Netbooks and nettop PCs are become increasingly popular, offering scaled-down computers as viable second PCs. Nearly everything about these new computer categories are scaled down: their size, their performance potential, their features, and their price. Part of the challenge some manufacturers face, however, is trying to find the right balance between keeping the system price down and designing a system that is robust enough to be able to run a full-blown operating system, such as Linux or Windows XP (some even run Windows Vista). Good OS might just have the answer to this challenge with its new, scaled-down operating system, "Cloud."
Good OS is perhaps most well-known for its lightweight version of Ubuntu, simply called "gOS," which was the operating system powering the Everex TC2502 desktop system sold exclusively at Wal-Mart
. gOS was focused primarily on providing a functional OS for low-end systems, as well as taking advantage of cloud computing as much as possible--such as relying on Google Apps for productivity applications and storing documents online. Good OS is now taking this concept a step further with its even more scaled-down OS, Cloud.
| Credit: Good OS|
Cloud is designed to use as small a kernel as possible, so as to allow the OS to fully boot up in only a few seconds. Cloud boots directly into the Google browser, which features an icon dock inside the browser. There are icons for Gmail, Google Apps, YouTube, and other online-based applications. Cloud also supports the ability to install some client-side applications as well, such as Skype or a media player. (The Cloud OS has built-in support for Flash video and MP3. A client-side media player is needed to support additional file formats and codecs.)
Cloud does not have to be the only OS installed on a system. You can also install Windows on a system that is running Cloud. Such a system would still boot into Cloud to give you quick, easy access to online-based functionality; but the icon dock also includes an icon for then booting into Windows as well.
The concept of having a lightweight, quick booting, mostly cloud-based OS is not new. In fact, Asus's ExpressGate (also known as Splashtop
) has offered this functionality for sometime on some of its motherboards and laptops. Also, Phoenix offers the same level of functionality with its HyperSpace
-based BIOS. Both Express Gate and HyperSpace are built into a system's firmware, meaning that they are available only as hardware-based solutions. Cloud can be installed onto a hard drive or run from CD, meaning that Cloud can potentially be used any virtually system. It is unclear yet if Good OS will make the Cloud OS publicly available as it eventually did with gOS, or if Cloud will only be available to OEMs. (OEMs will also have the option of running Cloud from hardware-based firmware as well, such as how Express Gate and HyperSpace work.)
The hardware requirements for Cloud are about as low-end for any software we've seen for quite some time:
- Standard x86 Processor
- 128 MB Ram
- 35 MB Storage (Can be smaller or larger)
| Credit: Good OS|
Cloud will make its official debut at CES on January 8, 2009 as it will be previewed powering a Gigabyte touch-screen netbook."Cloud is my favorite gOS product yet... Just seconds after I power on, I'm Googling, Yahooing, and truly Living. I am very excited about the upcoming GIGABYTE Touch-Screen Netbooks with Cloud and Windows. I think the GIGABYTE Touch-Screen Netbook’s forward thinking hardware and software will make it the best Netbook to hit the market!"
-- David Liu, Founder and CEO of Good OS
It's too early to tell how much of a splash Cloud will make. gOS didn't gain much traction--perhaps, in part, because there were already so many versions of Linux out there. While Cloud offers a much-scaled down alternative (35MB storage space needed), it's difficult to say if the low-end requirements of the OS can help bring netbook and nettop prices down even more. We'll have a better idea in the coming months once Cloud is out in the wild.