The move towards online storage and web applications has been going on for a while. Soon enough, users will enjoy the ability to combine all of the documents and applications in central places so that they can be easily accessed from any computer via the internet. With the advancement of services and online applications available for free, plus the high-connection speeds available everywhere, it’s only logical to rely less on the local machines, and to take the tasks and documents on the move.
A group of youngsters from Barcelona started eyeOS back in 2005 with a clear vision of the future of the web. eyeOS is an open source operating system that is built to be placed entirely on a given server and accessed remotely. This basically means that it is no more than a simple, yet comprehensive, script that you upload to your server. It gives you an interface that is very similar to that of a Linux distribution made for the desktop, only tailored to work entirely online. Therefore, you can access your eyeOS from anywhere, view/edit/share all of your documents that are stored remotely, use the web applications available, and more.
Here are some screen captures that can help you visualize what it’s like (you can see the full set of screenshots at the eyeOS website):
The features of a self-hosted cloud operating system in general, and eyeOS in particular, are endless. The ones that stand out are the following:
- Free and open source: Yet another beautiful product from the open source community. No need to pay anything whatsoever, and you have the advantage of constant free updates
- Everything on your server: You no longer have to worry about carrying everything with you, moving things between computers, etc. With eyeOS, you potentially have all of your needs in one place to be accessed from anywhere. Moreover, you install it on your own server, meaning you have full access with complete freedom
- Sharing documents: Now that you have all of your documents in one place, you can take advantage of the public folder to place all of the files that you would like others to access. Not to mention that you can allow people to sign up for accounts, or create accounts on their behalf, granting them access to certain directories. The best method to share photos, documents, etc.
- Web applications: the eyeOS developers’ community is constantly growing offering tons of free web applications to install on your OS. Now you can view and edit all of the office documents, for example, directly on your remote server. There are more and more applications available, all free and open-source. It already comes packed with applications such as an FTP client and an RSS reader
So where’s the catch? There isn’t really, it’s only a matter of time before everyone fully relies on eyeOS and the likes. For the time-being, there are some drawbacks:
- Speed and performance: Remember, everything is done via remote server. You need to have a very high speed internet connection, otherwise simple tasks might be somewhat frustrating. I personally think a 10Mbps broadband speed would be ideal, any less, and you might not appreciate its efficiency
- Application list: Although still growing, it’s obviously still lacking many of those applications that users have taken for granted on any given OS
- Upload limit: Many servers do not allow you to upload files of over 2MB in size via HTTP. Sadly, unless that changes, than a lot of time will be wasted moving large documents to the remote server via an external FTP client
The best part of it all is how easy it is to install and run. All you need to do is:
- Go to http://www.eyeos.org/ and download the file
- Using an FTP client (needless to say, FileZilla is the best), upload the directory to whatever location you want on your website
- Direct your browser to that directory (for example: www.mysite.com/eyeos), a click or two, and voila! You’ve successfully installed eyeOS
It is clear that eyeOS is the future of the web. Relying less on individual PCs and centralizing data is the way to go. As more and more developers join the project, and as the internet reaches further and at higher speeds, there will be very little preventing the regular users from going open source, and functioning fully online.