Transitioning to JoliOS

The Computers / Background

From time to time I become discontented with my computing situation. I’ve moved away from having the latest and greatest PC. Now I would much rather have a cheaper PC and find ways to get it to run well.

My life is surrounded by four different computers. I have a computer at the office, a family computer at home, my main laptop, and an older (perhaps 10 years or so) laptop that is making the rounds in my family.

My computer at the office has always been underpowered. I purchased it used because I wasn’t going to be doing any complex computing on it. While it ran Windows XP well for a while, over time it ran slower and slower and slower. The degradation of Windows based OSes is well known. Wiping the computer and reinstalling is an option, but also a pain, especially if there are a lot of windows programs to reinstall.

The family computer at home ran Windows Vista. It too was having performance issues. Every time the kids would visit some webpage, I would hear the fan kick on and it sounded like the computer would take flight. I did not like this at all. I felt the computer was working far too hard for simply browsing the web. Even though the computer is at least five years old, I don’t consider web browsing something that should be taxing for its dual-core, 3 gigs of RAM system.

The older laptop was mine, then my daughter’s, then my other daughter’s and now has been retired because my older daughters bought new computers for college.The laptop is now being shared between another daughter and my son, and at times my wife. It was running Windows 7 (upgraded) and even after wiping the hard drive and reinstalling the OS it still ran a bit too hot in my opinion. The laptop is probably at least 10 years old. It has a good amount of ram, but the processor is showing its age.

My main laptop is an Intel Core Duo running Windows 7. Over the past year and a half it has gotten PAINFULLY slow. One day as I was waiting…and waiting…and waiting for it to load in various webpages, I decided I was going to reinstall windows 7. That’s when I ran into a licensing issue with Windows 7.

As I was reinstalling the OS from an upgrade disk I had, I realized that since the laptop came with Windows 7, I should have ran the system restore. The upgrade disk was the one I used to upgrade to windows 7 on the 10-year old laptop. Opps. This would create a licensing issue. I would now have two laptops running from the same Windows Product Key. I had failed to get the Windows Product key from my laptop and the sticker on the bottom of the machine had wore off. I tried to find the documentation so I could find the Product Key, but no luck.

The Plan

My solution was to install Linux on the 10 year old laptop and forget about doing a system restore on the newer laptop. Ubuntu gave new life to the old laptop. It ran faster and cooler than it ever had. Then I started thinking…with all the other computers running so poorly, why not install some version of Linux on them. So, I thought I would reopen my search for a low-resource Linux operating system.

The Search

Since most of my work and the kids were moving to the web, I thought something like ChromeOS would be a good shot. However, ChromeOS, officially, is only supported on the Google ChromeBooks. There is an open source project called ChromiumOS. I tried ChromiumOS, but I had issues with the wireless card in my laptops. I didn’t feel like tracking down how to fix this, so I continued my search which led me to JoliOS.

What is JoliOS

I became familiar with JoliOS when I was looking for a low-resource operating system a few years ago. I tried it for a while, but at that time it wasn’t what I was looking for. I ended up going with a Lubuntu. However, I continued to be on Joli’s email distribution list. From time to time I would receive an email and for some reason a few weeks ago I decided to try it again.

JoliOS is browser based and web-focused, but you can install regular Linux apps as well. As far as I can tell it is a very customized version of Ubuntu 10.10.

My Experience

I first ran JoliOS from a USB drive. This works quite well. The first order of business is to log in either via a Facebook login, or to create an account on Joli. I opted for the Facebook login. I don’t know why. This wouldn’t be my normal option, but for some reason, on a browser based web focused operating system it made sense.

The system is…very…very…fast. Websites loaded in a blur. I was amazed how quickly image heavy sites loaded. It ran so well, I decided to make it my main OS. I decided to keep Windows on all the computers, but dual boot Windows with JoliOS making Joli the default option.

Joli has given new life to my computer at the office. I was even able to figure how to configure it to work with my dual monitor setup.

Some Issues

Putting Joli on our main family computer created a couple of issues. One issue was with the login. I booted the machine and logged in with my Facebook account. All is good. I browsed around for a while and then logged out of the machine leaving it on for other family members. After logging out I noticed there was a different login screen. There was not the “Connect To Facebook” option that there was before. Now it was a box with username and password prompts.

I tried logging in with my Facebook credentials to no avail. I ended up having to login as a guest and then again using my Facebook login. Odd. Two logins. I didn’t like that. Also, logging in as a guest means that nothing you do will be saved, nor do you have access to any hard drives. Not the best option.

I did find a solution. I discovered that I needed to create an account on the machine for each family member. When a family member logs in, they are then welcomed with the “Connect with Facebook” option. They choose that option and type in their Facebook credentials. Yes, this was a dual login, but it only happens the _first_ time someone logs in. I can live with that. Now the family logs in with their username/password for the machine and goe straight into their Joli account.

My other issue had to do with getting my printer working. Since Joli seems to be based on Ubuntu 10.10, I had some issues when I went to install my wireless HP 3054A printer. The HPLIP included in Ubuntu 10.10 doesn’t support my printer. After the update to HPLIP not working and the HP automatic installer failing, I had to do a manual install. This is a more advanced option, but it worked like a charm and HP’s instructions were great

Happy, Happy, Happy

After working through the login and printer issues, the family computer is setup and working well. I had to explain to the family that it is a browser based web-focused OS, but if they had any trouble or problems or needed to load in a Windows program we could reboot into Windows…which should only take 5 minutes or so. Booting into JoliOS takes around 30 seconds to a minute. Logging in from the Joli login screen to an account takes about 15 seconds or so. I like that.

Joli has given new life to all my computers. So far the only problems I’ve had is with Evernote (which I use a lot) and Logos Bible Software. Evernote can be installed using Wine, or using a program like Everpad or Nixnote. The Logos Bible Software is still and issue for me. I can get some work done using http://www.biblica.com or http://bible.faithlife.com. However, the benefits of running JoliOS outweigh these issues. If need be I can always spend 5 minutes or so booting into windows.

I’ve had Joli on my computers for almost a week. So far I haven’t heard any complaints from my family…except for the normal annoyance of having things change. I only spent about five minutes explaining to my wife and kids explaining how things worked now. I’m finding that they are happy with a browser (but Joli is more than just a browser). I know I’m happy with the increased performance and cooler running laptops.

I might do another post about JoliCloud and JoliDrive, but this post has been long enough.

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5 thoughts on “Transitioning to JoliOS

  1. Nice little hands-on article on transitioning from Windows to Joli OS. It was a lot like my experience over 2 years ago. I believe it was the best decision I ever made in my personal computing life. I never need to worry about buggy, slow Windows or having to run virus/malware protection. It’s allowed me to worry less about that & worry more about why I have a computer in the first place: apps/content. Anyway, glad to hear your good experience with Joli OS. I would love to hear your thoughts on Jolicloud & Jolidrive too. Happy Joliclouding!

    • Thanks Tommy.

      My issue with JoliCloud and JoliDrive is I’m not sure I understand the purpose. I don’t see what I gain by heading to JoliDrive. Whenever I’m not on JoliOS and load in JoliDrive, it seems like I’m just loading in webpages. I don’t need JoliDrive to do that. I really like JoliOS, but don’t see the point of JoliDrive. Thought I’d spend some more time with it though.

      • When you’re not using Joli OS I can see where some people might not see value in Jolicloud. It’s basically a portable desktop of all your apps when you’re not home using Joli OS. It’s a great way to basically access you’re favorite sites & apps without having to use Google Sync or other bookmarking services. And prior to Jolidrive launching it had a way to do searches(in Jolicloud & Google), connecting with friends & seeing their favorite apps too. Those 2 last things have been dropped since Jolidrive launched, but you can still see them in action if you switch to the old Jolicloud desktop via the Joli OS Settings. I think if you saw the old Jolicloud you might see some of the appeal of using Jolicloud outside of Joli OS, but unfortunately it’s no longer accessible outside of Joli OS. :(

        Now Jolidrive is a different animal. It’s totally meant for use without Joli OS. In fact, new users who sign up for the service outside of Joli OS don’t even get the application desktop turned on by default. The whole point of the service is connecting all of your cloud sites in one spot. A central location to be able to consume all your personal content. Notice how I didn’t say ‘maintain’. Right now Jolidrive is in its infant stage & so you’re only going to be able to play, view, read or share your content & without downloading that content I might add. Eventually they will let you do more. I’m expecting the ability to maintain your content – delete, add, edit, download, copy &, move it from service to service, also search across all services. So why use the service right now before the new upcoming functionality? Simple: one login. Once you’ve connected your services you never have to log into them separately. It’s great for when you’re not on your main machine, say a public computer or somebody’s computer where you’re not comfortable logging in using your personal credentials. In fact, I use it daily at work where I have to use Windows 7. Work blocks some of my social services, but with Jolidrive I can still access my content stored on them like photos, music & video. Jolidrive excels when you have more than a couple of services with content installed on them & when you’re having to use more than one machine. If you’re always using just one machine & only have 1 or 2 connected services, then I could understand the lack of interest. If you haven’t connected a whole lot of services I would add a few & try accessing your content. I think you’ll find the one-login & not having to download your content in order to consume your content to be less complicated & a major timesaver.

        • I guess I don’t really need a one login page. However, my daughter mentioned how much she likes it that once she logs in, she can get into all her social media sites without having to log in. Go figure ;)

          • That’s the thing, if you don’t use more than a couple of cloud services, then you won’t see the appeal. It’s not for everybody that’s for sure. ;)

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