3 Cloud-based Linux Distributions Worth Trying

Posted by jun auza On 6/20/2011
Cloud is the next big thing when it comes to desktop computing. There are many big software companies who are busy readying themselves for the cloud in one way or the other. With more and more cloud tools available, it is becoming a necessary tool for all businesses. First it was cloud-based or online backup services, and then cloud-based music, and now cloud-based operating systems are here.

Here’s a quick look at some of the most popular cloud-based Linux distributions that you should give a try:


Joli OS

Launched by Netvibes founder Tariq Karim in 2008, Joli OS is an Ubuntu-based operating system developed by the company Jolicloud. Joli OS is completely open source and since its release, it has received about 4.2 million USD funding from venture capital firms. Jolicloud sports an interface that is both simple and very easy on the eyes. Shortcuts to popular web services appear as icons on top of a desktop background. More applications can be added by clicking on the ‘plus’ sign on the top left. Once added, one can search them by using the search box at the top. Moreover, a completely minimalist design makes it difficult for new applications to clutter the interface.


As far as files are concerned, Joli OS comes with built-in support for Google Docs and Dropbox thus luring more desktop junkies towards the budding project. Also, the desktop is social from the start which is quite new and exciting for any operating system. Like Chromebook, Jolicloud also offers their own netbook called Jolibook. The limited-edition computer is available only in the UK for now, and retails for 276.33 GBP on Amazon.com. If you want to try out Joli OS beforehand, you can install a web-based version of the operating system on your Google Chrome browser by downloading this app.


Peppermint OS

Peppermint OS is a Lubuntu-based operating system that uses the LXDE desktop environment. It is a cloud-centric operating system meant for netbooks, mobile devices and older PCs. Peppermint OS uses the Openbox window manager and relies on Mozilla Prism for giving a native feel to popular web applications. Peppermint OS was released to public on May 9, 2010. In a week it received over 25,000 downloads.


A remix version of Peppermint OS, called Peppermint Ice features Chromium as the default browser instead of Firefox. Peppermint Ice comes with applications like X-chat, Transmission, Xnoise, Dropbox and Chromium pre-installed. Furthermore, it also includes popular web applications like Facebook, Hulu, last.fm and Pandora. As far as the interface is considered, Peppermint sports a no-fuss minimalistic desktop which provides all the functionality a normal user needs. The operating system isn’t cloud-based per se, but it relies heavily on the cloud-based applications it comes installed with. The requirements to run Peppermint Ice are 192 MB of RAM and 4GB hard disk space. Both Peppermint One and the Chrome respin (Peppermint Ice) can be downloaded from HERE.


Google Chrome OS

Google, which started as a humble search engine many years ago has now evolved into an all-inclusive web service. Apart from providing basic search, they also offer services like Mail, Docs, Chat, RSS reader and much more. If you look closely enough, all these services are web-based replacements for popular desktop applications like Outlook, Office and others. Google’s master plan is to combine all these services into a cloud-based operating system and sell it to users. This master plan is called Google Chrome OS and the notebooks running it are called Chromebooks.


Chromebooks offer almost all the features a web user needs including writing mail, editing spreadsheets, making presentations, listening to music and more. If you’re familiar with Google’s Chrome browser, using Chromebook won’t be a difficult switch for you. The interface is very much similar to its browser counterpart except for a few changes here and there. Google has partnered with various manufacturers like Dell, Toshiba, Samsung and Acer to make sure people get enough choices when it comes to hardware. Also, Google Chrome OS boots really fast as it gets rid of all the unnecessary hardware probing like floppy drives. The Operating System is based on a custom Gentoo build thus giving Linux fans something to cheer about.


Written by: Abhishek, a regular TechSource contributor and a long-time FOSS advocate.

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