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gOS alternative

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memenode's picture
User offline. Last seen 10 weeks 2 days ago. Offline
Joined: 2004-07-12

gOS is really starting to make inroads and while it is based on Free Software (it's a GNU/Linux distro that uses an Enlightenment window manager) it has one rather worrisome issue - it is too dependable on one company, the mighty Google and its online applications.

So in this whole "Software as a Service" craze hosted but proprietary applications are getting seriously entrenched. What is seen as an upside is that it blurs the lines between operating systems which ends up helping GNU/Linux and also that it doesn't really require user to run proprietary software on his client machine.

However (s)he still entrusts data into a company who keeps the source of the code that handles this data secret, not to mention also putting them into non-free file formats. AFAIK Google Docs uses MS Office .doc or something similar?

The argument for keeping the serviced software proprietary is different than the one for distributing the software in a traditional way under proprietary licenses. The base of the argument is, of course, similar: compensation, fear of competition just taking it away and running with it.. stuff like that. They are, I assume, afraid that if the code to, say Google Apps, was released, someone would just host Google Apps on their own and call it their own service.

I think that's fairly short sighted, but that's not surprising. It's like just trying to come up with excuses for being a control freak or at least paranoid about competition. Google could well release their web apps as Free Software yet still enforce their trademarks in a way Mozilla does, for example. If someone makes modifications not approved by Google they'll have to change the name. Not a big deal. This perhaps left a bad taste in some among the Debian community when Mozilla required the same, but it didn't exactly make neither Mozilla nor Debian in the wrong. It's just an awkward situation, nothing more (mind you, inclusion of non-free images there is an issue separate from this one).

But I don't think there would be as much awkwardness with Google. Someone who wants to host Google Apps as their own service would either have to stick to the Google's trademark or sufficiently modify the code to call it something else (which would be required) and then the two would compete in how good an overall service they can provide.

In turn, Google would see the usual benefits of having the development out in the open, community feedback, peer review etc.

BUT.. Google isn't doing this, yet gOS is making rounds. So I was thinking.. perhaps it would be possible to come up with an alternative to gOS, but instead of making it dependent on non-free SaaS apps we integrate it to free offerings; alternative to gmail and google apps. We can call it fOS or perhaps GreenerOS. Eye

It's just an idea so far.. I'm not pledging to be the one doing it, just yet. Eye


Daniel Memenode signature

User offline. Last seen 11 years 31 weeks ago. Offline
Joined: 2004-08-23
To be honest I don't get

To be honest I don't get what's so great about gOS. It's ubuntu with e17 and less applications, right?

If one wants something cheap that is easy to use and has google services built into the menus (IIRC it does have that), a EeePC would be a nice choice. It has real apps to be used instead of the web based ones, too, and best of all it is extremely portable!

Or if one wants something cheap with no worries about software, the Zonbu is unbeatable.

What does a PC with gOS have to make it impressive? As far as I can tell gOS is just a half baked linux distro with a serious lack of applications and some SaaS hype attached to it. Nothing wrong with that if that's what people want, if only the software served through the web was freedomware too.

I think making something like google docs is a huge amount of work. One needs to be as rich as google to do it right - if there is a right way at all. Using http and html for complex user interfaces is a bad idea because it just won't work with the browser you didn't test with. It always limits the freedom of choice of browser to what the developer thinks the user wants.

Of course gOS users probably don't want freedom of choice of browser - everything should be easy - or do they? What if something much nicer than firefox appears? It could happen!

EeePC and Zonbu are on to something. Those have real features that the old windows PC most people looking for a new computer already have lacks. gOS is just a lot of hot air that will be deflated as soon as someone uses it long enough to discover the problems of using only webservices.

User offline. Last seen 10 years 4 weeks ago. Offline
Joined: 2007-09-14
Interestingly you can now

Interestingly you can now find the article "Gosh, gOS is good" on, and the author really seemed to like it.

I actually have to agree with Taco. I think that using closed applications is bad enough, but if these don't even run on your own box but somehwhere in the wild, wild landscape of the Internet, it's even worse. And since those files probably won't ope in a normal desktop-application and because these "cool new apps" are supposed to provide you with your files everywhere around the world all your files will most likely be stored on some server, too.
Although it's not like I had many files I wouldn't want anybody to see I still want to keep the full control over my files, and I can only do that when I have physical control over them, on my machine.

I really hope that'll be gone with the wind soon and that people forever forget that this has ever happened. Maybe that cool flashy device from MIB might come in handy here. ;-)

That said, I think that in our strive for freedom we should include making people aware of the big disadvantages these services bring with them.
The only actual advantages of course would be that you can access your files from everywhere (I can do also do that by putting them on my USB-stick, which I have physical control over) and that your files aren't lost when your hard-disk dies, and you forget to make a backup of your files, for the last seven years... again... (although in this case I tend to call it a deserved loss).

Maybe we should get Mr. Mackey from South Park to hold a lecture with the title "Storing your files on some server is bad, mkay.".

User offline. Last seen 11 years 31 weeks ago. Offline
Joined: 2004-08-23
From that "gOS is good"

From that "gOS is good" article, we can conclude a good replacement for gOS would be E(l)buntu.

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