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Wednesday, August 20, 2008

Review : gOS 3 Gadgets(beta)

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Couple of months back i had reviewed gOS version 2.0(Read the article here ) , which even at that time was quite radical and impressive , a lot different from most of the other Linux distributions in the market right now . Since then as gOS has moved from Ver 2.0 to 3.0, it has undergone a number of major changes and has become even more user friendly , which i have tried highlighting in my review below.

gOS is still Ubuntu based and uses official Ubuntu repositories , with Version 3.0 gOS has moved from using Enlightenment desktop manager to LXDE(Lightweight X11 Desktop Environment) . LXDE is a lightweight GTK based desktop environment that integrates a number of lightweight applications like PCMan File Manager , LXPanel , Leafpad ,LXNM etc providing a lightweight alternative to likes of KDE and Gnome. Now based on my experience of using gOS 2.0 , I found LXDE to be bit slower as compared to Enlightenment desktop environment nonetheless it was zippy compared to Gnome running on Ubuntu and more feature rich (and actively developed) compared to Enlightenment desktop environment.
gOS 3.0 Desktop (Note Google Gadgets on the Desktop )
Option for adding Google Gadgets onto the Desktop integrated into the gOS "Start" menu

Another interesting addition to gOS is integration of recently released Google Gadgets (Installation instruction for Google Gadgets on Ubuntu Linux), with the desktop. Google Gadgets provides access to over 1,000,00 Widgets providing you host of different functionality like Weather Information , System information , Google News , Battery Status , Calendar etc on your desktop with a click of button. Addition of Google Gadgets does improve the user friendly index of gOS and makes it even more attractive to Linux newbies.


Unlike other distributions which have icon for only Local Applications in Panel , gOS provides , icon link to Online Web 2.0 Applications like Google Documents , YouTube ,Google Mail etc and local applications like Skype , Open Office Applications , Firefox and Pidgin.

Another change from gOS 2.0 is clicking on any Web 2.0 Application icons , loads the application in Mozilla Prism (earlier called WebRunner) instead of Mozilla Firefox . Mozilla Prism is a innovative new experiment from Mozilla Labs which tries to integrate web platform with desktop experience . This is how Mozilla Wiki (Read more here )describes Mozilla Prism :
Prism is a simple XULRunner based browser that hosts web applications without the normal web browser user interface. Prism is based on a concept called Site Specific Browsers (SSB). An SSB is an application with an embedded browser designed to work exclusively with a single web application. It doesn’t have the menus, toolbars and accoutrements of a normal web browser. Some people have called it a "distraction free browser" because none of the typical browser chrome is used. An SSB also has a tighter integration with the OS and desktop than a typical web application running through a web browser.
gOS 3.0 also includes Wine application layer which allows running a number of Windows application on Linux desktop . Even though Wine is out of beta after decade long of development, still it is buggy and not all applications run well on WINE. So it would be better to run Open Source native applications instead of running Windows based application unless there are no alternatives available.

Overall gOS 3.0 worked flawlessly on my system , and I was able to install it easily on my system with user friendly Graphical Installer. However while shutting down i encountered error(which apparently was being caused by Google Gadgets being closed) for some strange reason , Now i am not sure whether this is a problem with my system only or with distribution.I hope they rectify this when final version of the distro comes out.

Now even though Adobe AIR and Mono version of Microsoft Silverlight is still in Beta stage and are very buggy, still gOS team might consider including them in future release , since they are positioning their distribution as a Internet/Web 2.0 Applications ready Linux distribution and there are all signs that Adobe AIR and Microsoft Silverlight are going to be extremely important platform for delivering feature rich internet applications onto desktop in future.

gOS like it's earlier version uses the same green theme. Now gOS overall is extremely user friendly distribution that might be particularly useful for people who have old systems and would primarily like to use their system to say maybe use online Web 2.0 Applications like Google Documents , Mail ,Flickr which are less resource intensive compared to local Desktop applications. gOS could also be the right distribution for someone new to Linux , since it is based on Ubuntu and is extremely user friendly and being based on Ubuntu provides easy access to Ubuntu repositories for installing/upgrading additional packages.However for some one already familiar with Linux, gOS provides very little reason to migrate to gOS from the likes of Ubuntu,Fedroa ,Suse .

Overall comparing with gOS 2.0 , there has been number of important changes in gOS 3.0.gOS 3.0 is has become extremely user friendly and feature rich, and is probably one of the simplest distribution available for Linux Newbies to get themselves acquainted with.

Review Written by : Ambuj Varshney (blogambuj@gmail.com)
For Desktop on Linux Blog , http://linuxondesktop.blogspot.com
(C) 2008 , Ambuj Varshney

Saturday, August 09, 2008

Install Ubuntu(and other Linux distro's) on a Pen Drive under Windows

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For close to three months DVD drive of my laptop has not been functioning properly , it fails to read burned DVD's and CD's properly. Now since we have wonderful LAN in the university where i am studying, I never cared about getting the DVD drive fixed. However a few days back as i was tweaking something on my system I inadvertently corrupted partition table of my laptop hence i was stuck with a laptop without MBR to load operating system and no way to install operating system (Windows or Linux ) as both the operating systems were on DVD and i had a non functional DVD drive , and to make situation worse when i called Lenovo dealer here in India they told me fixing DVD drive(My laptop is still under warranty) could take as much as 14 days. Now i knew it was possible to boot computer through a USB Pen drive , however i had never tried installing Linux/Windows on a pen drive. Using Google i came up with a solution to installing Linux on a pen drive , which i have tried documenting in my article here.

Universal NetBoot Installer(UNetBootin) is a tool that allows you to install a number of Linux distributions either on a USB Pen Drive or on a hard-disk partition.
UNetBottin is available both on the Windows as well as the Linux platform. In this article i am using UNetBottin for Windows.

First, we need to download UNetBootin which you can do so from the following website : http://unetbootin.sourceforge.net/ .

To make USB Pen Drive bootable , first we need to format the USB Pen Drive to FAT32 file system as we cannot boot a NTFS file system based pen drive . You can do so easily through "My Computer " :
The entire package is about 3.5 MB in size and you don't need to install to run UNetbootin

Now, once you launch UNetbootin you will find a dialog box similar to one shown above . If you want to allow UNetbootin to download files for the distribution automatically from the internet then in the drop down box at the top of the dialog box chose the distribution and it's version that you want to install . UNetbootin would then download relevant files from the internet of that distribution , however keep in mind most linux distributions are gigabytes in size hence don't try downloading from the internet option unless you have a really fast broadband connection.

However if you have an ISO file you could use the ISO file to make bootable USB Pen Drive or make a partition bootable. Enter the location of ISO file chose the Letter of USB drive and press OK button to start installing Linux distribution onto the USB drive :
Installation in progress


Once installation is over reboot the system , go into the BIOS and change the boot sequence to boot from USB drive if it is not configured already. If everything went right you should be able to boot from the USB drive.

Tutorial Written by : Ambuj Varshney (blogambuj@gmail.com)
For Desktop on Linux Blog , http://linuxondesktop.blogspot.com
(C) 2008 , Ambuj Varshney