I openly declare myself as a zealot when it comes to Open Source software and applications. To me it defines the spirit of the internet in terms of open free access to information through global collaboration.
Today I came across a cool Web Operating System called Online Operating System (OOS) which provides users with an online desktop and set of applications they can access from anywhere with internet access. It comes with a file manager, a system control panel, several utility programs (text editor, image viewer, games, etc.) and a comprehensive groupware suite.
The user interface seems at first glance to be fairly intuitive. I was able to create and save a document, set up a basic web page and send and receive mail from my new oos.cc account – all within minutes of signing up. In addition to the applications themselves they offer all users 1GB of free storage for files, photos and an OSS homepage.
User surveys in the forum show an age range of 17-38 (now 42!) and that most use the system for a combination of file sharing, desktop portability, free webspace and in a surprising number of cases playing Lemmings. But as one forum user states “This is the future of application delivery!”
The OOS project aim “is to create a common platform for and a comprehensive set of modern web applications, freely available and easily accessible on the internet” which fits in nicely with my utopian ideals. It is published under the GNU General Public License (GPL) and offers a Develop Suite which gives view and edit access to the source code of all available applications. Documentation for the Developer Suite is promised soon.
The system claims to introduce a new architecture, or paradigm, for web applications based on AJAX, DHTML and what it describes as “novel approached to http pushing”. Web 2.0 applications like this combine standardised technologies such as XHTML, CSS and AJAX with user-oriented design aiming to redefine web applications. For the user this means the ability to perform functions such as drag and drop and to be notified of changes and updates in real time.
All of the big web players have an interest in this thin client technology, but the OSS feel that their open architecture and strong focus on usability and extensibility put them ahead of the competition. I hope they’re right.