Tuesday, March 07, 2006

eyeOS 0.8.11

The eyeOS project is one that I have been checking in on from time to time. I've been keeping close watch on it because it seems to have a great deal of potential. For those who are not aware, eyeOS is exactly what people have been thinking might happen to the Internet. It is essentially an operating system that runs in your browser.

Now, they have a demo version online, but today, I decided to install their 0.8.11 version on my server and see how it was to work with. First of all, I have to say that this may have actually beaten WordPress for easiest install. If not, it definitely matched it. It was incredibly quick and easy. It was basically the following:

Download the files. Un(tar/zip) them. Upload the whole folder to somewhere on your web server / host. Change the permissions on three folders. Then point your browser at the new main folder, and it starts the install script which only asks you for a password and username. That's it.

Then when you go to your new eyeOS folder on your domain, you see this login page:
EyeOS Login page

After logging in, you are shown a desktop type environment inside your browser:
EyeOS Desktop page

There are several applications buttons on the screen, and I explored through those some. This is a view of eyeEdit (a file editor) and eyeBoard (like a tag board).
EyeOS eyeEdit and eyeBoard

One thing I found interesting about the eyeBoard was that it did function for simultaneous connections (I created another account in eyeOS for a friend and had him log in and type on there also) and essentially worked as a regular tag board or pseudo-chat.

Of course, for more communications there is a full contact book (eyePhones) for you to use, and a calendar system (eyeCalendar) integrated.
EyeOS eyePhones and eyeCalendar

Additionally they offer built in themes, and you can also change the 'desktop' image. This is in the eyeOptions application. I definitely appreciated that because the default scheme was just a touch too light and somewhat hard on the eyes for me. They have two alternate themes built into this version by default, one that is a Mac style, and one that is more Linux like. Amazingly, I could actually see the log out and the trash can when I switched themes :P
EyeOS eyeOptions Changing the Desktop

The only thing that I did notice was this error coming up periodically.
EyeOS Recurring Error Box

This mostly happened when I tried to do too many things too fast (okay, so I was a bit jazzed trying it out). I'd be dragging windows really quickly, or swapping through them, and I'd have this pop up. I just clicked 'continue' and let the script catch up and it was fine every time.

Overall, I really can't express how exciting I think this project idea is. For a long while people have been speculating whether or not we will just start having barebones computers with browsers and that run it all.. and if it were hosted by several main companies, an end user would have their files anywhere, and never have to update their OS. Very nifty.

Probably the most cool thing about this idea: It's not only opensource (GPL) ... but it's made with XHTML, XML, Javascript, and PHP... so this lovely little (only 2.3 megs untarred!!) virtual OS can easily have most Ajax apps merge into it with just a few modifications for interpretation. That said, you need to be using a modern browser to use it.

Very neat stuff. You can donate to the eyeOS project, or you can help out by making little apps or graphics, or various other things any open project usually needs. The new app of the week they are talking about is an add-in blog application.

~Nicole

Cross-posted to take your comments on Beyond Caffeine.

Monday, March 06, 2006

Patents for the Web?

How far will this go? I have read many of the online discussions regarding the new patent granted to Balthaser.

What caused the original panic (myself included) were quotes like the following:

From News.com
"The patent covers all rich-media technology implementations including Flash, Flex, Java, AJAX and XAML and all device footprints which access rich-media Internet applications including desktops, mobile devices, set-top boxes and video game consoles," Balthaser added. "Balthaser will be able to provide licenses for almost any rich-media Internet application across a broad range of devices and networks."


and this headline from Information Week
The patent--issued on Valentine's Day--covers all rich-media technology implementations, including Flash, Flex, Java, Ajax, and XAML, when the rich-media application is accessed on any device over the Internet, according to the patent holders.


From what I can determine from reading the actual patent text (which is beyond ridiculously long) - what they are patenting is ability to create a online interactive web creation application. Does this encompass some existing technology? Likely. Future technology? For certain.

What concerns me is that this definitely allows, and even forces, a monopoly on online interactive web site creation apps. If the patent holds up in court, it will make it extremely difficult for anyone who would attempt to create an online application for creating websites (even if they were to open source it or otherwise provide it for free) because those people would have to license the technology rights to even create an online web site creation app. With the whole Web 2.0 innovation movement, it is so likely that someone would have / could create a better product (I mean truly, the accessibility part of me just cringed at the fact that their web app is flash based and creates flash websites). So much of the new internet, and current technology as a whole, is different. The Open Source movement is gaining in strenght, and the amount of open projects that have been successful is beyond impressive. It feels like taking a step backwards to allow patents on broad-based open concepts like this.

Overall, I find the whole matter quite disturbing.

~Nicole

Cross-posted to take your comments on Beyond Caffeine.