I was going to write about Microsoft's bid to buy Yahoo and what that would do to open source...but that topic has already been beaten to death. And besides - we don't know if it's going to happen or not (we can certainly hope it doesn't.)
I discovered a fairly nifty tool that can be used to serve as a "desktop anywhere" tool. It's called Desktoptwo. Desktoptwo is a Web-based desktop that acts like a local OS. It's what some seem to think is the next greatest wave of the computing future: Webtop. Companies have been trying for years to get this right, and I believe someone finally has. It's fast to load, it's reliable, it's easy to use, and it's free (as in FOSS.) There is no installation and no fee. The requirements are next-to-nothing:
- Network attached PC
- Browser with Flash plugin
- Acrobat Reader
Of course the Flash alone leaves out the iPhone, so it's not as portable a desktop as I would like it to be (although Flash is reportedly coming to the iPhone soon.)
Now, there are ads to deal with. They aren't so much in your face as you would think. At first they are. Once your desktop loads, they come floating out to the near mid-section of the desktop. But then they fade back as if they were nothing more than a watermark on your wallpaper. Hover your mouse over them and, voila!, they are back to the fore. I'm sure the ads will go away at some point - or maybe there's a paid version that won't have ads cluttering up your Webtop. But it's free - what do you expect?
But what does it have to offer? That's the real question. Is it useful? Well, among the tools Desktoptwo offers are:
- Hard Drive
- Website Editor
- MP3 Player
- Office Programs
- Message Boards
- RSS Reader
- Live Chat
So yeah, it's useful. Of course, from the above list you can see that Desktoptwo is probably not for the hard-core business user. You're not going to be crunching numbers on a database. But it is certainly useful for those who bounce back and forth between more than one computer and have no means of transporting files back and forth. It's also useful for those who need a simple means of collaboration and are not always in the office to use that awesome CMS. Of course it's also useful for those who want to do things such as chat but not leave behind much of a trail for others to snoop or follow.
But mostly, at least to me, it's about supporting FOSS. Sapotek, the company behind Desktoptwo, is a huge supporter of FOSS. Sapotek believes the future is about the user reclaiming their IT space with the help of open source software. And when I contacted the people behind Sapotek, their response to the question, "Do you support FOSS?" was akin to someone asking me, "Do you like Linux?"
"OMG YES!" (To paraphrase my 13-year old stepdaughter.)
I was actually quite pleased. I expected to be returned the standard corporate diatribe extolling the ROI of open source and such. Instead what I got was a warm welcome from what seemed to be a group of very genuine open source fans who happen to be developing something that could turn out to be quite useful. To get a good snapshot of what the people at Sapotek are about, read their blog. It's enlightening.
I've been poking around with Desktoptwo for a few days now. I hope that this product takes off if for no other reason than seeing that a small company with such enthusiasm for open source can make a name for themselves all the while pushing open source technologies. For the longest time Open Source technology received its major push from LAMP and Open Office. It is time that FOSS branched out and started gaining support in other spaces. In my honest opinion I think FOSS will soon start to garner more support in many arenas. And I think Desktoptwo is the perfect example.
And with companies such as Sapotek walking the walk, I think the next few years are going to be something really special for open source technology.
Give Desktoptwo a spin. And while you're at it, contact Sapotek and give them their much deserved kudos for their use of open source techology.
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.