Downloaded the Green Operating System (gOS)...So I downloaded the Green Operating System (gOS) and was all set to get my hands dirty. I just didn't realize how much work it would take for me to get it up and running.
Some setbacksTo be fair, it wasn't very hard to load it on Virtual PC 2007. Create a new Virtual PC machine and harddisk, capture the downloaded gOS iso image in Virtual PC and 5 minutes later, I'm looking at the boot screen.
Simple, right? Wrong. After taking a few minutes to load everything, the mouse isn't detected in Virtual PC. I thought I did something wrong. So I tried reseting. Nope. Again. Still not working. About 5 tries or so later, I turned to Google for help.
Help is around if you know where to find it...Because I knew gOS was really Ubuntu underneath, I turned to the Ubuntu website for help. And there it was - How To - Configure Ubuntu for Microsoft Virtual PC 2004 (works for 2007 as well).
Fortunately the mouse fix was there. (Mouse support is necessary to even begin installing gOS, unless "single only-ubiquity" is manually entered. The "single only-ubiquity" tip comes from here.) Just enter
into the boot options and after installing edit the kernel boot line in GRUB to make it permanent.
Another oddity I experienced was that the gOS live CD boots in 1152x768 in Virtual PC. I managed to fix this after installing by selecting a screen model (it was originally generic) and changing the screen resolution. I didn't test out my sound, but my network card was working. :)
Thoughts and comments about gOS, after 15 minutes of use
The lure of gOS (at least for me) was the Google and other webapps integration. While they work well (clicking on any of them will open a new tab in Firefox or open Firefox), I found them to be no better than Firefox's bookmarks (same functionality).
I'm unsure how transforming bookmarks into pretty icons is any better than plain old browser bookmarks. Maybe it increases accessibility, but clicking the Firefox icon, which is also sitting in the dock (you don't see it in the screenshot because some programs are hidden), and finding the appropriate bookmark isn't that hard. Firefox even makes this more convenient with its bookmarks toolbar. Stick all your frequently used webapps in Firefox's bookmarks toolbar folder and you have gOS in Firefox.
About the Google Search bar you see in the top right, it's just a WebRunner widget. Type in a search term, press Enter and out pops a window called WebRunner. You can think of WebRunner as a stripped down Firefox (no menus, no tabs and a bit irritating when you do need them). WebRunner was recently renamed to Prism in case you thought it was familiar. Again, this is already in Firefox, although this makes it slightly easier. :) (Another thing I noticed was a custom Google search page that loads when you use this search. Is this allowed?)
For offline use, gOS comes pre-installed programs like GIMP, OpenOffice, Xine Movie Player, Rhythmbox Music Player, a CD/DVD writing app and games. Nothing spectacular here, so I won't touch on it. :)
Final wordsAfter using gOS for a while (and typing the parts above :) ), I realized that it was quick and responsive even in a virtual environment, making it great for older PCs. Once installed and setup, gOS was simple and intuitive to use.
However, the same can be said for Ubuntu as well. And since you can configure Firefox to replicate the functionality of gOS (it's close enough, only an extra step of running Firefox), Ubuntu would likely to be a wiser choice as support for Ubuntu would probably far exceed that of gOS (there is a tech support aka Q&A button powered by FAQLY but only a few questions exist at the moment).
gOS is a cool idea, but I think Ubuntu is also quite user friendly. :)