back to article Google OS gOS - if at first you don't succeed...

gOS, the brain trust behind the failed $200 Linux-based “gPC” at WalMart, has seen fit to throw the dice one more time, introducing an operating system called Cloud that lets your computer boot into a browser. I, for one, welcome this innovation. I've always been a fan of neutering the most versatile machine in human history, …


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  1. Steve


    Something to boot into when Windows gets broken...

  2. Anonymous Coward
    Thumb Up

    Don't hold back, tell us what you *really* feel ;-)

    That being said, you're probably right. This sounds eerily close to Mr. Chair-Throwers pitch for Windows 1.0. (Windows Media Player required, methinks)

    Clock, Notepad, Control Panel - yup, same concept. No worries, MS lawyers will probably put them out of our misery before long.

  3. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Apps . . .

    Reasons why I personally paid more for a Mac.

    Well, partly because I can, because I write software in a dull non-Web 2.0 area, but where people actually need to process tens of millions of pounds per hour, and who will actually pay if you can make their systems faster. If I'd bought another Windows gaming laptop it would have been a Vaio (the last one was an $1800 gaming monster, but I'm more interested in portability now).

    But the real reason I switched, was because I saw applications I liked (OmniGraffle and Textmate to be specific) that weren't available on Windows. Most people don't care about operating systems, but they do switch platforms.

    Consumers do it all the time with consoles. We don't care that we can't run Gamecube games on the XBox. We do care that we can't play some exclusive title of other.

    Linux - no shortage of software, but a bit short on exclusive killer apps. Less than Linux? Even less apps.

  4. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward



  5. Aaron

    AH HA HA

    Ted, they saw your article -- the screen shot on the gOS home page is now of Windows Live Search.

    Classic Google: just as ham-handed with the media as every other large, evil corporation. I love it!

  6. AListair

    order of magnitude?

    whilst i'm not really a mac fanboy, i am a pedant. "order of magnatude" would mean that macs were 10 times more expensive than equivalent PCs. whereas the reality is probably somewhere around 20%,

  7. Anonymous Coward
    Thumb Down


    Ted's moaning about gOS would sound a lot more convincing if it weren't for his earlier decision to ignore the netbook market with the half-assed attempt at trolling that was his "weaktops" article. I can't help but wonder whether the column title is more a judgement on Ted's efforts themselves rather than the topics he writes about....

  8. Geoff Johnson

    Are you looking at this the right way?

    Is this just a fast to boot system that allows you to check your gMail without spending hours booting XP or days booting Vista* but then allowing you to click through into a full OS if you want to.

    Maybe I exaggerated the XP one.

  9. IGnatius T Foobar

    Linux desktops are great

    Unless you need some particular exclusive Windows software title, Linux desktops are great. Millions of satisfied users are a testament to that.

  10. Thomas


    I don't think you're meant to take any of these articles literally; they're either written in character as a Daily Mail-type journalist or written by an actual Daily Mail-type journalist. Hopefully El Reg will kill this column before too much longer.

  11. John Watts

    It's funny you know ...

    But I'm sat next to a half dead laptop with a knackered CD drive that works when it wants.

    It's been passed to my sister from my mum; the broken CD isn't an issue really (except for one major caveat to come) as my sister only browses the web with it.

    So, I'm all set to install Linux with no window manager and just a browser which will keep her completely happy. Of course the knackered CD drive does present a bit of a problem unless I can find my old Debian net-install floppies (and they still work).

    The only other option would be the boot from network option in the BIOS which will be a pain in the arse to get going, but I doubt it's impossible as I'm tapping away now on an iMac - which runs Unix, which means it's feasible.

    I'm not sure what my conclusion is exactly other than that the author is simultaneously right and wrong on all fronts and my current dilema straddles every point made!

    A browser only machine does suit some people and others need a stack with C compilers and the like to do things; which can be found on nice shiny expensive, but extraordinarily good value for money Apples which sometimes do a lot of things that Windows machines can only dream of without jumping through a lot of tiresome hoops.

    I think the lesson is that we should all live in peace and harmony and accept that we don't all fit the same mould.

    "GLIBC and shit" - I'm still laughing now. Not in the 'at' sense either but 'with'. Has the author thought about writing university courses?

  12. mirza
    Thumb Down

    Trolls writing articles on The Register??? Since when?

    First we learn that everyone wants Windows, no matter the price. Then there is contradicting mention that large portion of Netbooks (which is increasing portion of PC market in general) actually use variants of Linux without users crying for being incompatible. In the end author is laughing at gOS marketing blurb like it is any different then one from any other OS vendor. So, you don't like booting to browser? Well, as a programmer I wouldn't use it either at least for 3 reasons (and even if I found OS really suck badly, I don't see any reason for such offensive troll article. But hey, we are in the era of short screaming Twitter-like messages):

    a) Time spent on Web by average user seems to getting close to 100%, so booting right into browser is not so bad idea in my book. Not everyone is programmer or professional MS Office addicted user with Exchange Server organizing his life. Author is obviously too old for concept of people doing everything on the Web (Office + Mail + Messaging + Entertainment). But youngsters are really increasingly operating this way; they are not amazed by new collection of card games in Windows (You know, these are on the Web too).

    b) This OS is created mainly for Netbooks (at least I hope so) and Netbooks are pretty useless for running anything else then Web browser.

    c) Only thing that author actually likes (XP dual-boot) is most stupid thing in this scheme: Windows simply shouldn't be installed on Atom-like devices. I saw many of them, and AntiVirus, AdAware... is killing already zero performance of these machines. As I said, if you are Exchange-Server-jailed user then you have to do it, otherwise use Linux and Firefox.

  13. Mage


    XP Boot time 32 second on over 6 year old Laptop.

    Similar on 3 year old laptop running intrepid Ibex Ubuntu.

    If you need quicker than that you are a Crackberry Addict.

  14. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward


    I wish Ted would stop fucking swearing. It makes him sound like a twat and it really gets on my tits.

  15. Anonymous Coward

    Dear Santa, ....

    For Christmas I would like :

    An O/S that isn't expensive, slow or eats RAM like wasps on a jam pot. (so probably not Windows), is so easy to install and use that my Mam could do it (so Linux is out), and has a superb GUI, plenty of software available and doesn't shout "fashion victim" to every one who sees it (ok, the Mac scores 1 out of 3).

    if I could find an O/S with Microsofts software base, a Mac interface, and Unix speed, then I'd download it. Obviously your elves will be coding it,so in line with your previous policy I will be able to get it free of charge.

    Merry Christmas.


    P.S. I have based my 2009/10 sales projections upon your ability to provide said O/S.

    Failure on your part to do so will result in legal action against you, or in the event that I can not contact you or your associates, the country purporting to represent you (Goodbye Lapland)

  16. Killian
    Dead Vulture


    "I can't help but wonder whether the column title is more a judgement on Ted's efforts themselves rather than the topics he writes about...."

    It's starting to look that way.

    "Still, this doesn't stop some asshat from re-introducing a Linux PC every couple of years, hoping that the price point has become a more powerful motivator than, oh, I don't know, functionality."

    So 'nix lacks functionality? Use of 'asshat' notwithstanding, I remember when blatant trolling was rewarded with a ban, as opposed to being hired as a contributor.

  17. Sunny A
    Paris Hilton

    Kill the column?

    Ermm, why would El Reg do that? Methinks Ted is a fabulous addition to the stable. If I want soft reporting, I will go to the Reuters site. For unmitigated bile, I come here.

    Paris, just because.

  18. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward


    Spot on with the Google glory-stealing! I only read the article 'cos I thought gOS was something new from the guys with the balls.

  19. Erik Aamot

    distribution partners ...

    included Circuit City .. how did they miss getting Woolworth onboard ?

  20. Anonymous Coward

    temperature gauge?

    "....WalMart ... neglected to renew the order after about six months, citing “tepid customer response.”..."

    i'm confused. i'm used to seeing customer response described as 'lukewarm'. is 'tepid' very slightly hotter or very slightly colder than this?

  21. Daniel Silver badge

    Missing the point

    Ted, I think you're missing the point slightly.

    This OS seems to be designed to run next to Windows, Linux, whatever - on a small netbook or laptop. The idea being that you can do some of the things that you do frequently (checking mail, internet etc) without booting the main OS every time. Think of it as an equivalent to the "Instant On" facility offered by some laptops with a very stripped down Linux distro buried in the BIOS.

    Difference here is that you can install this on any laptop, and if the stripped-down (browser) functionality doesn't press your buttons, you can boot to the main OS with one mouseclick.

    I think it's a winner - I will certainly download it when/if it becomes available, to dual-boot on my WinXP lappie.

  22. TimM

    Browser based OS

    Maybe they are shitty at present, but it's not a shitty idea if it's done right (and hosting it on linux is as shitty an idea as hosting it on Windows. Ditch the full linux stuff and go down to raw embedded browser + display/net driver + kernel).

    I'd welcome a "device" that boots in a second, with very low spec, low power requirements, and only comes with net access to run all apps direct off the net in a "browser" (or extended concept of a browser. Let's just call it DHTML apps. Hmm, Adobe AIR anyone?... maybe not!).

    Most of the time I don't need the bloat of Windows, or even Linux for that matter. I just want to surf and read emails, and do it fast. Most desktop operating systems (including Linux), get in the way of that.

    We do still need an even faster internet, and a means of caching apps locally (hmm... Google Gears?... err).

  23. Joel Bjorge

    fantastic idea

    I think this gOS is a fantastic idea - this author is either trolling for arguments or completely misses the point. Press power and you only have to wait a couple of seconds to do a quick email check, adjust a Google document, update your blog, or surf the net without having to wait a couple of minutes for Windows and any startup apps to fill your RAM. Need Word, Photoshop, or WoW? Click the Windows button and THEN go through the wait of loading a full OS, but ONLY when you need to. I love it and will be installing on my laptop as soon as it's released. Who knows if the implementation will be any good or not, but the idea is great!

  24. johnmc
    Thumb Down

    Missed by a mile

    I will grant that the Everex TC2502 was a market flop. But not because it was a bad product. I have two of them -- 1 as a data server, another as the home video server. The hardware and the software was ok for their intended purpose. The blue smock crowd is just too used to Windows.

    As to the cloud OS idea. What's wrong with it? This is the OS that should be on a lot of nettops. But gOS, Splashtop and Google need to coordinate. You still need to be able to work on your machine off grid in a Google Gears fashion and update once logged back on. The idea is sound.

    Fact the concept is so sound that IBM/Canonical/Virtual Bridge are selling this same idea to corporations.

  25. James Weir


    So reg when did you take up un starred swearing, network manager f**k me? Incidentally I agree, maybe ms could allow you to use the browser while booting though maybe I am biased making this post from my android phone

  26. Mike Flugennock
    Gates Horns

    "...Marc Anderessen's Dream in a Bill Gates World"?!

    Oh, dear G@d, if you exist, please kill me now.

  27. Naich

    ...troll troll again?

    As far as I can tell, this is El Reg publishing another linux baiting article to gather hits. And why not? As for failing, I'm seeing these Linux UMPCs everywhere and The Wife's dad was complaining to me the other day, that he couldn't find anywhere that sold the Windows version of that eeeeeeeePC thingy.

    The obvious icon for a bit of a fanboy like me.

  28. druck Silver badge
    Dead Vulture


    Ted is talking out of his arse again, most of the people I know with netbooks, and myself included, spend the entire time in the web browser. Open the lid, there's Firefox, shut the lid and it turns off. I don't even want to know what OS it is using, but I think you can guess it isn't Windows.

  29. Hans Mustermann
    Thumb Down

    Re: missing the point

    Missing the point indeed: if you want that browser up fast so badly that you'd gladly have a whole OS on the hard drive for it... just set that laptop to hibernate (suspend to hard drive) instead of turning it off. There, it wasn't hard. And it needs less space on the hard drive than a Linux partition too. Starts faster than booting any flavour of Linux these days too.

    And on the same idea, let's bury the "yeah, but it's supposed to be a second OS" excuse too.

    1. You don't need a second OS to fast-start to your browser. See above.

    2. Joe Average doesn't want to learn two OS's and configure Firefox and its extensions twice, to do the same job. Joe Average isn't the kind of nerd for which learning a new OS is cool and gives him a topic at his local LUG. Joe Average just wants to get the job done, and if possible never have to learn anything new. He'll just want to learn one set of skills, once, if he can't avoid it completely, and keep re-using it ever after. And if Joe even uses computers in a casual talk, it won't be about the finer points of Gentoo vs Ubuntu, but the (strangely) more socially acceptable nowadays "OMG, computers are hard, I'm not like those nerds who do nothing but learn to configure stuff."

    (Yes, depending on your circle of listeners, you may actually get bonus social points for pretending to be computer-illiterate, or outright stupid. For some people it's hard work to seem or stay that incompetent with computers.)

    3. The dismissive generalizations like "bah, they only need a browser and email" we like to do about casual computer users are invariably false. Yes, someone might spend 80% of their time in a browser, but then they'll want to edit the Excel or Powerpoint presentation they were going to a client for in the first place. (And while Linux does have OOo as a nice alternative, Google's web-based ones aren't even close.)

    4. So basically to get any actual work done, you have to pay for two OS's? Because pay you will, one way or another. E.g., if you're not going to _pirate_ Windows, buying such an idiocy with gOS pre-installed means you pay a few bucks for the OEM version of gOS... and then get to buy Windows at retail price. That saving was passed to you as a loss.

    Why not just stick with one OS which can do both browsing and everything else? Even if it has to be Linux. Heck, I'm writing this in Opera on a SUSE 10.0 Linux box, so I'm not fundamentally opposed to it or anything. But it'll still be a full OS, not an idiocy which boots up the browser.

    And at least with a Linux box you can keep your fingers crossed and hope that someone might actually learn to use it, and stick with it. But shipping a cripped browser-machine is just begging for Joe Average to buy the only OS he knows about: Windows. Or, even more likely, just return the useless thing.

    So basically the whole idea of a stripped-down OS that runs only the browser seems like a perfect fit for a column called "Fail And You." In fact, it's so bloody stupid that it would deserve an "Epic Fail And You".

  30. Daniel B.


    " XP Boot time 32 second on over 6 year old Laptop.

    Similar on 3 year old laptop running intrepid Ibex Ubuntu.

    If you need quicker than that you are a Crackberry Addict."

    Bahahaha ... my Blackberry 8300 takes about 3 *minutes* to boot up. Then again, a Blackberry is the kind of device that is rarely rebooted, or turned off. However, the BB fills that "gotta read mah e-mail real fast" market pretty well. In fact, it turns it more into a "*ding* you got mail (in your mobile)" phenomenon instead.

  31. Anonymous Coward
    Thumb Down

    Aargh NetworkManager

    After having used it's for about 5 seconds in Fedora 10, it's about as much fail as Vista not allowing me to use NTP to fix the clock because the clock was wrong.

    Drop to runlevel 3 to install some stuff you don't want X and a bunch of other shizz running for? Bye bye wireless network! Goddamnit now I can't download the stuff I was trying to install! Argh goddamn POS

    Anyone seriously shipping NetworkManager in a commercial product needs their head read^H^Hmoved.

  32. Dave


    I probably don't know you because my netbook tends to have the mail client open, plus a terminal window. I do use the browser but it's often not running.

  33. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward


    You said it.... "most of the people I know with netbooks, spend the entire time in the web browser" yes precisely because most people with a hammer spend their time hitting nails. Ted is saying why cripple a PC...

  34. TimM

    Re: XP Boot time

    "XP Boot time 32 second on over 6 year old Laptop."

    Hmm, funny as my 4-ish year old laptop takes around 2 to 3 minutes to boot *and log in* to XP. That's not using hibernation. It takes around 45 seconds with hibernation of course, which is why I use it all the time ;). I'd still prefer quicker for times when I just want to quickly look something up.

    My experience of most laptops is a cold boot of XP is very slow. By "most" I mean the average cheap laptop most people will buy. Not a £1000+ gaming rig.

    Doesn't help that often laptops can spend a good 10 to 15 seconds just in the BIOS part, messing about trying to spin up all the fans, detect hardware, beep and then kick into the XP boot!

  35. Chad H.

    Didnt we see this somewhere before?

    A "computer" that isnt a computer, but connects to another computer over a network so you can do your work... Where did I hear about that before?

    Oh, thats right, the NetPC, the Network Computer, and those dumb terminal thingies that were used before that.

    How are those doing? I havent heard anything abou them for a while.

  36. John Savard

    Some Use

    Letting a computer boot up into an internet-browsing mode with the BIOS to bypass waiting for the operating system to boot isn't a bad idea, as long as it's only an alternate start-up, and you still have a real operating system.

    And Linux PCs aren't a bad idea, if they're sold as desktop organizers, or pocket calculators. Maybe with a little work one could go after the $20 price point instead of the $100 price point... the equivalent of a 386 with 16 megs of RAM ought to be doable, at least with a low-resolution black-and-white screen.

    Yes, if it doesn't run Windows, it's no substitute for the full-bore desktop computer that does run Windows. But that doesn't mean it isn't a computer and can't do calculations for you. So it just has to be packaged so as to avoid confusion.

  37. ariszlo

    You don't get it

    The point is that you can use your computer instantly _before_ booting into a full-blown os. That's quite handy if you only want to check your mail or quickly find some info on the web. If you want more, you can boot into Windows or Linux. Why waste precious seconds watching the boot screen and then an hourglass if you are in a hurry and all you need is instant access to the web without the bells and whistles of a full os?

  38. Neoc

    @John Watts

    "So, I'm all set to install Linux with no window manager and just a browser which will keep her completely happy. Of course the knackered CD drive does present a bit of a problem unless I can find my old Debian net-install floppies (and they still work)."

    Having used USB keys to install both Linux and Windows, I recommend this non-CD approach.

    ...Admittedly, to create the USB install you need a Linux or Windows computer with a working CD drive, unless you have the ISO available on a network somewhere...

    Now, if only I can figure out why Ubuntu 8.10 won't create a working USB install key...

  39. This post has been deleted by its author

  40. David
    Gates Horns

    Totall disagree

    You are stuck in a 80s-90s paradigm.

    The future is cloud services delivering to any device including mobiles.

  41. Anonymous Coward



    20% more is an order of magnitude... base 5.

    @John Watts:

    I agree about Macs' value-for-money, especially for programmers. With the (free!) Dev Tools, you have an OS that is difficult to crash, immune to most viruses/spyware, an IDE for C/C++/Obj-C and Java with API documentation, a full Unix CLI, Apache, CVS, support for Python/Perl/Tcl/X11/Kerberos/etc.

    As for selling machines with Linux installed, why not ship them with Wine included? That would run most of the apps you have, and there are free or (relatively) cheap alternatives to the ones you don't.

  42. Bryce Prewitt

    I love you, Ted.

    Can you and Orlowski take on the music industry sometime together, please?

  43. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    RE: are you dense?

    Not able to bend light at the moment, but working on it...

    My close relatives, on the other hand, would be a different story. Their computing needs could easily be mistaken for looking at a fresh copy of a tabloid magazine. Such as >>> hello???

  44. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward


    Well, partly because I can, because I write software in a dull non-Web 2.0 area, but where people actually need to process tens of millions of pounds per hour, and who will actually pay if you can make their systems faster. If I'd bought another Windows gaming laptop it would have been a Vaio (the last one was an $1800 gaming monster, but I'm more interested in portability now).

    ################################### The above was cut-and-pasted

    It would appear The Register are filtering comments about the journalist's use of swearing throughout. My previous message was filtered. Maybe the above cut-and-paste will get this message through.

  45. Marky W

    I like these articles because...

    ...even though so many commentards suspect the articles are at least half-troll, they....just....can' the 'tards that they are.

    and yes i know i am commenting too, thank you very muchly.

    articles 6/10; comments 9/10

  46. The Other Steve

    Dance monkeys, dance.

    There hasn't been a column that provoked such hilariously drooling and ill informed commentage* since the sad demise of Otto Z Stern**.

    All aboard the ROFLCopter.

    *Made up words (net neologism) FTW!

    ** Hint hint

  47. Vincent

    I lol'd

    I found the article rather humorous, although I have to say that the idea of an OS that boots up quickly will probably be useful for people like me, who have a fairly low-end laptop that came pre-loaded with Vista.

    I don't think that Cloud should be used as the only OS on the entire computer though, it'd be a bit pointless, methinks.

  48. Anonymous Coward


    Reg, keep these articles coming.

    On gOS: their piggybacking on Google's name has irritated me for some time. And as for the "instant boot" clowns - I'll stick to sleep/suspend mode on my laptop, thanks. E-mail checking I have a phone for.

  49. Neil

    @Neoc re: Booting from USB key

    If it's a laptop with a floppy drive it's probably too old to support booting from USB...

  50. Neoc

    Re: @Neoc re: Booting from USB key

    "If it's a laptop with a floppy drive it's probably too old to support booting from USB..."

    D'OH! <head slap>

  51. Loki


    I'm a little divided here. On one hand im quite happy to wait 3 minutes for my 8 year old Debian iMac to boot, and i can play games and write docs and surf the web (albeit a little slowly). Boot times are not really an issue for me, so from this perspective gOS doesnt sell (also tried gOS 3 and TBH didnt like it much due to lack of offline features.

    On the other hand as an ex-sys admin, this is closer to perfection for rolling out in a work environment (with the proper proxy setup to block facebook etc so some productivity can be made). When i first started being a sys-admin everyone had dumb terminals at my work. Any problems were either server/mainframe problems (very rare) or a dumb terminal had died. Was the work of 2 minutes to swap out a dumb terminal a log a support call for a relplacement before getting back to some hard work playing Dune 2 over the serial cable with my colleague. These days sys-admins actually have to do some work and spend half their time fixing things caused by stupid users doing stupid things with their computers.

    So, bring back Netstations, or better still VT100 dumb terminals so people at work become productive again.

    Disclaimer: Written at work on Windows with a hard drive full of games......

  52. Henry Wertz Gold badge

    Linux distros...

    The article is, overall, right. Not about Linux never being able to get market share, and Windows dominating forever... but, gos, Linpus, etc., these custom-for-one-machine Linuxes are rather poor, I'm very unsure why they didn't just use a stock distro. Just put Ubuntu or something on there and be done with it, like Dell is doing on the MIni 9. This negates the issues of the Linux distro being all stripped, and their being no apps for it -- there's apps to do nearly everything under Ubuntu as under Windows, plus some Ubuntu apps I haven't seen a good Windows equivalent to.

  53. Frank Bough
    Thumb Down

    I know you were trying to be humorous but...

    "The exception to this rule seems to be Apple, where a small but profitable fraction of customers buy a machine that's an order of magnitude more expensive than a PC but doesn't come with Windows" This is shit, of course.

  54. Jim


    So the people are just gagging for windows ? Listen, the customer will take windows, and like it, because the customer has no choice. But many non-technical people hate using their PCs because of Windows. All those viruses, annoying pop up dialogs, and bundled nagware are enough to make the poor user pull his/her hair out.

    Most non-technical people are unaware that don't, in fact, need MS, Word , Excel or any of that stuff to get their work done. Ted is unaware of it too, apparently. Most people just want to produce documents in peace, and they can do that fine with gOS.

  55. jazzy jeph

    If at first you don't succeed, try swearing

    Absolute drivel, must try harder. And from The Register as well. I'll get my news elsewhere from now on eh?

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