Yeah–I know, this not not quite the proper use of Linux but its got a ring to it. As you may have seen, Wal Mart sold right out of them and techno-pundits across the interblog are exclaiming their pleasant surprise.
Anyway, I have been promised to review gOS and I will. I have been playing with it a bit more. I do have to say that while I know it is meant to be sort of locked down for ease of use to the technology challenged, I still am having some trouble adding applications. Time will pass and soon, some of those folks will start to be able to do a few things on there new “picture box”. I wish there was a “beginner”, intermediate” and “advanced” switch. More to come, hopefully with screenshots.
So I downloaded the ISO for the newest Linux distribution to hit the scene. It is called gOS and Wal-Mart is selling a $200 computer with this instead of Windows which would cost about $100 more. The OS is really a modified version Ubuntu. I only played with it for a little while but it doesn’t seem too bad. It did not immediately recognize my wireless connection and I had trouble finding a wireless utility. I will give a more involved review but I can tell you that it is going to take a change of mindset. This is an OS designed for grandma to have a computer just to get on the internet, email kids and see pictures. It is buttoned down pretty good to prevent things from getting screwed up. Of course the first thing I wanted to do was start hacking around, changing things. I will have to get into character of a computer barely-literate user in order to see what I think. Watch this space!
As the most recent rumors and speculation have said, Google’s Gphone is not a single device or even a group of Google specific devices. In the most basic terms, Google is actually creating an operating system for phones that is not tied to a phone manufacturer or cell phone carrier. It is very much similar to the way that Linux can be installed on a computer made by Dell or HP or Acer, etc. and connect to the internet using AOL or Comcast or Time Warner, etc. While a phone using Google’s may look different on the outside (just as many Windows PCs do), it is the software on the inside that makes it a “Gphone.” So you won’t see one distinctive looking Gphone appearing like the iPhone.
What Google announced today was the Open Handset Alliance. From their site:
“Welcome to the Open Handset AllianceTM, a group of more than 30 technology and mobile companies who have come together to accelerate innovation in mobile and offer consumers a richer, less expensive, and better mobile experience. Together we have developed AndroidTM, the first complete, open, and free mobile platform.”
I think there is a big analogy to be made here between how computers and “the internets” have evolved and how the cell phone industry is evolving. I think the cell phone industry now is somewhere around where the computer industry was in about 1996. Remember when so many people were tied to communities like AOL or CompuServe? Access to the internet came bundled with so many features in those communities. The company you used to access the internet had a big influence on what part of the internet you used and how you used it. Now we get our internet access from one (invisible) source, email from another, music from and other and online video from yet another. There was no “always on” internet access for the home consumer. Dial-up plans were available in tiered levels and yes-sometimes people went over those levels and were charged for overages! Right now cell phone companies charge us for access, how many minutes we use, features ranging from voice mail to texting to music and video downloads and charge us for overages. Sounding familiar?
I think this alliance is the first step reducing the great amount of influence your cell phone company has on your cell phone use experience. In the future, there will be companies who just want to provide you will a cell phone signal, but don’t need to sell you the phone, provide the services you use on the phone as well as making sure you have cellular access. A cell phone bill will be less like paying for a service and more like paying for a utility. It will be just there in the background.
I am disappointed to not see Verizon as one of the members announced. I use Verizon because their coverage is the best where I live and a vast majority of my friends have Verizon so talking to them is free, anytime. (“In-network calling”) Hope I don’t have to change carriers to take advantage of this.
Are you just starting with Linux and looking for that killer app you knew so well in Windows? This great site give you a list of popular Windows programs and their Linux equivalents. Nvu is a great web page builder. I like Open Office, (and use it on my Windows box at home) but have to admit that I find Microsoft Office nice to look at. I have just started trying to use Inkscape and find it a bit easier to use than Illustrator which it replaces.
I have just started playing with Linux again with various flavors of Ubuntu and find lists like this very helpful. More info on my Linux journey later…
The Linux Equivalent Project: http://www.linuxeq.com/