In this post I attempt to give you a biased view of the most Popular Cloud OS’ in the industry today. I will cover downloading and installing, Usage, and general feedback on what I’ve noticed about each system. The Cloud computing systems I will cover are; Windows Thin PC, Google Chrome OS, and Joli OS. The reason I’m doing a biased comparison is because I have already found a like and dislike to the various systems I will be comparing, which obviously skews any objective thought, or difference.
Windows Thin PC
To access and download the bits of Windows Thin PC, you’ll need either a MSDN, TechNet license. Here depending on your license, the install consists of one 1.6GB ISO file. http://msdn.microsoft.com
Google Chrome OS
To access Google Chromium or Chrome OS, there are a couple of ways to get the bits. The first way is officially to download the source codee and compile the system yourself. You can download the system from the developer pages on the Chromium projects and developer guide: (http://www.chromium.org/chromium-os/developer-guide). The second way is a more un-official way. Since this OS is a open source project, there are many developers who keep track of the progress and maintain sites for downloading the latest builds. You can find such a site maintained by Hexxeh (http://chromeos.hexxeh.net/)
If you plan to build your own copy, which means you’ll have total control over content and accounts, you’ll need to have a Linux system on hand to compile the OS. In the developer guide, it mentions using Ubuntu, however any flavor of Linux should work as I used Gentoo to build my images.
I must warn you, compiling the OS is not for the faint at heart, and depending on the options you choose when downloading from the Git hub source tree, the process can take about an hour or more depending on the speed of your network and computer system.
The Google Chrome OS experience is a trying one… Just in getting access to the installation bits is a challenge, and building and compiling is not for the faint at heart as I mentioned previously. Once you have the bits, you can either create a bootable USB Thumb drive, VM Image such as VM Ware, Virtual Box or the Open Source Qemu image. Qemu images appear to be the best image format, because depending on the version you download, some of the daily builds break VM Ware and VBox images. To give you an example, when I first tried to download and build the image, I created a VM Ware image and place it on one of my USB Drives. The Image itself couldn’t access the Network stack thus the image was useless. My Qemu image on the other hand was fine. A couple of days later, I downloaded the new builds, and the VM Ware image worked, my Qemu image worked, but my VBox image didn’t…
To access JoliOS, you will need to download it’s ISO file located here http://www.jolicloud.com/download. The current version if JoliOS v1.2 and it’s a 691 mb download.
Windows Thin PC
First and foremost I’ll say the installation experience of Windows 7, oops, I mean Windows Thin PC is like any normal Windows Installation. Click Next a few dozen times and you’re done. The Windows Thin PC leaves only like 2 screens that differ from your normal Windows 7 installation. If you’re not careful, you’d swear you were still in Windows 7. Here are some screen shots of the windows 7, I mean Windows Thin PC installation:
Overall the experience is a rather pleasant and rather quick, like 5-10 minutes quick. For those advanced techies out there, you do have advanced options where you can change many of the default settings
Google Chrome OS
Overall, my impression of the Google Chrome OS installation experience was also a quick and pleasant one. It too gave the feeling of click a few dozen times and you were finished. There were some mandatory hardware requirements, as you couldn’t get pass the first screen unless you have a supported Network card/Adapter. The next screen prompted you for a Google account, no surprise there, being this whole OS is based upon the Google Cloud system/services. After you type in your google account credentials, you choose a profile picture, and you’re done. If you’re following and wondering “wait, that wasn’t an install, that was really just a configuration of your user account” You’re right. To be honest, there was no install!
The installation was simply start up the OS, and login with your Google Account credentials. Don’t you just love the *nix systems, just turn on a go!!!
Below are some screenshots showing the install/ or better yet User Profile experience.
Within seconds I was online and communicating with my new Google-Chrome Book. BTW I installed this on a Dell Mini, but my wireless adapter didn’t work so I had to use my Gentoo skillz to get it working…
Compared to the Windows Thin PC, this installation was actually WAY quicker, we’re talking about 45 seconds and I was done!
Well I must digress a little there is an install experience, however it’s unlike the normal installation of your Windows Thin PC and JoliOS systems. To be more fair to the other too, what I explained above was the “Start Up” experience and not the installation experience. While it’s true there is no “Installation experience” when you boot up to Google Chrome OS, there is one if you want to not use a USB Thumb drive to boot from, and boot directly from the hard drive on your system. To do this requires that you login into your system as root (If you compiled your own system you created your own root password so this shouldn’t be a problem) otherwise if you downloaded a pre-built system, you’re at the mercy of the creator to provide you with this password.
Once you’re logged in as root, there is a command that you can run that will reformat, and copy the USB Thumb drive bootup image and files on to your system. The process takes seconds, like 30 seconds or so.
Thus the real installation experience is one where you need to open up a command prompt by pressing Ctrl+ Alt + F1 , and then typing a few dd and fdisk command prompts…
Now the JoliCloud based OS installation was a true installation like that of WIndows Thin PC. It’s installation package and feel renders the same feel of a debian based Linux system like Ubuntu. It contained all the screens your normal Ubuntu system contains, including the more advanced options such as creating partitions, choosing mount points and etc. Overall the installation experience was smooth and painless like that of Windows Thin PC and Google, a few dozen clicks and you’re done. Unlike the Google Chromium OS, there were no requirements to actually have a network connection, as you could actually install it. Below are some screen shots of the installation process and screens:
In the next posting, I’ll go over the differences of each OS when using it, applications, and general feedback of the look, feel, speed, and impression of the OS’s