Notes of a Binge Thinker

Thoughts from NTLP's Executive Director

What are you doing with your old computers?

Jolicloud is a company that has designed a lightweight version of Linux that they claim you can load on computers up to ten years old to make them Internet stations.  They claim that the computers will be like new again.  I have heard promises like this in the past so being the nerd that I am, I decided to load it on my wife’s old broken down netbook to see if their claims were true.

I first had to download the iso file to the computer and then I had to create a bootable USB drive.   By bootable drive, I mean that the computer would boot up from the USB drive versus the hard drive.  I had to do it this way because I was completely replacing the windows XP OS on my wife’s computer.  You have the option to have Jolicloud reside alongside Windows if you want to check it out before taking the plunge.   I then turned my wife’s computer off and then on again, changed the boot sequence through the bios(you can hit F2 or esc to access the bios) to boot from the USB drive and then followed the online instructions.  Overall, it took me two hours to complete and I have to say that after playing with the computer for the last two days that it actually works better now than it ever did with Windows.

Now, you do have to remember that it is not Windows, it is Linux so the interface is different, but I am able to check my facebook account, gmail account, linkedin account and surf the net on the computer.  It has over 275 apps that you can use with the OS.  My son was thrilled to find over thirty free games that he can play with the software.  It also has access to Google docs and openoffice apps.  In my mind, it seems like a mixture of an smartphone and computer.  Another cool feature of it is that you can access your files in the cloud right next to your files on the harddrive.  It is done through the same interface so no more having to open a browser window to access your files.

The designers of the OS intended it this way.  They wanted a way for people to recycle their old computers into Internet device where you can mix the cloud with the local device.  It is very slick and well done.  Their manifesto explains their reasoning for doing this.

At Jolicloud we believe a movement has started. A movement that will change the computer industry forever: a world where computers are inexpensive, where operating systems are free and software is online. This is the world we dreamed of when we first discovered computers and the Internet. And this is why we wanted to build an operating system (OS) around a platform that gives everyone the opportunity to be part of this movement and access a whole new range of possibilities.

Jolicloud is an Internet operating system[1]. It combines the two driving forces of the modern computing industry: the open source and the open web.

Jolicloud transforms your netbook into a sophisticated web device that taps into the cloud to expand your computing possibilities. The web already hosts a significant part of our lives: mails, photos, videos, and friends are already somewhere online. Jolicloud was built to make the computer and web part of the same experience.

The online world is taking processing power away from our computers, so we won’t need expensive machines in the future. The web improves itself, so we don’t need to replace machines all the time to be able to run newer versions of operating systems or office suites.

But the real catalyst of change has been the arrival of the netbooks: they started as an experimental low cost laptop for kids and they now radically change our views on how much we are willing to pay for personal computers. Think about it: computers are now becoming cheaper than mobile phones and MP3 players.

We feel privileged to witness this rebirth of the computer culture and are very excited about the world changes it can foster: More affordable means more people around the world connecting with knowledge, more communication between people and more balanced access to computing power with less cost, format or geographical limitations.

We come from the web, so we built our user interface mostly using its core technologies (HTML, JavaScript, CSS). We have integrated our web DNA into the OS to make it modular, social and personal. Our developer platform relies on the web and will let anyone or any service join in no time. With our API, developers will have the ability to let their website communicate with the computer directly with no need to code specific native applications.

Of course it’s just the beginning. Netbooks are very new. They are still bulky, but they are making progress with better keyboards, better screens and battery time.

No one has yet entirely switched his or her life online, but everyday larger parts of our personal and business lives are relayed and stored via the web. Online connectivity is still expensive but prices are dropping as operators can’t resist the global needs of the always on generation.

Legendary computer inventor Alan Kay once said, the best way to predict the future is to invent it. This is why we created Jolicloud. Like every project we can’t do it by ourselves. We need your help and support to make this project a success. Together let’s change the status quo and build the coolest OS for netbooks.


I do want to point out that the Manifesto says netbook, but they have made recent claims on their blog that version 1.1 will work on any virtually device 10 years or younger.  They tell user after user on their facebook page to just try it.  I plan to do this with an old laptop and desktop that my in-laws no longer use.  I will let everyone know if it works as well.

I am sure, BTC, you can think of the advantages of this type of OS provides to your library.  Now, you don’t have to throw away those old computers.  Just recycle them using Jolicloud.  You can even use them for the Public, because it has user accounts and ways to lock down the OS so patrons will be forced to behave themselves.  Of course, if someone does end up doing mischief on one of the computers, it is so easy to install Jolicloud that you can just reinstall the software.

So, BTC, go out, get your old computers, try it out and let the rest of us know how it goes….

Written by amwlkaw

February 25, 2011 at 10:47 am

Posted in Misc

2 Responses

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  1. the recycle queen thinks this is cool


    February 25, 2011 at 11:17 am

  2. […] Read more: What are you doing with your old computers? « Notes of a Binge Thinker […]

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