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Joli OS 1.2 review – the best gets even better…

Jolicloud, the leading cloud-based netbook and ‘recycling’ OS, has undergone another point release to address problems and add features. Russell Barnes reveals all...

This article originally appeared in issue 99 of Linux User & Developer magazine.

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At a glance:
Previously reviewed:
Jolicloud 1.0 & Vye Jolibook
The best cloud-based OS gets even better. Chrome app works flawlessly. File browsing and web app creation work brilliantly
Cons: Dropbox integration is essentially web-based (files aren’t stored locally), social networks still aren’t properly integrated

A lot has happened in the short time since our last review of HTML5-powered netbook distro, Jolicloud. Firstly, it’s had a slight shuffle in naming. The title ‘Jolicloud’ is now reserved solely for the online version of the OS, which is now available as a Chrome app, creating a point of difference between this and the ‘Joli OS’ native installation.

The Jolicloud Chrome app offers the ability to use the Joli desktop experience complete with all the web apps, accounts and settings of your physical installed counterpart. Provided you have access to Chrome, Firefox 4 or Safari 5, you can use your Jolicloud account from any computer in the world and be up and running in a matter of seconds.

Once the Chrome app is installed, you need just point the browser to to sign in. It’s a fantastic feature made even more impressive by the fact that even native applications like Skype and Open Office will still work, assuming the computer you’re using has the native application installed – we nearly fell off our seat the first time we put it to the test. This is the ‘true’ implementation of a cloud OS.

While Dropbox is now integrated with the new file browser, the storage isn’t native, so files still need be downloaded and there’s no mechanism to upload files without accessing

The technological wizardry doesn’t stop there either. The development team have put a lot of work into the core OS to bring together some of the more disparate elements of its previous releases. For example, Joli OS features an all-new file browser that integrates seamlessly into the desktop experience (whereas before, clicking the folder simply threw open a Nautilus window). As before, users can browse local, external and even Windows partition files (if applicable) on the left side of the screen, with the contents of the selected partition displaying in the centre and details of storage displayed on the right.

Cloud-based storage can be accessed from the same screen, but whereas the previous builds of Jolicloud included a number of options, now Jolicloud’s file browsing interface supports Dropbox ‘natively’. Clicking the logo below your other storage options will prompt for a login. Once completed, your Dropbox files are accessible in exactly the same way as your native storage. It’s a great (and much needed) touch, but it’s not perfect. Since Dropbox isn’t any longer available as a physical application in the traditional sense, the files and folders are simply being reported from the web. This means you’ll still need to download the files you want to work on and upload them again via the web (though certain multimedia files can be previewed live), as opposed to having a local copy already synced to your drive.

You can now create your own web apps with this simple dialog box. Once the name and URL are sorted, you can give it a description and upload a logo

Taking the cloud theme yet further, Joliclouders can also create their own web apps with a simple mini-app. Simply pick a link, give it a name, description and upload an image and your new web app can be placed straight onto your desktop. Moreover, your web app can be shared among the Jolicloud social network and effectively become part of the already brilliant Jolicloud app marketplace.

Verdict: 5/5
Even before the essential updates in Joli OS 1.2, Jolicloud was by far our favourite cloud-based distro. It’s the perfect operating system for the computer illiterate by virtue of its utter simplicity, ideal for rejuvenating old hardware and a wonderful choice to partner with a netbook.

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