Can a web desktop environment dethrone the current status quo desktop
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Can a Web Desktop Environment dethrone the current status-quo Desktop?. Web-Based Operating Systems. It’s time for a change… . Main point of OS is to create the interface applications need to run on a given hardware set , in addition to their other uses of device, storage, memory management.

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Web-Based Operating Systems

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Can a web desktop environment dethrone the current status quo desktop

Can a Web Desktop Environment dethrone the current status-quo Desktop?

Web-Based Operating Systems


It s time for a change

It’s time for a change…

  • Main point of OS is to create the interface applications need to run on a given hardware set, in addition to their other uses of device, storage, memory management.

  • Software development is increasingly moving away from hardware dependence and being hosted on multiplatform browsers (FireFox), RIA’s (Adobe Flex, Silverlight), and AJAX (Google Calandar).

  • “As cross-platform browsers like Firefox proliferate, reliance on the operating system become less important. The operating system is increasingly relegated to handling low-level function, like writing data to the hard disk.”

  • “The problem of operating system vendors like Microsoft and Apple is that nobody buys an operating system because of how it writes data to the hard disk.” [1]

    -Steven Adler


What is a web operating system

What is a Web Operating System

  • Primary Interface = Browser.

    • Browser will conduct OS “functions”

      • File Access

      • Init Preferences

  • Utilizes a multitude of application servers, databases and storage servers to hold the users applications, preferences and personal files to provide illusion of one cohesive system.

  • Not just a service but a platform.

    • Open Source-Open API

    • Truly “Write Once – Run Anywhere”.


Many try to replicate the windows linux look and feel blueprint

Many try to replicate the Windows/Linux look and feel blueprint:


Purist repercussions

Purist Repercussions

  • Many OS purists see this as an insult to have the name Operating System.

    • Operating systems consist of a complex and intertwined set of abstractions that make it what it is, from not only the user interface prospective as the Web OS claims, but also in areas of processor management and also device management in addition to others.

  • Many implementations require a host OS to run on top of.

    • Is a VM not an OS then?


Web os terminology

Web OS Terminology

  • Source of many forum arguments.

    • Another buzz techword misnomer of a long line.

      • Web 2.0

      • Web Service

  • Better terminology

    • Web Desktop: “Webtop”


  • Components

    Components

    • Thin Client- Preferably a thin multiplatform browser (i.e. Firefox). – Presentation.

    • Application Servers- Manage and maintain the execution of the user’s applications.

    • Extensive set of Web Based Applications- These can be popular widely used applications such as Gmail, Scribd, Flickr, or those made by developers (user community or in-house professionals).

    • Data Servers- Servers dedicated to acting as the user’s virtual hard drives. Provider hosted or third party (i.e. Amazon Web Services).

    • File Explorer- Used analogously to the desktop’s file explorer.

      • User has no idea where data is physically located.

    • Centralized Virtual Desktop- “Webtop” acting as a container to the users specific web apps, file system, “system”preferences.


    App nuts bolts

    App Nuts & Bolts

    • There are two main technologies that are thoroughly utilized when it comes to the creation of a Web OS: Adobe Flash and Asynchronous JavaScript and XML (AJAX).

    • AJAX- Highly touted by Google (Calendar & Gmail services)

    • Flash – More than 98% of all machines connected to internet have a flash player installed.

      -Jonathan Strickland

    • The widespread familiarity with these technologies is one of the primary reasons why there are so many implementations of them.


    Primary implementations for now

    Primary Implementations(for now)


    Web os vs web os

    Web OS vs. Web OS

    • eyeOS

      • Open Source / API

        • Developers drive progress

      • Built entirely using PHP and AJAX

      • Claim to Fame: Excellent API / Toolkit

        • Strongly encourage you to work directly with the source of the system to test your applications and system extensions on. Found on Source Forge.

      • Provides users with their own server if they desire.

        • No sharing resources with the community.

        • Used for testing/educational purposes or simply small group network.


    Web os vs web os1

    Web OS vs. Web OS

    • G.ho.st

      • Best Name! – also doubles as URL

      • Flash and AJAX based system

      • Not a downloadable project yet developed entirely on an Open Source software stack and according to them they have been “moving in the direction of opening our entire web operating system to the community via a comprehensive stack of open REST APIs”[2]

      • Uniquely do not develop applications in-house nor rely on community developers (yet).

        • Rely heavily on 3rd party existing and established apps.

      • These apps are thus “ho.st”ed by them.

      • Interesting Implementation Story: Palestinian–Israeli team span 400 miles of a 20 foot concrete barrier along the West Bank.


    Web os vs web os2

    Web OS vs. Web OS

    • G.ho.st apps:

      • Meebo’s multi-protocol instant messenger Internet radios Last.fm & Pandora

      • Google Docs, Zoho and ThinkFree for office applications

      • G.ho.st keeps track of your external 3rd party accounts and automatically logs you into each subsequent application’s system when you access your G.ho.st account, thus creating a single point of entry.

      • Realize importance of well established data server market. Don’t enter it from scratch!

        • Amazon Web Services-infamous for its service promise of 99.99% availability, scalability, and most important for potential users of a Web OS, security


    Collective strengths

    Collective Strengths

    • Ideal System

      • In addition to the baseline of office, entertainment, and other common utilities

        • Open source basis for development

        • Strong community backing the development of potential applications

        • Ability to port the implementation to a personal server

        • Incorporate external 3rd party applications and service management.


    Web os vs desktop os

    Web OS vs. Desktop OS

    • Web OS advantages

      • Runs within browser, thus we now have applications as well as a familiar environment that travels with us

        • User Perspective (Student/Business Person)

        • Developmental POV

        • Mobile browser proliferation (No Flash)

      • No longer have to worry about the hassle of backing up their disks, no worries of updates.

      • Costs of hardware would decrease due to the fact that a lot of the processing takes place on the hosts machine

        • Netbooks - Good OS’s implementation of ‘Cloud’

          • Works alongside Windows/Linux


    Web os vs desktop os1

    Web OS vs. Desktop OS

    • Web OS disadvantages as compared to Desktop

      • Lack of depth of the products that serve as desktop replacement software in the form of web services

      • Comfort the user has of where their sensitive data is at all times.

        • “Most Web OS providers are small companies and corporations might be reluctant to trust their sensitive data to such firms” [3]

      • Not at the point of ubiquitous internet.

        • Many implementations are only usable if physically connected via CAT5.


    Conclusions

    Conclusions

    • If a provider were to take the basic web OS architecture that has been replicated many times and add:

      • Reliable 3rdparty data center

      • Uniform multiplatform programming facility and community

      • IF (big IF) the internet’s availability and speed are fully realized we would have without question a new status quo.

    • More useful as a machine independent tool.

      • Utilizing the breadth of the tools of the web OS with the depth of desktop applications.


    References

    References

    • [1] “WebOS: Say goodbye to desktop applications”,Steven Adlernetworker Magazine, Vol. 9, No. 4.

    • [2] “G.ho.st White Paper”,Zvi SchreiberNovember 2006, Revised August 2007

    • [3] “Moving the OS to the Web”,Lawton, G.   Computer Magazine, March 2008 Volume: 41,  Issue: 3


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