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.
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.
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.
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.