While the relatively cheap hardware of the gPC is a key selling point for this low cost solution, the only hope this machine has for a future is tied to the operating system — a stripped down version of Ubuntu known as gOS.
Figure 7: Screen shot of gOS desktop at 640x480
When you first boot up into the gOS, you see a simplistic desktop with a row of icons at the bottom, three icons at the top, and a Google search bar on the top right (Figure 7). From here you can pretty much do most of the activities that the typical user will want from their computer. The following lists the applications included with the gOS and their functions.
- Firefox: A web browser known for its flexibility and security.
- Gmail: A web based email client that can link into most any email server world wide.
- Meebo: A universal chat client that uses web 2.0 technology to emulate AIM, Yahoo!, MSN, Google Talk, and Meebo's chat program technology for a browser based instant messaging program.
- Google News: A central point for world wide news.
- Google Calendar: A calendar program that can be shared with selected people or the general public.
- Google Maps: The most advanced and current option for mapping and directions.
- Google Products: An online store search engine for merchandise.
- Facebook: A social networking solution for professionals.
- YouTube: The most popular site for online video sharing.
- Wikipedia: A web based community driven source for arguably reliable data.
- Blogger: The top site for creating and building a blog site to keep the world informed.
- Skype: The only world wide solution that offers voice over IP solutions to the general public.
- Xine: A free and open source solution to view video content.
- Rhythmbox: A program that can process online and stored audio media.
In addition to these core programs, the gOS also includes a host of other programs such as Gimp (an open source competitor for Photoshop), a whole collection of games, a CD writer, the famous Open Office suite (a substitute for Microsoft Office), and much more!
The gOS interface is easy and enjoyable to use. The "shelf," as it is called, at the bottom of the desktop on which you can find all the core applications, reminds us of the OS X menubar. While the default desktop is definitely built to encourage users to use the web-based Google applications, there are numerous other applications that are included. This includes games, system configuration applications, xterm (a command line tool), and more. In addition to the installed applications, it is quite easy to find over 23,000 applications and install them with the Synaptic Package Manager. For example, it took us only a couple minutes to download and install apache2, the open source-freely available-web server that hosts millions of web sites world wide. Ironically, we should note that it is harder to locate, download, and install apache2 on Windows that it was on gOS.
We could go on for ages about gOS — but why bother when you can simply download the operating system for free from http://www.thinkgos.com/downloads.html? While the online version doesn't include some of the media player options, it should be enough to introduce you to what gOS has to offer. Of interest, along with the gPC you will get a gOS restore disk that can be used to install the operating system to other PCs — including virtual machines.