Social Enterprise optimize

gOS Space: OSX-like operating system without the Apple

Jack Wallen takes on the latest gOS release, called Space, and comes to a very exciting conclusion. Although it would take a league of warriors to pull him from his favorite Enlightenment desktop, gOS Space comes very close. Read on to find out if gOS Space is for you.

I've been a fan of gOS for a while now. I've been running their Rocket release for about a year. It's based on Ubuntu and has the benefit of pre-installed Enlightenment. It's solid, runs well on lower-end hardware, and...it's Enlightenment (what more do you want?)

On January 7, 2008, gOS released the beta version of Space - their latest iteration of gOS. It's different for sure. It's like OS X with an added bit of fun. gOS Space is truly a social network fans' dream come true. But what exactly makes this operating system special? Let's take a look at some of the bits that cause Space to stand out.

Built upon

Space isn't based on Enlightenment. Although this makes me sad to think they are moving away from my favorite window manager, I do like where they are heading. What they are using is a combination of GNOME, Compiz Fusion, the Avant Window Navigator, and a bit of Enlightenment E17 code. This combination makes for a very interesting user experience that, as far as I know, is unique only to Space. Unfortunately this combination causes the minimum requirements to mimic that of the latest Ubuntu. My installation is an older 1 Ghz processor with 384MB of ram and an old Radeon 7000 video card. So we're not dealing with high-end anything. Now when using gOS Rocket the machine sings. Space is a different story. Space is all about eye candy. But to what extent, if any, is usability sacrificed? We'll find out soon.

Stacks

A stack is pretty much a collapsible folder that sits on the Dock. When you click the folder the stack expands upward (and in a sort of arch - I'm guessing, to simulate dimension). Everything except the expanded folders is transparent so you do not see the expandable menu popping up. It is quite well done and resembles the "Fan View" of OS X.

Gears (formerly Google Gears)

Gears is a system that allows for offline access to tools that would normally only be accessible online. Such tools are MySpace, Google Docs, Picasa, Wordpress, etc. Effectively MySpace users could make updates to their page without being on line or use Google Docs offline. Once an online connection is enabled, Gears syncs the tools. Such a system is ideal for laptop power users or travelers.

Look and feel

The look and feel of Space is just short of amazing. It is one of the most eye-candy-filled Linux versions I have seen that does not require high-end hardware to coax the OS into even thinking about running. And Space strikes a nice balance between eye-candy and usability. The "effects" are not so overwhelming as to be in the way. gOS has struck a rich balance between coolness and ease of use.

Overall impression

I have to admit I went into this thinking it was going to take a lot to win me over. I am a devout Enlightenment fan and it would take absolute brilliance to pull me, kicking and screaming, from E17. gOS Space nearly does this. Nearly. While gOS is amazingly stable (for such an effects-centric operating system), it will not be able to update to the latest version of Ubuntu. Space is based on 7.10 and has the distribution upgrade disabled. Instead, the next revision of Space will be based on 8.04. Actually I am hoping it takes long enough and they have to base it on 8.10 instead (only because I have found 8.04 to be too buggy.)

I have always been more of a minimalist when it comes to my desktop. But Space makes me rethink this stance. To this point I would have said the only desktop environment with any grace would be Enlightenment. Space nearly rivals the grace of E17. Nearly. And the primary reason I wouldn't migrate over to Space is that I am not nearly the social networking butterfly that Space seeks out. And there you have it...who is the ideal audience of Space? Anyone who is a fan of social networking and Google. If you spend much of your Web time on MySpace or you use Google tools, Space is the IDEAL distribution for you. Of course you could totally edit the contents of the Launcher to reflect your needs and still have the uber-cool stacks to impress your friends and family. But overall this release, with good exposure, could easily win over the hearts of the "Me" generation because that is what this distribution is all about - "Me."

So my final verdict is that gOS Space is an outstanding entry into the Linux space. It fits perfectly with the evolution of the online PC user and should make both oldy and newby Linux users very happy.

About

Jack Wallen is an award-winning writer for TechRepublic and Linux.com. He’s an avid promoter of open source and the voice of The Android Expert. For more news about Jack Wallen, visit his website getjackd.net.

11 comments
EmperorDarius
EmperorDarius

Another ugly copy of OS X. I'm sorry to say this but no stupid Linux distribution can copy the advanced design and ease of use of OS X. Not to talk about the performance. Why don't you just stop wasting your time and convincing people to switch to Linux. Why would a Mac user decide to use gOS? Ok, you can run it under low cost hardware. But will you be able to run your Mac apps? NO! Will you be able to run Final Cut? Replace it with Cinerell!Hahhaha!NO! Maya? Replace it with Blender! Hahhahaha! NO! Photoshop? Replace it with the GIMP! Hahahahhah! NO! Dreamweaver? Replace it with...InDesign? Rep...Flash?Logic Studio? The list continues endlessly. Stop being fools.

jorwen
jorwen

Less Buggy ? Huh ? who reviewed this and on what ? I have a machine I use to test Linux Distros on and virtually all work on it except this one. It installs and updates fine but when you select to shut it down, it locks up ( The mouse will still navigate ) and will just set in a frozen state forever unless you use the power button to shut the machine off. Looks like a major bug to me.

eclypse
eclypse

This looked like a neat thing to me until I read that it was aimed toward MySpace users. Maybe I am "out of touch" (hopefully 30-something isn't yet), but I have yet to see a MySpace page that isn't a pile of thrown-together crap. Then I thought, this will never work for a MySpace user - it's too clean and organized - the exact opposite of nearly every MySpace page out there. Web pages from the early '90s look better than most MySpace pages. I have yet to understand the attraction to that clutter and disorganized mess, but there must be a few million people that have a different opinion. =) Anyhoo - I do like the Mac OS-X interface. It's clean, performs fairly well, and is mostly intuitive - even if you've never used one before. Wish I could justify spending all that extra money on hardware just to run it...

spork
spork

I hate all these comparisons of various desktops with OSX. There's more to OSX than just eye-candy and effects. With OSX, compared to any Linux distribution, you don't have to deal with package management, driver management, or software installation (most software packages you just drag and drop). Mounting disks is not an issue with OSX, and is a pain with many Linux distributions. The same goes for network shares, domains, etc. Eye candy is just a small part of the total package. Let's take VMware for example, with the OSX version, you run an installation program, and viola, you're done. With the Linux tarball, you must tar xzf, make && make configure && make install, then go ahead and run vmware-config.pl, then go ahead and choose a bunch of settings that may not be obvious to non-techies. And even before the software will compile, you'll have to make sure you have all the right libraries for it to run.

jlwallen
jlwallen

you can change all of the icons. so you don't have to have a myspace-centric desktop.

andrewtheart
andrewtheart

Trying to get anything done beyond editing a video and checking your e-mail is a royal pain in the butt in Mac OSX. It's extremely hard to administer a Mac at the technical level when problems arise. Maybe that's the biggest problem with the OS - it's so dumbed down that when something breaks, you are stuck searching Google, which usually has little or no info on the problem. Compare this to Windows/Linux (especially Linux), which has a plethora of related blogs, posts, and articles about software, fixes, and solutions. I've worked with a Mac for the past few days and this is one of the first time I've honestly started to hate it. How is a PICTURE of a hard disk useful info when you right click on it to get more info? I don't want a PICTURE of the hard disk, I want the MOUNT POINT and other useful info that can be used to SOLVE PROBLEMS. The obscufication of the internals of OSX just eliminates in as a valid contender for my attention or use, unless I'm forced to be near it. It definitely belongs in the realm of the soccer mommies and artsier people who will pay the Geek Squad or Apple thousands of dollars to shield themselves from anything technical.

irwinr12
irwinr12

You're an idiot. How VMware is packaged is up to the folks at vmware. 99.99% of Linux application installs are done as so: Run "Add/Remove Programs" Place a checkmark next to desired apps Click 'Apply' No need for installation CDs, no need to search the internet to find the download, just 3 easy steps. Also, I'd like you to name the Linux distros's where mounting disks is somehow a pain, since all of the more popular distro's (which constitute the vast majority of the Linux desktop market) automatically mount disks exactly the same way OSX does. Oh, and one more thing: Where did the author say that OSX is "just eye-candy and effects"? Maybe you should learn to read.

seanferd
seanferd

OSX is "just eye candy". Nowhere is it implied, either. Relax. The author just happens to like discussing the merits of various GUI.

stim216
stim216

apt-get install vmware-server and last time i checked, you could chose to compile things in OSX too. Just because you don't have a grasp on something, doesn't make it convoluted.

buzzl
buzzl

Mac OS X is amply documented in a variety of books and in most cases on Apple's web site and Google as well. Practically everything that can be done in the UI, with respect to administering OS X, can be done on the command line too. Mountpoints are in /Volumes. Most typical UNIX tools, and several command-line tools specific to OS X, can be used to analyze and control disks. Don't assume that because you are ignorant on a subject, that there are no good answers to your questions. If you don't like OS X, fair enough. But don't try to blame your personal bias on some larger reason -- at least not unless you know what you're talking about. steven

andrewtheart
andrewtheart

That's right, I'm definitely a noob - and I plan to stay one. There is simply no compelling reason to switch to OSX when the rich toolkits of FLOSS software in both Linux and Windows are available to me.