Sep 4, 2009

EyeOS - a Cloud Computing Operating System

There has been a lot of fuzz about cloud computing. This IT service concept involves hosting of data and applications on remote servers. However, the concept "cloud computing" is very fuzzy and has been stretched a lot. In this post I will take a look at eyeOS, an open-source cloud operating system, developed by a small team mainly situated in Barcelona, Spain. The company makes money on technical support.

Cloud Computing

Many people are unsure what cloud computing is really for except paying monthly fees to service providers and loosing control of data and applications. You might want to hear and see Google's Eric Schmidt, Microsoft's Steve Ballmer, and Oracle's Larry Ellison try to explain and give their opinions about cloud computing.

Maddog Hall, a well-known programmer with near mythical status in open-source circles, explains his opinion about cloud computing in this video and he emphasizes the importance of open-source for cloud operating in order to keep in control. He explains that he likes about eyeOS that you can stay in control.


EyeOS

I installed eyeOS on free web host. My first impressions were that it's very lightweight (installation occupies on the order of 100kB) and that installation is child's play: basically it consists in uploading a directory to a web server (see a list of web hosts you can choose from) and going to a web address. Installation takes no longer than 5 seconds and you are only asked to provide the eyeOS root password.

The system has an attractive GUI and is very responsive. Applications include office software that have the capability of reading and writing of microsoft doc and openoffice.org formats. EyeDocs word and openoffice support may not work, if you use one of the free web hosting services, because the server needs openoffice installed, however there is software that allows to integrate your documents with Zoho Office, which works alright.

There are more apps available at eyeOS-apps, all written in php, the programming language of eyeOS. Installation of new software is very easy (although a package manager would be nice). There are also several themes and internationalizations available. Synching your data is very easy (explanations, download).

Note that eyeOs does not help you if you are searching for a proxy for example in order to access internet sites which are behind a firewall (say you are in China). (EyeOS does not work as a proxy for performance reasons. Although its navigator allows you to choose alternative proxies, content is accessed from the host navigator by default.)

You might want to see this nice screencast.


Many conclusions from this review article of eyeOS, are still valid after two years and the big question remains: what does eyeOS provide that you cannot find in online services, such as google docs and other services? Anyways, see eyeOS maintainers answer "what can eyeOS do for me?". I am not completely sure what it can do for me, however i think i will use it for storage of some documents.

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