3 Cloud Operating Systems You Can Use Right Now

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 Comment »

 
  • ben says:

    G.ho.st has shutdown to pursue other subscription-based services. It’s a shame. It had the most promise of the three.