PCs

Virtual desktops

A web-based desktop that gives a personalised computing experience to people without their own computer?

I've noticed a lot of talk recently on the topic of virtual desktops.

The BBC published an article about Jooce, a free Web-based desktop that aims to give a personalised computing experience to people without their own computers. Stefan Surzych, founder of Jooce described it as "a platform that will make it much easier for the world's cybernomads to manage their digital lives." Targeting the 500,000,000 users logging on from Internet cafes around the world, Jooce delivers a simple Flash-based virtual desktop which allows users to sign in to Instant Messaging clients and upload/download files. There are no additional applications installed.

After signing up and taking a look at Jooce, I couldn't really see what all the fuss was about. The interface was clearly designed to look like Mac OS X, and its functionality is more than a little limited. A user can chat online with Yahoo or MSN messenger and upload/download files. It's quite useful if you want to bypass corporate IM restrictions or quickly move files around. Logging on to Jooce did prompt me to make a mental note that this type of Web site should be added to my firewall's disallowed sites list!

There's no shortage of companies offering virtual desktop services -- a quick Google search turns up a huge variety of hosting firms using platforms like Linux, Citrix and VMware to provide virtual desktop access with good levels of usability. Unlike Jooce, these hosts offer a full desktop environment with Microsoft Office, Outlook/Exchange, file transfer, and the ability to run almost any Windows / Linux application in a personalised secure environment.

Jooce, however, is accessible via a Web browser with no need to install a client application, which is perfect for occasional roaming users (those so called cybernomads). I couldn't find any Citrix/Windows-based virtual desktops with browser access; I'm sure the technology is available, so maybe I haven't looked in the right place yet? Another key point is that Jooce is currently free unlike the more functional examples. I'm not sure that it will remain that way once the beta goes in to production -- if it doesn't, then I'm not sure how many people would pay for such a limited service.

Do you use a hosted remote desktop? If so, what do you use it for?

6 comments
CharlieSpencer
CharlieSpencer

I'm not sure what we mean by "virtual desktop". I normally use this phrase the way I interpret Jaqui did, as meaning spreading multiple applications across different individual desktop screens and toggling between them to gain additional screen space, keep track of multiple login sessions, etc.; all on one physical system and one operating system, without need of internet. jmgarvin appears to mean the use of software to run a completely separate operating system running within another OS on a single physical box but without direct control by the virtual machine of the physical hardware, and again with no Internet connection required. This is what I've heard called a "virtual machine", not a "virtual desktop", but perhaps I've not been exposed to the term in this sense. The original article appears to refer to yet a third technology, the hosting of a suite of apps and a preferred screen arrangement by a third party so as to be accessible over the Internet from any system. I believe this is what Sr. Johnny, ireaneus, and dgm are referring to. I don't have an opinion on this since I don't see a need for this technology in my life. I'm just trying to understand where everyone else is coming from since we don't all seem to be talking about the same thing.

Jaqui
Jaqui

with vnc and linux desktops all having up to 20 virtual desktops there is no need for these 100% non secure options. you can't really think they are secure can you? after all, you have no physical control over the hardware, and physical control is 100% access as we all know.

jmgarvin
jmgarvin

I use VMWare to virtualize a bunch of our products. That way I have sandboxes I can play in and see what happens if I do something and be able to start over if I bork everything up.

Sr. Johnny
Sr. Johnny

I use a virtual desktop, it's called desktoptwo. It has open office as apps to write and do things like that. I don't use it much because I have my own real laptops and desktops. I think they are nice if you don't have a personal comoputer, then you can save and access info from any other computer with IE accessability. Other than that I find no other use for them, maybe unless your trying to hide things form wife or husband, then that would work. Let us know why you would use a virtual desktop for?

diegogarciamendoza
diegogarciamendoza

I've on my home and ol' PIII with FreeBSD 7.0 with Gnome compiled from ports and on my desktop a Windows XP. So i use a native option for the Gnome, the XDMCP, it's available on KDE and other window managers too. I installed the Xming in my windows for connecting to my Gnome and i can run only some apps, a window with my complete Gnome enviroment or a Full Screen Gnome that not only looks good, works pretty fast. That's my option for local virtual desktop over the VMWare, VNC and other stuff like that. But i guess this is about the Virtual Dsktops over the internet, for people who connects on jobs, airports or something like that and this goes for the VMware kid. On my own case when i came out i use a putty for connect to my server. Google documents for opening spreadsheets and presentations, and sometimes i carry on my usb drive and AbyWord so i don't need that. Maybe it's a little redundant have an OS inside a browser in another OS. I guess if this idea evolve we can have only dumb terminals on publics sites with lightweight OS and internet for connecting to your own WebOS, configurated with your apps, documents, music, settings and all.

ireaneus
ireaneus

Yes, I too am using desktoptwo, with a gig of space you can store pics, and mp3 music on it. Hard to bypass corporate firewall settings for IM but it definitely has potential.