Jolicloud 1.0 is now available for all so I decided to install it on my netbook (Asus EeePC 1005 HA) and write a review for the WebUpd8 readers while waiting for the best netbook Linux distribution to be out - no, not Ubuntu Netbook Edition 10.10 but Aurora.
Firstly, take a look at this video I've just made with Jolicloud 1.0 in action on my Asus EeePC 1005HA (full installation):
In case you don't know, Jolicloud is a netbook operating system (Linux distribution to be technically correct) based on Ubuntu. Version 1.0 comes with a HTML5 interface and it can be installed either in Windows using Jolicloud Express or to its own partition. I've installed Jolicloud on its own partition, next to Ubuntu Netbook Edition 10.04.
Before proceeding, here are some Jolicloud 1.0 screenshots so you'll know what I'm talking about:
Jolicloud 1.0 application launcher
The drives pane
Installing an web application
Jolicloud is internet dependent: when I first booted the USB stick I wrote Jolicloud on, it asked me to create an account so without an internet connection you can't even install it. After you enter your username and password and log in, you can try out some web apps in Chromium (the Jolicloud interface also runs inside Chromium) or install Jolicloud.
The installation process is identical to Ubuntu so nothing new here so I'll skip to my experience of running Jolicloud for the first time: well, let's just say I was a bit confused at first. I'm used to doing stuff using a terminal and I could find one. I wanted to install it but I couldn't find any terminal emulator in the Jolicloud application directory. After a bit of Googling, I found out that you can run a terminal by pressing ALT + F1. So that's one problem out of the way.
The top panel looks like on Ubuntu Netbook Edition 10.04: there's an icon on the upper left corner that takes you to the Jolicloud launcher, you have the Window Picker Applet - which includes the usual window list and the maximized windows titlebar and close button. To me, that's some rudimentary version of what I've used to optimize my Ubuntu Netbook Edition 10.04. But luckily, Jolicloud 1.0 doesn't have the top panel locked like UNE 10.04 has so you can customize it very easily.
Jolicloud doesn't come with many default applications (other than the ones required for it to run) - the default browser is Chromium and Nautilus is the default file manager. There's also Dropbox which is installed by default and that's about it. But there are some web apps like Gmail, Twitter, Facebook, Google Docks, YouTube and a few others. But you can of course install other applications such as Pidgin, VLC, OpenOffice.org, GIMP, Transmission or basically any application which is present in the Ubuntu repositories.
If I were to review Jolicloud in just two words, it would be "user friendly". You definetly don't need to be a geek or to have ever used Linux to run Jolicloud. Everything is one click away. I've installed Spotify with a single click, directly from the Jolicloud application directory and it worked out of the box. The user doesn't need to know what WINE is, that it is required to run Spotify and so on - everything about Jolicloud is KISS.
To play some local music, I've installed Banshee and it played my music without having to install some other packages. Sadly, it doesn't come with the netbook interface for Banshee. To play movies just install VLC and that's it. YouTube works out of the box (Flash) so even my mother could use Jolicloud without which is not something I could say about Windows for instance.
Now, about Fn keys: I'm really happy to say they all worked with my Asus EeePC 1005HA out of the box (which isn't something I can say about Ubuntu 10.04 sadly).
Not every application in the repositories is available in the Jolicloud application directory so if you want to install some additional application, you'll have to use the terminal (for instance: gtk-recordmydesktop which I had to install manually to make the video in this post). Also, to run an application which you didn't install via the Jolicloud app directory, you'll have to launch it via a terminal as there's no menu entry in the Jolicloud launcher.
There is also a bug I've discovered in Jolicloud 1.0 which is apparently inherited from Ubuntu - it cannot mount USB drives. There is however a fix for this. Press ALT + F1, then in the terminal write:
sudo gedit /etc/fstab
And then put a "#" in front of the line which looks like this: "/dev/sdb1 /media/cdrom0 udf,iso9660 user,noauto,exec 0 0" so after editing, it looks like this:
#/dev/sdb1 /media/cdrom0 udf,iso9660 user,noauto,exec 0 0
Then save and restart.
What more can I say? I am truly impressed with Jolicloud. Not with its interface which is great an all but I don't care about that all that much. But because everything works (well, except the USB automount issue), I don't have to tweak for days and with a single click I can install whatever I need - which is the purpose of a netbook after all: to have internet access wherever you go, not to fix what the developers couldn't do right.
I still have things to try such as how long my EeePC battery will last for instance but I have a feeling this has also been improved in Jolicloud.
Download Jolicloud 1.0