Cloud computing is the next big thing, we’re told. Eventually our computers will be little more than dumb terminals, with just enough power to connect us to the internet where we’ll run all the applications we need through a web browser, with all the grunt work being done by the server at the other end of the line.
If you weren’t aware of the fact, we’re halfway there already. Web apps are commonplace, and offer a foretaste of what might come if the cloud gets its way. Jolicloud is a free service that basically lets you organise and access all your favourite web apps, folders and feeds from one central location. Sign up for a free account and you can start by getting things organised through your web browser. Just make sure it’s a recent browser with HTML5 support, and you’re good to go. There’s also a Chrome mobile app available, with experimental iPad support in place and an Android version coming soon. But that’s not all…
Joli OS allows you to press into service an old computer with the sole purpose of using it to access your Jolicloud desktop, with the added bonus that you can also access files stored on your hard drive as well as in the cloud.
There’s a standalone ISO file (choose the Linux option above) that you can download, burn to disc and then use to install Joli OS on a computer with no operating system. For the rest of us, however, the Windows installer does just fine. It installs Joli OS into its own folder on your boot drive, then adds an option to boot into Joli OS to the Windows boot menu.
Joli OS is based on Linux, so there are plenty of desktop apps – OpenOffice, VLC Media Player and so on – available in addition to the web-based content. These download and silently install in the background using its simple user interface.
Loading times are quicker than those for a typical Windows system, but it’s not quite as fast as we’d like. This isn’t an “instant-on” solution, but if you regularly fire up your computer simply to use the internet, it’s a good alternative to consider.
We’d recommend you have a good play with Jolicloud through your browser before considering whether or not to install Joli OS on a spare computer.