Web operating system

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1 Definition

A Web operation system' (also WebOS or Web OS) is a kind of rich internet application that include some applications (e.g. for writing plus operation system functionality such as file storage and a permissions system. It typically runs in a web browser, i.e it is available anywhere.)

“A WebOS is a web-based app (generally powered by either AJAX or Flash technologies) that emulates the application capabilities of an operating system. It's basically a virtual desktop that gives you communication tools (like email and instant messaging), productivity tools like word processing, and ability to play games and any other application that you'd find on a typical OS like Microsoft Windows. But that's not all - a WebOS should be an expandable platform (just like Windows) that gives developers the right tools (IDE, APIs) to develop new applications and add new utilities.” (Emre Sokullu)

Common to all uses, a Web operating system is distinct from Internet operating systems in that it is independent of the traditional individual computer operating system. (Wikipedia - Web operation system, retrieved 15:56, 12 December 2007 (MET)).

See also webtop, similar web 2.0 applications but with less "OS" functionality.

2 Can there be such a thing as a web os ?

Webtops that claim to be web operating systems include a file system, application management systems and so on, i.e. they do overlap more and more with the typical functionality of an OS and therefore may be entitled to use the operating system word.

YouOs, for example, is defined as “new type of platform for web applications. We're trying to build a single place from which you can access your data, and run a multitude of applications, written by anyone in the YouOS network. Ultimately, we want the data and apps on YouOS to be accessible not only through any browser, but from any number of devices. Your stuff, anywhere, anytime, anyhow. It's still early, but that's our vision.” (A Clean 'Slate', retrieved 13:03, 27 April 2007 (MEST)). This doesn't look that different.

McManus (2006) states that “ the key difference from Ajax homepages is that a WebOS is a full-on development platform. The likes of XIN and YouOS are application development platforms that also offer things like file storage. Services like Netvibes and Live.com are more of an interface for web content and mini apps like gadgets (some, like Netvibes and Pageflakes, also offer APIs).” ([1], retrieved 13:03, 27 April 2007 (MEST).). Anne Zelenka agrees that “ Ajax start pages like yourminis, Netvibes, and Pageflakes overlap in intent and function with the Web OS offerings, the difference being that a Web OS includes a full development environment and often email clients and other desktop software replacements.” ([2], retrieved 13:03, 27 April 2007 (MEST))

There's an ongoing controversy upon whether the new breed of WebOSs, that include eyeOS (which is Open Source), YouOS, G.ho.st, and DesktopTwo are actually OSs that fall within the broad definition of the term [...] On the other hand, as these services start to include a file system, application management systems and so on, they do overlap more and more with the typical functionality of an OS. (Wikipedia - Web operation system, retrieved 15:56, 12 December 2007 (MET)).

3 Software

eyeOS probably will be the one most adopted by the educational technology community, since it is open source, free and popular. Also, the next release (1.0) promises an interesting Microkernel and API. Finally eyeOS has communities in several countries and one can either use an existing server or install ones own. But nobody can tell really...

3.1 Web OS

Some of these systems can be tried at opensourcecms.com (see the lite section)

Desktop On Demand
Soongy webOS
Psych Desktop
  • XIN Homepage
  • Xin (Wikipedia)
  • doesn't seem to exist yet (13:03, 27 April 2007 (MEST)).
  • Virtual OS (Wikipedia). “ Virtual-OS is an open source web operating system or distributed web desktop developed by Advanced Webhosting Network that creates a shared virtual desktop environment on a remote server to promote collaboration, simplify content management and potentially reduce the effort associated with network installation”.

3.2 Your own server

eyeOS - the server

4 Links and references

  • Farber, Dan (2007), From semantic Web (3.0) to the WebOS (4.0), ZDNet Article, feb 14, 2007, HTML.
  • Kropf, Peter, John Plaice, Herwig Unger (2007). Towards a Web Operating System (WOS), citeseer.ist.psu.edu/508728.html
  • McManus, Richard (2006)., WebOS market review, ZDNet article, April 24 2006. HTML