“For the purpose of this article, just like the first one, a WebOS is defined as virtual operating system that runs in a web browser environement. Don’t like WebOS? Well, call it OnlineOS, or WebTop if you like. So, here is a review of another 10 functional WebOS’, as well as some additional similar services which show promise but aren’t launched or fully realized yet.” More here.
Another 10 Web Operating Systems Reviewed
About The Author
Ex-programmer, ex-editor in chief at OSNews.com, now a visual artist/filmmaker.
Follow me on Twitter @EugeniaLoli
2007-06-18 12:20 amsappyvcv
Sadly, we’ll have to go through this period of uselessness to weed out the pointless implementations. Over a period of time, the purposefullness will eventually come out, but only after the “market” has been saturated with crap.
No one actually knows what purpose it will serve and serve well yet.
2007-06-18 12:25 amKroc
My goat with them is the thought of the sheer number of CPU cycles needed, just to drive a simple clock.
Potentially millions of assembly instructions just to tell you the time. And some people wonder why software is slow – no wonder with developers who think this is a good design model.
2007-06-18 2:13 amflanque
I like the idea of a MS DOS compatible webos.. so I can play true Prince of Persia anywhere.
2007-06-18 3:04 amhelf
heh… a dos emulator running in a browser.. THAT would be *FAST*! ;P
2007-06-18 6:28 ampandronic
Well … surprise, surprise
2007-06-18 9:45 amflanque
I know.. that’s why I mentioned it.
2007-06-18 4:04 pmhechacker1
Nice, you crashed firefox in my stable linux system (not so stable after all)…
1. Dos inside java is too much of a download for me to wait.
2. Firefox and java 6 dont like each other.
3. Sigh (goes back to windows XP where it loads fine).
2007-06-18 9:55 amChuck Norris
This “Webos” crazy trend will fade out soon I guess. It’s just ridiculous. “Where can I download an nVidia driver for YouOS?” Ah ah!
Ghost is a POS with potential. I signed up and decided to try to upload something, but it didn’t work. There was a help tip that told me how to do it, but half-way through typing the URL, the writing in the help tip disappeared, even though the tip window itself stayed open. It didn’t matter how much I clicked or right-clicked; the tip was gone forever. So I went to the Help section. Instead of providing written help, it has a voice that reads the instructions to you, along with a visual tutorial. Sounds great, huh? Except it didn’t work AT ALL the way the tutorial said it would. In fact, it didn’t work at all, period. Just because it’s an alpha program doesn’t mean they shouldn’t test it. Makes you feel like strangling the person who wrote the Help section, or at least that part of it. What were they thinking about when they wrote that section?
So I signed up for their help forum. It sent me an e-mail welcoming me to the forum, but I wasn’t able to log in. It kept telling me that either the username or the password was wrong. Well, I knew it wasn’t the username, so I asked to have the password mailed to me, but it gave me a message that there is no such username. Yeah, right.
Ghost looks homemade, but having said that, I think the concept has some potential. I’m not sure what role Web OSs will play in the future, but it could be a big one. We might just all end up running thin clients with internet connectivity.
Could this technology be somehow used in online gaming?
2007-06-18 2:19 amflanque
Lets hope not. Imagine playing The Sims in one of them? Controlling virtual characters inside a virtual world which sits on top of a virtual OS running on a virtual machine inside, networked with your virtual friends who virtually couldn’t care about you.
Alternatively, we could all just go outside and make friends and get, ironically, more or less virtually the same experience.
2007-06-18 4:44 amdcga
hehe, that was ironically funny
2007-06-18 8:39 amdylansmrjones
Sometimes I’d wish I could mod up posts above 5.
Like others pointed out, these so called “WebOS’es” are not operating systems by any stretch of the imagination, but they can be full desktop environments. The question, however, is why would you want to run a server based desktop through you crappy web browser, when the far, far, FAR superior X11 protocol has done exactly this for the last 20 years?
The only reason I can see is that it is socially a simpler solution since any present computer has a browser that can be pointed to the URL of your enterprise desktop. On the technical side, though, X11 is both simpler and more transparent (you can run the same desktop and applications on your person computer). It is also much lighter weight, in that any old piece of hardware could be put up as a terminal.
So, unless there’s a specific requirement that any computer must be usable as a terminal, without installing any software what so ever, I can’t see how “WebOS” is a relevant technology. Out of the box, Windows has Remote Desktop, while Unix has X11. Both can login to each other by installing 3rd party software.
2007-06-18 9:21 amMediv
The only reason I can see is that it is socially a simpler solution since any present computer has a browser that can be pointed to the URL of your enterprise desktop.
I just would like to remind that VNC just need a browser in order to graphically access to a remote desktop. So it is even more simpler than a “WebOS”
2007-06-18 9:51 ambogomipz
And also, gonzalo mentions in his comment below the existence of Java applets for NX and Terminal Server. A quick visit to google shows that the same exists for X. This invalidates the only reason I could think of for “WebOS” types of solutions to even exist. Am I missing anything obvious?
2007-06-18 10:03 amKroc
Because rather implement something that’s useful, people would rather ride the web 2.0 popularity train. Don’t worry, the bubble will eventually burst.
disclaimer: I own a web2.0 project, but feel it actually serves a unique purpose
Edited 2007-06-18 10:04
2007-06-18 4:25 pmBelial6
“The question, however, is why would you want to run a server based desktop through you crappy web browser, when the far, far, FAR superior X11 protocol has done exactly this for the last 20 years? ”
The reason you would want to is the same reason we all now run PCs on our desktops instead of terminals. When corporate policy and corporate admins (for good or bad) lock down the resources that you need to be happy and/or successful at work, people start looking for other ways to accomplish what they need and want. The mainframes that were available when the personal computer was just gaining momentum, were vastly superior to any PC you could get your hands on. The problem was that it might take you a week to get access to run your code, if you could convince the admin to put it on the mainframe to begin with.
So, what did people start to do? They brought in their Apple IIs. They got twice as much done as the guy that was going the official route, and the desktop computer flourished.
Right now, we are in a similar phase. Admins are locking down desktops to run only corporate certified software. They are restricting ports on internet access, and users are looking for ways around this. Is running an Operating Environment over the HTTP an inferior method than using RPD or X? Sure, if you can make an RPD or X connection through the corporate firewall. But when the only protocol that the corp firewall will allow through is HTTP, a WebOS starts to look a lot more viable.
Heck, with the way ISPs behave these days, we may be faced with a ‘WebOS’ as the only kind of remote desktop that works.
2007-06-18 10:08 pmbogomipz
If your ISP simply blocks ports, use your remote desktop protocol of choice over port 80 (or any other open port). If they’re wasting their resources on analyzing packets to see the actual protocol, tunnel your session through HTTP >:)
There’s a great chance they allow SSH, though, which is much easier to use for tunneling, not to mention it’s actually desirable in the first place.
(Oh, yes, I read it)
Looks like this blog entry mixes some very different stuff under the name WebOS. I mean, whatever your opinion on the concept or the viability of this “WebOS” thingie, there’s got to be at least a minimum criteria when writing about something (imho).
There’s a couple of systems in the blog entry which do indeed fit in the general concept of “WebOS”. But then there’s 3 or 4 which are full remote desktops on Linux or Windows, through NX or Terminal Server, in an applet. And there’s also Dekoh which, turns out, is absolutely not a WebOS. You download and install the software and run it to “share your media”.
It’s the idea I don’t like, not the name. An OS inside a browser inside an OS? fooey.
I quite liked the article. At the least it has elicited some good responses about the usefulness of such applications, which I have to agree with (not that useful right now). Still, it’s an interesting concept and great to see the various attempts at it – something good will come of it all some day
When bringing a window to front takes 5 seconds they call it functional?
No offense but these so called operating systems (“environments” not systems) are next to useless.
These people are very skilled programmers and can use their programming skills for writing something else which is better. It is a thrilling experience probably to write something like this and they probably do get excited and amused over it, I know that feeling *which* is fair and it looks cool but personally, I’d rather use the Unix command shell rather than a WebOS and this applies to all of them.
Otherwise they certainly show a great potential and what can be done and how far AJAX can go.
A job well done and well done for the great work but at the same time, not useful to me at least.
Edited 2007-06-18 12:04
2007-06-18 1:42 pmdagw
One, possible, advantage of a Web OS is that I cannot run my favorite Linux distro on the internet kiosk at the airport or hotel I’m staying at. I can however get web browser with AJAX support. While this obviously won’t replace my main OS or desktop, I can in theory see a use for them.
this technology has a potential, these developers feel it, but ends up making nothing decent. and people just dissing it out as useless or just as a buzzword needs to imagine up a good use or you will miss alot of potential technology, just because nothing useful is out there ‘yet’ and some people think dismissing things somehow make them ‘cool’.
Edited 2007-06-18 14:00
Who needs more than a terminal
anyone remember the name of teh web-os that those guys who used to work for MS are making? I cant seem to remember then name.
I just would like to remind that VNC just need a browser in order to graphically access to a remote desktop. So it is even more simpler than a “WebOS” ;
Don’t forget Java. VNC needs a browser and a JVM.
I think that what article shows, is a natural trend. Ppl are starting to think – cross-platform, rich-client. JAVA really badly failed here, and mainly imo turned out being a server infrastructure, although we can see some apps even for client (Azureus IIRC). But – that is just recently, whereas it was marketed as cross-platform universal language/environment which takes us into the new millenium. We all probably remember, how we hated, when some page used JAVA for menu in a browser, back in those glory Netscape 3 to 4 days 🙂
Then we wanted our browser doing more and more. And even big boys from big companies missused them for the typical “You don’t need to install anything, it just runs in your browser” hype. Those guys were lucky – while users would not tollerate that sluggish interface in the case of rich-app, it was pretty normal, that your website is being loaded slow on a dial-up connection, right? 🙂
Well, than came Mozilla. Finally the world got at least to basic agreement to “standards” and we moved forward. That was the time, when we started to think of a browser as an universal client even more. XML based stuff was about to save us. But look at W3C, and all those tag based MLs. Well, I will be probably alone, but for me XML failed badly – I ask fundamental questions to myself – is the code more readable? Is that the style I want to code in? Does it really help to automate things? That is naive. I can see no “automatic” automatiton, there is always needed someone, who specifies how to parse data and interpret their meaning, map them to other environment. If you ever looked into stuff as WebSphere, SAP-XI and e.g. connector code, it got rudiculously overcomplicated and bloated.
So, today, I can see browser as a container, for other technologies. We will add more and more. And then we applaud things like AJAX, which should have been here from the very beginning in the first place!
That is what happens, if you lack the vision, or if you missuse stuff which was not supposed to become what it actually became. Was web initially created with distributed apps in mind? We try to fix the situation by adding other and other layers of complexity.
So how long until we’re running a web OS, inside a Java browser, inside a browser, in Windows, in Parallels on a Mac?
The only possible use for a Web-OS would be on a thin client, booting only a web browser in fullscreen and connecting to an enterprise Intranet. – And even then, why so much effort when you actual OS already offers more than any ridiculously high-level OS could.