It's taken the best part of a year to arrive, it's sporting a new interface and it's still a Ubuntu based distro.
Yes, Jolicloud has finally shed it's beta tag, but is it all it's cracked up to be?
Let's have a look...
Being a Founding Member (how grand does that sound?), I was lucky enough to get my upgrade before most other users. I had installed the beta on my girlfriend's EeePC 1005P and when I received the invitation to upgrade (via email) I simply logged on to my Jolicloud account using her machine and looked at the updates.
Lo and behold, I got this screen:
A quick click on the Update Now button started the process:
When it had finished, which didn't take long, it asked for a restart:
After logging in, it asked me to connect to the internet.
This threw me a little, as my wireless was connected (as you can see by the icon in the system tray, but after checking that I was connected to the net I hit the "Okay, I'm Online" button.
Then it asked me to sign in to my Jolicloud account...
And then the desktop appeared.
I should point out that successive restarts did not ask me to connect to the net or sign in to Jolicloud. It's a regular Boot > Login > Desktop affair.
On first run, shortly after the appearance of the desktop, it asked to synchronize some apps. I'm not entirely sure what it meant, but I went along with it anyway.
So, this is the dektop:
It's different enough from the old netbook interface to warrant the amount of work that has gone into it, but at the same time it makes you wonder why they stuck it on top of the first non beta release. Surely beta releases are what this kind of thing is for? Then again, it makes sense that they are slowly rolling out this upgrade, which I have to assume will give them time to make some fine adjustments as the opinions and bug reports roll in from the community.
Ignoring the big, green Add button for now, there is an icon laden bar next to it which holds other stuff.
The first button will bring you back to the Apps desktop. The second button, with the satellite dish, is the Social desktop where you can, if you're that way inclined, socialise with other Jolicloud users.
Nope, I'm not following anyone and I am not being followed. This, for me, remains a mystery. Why would I want to follow other users? I'm sorry Jolicloud, but I'm just not interested in seeing what other users are doing. I've got the rest of the net and it's community to find out what the latest and greatest apps are.
I've no doubt that there are users who find the social side of Jolicloud attractive and useful, which of course is one of your goals.
But, it just ain't for me.
Anyway, the next icon along is a folder. Any guesses as to what this might do? Because if you think it's going to make your file manager appear... You. Are. Wrong.
Yes, it does look a little like a file browser, but if you click on one of the folders...
Um, I'm not sure about this. It seems that the file browser desktop opens the file browser. In which case, why not just make the icon open the Nautilus file browser? Or put a shortcut to the home folder somewhere on the Apps desktop?
Down the left side of the screen are buttons that will synchronise folders with various online storage facilities which is very handy for those living in the cloud. Another hit for the Jolicloud team who are really pushing this distro at web based users! Well done!
But, again, it just ain't for me.
Back to the icons and the last one is a cog and this is where you can look at your Jolicloud account details, which devices you use Jolicloud on and so on.
Now, the devices bit shows which devices you run Jolicloud on. Jolicloud will automatically sync all your Jolicloud devices, thereby every time you make a change to your setup, it will save your preferences somewhere in the cloud. Next time you log in with a different device, these changes will appear there also.
They've really got the hang of this cloud thing, haven't they?
So, the big, green Add button.
Hit it and you're taken to a mind boggling selection of apps to add to your desktop.
All you have to do is hit the Add button next to the app you wish to add. You are not asked for the root password and it it installs it with the minimum of fuss. It's as painless a process as you could wish for. The app will appear on your desktop automatically and if your desktop is full, it will appear on a second desktop, which will be automatically created. Like this:
At the bottom of the screen are some white dots, which represent your desktops. Moving apps from one desktop to another is as simple as dragging them to the relevant dot. Removing application icons is as easy as clicking on the name of the app on the desktop and choosing Remove from the menu that appears.
So, adding, moving and removing apps from the desktop is a very easy process. If you're an Android user, you will understand how it works already.
However, I am at a loss when it comes to removing the application completely. In my example above, I added Skype. I have now removed the icon from the desktop but there is nowhere, I'm sure of it, that allows you to remove the app from your system.
Yes, I could open Synaptic and do it through there and I could do it from the command line, but these options are unknown to the uninitiated. I can only imagine that this will be rectified in a forthcoming update.
22/07/10 Edit: A Jolicloud rep has confirmed that the developers are working on this issue and an update will be issued! :)
So, what else? Running on this machine, all the hardware (minus some hotkeys) works out of the box. It's quick, much quicker than Ubuntu's NBR and it comes with plenty of codecs, flash and all that jazz, giving it's user experience the edge over many other distros. Updates are all handled by the system in the background, so you don't have to worry about that any more.
My missus loves it. She can surf, do her emails and office paperwork, watch video, listen to music... nothing too taxing. She owns an HTC Desire and has likened this release to using Android. And that's a good thing.
It's incredibly easy to use, if a little confusing at first, and it's as stable as you could hope for. And it's screaming to be put on to a touch screen device.
If I was building an iPad clone, this is the OS I would choose for it. Jolitouch, anyone?