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.
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.
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.
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.
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.