Born for the web

I hope everyone had a full ration of joy and peace over the festive season and that you are all ready for the new year.

One of the surprises waiting for me over the festive season was the arrival of Cell C’s fast and affordable Internet service in my remote neck of the woods.

I had been to the launch last year and had been very disappointed to find that there was no signal yet at my home in Waterfall.

Sometime between the launch and Christmas, it did finally arrive as I found in an idle moment when I plugged the modem into my netbook and found I was connecting to the Internet at hitherto undreamed of speeds.

One of my first acts was to download a 700+ Mb file and I was delighted (a bit of an understatement) to see it arriving on the netbook at speeds of between 3 and 5 Mbps. And me used to my paltry 384 kbps ADSL connection!

The arrival of the Seacom undersea cable, the subsequent bandwidth price war between ISPs, and the Cell C launch means that the time is coming when South Africans are really going to be able to participate in a truly meaningful way in the Internet revolution.

One development in that revolution, launched late last year, and which is going to make a great deal of difference around the world, is Google’s Chrome OS. It is a free operating system for netbooks which is designed to allow people to to access all manner of online applications and services in a quick and easy way.

It looks and behaves pretty much like an Internet browser and has the benefit that its small size will make it much quicker for users to switch their computers on and get on with whatever it was they were wanting to do.

There was quite a lot of hype and discussion about the new OS but I discovered that a competitor had already arrived on the scene, before the Google launch.

Jolicloud (jolicloud.com) was born for the web, according to the website, and is also a free operating system which works along the same lines as Chrome OS.

It has the even more ambitious aim of bringing a decent competing experience within the reach of people who can’t afford new computers, expensive operating systems and applications.

It is relatively small and designed to work on old low-powered computers to make it easy for their users to connect to the Internet and use a huge variety of online applications and services.

It is available for download for free from the Jolicloud website and can be installed on a computer without an operating system or alongside an existing operating system. In that case, the user can choose to use it or the original OS and applications that were on the machine.

Jolicloud will also power new low-cost netbook computers and, in fact, the first of these Jolibooks has already been launched. It can be viewed on the Jolicloud website and I must say it looks as cute as a bug.

I will be installing Jolicloud on my machine and, next week, I’ll report back on it in greater detail.

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