Wednesday, September 21, 2011

Webian OS: the future?

As you know, I like variety and also like trying out new operating systems, such as Jolicloud OS and Peppermint OS, both of which have been compared and reviewed on this blog before. My opinion was, and still is, that Jolicloud is perhaps the best bet for a netbook and Peppermint for an under-powered laptop. Well, now there's a proof-of-intent prototype, Webian OS, which is available as a live CD.

The live CD lets Webian piggy-back on top of your existing OS without modifying it, and also gives you the opportunity of doing a normal boot if you wish. What you get is a browser instead of a desktop-- i.e., your 'desktop' is now a full browser window: there are no icons, no menus, or anything else to click on.

Is it any good? Well, it's refreshingly different and it does force you to start thinking in a 'cloud' way. For me, that's a blessing since I'm not distracted by 'desktop' tasks while I'm doing 'cloud' stuff. It's also very fast (even running from a disc)-- it makes Joilcloud, for instance, seem like it's stuck in a jar of treacle or molasses.

But this is just an incomplete prototype at the moment, so it does lack necessary things. Just what is necessary is part of the reason for the shell being released right now-- the only add-on built into Webian at the moment is the ability to send feedback and suggestions to its creators. What is necessary for me is the ability to save bookmarks, the ability to save a page on the web (i.e., dropbox or Ubuntu One or 4shared etc), the ability to print a page or a document, and a proper exit from the shell rather than having to reboot to access the desktop (a logout perhaps).

Webian OS, I think, shows enough promise to excite.

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