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back to article gOS - a Google good OS for your Mum

What's free, looks like Mac OS X, just works and is actually Linux? The answer is gOS, which recently launched a new beta that builds on the distro's initial success and adds new tools like integrated Google Gadgets for Linux. When it launched onto the scene late last year, gOS (which stands for good OS) made quite a splash for …

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Linux

OEMs?

The article mentions that this distro is targeted at the small web appliance world, are there any OEMs that have announced that they are planning to use it yet?

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@OEMs?

That is, other OEMs than Everex, of course.

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Linux

What will I do...

...with my spare time? If I don't have to fiddle with my gOS distro for hours at end, what will I do? Surely not interact with society in a meaningful manner...

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Jobs Horns

Uh, hasn't this been done? Something called Lindows (Linspire)

So I remember The Register wasn't too thrilled with Lindows (later renamed Linspire) which attempted this same thing with a Linux distro.

Now I suppose there is a difference... Where Linspire tried to be like Windows with a Linux core, gOS appears to be trying to be Mac OS X with a Linux core.

Anyway, it would be interesting to see how they compare. Maybe gOS didn't make the same mistake as Linspire that the user accounts were given root permissions.

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Anonymous Coward

@Mad Hacker

"Maybe gOS didn't make the same mistake as Linspire that the user accounts were given root permissions."

That was the very first question that popped into my head - if user accounts have root permissions, will gOS end up as just another virus vector, and if user accounts don't have root permissions, will gOS devices only be used by people that have offspring that can administer the thing for them?

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I almost...

...included this as a bootdisc with a laptop I had to repair* for someone recently, as a means of being almost completely sure they were safe (excluding poisoned DNS results, but anyone could be hit by them) for online banking - sadly it didn't detect the fact he had a widescreen LCD...

I ended up having to include xubuntu, as it was the only one that worked as it should (barring wireless connectivity)

*xpantivirus malware again, along with all the friends it invited... 18 detected by Sysclean (Trend Micro), another 20 detected by Spybot S&D, and 3 potentially false positive rootkits that appeared to be related to the audio and video subsystems. Most were credit card stealers...

It looks very nice, but the lack of configurability put me off - perhaps if they could introduce a "normal" and "admin" settings toggle to hide the more advanced features from regular users, it would encourage take-up.

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Paris Hilton

Not bad for a beta

Whilst most of us *nix fans would love a OS we can take apart, we do need to remember that for most people out there this is their first introduction to such a system.

Before we can start to introduce the excellent power and flexibility of a desktop Linux, there needs to be a simple point from which Joe/Jane Average can stumble around and play without having the worry of breaking things. There's nothing to be gained by swamping a new Linux user with all the features under the sun and watching them look bewildered.

I believe gOS offers and excellent balance of use and flexibility. Yes, it's based on Ubuntu, so the software is there for admins later on.

There's no reason why gOS shouldn't do very well.

Paris, cos even she can understand something as simple as gOS.

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Now if only...

Someone would write a *coherent* GUI for all the systems administration tools, and kill vi with fire - developing on Linux at times has me pining for MS-DOS Edit!

I wish there were more distros about that "just do it" rather than to install a browser, type make, make install and decypher pages of GCC warnings and errors - and maybe you will be spared dependancy hell on installing an RPM if you sacrificed beforehand a blonde virgin in the name of Linux & Cox on the nearest Full Moon to the Summer Solstice...

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@Colin Wilson

"It looks very nice, but the lack of configurability put me off - perhaps if they could introduce a "normal" and "admin" settings toggle to hide the more advanced features from regular users, it would encourage take-up."

People who want 'admin' levels + configurablility aren't the target market.

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Heart

Just works?

I don't know about you but I would prefer an OS that works really well, rather than one that "just works" (and no more, presumably). Shouldn't they have spent more time on development?

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Where's the problem ?

It doesn't lack configurability - it lacks configuration tools. You're free to edit the config files by hand. With vi, gcc & autotools, it's a tweakable as the next distro.

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Anonymous Coward

not to be the proverbial "fly in the ointment", but...

what about COTS hardware that's conveniently designed for windows only? Oh, say little things like USB hard drives, digital cameras, tons of commercial software that people like me have been screaming for *nix versions for several years?

Yeah, it's really cool and it's nice to see that someone is actually thinking about the average computer USER, but unless the OS is able to overcome some of the little niceties that windows users take for granted, like plug & pray USB devices, like printers, storage and the occasional humping dog, then I don't see this little endeavour being much more than just an experiment.

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But can I play WoW on it? Maybe Runescape?

Maybe Runescape if the thing has a current Java VM on it?

<insert anti-Google domination rant here><s/Microsoft/Google>

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Anonymous Coward

Gos yes that the one that confuses evreyone,

because they stuck a great big Google Logo in the middle of the desktop.

That's pretty close to passing off, I would say but then I was fooled by it as well.

There are loads of Linux distributions, and really what you after is a large repository, quick updating and developers who do give a damn.

Or, someone with deep pockets looking to advance Linux to the unwashed masses who will then sell them support.

These mid range distros can be quite annoying if they don't keep up, they end up tarnishing the image of Linux more than they help it to sparkle.

So manus, should really go and chat with some of the bigger distros, or take a couple of distros inhouse and basically allow them to update the distro for the consumer.

Open source is odd, you have to know what you are doing or it is a minefield.

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Linux

g for good?

"Big red envelope" "only works for gmail"

"Marketing to OEMs"

Yeah, right, it is obvious that the developers of this distro are interested in selling it to one customer, and only one customer.

No, the "g" doesn't stand for "google", honest injun!

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Unhappy

@OEMs

Of course not, Microsoft has the OEMs all tied up.

Until that monopoly is broken, *nix is never going to make any headway. If people buy a machine with Windoze on it, the vast majority will never understand that there is an alternative. In fact, I bet the first question most people would ask when told about gOS would be "Does it run on Windows?".

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The markets large but

I know quite a few people who only ever run IE on their computers, the only other well known application would be iTunes.

They have digital cameras, but none of them want to do more than look at the pictures, even if they had a cut down photoshop with one big easy to use button, well frankly its too much effort & they can't give a shit

Such folk would be well servered by say an eee pc, takes up no room, turns on quick and its small sizes & lack of windows keeps it free of unused apps

But what a HUGE number of them want is porn, if you could sell it Sky TV style monthly subscription with easy access to all the porn they can eat you would employ thousands, make tons of cash and be called a genius

iTunes does all the music biz, iPlayer all the TV any sane person needs, noone listens to internet radio for more than a couple of songs and thinks bandwidth limit & turns it off.

If you want to make money, the stuff of industry, you must give the public what they want, porn, fresh porn

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Gates Horns

The answers you've been looking for:

Re: Now if only... (daniel)

vi is extremely fast, if you know how to use it. If you don't, there are plenty of other options, such as pico/nano.

And if compiling and dependencies are not your thing, use yum (RedHat-based distros), apt (Debian-based distros), emerge (gentoo-based distros) or YaST (SuSE-based distros) - all of which do a pretty good job of working it out for you.

Re:Just works? (Pete)

Pete, mate - you'll notice that the article states that this is a "beta" release. This is the software codeword for "we haven't finished development yet". The idea being that they can get feedback and make improvements before the official release.

Of course, were this actually "google OS" rather than "good OS", I wouldn't be expecting it to come out of beta for a very long time...

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Coat

@ Mad Hacker, and daniel

"Linspire tried to be like Windows with a Linux core, [...] Maybe gOS didn't make the same mistake as Linspire that the user accounts were given root permissions."

I think you'll find it's called a feature, not a bug. Either you try to emulate Windows, or you don't. ;-)

daniel:

"Someone would write a *coherent* GUI for all the systems administration tools, and kill vi with fire" Da, Komrad. Am goink to be fixin dis leetle red vagon of yours. Please providink IP.

--

Pitr (userfriendly.org)

Seriously, who in their right mind prefers an opaque GUI? Why not an "online help", while you're at it? man and vi(m) are the only tools one would want if one knows what one's doing. And if one doesn't, well, one shouldn't be allowed anywhere near root powers. Therefore, and according to what I read here, gOS looks good. Provided the documentation is well done, it's both hacker friendly and relatively luser-proof. Hail goodOS!

PS: "Emacs is to Vi(m) what Vista is to... well, like, yo Emacs is so fat it looks like Vista." Or something along that line.

PPS the original being, of course, "Yo moma so fat she looks like Vista".

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Jobs Horns

iBar

That sounds like a law suite waiting to happen :)

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Black Helicopters

Windows OEM's can not market any Linux based products

if they have a contract with Microsoft, they might sell some Linux but they can't promote it or market it without that contract being reconsidered. And if they have a deal with Microsoft for MS Marketing Dollars then it is even more of a problem for the OEM.

So, Linux and OSS can not and will not grow from the Windows tied OEMs. It will grow from Linux based OEMs, new OEMs, and from Linux embedded devices like the Tivo, Linksys routers, NAS systems, etc. We've already seen the worldwide pressure Microsoft can put on vendors like the OLPC group and how they eventually bend to cripple their product to 'get in line'. Asus is another with their pricing and packaging once they signed a deal with Microsoft.

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Joke

Welcome back 1988.

Glad to see someone finally ported it over from the Commodore 64.

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Trying to install for kids machine

For the Linux zealots:

I am a windows user that has used win95, 2000 (pro, server), xp (laptops), and 2003 server. I use 2003 server as my everyday OS.

I have installed, configured and used fedora (several versions), redhat (pre fedora), suse 9.0 pro, and ubuntu (6.06 Lts, 8.04 Lts). But I do not install any of the Linux GUI's. Mainly because I found them unfamiliar, and they seemed to be slow, and they were resource hogs. But I haven't tried any of the linux gui's in the last several years, so they may have improved.

I operate several postfix mx servers, and several mysql based dns servers.

I can (if needed) reconfigure and rebuild linux packages from source. I have (once) built Win Mysql from win Mysql source.

So (linux zealots) don't call me Joe Sixpack, then blame the user (me).

----------

I am setting up an old dell 400sc for my 5 year old to use. It has: 2Ghz celeron, 256 ram, 40 gb ide disk, usb mouse, usb kb. I have already installed win xp on it, but I still need to spend several hours patching it.

So I read this article and decide: "He's only 5", "he will only be running old edu kids games that might run on wine", "maybe using kid web sites with flash based games".

This is all he really needs... It will probably run much better, since Linux requires less ram, etc to run.

So I download the iso, put in a different (known good) hd and give it a go. That was 5 hours ago, and it is still not installed.

Running from the live cd is brutally slow (at least with 256 mb ram). This is true in standard or safe graphics mode: After booting into linux, it takes several minutes for desktop to fully load and render. Opening apps (if they open), displaying right-click menus, etc, all take a minute or more to load. Jerky mouse (sometimes)

The "install" app on the live cd desktop takes several minutes to load. (ok, something is wrong here... so I download the ISO again, from a different mirror)

Same behavior. The "install" app on the live cd desktop has frozen at various steps several times. Mostly on the first step. One time, the mouse and keyboard stopped responding at all.

I have given the installer plenty of time on the install steps (I went to eat dinner, drove to store, etc).

As of right now, the install is running and is at the furthest point that I have seen it. It is on step 3 of 7 "Starting up the partitioner". But it has been at 46% for a while now. The mouse is responding 30 - 60 seconds after I move it. The caps lock key is taking 3 - 15 seconds to respond.

CD is churning away. System fans are revving once in a while, so something is happening. "Starting up the partitioner" has jumped to 53%, but has stalled again.

My conclusion so far: This will not run (or at least install) on a system with only 256 mb of ram. But I will stick it out, and post again later

to be continued....

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Joke

@ Simpson

Keep it up, pal. You're good!

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@bws

You haven't tried Ubuntu, have you?

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Vector Linux anyone?

No distro based upon Ubuntu can really be called lightweight. I have tried Xubuntu, FluxBuntu amongst others and they really don't run all that well on the specs that Simpson mentions. No particular reason that gOS will run any better.

I suggest that for the PC he is building for his child that Vector Linux may be a much better bet.

Of course, I could be wrong.

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@bws

.. ubuntu works great with every item you mentioned, perhaps you should go back to that pre-2000 stereotype some more and it would really add to your argument.

Also the author notes that there is some conflict about the use of wine in general.

Perhaps there is but mostly its easier to get something running natively than to use wine.

I would love to use GIMP as my main graphics app but having to use PS elsewhere (mac, windows etc) means that i would rather use that, besides GIMP uses different menus and tools which never seem to be easy to get things done with.

PS 6 runs excellently in wine.

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Runescape and WoW

@Gordon Fecyk

The article doesn't say it, but it seems likely to me that the gOS will come with a java runtime. That's all that would be needed to play Runescape (otherwise a quick "sudo apt-get install sun-java-jre" should do the trick -- gOS is based on Ubuntu). My kids use both Ubuntu and Xandros (the Asus EEE linux) to play Runescape with no trouble at all.

The article does say the gOS ships with Wine installed, so it sounds like a good bet for World of Warcraft too. Here's hoping!

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@ Simpson

You are right. I can't speak for gOS, but it is based on Ubuntu which will run fine on 256MB, but probably won't install from the 'live' CD with that little RAM.

For that you need a text-based installation - like the low-tech XP install which is terminal based but displays a few pictures as well (and is not trying to run itself at the same time, as happens with a 'live' CD).

Which is why Ubuntu has an 'Alternative' CD which will install on a 256MB machine as it is not also trying to run the OS in RAM at the same time. gOS doesn't seem to list one of those, so I guess it probably won't work. Which is not surprising on 2000-era hardware such as you are using, frankly - it's a modern-day OS after all. I am surprised that with all your experience you didn't know that, but now you do.

Good luck. :)

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Stop

@Simpson - Trying to install for kids machine

"... 2Ghz celeron, 256 ram ..." BZZZZT - system imbalance detected!

Ouch - recycle those itty-bitty dimms and add maximum RAM if you can. It is always the most cost effective upgrade you can make.

Cheers to you for sticking with the project, otherwise... I doubt I would have lasted that long while waiting for the machine to thrash itself (or maybe me) into another dimension...

T

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@simpson

If you can, wang more RAM in there - I'd put money on that making things much, much better.

Seriously, trying to get any modern OS [IE post Win2k] with less than 512Mb is asking for frustration, even if it's just nasty slowdown, rather than 'real' problems - regardless of what the minimum specs say.

Steven R

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@ Simpson

When you have it installed, try gCompris educational suite, runs native under gnome, in fact I'd be tempted with a machine like his, to use Ubuntu and switch off all the composite graphics as they will kill a machine with a video card of that vintage.

Icon, not wanting to start a distro war, honest

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Trying to install for kids machine part Deux

I couldn't take it anymore. I pulled the plug after 45 minutes with "Starting up the partitioner" at 53%.

I found an additional 128 mb of ram for the machine. So we have 384 mb now.

Completely different experience. The Live CD was snappy. I closed all of the apps on the desktop, except for the sweating flower pot (what is it?), before starting hd install.

Install completed and completed quickly. The "Starting up the partitioner" portion took seconds. Everything seems to work.

Pull wired connection. Insert brand new belkin wifi usb stick. Nothing. No pop-ups or notices. Uh-oh. Check network icon... usb wifi detected, installed, and running. Great!

Haven't got shared key auth working yet, but only tried for 2 minutes.

Gos Peeves:

1.While the 17" monitor was 5ft away and on the floor, the default resolution and font size was too small during the install from the live cd desktop. I think that all OS's should default to a low setting during install, then let the user pick a res after the first real boot.

2. Changing the default resolution was not intuitive. Right clicking the desktop gave several options regarding the desktop, but the screen res was not there. If you are going to bother to have desktop font and background color options available to a right click, group the screen res in there too.

3. The results of a search on the "most used" search engine for 'gos change resolution' referred to left clicking on the desktop.

From the screen shots I saw, I liked the menu (and options) that should popup on a left click. But this feature is missing from the version I downloaded. In this version, I needed to use the gos start-menu and navigate through a few sub menus to change the res. Too much work. If the person can not make out the text due to vision problems or screen size, they will not be able to navigate the text menus to find the settings.

4. I was able to change the resolution, but I was not able to move down one (monitor supported) res at a time. The res would not apply. I found that I had to go down to 800 600, then move up from there.

If those old games will install on this, I think my kid could use it.

He will be less likely to break it too, due to the smaller user base = less profitable targeted attacks against the platform = less vulnerable. But it will all boil down to the compatibility with the existing apps.

Because after all, my kid won't care if it is Windows or Linux, he will just want his stuff to work... Most adults are like my kid in this way. If they buy something at the store or online, they just want it to work. They don't want the OS (or the OS zealots) to make them feel dumb or belittle them.

(I think I will name this "The WIndows lInux 5yr old kid Theorem", or just TWIIT for short. But I do find myself wishing that Linus was named Abe, then it could be "The Windows Abenux 5yr old kid Theorem", or T**T)

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@AC, Steven Raith

Put more RAM in?

I thought it was evil Windows that was the resource hog around here? I thought Linux will run at the speed of light on anything, down to and including a ZX81.

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Linux

@simpson

If the machine is around the 2000 vintage the acpi implentation in many PC's of that era was somewhat buggy to say the least.

Check your running processes (type 'top' in shell prompt) If you see a process, probably "kacpi" using cpu in the high 90 percent range then you can add acpi=off to the end of the appropriate kernel loader in /boot/grub/menu.lst

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Linux

WoW+linux

WoW works fine under wine even on my old laptop which is only slightly above minimum specs (and only has 512mb ram) in unbuntu

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@ bws

Well i can't say what drivers gOS includes but the Eee Xandros has just worked with all the USB peripherals I've thrown at it: External hard drives, memory card readers, mice, printer, even a tatty old scanner. I have a (non-techie) friend who just plugged in his digital camera and it was fine, too. Only thing I've tried which hasn't worked was a USB webcam, which was an experiment for said friend with the cam-less 2G (mine has a built-in cam). And it turns out that there are a bunch of cams that will work off the shelf anyway. So my guess is that the majority of standard USB peripherals will work, especially mass storage devices, printers etc. And especially as gOS is based on Ubuntu, which I believe has excellent support for peripherals.

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Paris Hilton

Netbooks to the rescue?

I find the netbook reference interesting. If anything, netbooks benefit from the simplicity and user-friendliness of gOS. Yet Intel, the biggest proponent of netbooks, is pursuing Red Hat-based distros with their Moblin, even if Red Hat has that server bias. Intel really need to rethink who their partner with.

On a grander scale, what's interesting is that if netbooks do well, Linux gets a big boost out of it. Vista won't scale down, Symbian won't scale up, so what remains? Mac OS X? Too fringy.

Paris, 'cos she and her ilk will inherit the world.

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Anonymous Coward

@Doug

"Windows OEM's can not market any Linux based products "

Go on then explain Dell.

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@Pierre

"man and vi(m) are the only tools one would want if one knows what one's doing."

And that, folks, is why the *nix world is stuck in its little elitist niche (M$ bully-boy tactics to one-side for now).

For all its ills (and these are legion) Windows does at least do things pretty consistently. I can go in via the Control Panel, set options, uninstall etc. I could do the same things via the registry and various ini files (and sometimes have to as the GUI does not give 100% coverage); but that's pretty intimidating if you are not experienced (or without very clear instructions).

A consistent GUI doesn't need to do it all, just most things that most users want. It can at also protect new and learning users from total incompetence to an extent. *nix is making progress in this direction, and it's good to see. I want to like *nix (and I do like many things it does), but it is not there yet for the _AVERAGE_ user.

Not that the *nix fanbois care about that, too busy re-configuring their white elephants from the ivory tower and sneering at the average user who just wants to swap their mouse buttons (or whatever).

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Re: @AC, Steven Raith (Snake Plissken)

Very funny. Get Windows running, fully-featured, from a LiveCD (that is, 100% in RAM, no hard-drive), and then get back to us.

256MB of RAM is plenty for an installed light to medium distribution. The issue is trying to fit a CD of date (up to 700mb) in a quarter of a gig.

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Coat

@Ben Mathews

"law suite"?

Is that where you lose so badly the bailiffs come and take your sofa and chairs away?

I'd love a coat, but the bastards took that as well.

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Anonymous Coward

@Simpson

Firstly running any Linux distro from the live cd is painfully slow, unless you have some pretty impressive hardware. Actually to be fair it's still painfully slow compared with a proper install.

Secondly I had the original gOS running fine on a machine with 256MB of RAM, and by the looks of it the new one isn't going to be that heavy. I have a machine with a 1GHz processor and 256MB of ram running Kubuntu with KDE 4.1 ('cos it's pretty) and that runs OK for the basic home user stuff. So gOS should be fine with that spec.

However, thirdly I have found that installing X/K/Ubuntu from the live CD is next to impossible on that spec of machine and have to resort to the text based install.

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Anonymous Coward

@The nay sayers

I find it interesting that the linux "community" always wants to rubbish any distro aimed at the ordinary Joe. Most of the "reasons" that gOS won't succeed are moot, simply becase the ordinary Joe gives not a stuff about those things. She goes out and buys a laptop from the cheapest local source she can find and just wants to browse the web, send/receive email (usually web mail these days) and view/print digital photos. Yup there are a few (not insurmountable) problems with cameras and printers. However I expected problems with a Nikon Coolpix S10 and Ubuntu and found it worked right out of the box.

If a Linux distro can knock a sizeable chunk out of the cost of that laptop by avoiding the MS licence fee then they will buy that laptop instead of the Windows one. If the OS in question is significantly less resource hungry than Vista (and what isn't?) then that will reduce the price even more. Distributors of such an OS need to be getting the likes of Aldi/Netto/Lidl/At Home/etc on side (in the UK at least, not sure what equivalents there are in the US). The target market won't make a special trip to PC World or where ever if a store they visit every week has a cheap laptop in stock. Do that and you can neatly sidestep any problems the OEMs might have with MS licensing deals.

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Stop

@Simpson - don't waste your time mate!

I've been through all this with my kids.

Issue #1 - there is no Shockwave plugin for Linux.

Flash games don't use the flash player, they use shockwave which has no linux support. Yes, you can install wine and Windows firefox and then the widows shockwave plugin will work, but it's a bit glitchy even on a >1Ghz >1Gb machine.

Issue #2 - Linux MSN compatible chat clients are not 100% compatible.

Ok, with a 5yo you're probably not going to hit this one, but older kids want MSN with all the same features as their mates - ie voice, video, ridiculous 3rd party smilies / nudges / winks / plugin games etc.

Issue #3 - windows only games

Plenty of windows games, commercial and free downloads, don't work with wine.

My solution:

Install XP. Use something like Acronis to make an image of the clean installation. When the XP installation inevitably starts to degrade or gets a virus infection or gets overrun with downloaded crap - just restore it from the clean base image, takes about 15 mins.

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Hmmmm, Beta is right...

Can't get it to play nice with VMWare, and it hangs on the live CD, so there's no chance of it getting put on a HDD of mine yet...

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Avi

The target market mightn't need the configurability

But their slightly-more-techy offspring, siblings, colleagues probably will when they inevitably break it and take it to one of them to fix.

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Flash games on linux

I was a bit puzzled by BatCat's comment that "Flash games don't use the flash player, they use shockwave which has no linux support."

So, just to check, I headed over to www.flash-game.net

Works for me! (firefox on Ubuntu linux, if you need to ask).

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Paris Hilton

@Anonymous Coward

"Firstly running any Linux distro from the live cd is painfully slow, unless you have some pretty impressive hardware. Actually to be fair it's still painfully slow compared with a proper install."

Rubbish. I set up a puppy linux system running from CD on a 7 year old PC with 128MB RAM for a friend and some kids who were used to windows, commented that it was very fast.

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This is EXACTLY what Linux needs!

Sounds great - nice simple install, hides all the inner workings, can be bought off the shelf on hardware configured for it - could probably give one to my parents - as long as they can email & surf the web, they'll be happy...

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