays means of communication is the key. Will there be someone able to explain to all the hairy punks haunting 90% of media labs and distro CVS repositories that marketing is not a compromise towards commercial software. Its is not a step backward, but rather a feature that the free OS scene has been missing since the beginning. Marketing is a language, not a philosophy. Else, free software will remain (for desktop usage) a really confidential epiphenomenon.

Jolicloud website
easy-peasy website

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Unity-Linux on Facebook

by [PH]

Lets get social !

Recently a facebook group has been created, it will announce the latest achievement in developement and release of Unity-Linux. Its more a place to show support for the project and share it over the internet than a mainstream mean of communication but we hope it will help gather enthousiasm around the effort made @ Unity-Linux.org

Join here !

Mapping the dependencies

by [PH]

Don’t get lost in dependency hell

As described by Devnet in his announcement on the Unity-Linux website, David introduced a RPM tracker for the distribution. This system, based on rpm2html is intended to gather and display information about the package designed for and compatible with the Unity-Linux Core. It is called rpmfind utility for Unity-Linux. Another developer for the project, aka, Anurag Bhandari from Granular built something similar but with a cleaner interface to browse his project’s repository.  Both tools have a lot of good aspect. but a merge into one single tool can make it perfect. We all know all those RPM find web interface … they are all prety handy but cumbersome. Granular’s one, integrates a fast search engine but a slow rendering model wile David’s one is plain html with no search option but based on a fast render method. The rpm2html based tracker is a one function application and Granular’s GPA allows comment on packages.

When these got introduced to the dev team, we all went like : “WOW … This is the 933K357 tool we’ve ever seen !” and once calmed down, people started to list the flaws and talent of each interfaces, proposing additional features. I personally jumped on an informal proposition by gri6507  related to graphviz render of software dependencies. Dot language used by graphviz is pretty simple. It uses C like syntax and doesn’t need a PHD in astrophysics to be mastered. Since I’ve been using it to design massive graphs/maps of social network and software genealogy in the last few years… I quickly drew a few graphs using Neato/Dot/Circo

David introduced us also to project geared toward the same goal and led by some other developers like rpmgraph. Those project show that we may be able to produce some real impressive tool to both browse/install rpm using a web interface with comment & documentation enabled using smarturl to one click download/install software from the map view. But we also may be able to bug-track, debug, monitor the package map consistency and visually check the overall system robustness.  The real power behind the graphviz usage, is that using one of its several api, including php and java, it may be possible to display “software constellations”, bug swarms and eventually get dynamic render in java/flash… The possibilities are infinite and yet promising. Early development is yet hosted on the Unity-Linux SVN.

Here are some source dot files displaying the syntax used in graphviz render and the power it has to display a lot of information on the fly.

Displays packages and dependencies. : rpm.dot
Displays packages, dependencies and descriptions. : rpm2.dot
Displays packages, dependencies, descriptions and feature bug reports & status. :rpm3.dot

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