Jolicloud's Netbook OS is Getting Noticed, Looks Unique

by Ostatic Staff - Sep. 04, 2009

In a recent discussion with LinuxPlanet about Linux netbooks, Cathy Malmrose of ZaReason (a Linux netbook OEM) made the following statement about European startup Jolicloud, which is working on a Linux-based netbook operating system: "For the cloud, I'm headed off to Paris tomorrow morning to talk with the JoliCloud developers. JoliCloud appears to have the most promise at this point."

Malmrose isn't the only one taking notice of Jolicloud. CNet's Josh Lowensohn has taken the beta version of Jolicloud's OS through some early paces, and says: "I've been giving it a thorough run-though over the past few days and have come away impressed at what it's trying to do. Some bits and pieces are definitely still beta, but the underlying approach of making Web sites and software applications feel the same, as well as introducing users to new ones to use is really innovative." Does this unusual netbook operating system have a chance?

We previously wrote about Jolicloud here, when it received a $4.2 million funding round, led by Atomico Ventures, in conjunction with Mangrove Capital Partners. It also has a heavy-hitting management team. Jolicloud was founded by Tariq Krim, the founder of Netvibes, one of Europe's successful Web startups. In conjunction with its funding, Niklas Zennström, co-founder of Atomico Ventures, Skype, Joost, Kazaa and Joltid took a seat on the company's board.

As CNet's Lowensohn noted in his review of the Jolicloud OS beta:

"Jolicloud centers on a directory of applications that can be sorted by genre, release date, and popularity. To download or remove them from your computer, you just click on their icon and it does the rest. Jolicloud groups both Web apps and software programs under the same name umbrella, and both are added and removed from your system in the same manner."

Here's what Jolicloud's desktop looks like, to give you a clear idea of what Lowensohn is getting at:

As you can see, the operating system makes no real distinction between hosted applications, such as Gmail and Twitter, and installed applications, such as VLC Media Player and Boxee. You can also update and remove applications directly from the desktop.

Jolicloud has posted a slideshow of other screenshots of the beta here. The operating system allows you to connect online with friends and share applications of interest, and it also notifies you at the desktop level when there are updates to online applications that you use, as seen below:

 With Google's Chrome OS arriving next year and headed for netbooks, various flavors of Linux still on netbooks, and Windows 7 customized for netbooks, one has to wonder if there is room for a brand new netbook OS. Still, as I go through Jolicloud's slideshow, I am struck by how different an approach it has. Many people are using hosted applications instead of locally installed ones, and perhaps this operating system's focus on that trend will pay off.