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Rocket gOS 2.0, the latest Ubuntu-Google marriage, days away


That was fast. Only two months ago, Good OS, a startup Linux distributor, exploded on the scene with gOS 1.0, an Ubuntu-based desktop Linux with dedicated links to Google applications. Now, the company has announced that it will release the next version, gOS 2.0, Rocket, at CES (Consumer Electronics Show) in Las Vegas on Jan. 7.

Good OS’ gOS 1.0 surprised everyone by blasting off into being an extremely popular Linux distribution with no forewarning. Introduced with the $199 Wal-Mart PC, the Everex Green gPC TC2502 gOS became just as much of a story as Everex’s ultra-affordable desktop PC.

Like gOS 1.0, gOS 2.0 is built on top of Ubuntu Linux 7.10. Instead of the more popular KDE or Gnome desktops, gOS uses the lightweight Enlightenment E17 interface.

What’s different about this version isn’t any fundamental changes with the operating system; it’s the new chrome it puts on top of the Linux desktop. For example, as only makes sense for a Linux that depends so much on Google and Internet access, Rocket comes with Google Gears. This is Google’s beta online/offline synchronization technology. With Gears 0.2, developers can use JavaScript API (Application Programming Interfaces) to create online applications that will have some functionality even when the net is down.

Gears pulls this trick off by installing a local-use-only Web server on a PC, a PC-based database for storing application data and a synchronization engine called WorkerPool to keep your local data and settings in tune with the application’s Web server. A Firefox and Internet Explorer browser extension provides the matrix for the JavaScript API to pull this together. On gOS, Firefox, of course, is used.

At this time, though, Gears is still very much a work in progress. To the best of our knowledge there are no mainstream Google applications, except Google Reader, Google’s blog and RSS reader, which currently uses Gears. To make it more useful, Good OS will provide an updated list for Gears-enabled applications for its gOS users.

GOS 2.0 also includes a new browser-based Web-cam application, gBooth, that was written specifically for gOS. It’s designed to work with Facebook, the popular social network. It also avoids the problem of hardware compatibility by being produced in concert with Ezonics, a Web cam manufacturer, to create the “gCam,” a Linux- and gBooth-compatible Web cam. This device will also be available on Jan. 7.

In a press statement, Ezonics’ CEO Liu Ping said, “We’re revamping Ezonics in 2008 to be ‘Web-2.0’ focused and ‘Linux’ conscious. We are excited to work with gOS to launch the gCam as a first-of-many, Linux friendly, cloud devices.”

In addition, the new gOS comes with dedicated shortcuts to Google Reader, Talk and Finance and Google search integration into the desktop itself. It also provides access to online storage via

The new gOS version will be available for download Jan. 7 from the Good OS site. Developers can pick up the gOS Rocket Developer Kit with VIA motherboard and CPU from Everex will be releasing gOS 2.0-powered computers–the Everex CloudBook, gPC, gPC mini and gBook–at and other vendors in February. While pricing has not been announced for the new gOS PCs, it’s expected that, like the Everex Green gPC TC2502, they will be very low priced.

A version of this story appeared in DesktopLinux.

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