Wednesday, 14 November 2007

gOS (Green OS, not Google OS)

A couple of weeks ago Everex released a low cost (sub $200) PC running on Linux. The PCs were on sale at Walmart. Note the past tense here. They sold out within days.

The PCs themselves aren't that highly powered (1.5GHz processor, 80GB hard drive, 512 meg memory) but are certainly more than up to daily word processing and web browsing tasks. The big news was the choice of Linux distro - gOS.

Despite rumours this isn't Google OS - it's Green OS, but unofficially it contains so much integrated Google stuff that it is hard to see it as anything other than Google OS.

Although the PCs are sold out at the moment, developer boards are available which all come with a DVD version of gOS. This includes licensed versions of all codecs needed for MP3 playback, DVD playback and some other stuff too.

gOS is available for download from as a single live / install CD.

So what is gOS like? First impressions are very nice. The desktop runs on Enlightenment. It looks remarkably MacOS X like, right down to the dock at the bottom of the screen.

gOS detects most wireless cards without problems (seeing as this is based on Ubuntu 7.10 this shouldn't be a surprise) and the hardware support is quite good.

The installer looks very slick - but I did have some problems getting it to install on my laptop. After a few hours (aaargh!) of trying I finally managed to repartition the drive using gOS, reboot, manually install an ext3 file system, go back into the installer, choose a manual install, selected the already existing partitions, and then it worked.

This was certainly not as smooth as it might be.

On the plus side, the installer works fine on an 800x600 screen (unlike some other installers I could mention).

Once it has been installed it boots quickly, launches apps quickly and generally feels snappy even on old hardware. Yes folks, the trusty old HP OmniBook has been rolled out and reinstalled again. This may well be the cause of the HD install problems as the OmniBook hardware is, well, finicky.

The OS itself feels like the best of both worlds in that it is small and fast enough to run on old hardware, but looks and feels very modern indeed. As it is based on Ubuntu there is plenty of software available for it via Synaptic, the system is well documented, in fact, it is difficult to find much to complain about.

I'll have to play some more with it and see if the initial positive impressions hold up.

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