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The mass proliferation of netbooks seems to have spurred interest over alternative operating systems which capitalize on the mobile nature of these tiny computers. Windows XP works well enough, but it does not treat the netbook any differently than any other computer. To Microsoft, the netbook is simply a new form of computer which is putting further strain on their business by popularizing versions of Windows which are less profitable.
Many disagree with this viewpoint, and some are working to make alternative operating systems a reality. Social networking is being given special attention. If netbooks are supposed to be mobile devices, than it makes sense to give them greater social networking abilities. The three operating systems listed here help make this vision a reality, although they are all in relatively early stages of their development.
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Considered by many to be a good indication of what Google's planned operating system will be like, gOSis very simple. It is a stripped-down operating system meant mostly as a platform for a web browser, such as Google Chrome or possibly Mozilla Firefox. It is Linux-based, but its visual style is so heavily ripped from Apple that it is surprising that the makers of gOS have not been hit with a cease-and-desist order.
The latest version of gOS supports - and perhaps more importantly, heavily promotes - the use of Google Gadgets. These are essentially mini-apps which exist on the desktop and allow instant access to whatever functionality a particular gadget provides. Most of gOS's social-networking functionality comes from this feature, as there are gadgets for Facebook, Skype, Gmail and Google talk.
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A project by the Linux Foundation, Moblin is essentially meant to be the definitive version of mobile Linux. It is built around the Atom processor as a standard, although it also supports other architectures. It is being built with more than netbooks in mind, as well. Documentation of Moblin makes repeated references to Mobile Internet Devices (MIDs). There has yet to be any obvious discussion on if netbooks qualify as a type of MID, although the question will probably become more relevant in the future.
Moblin's most notable feature is Myzone, a sort of social-network desktop. Myzone shows recent activities, recently visited websites, and recent social networking updates. Activities are shown on a sort of list interface, while the websites and networking updates are shown via thumbnails. The interface currently has some clunkiness to it, but it looks impressive and provides a great overview. Moblin also includes the ability to update your status via a toolbar menu, which will in turn update social networking websites like Twitter and Facebook.
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Jolicloud takes a from-the-ground-up approach to building a cloud-based operating system heavily entwined with social networks and internet communication of all kinds. Jolicloud's website includes an "Our Idea" page which serves as something of a manifesto. The creators of Jolicloud clearly believe that the netbook has served a catalyst for change, and as a result their operating system has a unique interface which is great for an operating system based on social networking.
Simplicity is the name of the game for Jolicloud. Most applications are designed to install with just one click, and all the important ones are there, including Twitter, VLC, and even Wine Windows Emulator. More impressive is Jolicloud's social updating system. The operating system promises the ability to "friend" other Jolicloud users, which in turn gives information such as the applications that friend is using.
Jolicloud is currently in private Alpha, but anyone can apply. Full release is slated for later this year.