Hands up if you remember gOS?
gOS was a green-coloured Ubuntu-based Linux distribution that made a splash during early 2008 when it became the default OS on a line of PCs, laptops and netbooks from computer manufacturer Everex. Much of the lesser-known gOS hardware was exclusive to the American Walmart chain – such as its ‘mac mini’ style gPC.
The Everex CloudBook
gOS, and Everex, are perhaps best known for the Everex CloudBook.
The Cloudbook wasn’t the prettiest device ever made, it wasn’t the fastest, and it never lived up to its hype as the ‘ASUS EeePC killer’.
The cloudbook came with a 800×480 resolution 7″ screen; a 1.2Ghz VIA processor (which was slower than the EeePC’s 900mhz Celeron); a mediocre 512MB of RAM; and a slow 4200RPM 30GB HDD.
One of the most remembered ‘features’ of the Cloudbook was its bizarrely placed trackpad.
Reactions to the ‘gOS’ operating system it shipped with were positive. Future updates to the OS continued to refined its feature set and iron out kinks leading to later versions of the OS, such as the MySpace-integrated version that shipped on the MyMiniPC being called ‘simply amazing’ by Slashgear.
gOS – Good Operating System
gOS was based on Ubuntu 7.10, and later 8.04. It originally used the E17 (Enlightenment) desktop environment, but switched to a Compiz-powered GNOME interface for better ‘integration’ with Ubuntu.
gOS made strong use of ‘web apps’, with ‘Mozilla Prisms’ installed for: -
- Google Maps
- Google News
- Google Talk
With such an emphasis placed on ‘web apps’ – particularly those from Google – the ‘g’ in ‘gOS’ was often interpretted as standing for ‘Google’. (Indeed, a lot of early press refered to it as ‘google os’) but it was later said to stand for ‘Good’.
More typical of Linux distributions, gOS came with a variety of non-webapps installed by default. Including: -
- Google Gadgets
The interface of gOS was typical of many Ubuntu users desktops at the time: a (lurid, in hindsight) theme, inconsistent icon theme, layerings of eye candy dock with effects and a raft of applets and icons strewn across the top panel.
The OS would switch between the lightweight wBar dock and the (at the time) 3D-dependant ‘Avant Window Navigator’ over the course of its various iterations – which was indicative of its flip-flopping between wanting to be a ‘good looking Linux distro’ and an OS capable of running on the (often) limited hardware it shipped on.
So what happened?
gOS has to be admired for being one of few Linux distributions to ship on hardware by default, as well as have said hardware sold on the shelves of Walmart.
But where is gOS now? The short answer is ‘defunct’.
Swelled on by the initial success of gOS, David Liu, the distribution’s founder, began work on a truly web orientated OS called ‘Cloud OS’.
A handful of devices running Cloud OS were shown off during Consumer Electronics Show (CES) 2009. Despite promises of deals that would see the OS ship alongside Windows on various laptops, that was, pretty much, the last heard of both Cloud OS and gOS.
The gOS website fell offline; Everex shut down its American operations in 2009; and David Liu moved onto Chinese microblogging service “WoZai”.
I reached out to gOS founder David Liu in hopes of getting a bit more information on why the burgeoning OS was so suddenly abandoned, but to no avail.
Feeling nostalgic for gOS? Want to try it out? Mirrors of the last available .iso remain available for download.
As gOS was typically shipped on devices rather than made to download many of the its earlier versions – such as the version with MySpace integration – are unavailable.