gOS: A lot of Buzz with no Substance November 19, 2007Posted by rjdohnert in 1.
I had the privilege of buying one of the Everex gOS PC’s from Wal-Mart.com before they sold out. I bought it and had it shipped to one of their stores to where I picked it up. Whats the verdict. Im using the gPC right now to write this review and I loaded it up with PCLOS 2007.
gOS: The beginning
After I got the PC and set the thing up I actually liked the hardware. Its great hardware, very stylish and looks very functional. I booted it up and I saw green. I like green, along with black and purple its my favorite color. I actually liked the gOS for 48 hrs. So what happened? lets cut through the hype and just say if this is the Linux communities hopes to take down Microsoft, go back to the drawing board.
I will give the gOS this. Its extremely fast. It has plenty of horse power and even though the hardware it runs on is low end the software in this case makes all the difference. It runs a modified version of enlightenment. Enlightenment is a very underated and underused window manager in the *nix universe. Enlightenment is one of those technologies that even though it was great was dismissed by the *nix community. DR17 is no exception. When you see the gOS for the first time it looks nifty, great animations similar to what you would see in Mac OS X and in Windows. Plenty of throbbing and bouncing and (man this is starting to sound dirty) and somthing you dont see in Windows and Mac OS a Google search bar on the desktop. GreenOS is the official name and Green could also be used as a descriptor in the case of the gOS. When you hit the mint leaf in the corner (I am assuming its a mint leaf) the system menu pops up. In this menu you have your applications and configuration tools.
gOS: The problems
The problems mainly stem from the fact enlightenment is a developer preview, not even alpha quality yet. DR stands for Developer Release and should be a hint. That standing out there are plenty of Window Manager crashes and inconvenient lockups to make your heart content. The first time I ever opened a directory to have the damn thing crash was with the gOS, when trying to copy files over and have the WM crash was pretty nasty as well.
The main problem is that unlike MEPIS, Freespire and Linspire, the gOS doesnt modify the core OS so its a standard Ubuntu 7.10 kernel and all the hardware incompatibilities and kernel problems you have with Ubuntu are adopted by gOS. To give the developers a little bit of leeway this is a 1.0 release and Im almost positive they will work on the quality of the OS and hopefully whip it into a decent distro. The gOS is a selling point for their gPC and in some ways I think they are trying to establish a fan base similar to Macintosh, Amigans or RiscOS.
gOS: Other machines
I went ahead and downloaded the gOS ISO from their web site and tried it on a couple of other machines. It liked my PowerEdge, a couple of OptiPlexes , my Compaq Evo and even a home built PC. Mobile computing was an entirely different story. On my Dell Inspiron 2500 during the LiveCD session it would boot but go into a Limbo black screen when trying to load the desktop a behavior also present with Ubuntu 7.10 on the same hardware and on my ThinkPad A21m it would go halfway through the live CD boot and just freeze a behavior also inherited from Ubuntu 7.10. On my Vaio AR it worked great as a LiveCD. I didnt hose the HD on my Vaio because its my main laptop so I couldnt tell you about native HD performance from that system.
gOS: The good
Good presentation, great concept and great delivery mechanism. The interface is simplistic and easy to navigate and the learning curve is rather limited. Good effort to build a user base and a fan base. It has OpenOffice, Rhythmbox and Xine installed by default which is a good thing.
gOS: The bad
Using pre-alpha software that is rather buggy, mediocre to non-existant mobile support, using a non LTS release for the base. There is also no clear roadmap where the offering is going and no hardware compatibility list. There is also no native support for 3D using the nvidia drivers. The GPC line would be interesting if they offered a mobile unit. While I like the presentation of Google in this distro I feel there is too much faith in Google.
I see no pushing reasons to use this over a vanilla Ubuntu installation. You can add Enlightenment to an Ubuntu install through the use of repositories. Unlike Freespire/Linspire they do no work to improve upon Ubuntu but rather just give it a paint job, a shiny theme and market gOS as something new.
But. It doesnt mean gOS is not interesting and given that the software HAS to mature and probably couldnt regress its a distribution I will keep my eye on and will possibly install and review again at a later date.
I couldnt give any recommendation to switch to gOS from any Linux distribution at this time.
Score (Rating of 10): 6