Jolicloud OS Seeks To Move Past Browsers


Jolicloud is a new Linux based operating system aimed at netbooks. The developers were nice enough to let us get our hands on their closed development version of the new OS. This distribution is built off of Ubuntu Netbook Remix(9.04 Jaunty Jackalope). At first glance it looks like nothing more than Ubuntu with a new skin, but the difference is deeper. Jolicloud added an App Store type program that offers installation of web applications along with traditional desktop apps. Using Mozilla Prism, web based applications like Facebook, Gmail, and Wikipedia are installed, get their own icon in the launcher, and run without the aid of a browser.


We installed Wikipedia and gave it a whirl. There are no menus and no controls, just the title bar at the top with the webpage as the application. The first issue comes when clicking through to a page and realizing it isn’t the one we wanted. Normally the back button is our friend here, but with Prism, there is no back button. The search needs to be re-run to choose a different result. One saving grace is that when an external link is clicked, the default browser is launched to handle the new page.

The absence of  navigation buttons is not necessarily a deal breaker. When using Gmail, how often do you hit the back button? As web apps become more and more like traditional apps, we think the interfaces will all trend toward self-sufficiency and make browser controls obsolete.


In addition to application installation, the Jolicloud app offers some social networking functions. Each user has their own profile and there are lists for Following, Followers, and Latest Members. For us, the most interesting feature is that Jolicloud tracks which computers are associated with your account. We want to see the customizations and settings such as bookmarks travel with us from one computer to another.

All together we’re rather excited about the potential of this product. Right now it is free and we’re hoping the service would stay that way once released. For now we’re satisfied with a glimpse of Prism in action and a tantalizing step forward for notebook functionality.

Want to try out Prism but can’t wait for Jolicloud?

Here’s how to try out your web apps without waiting for the public release of Jolicloud. If you run ubuntu it’s available in the repositories:

sudo apt-get install prism

If you don’t run Ubuntu you can download Prism from Mozilla.

Run from the command line by typing “prism”. A dialog box will pop up:


Fill out all of your information, here we’re running as an application. This will create a desktop shortcut that launches the web app.

Final thoughts

Jolicloud starts with a great OS, Ubuntu Netbook Remix, and couples it with a different way to use existing web applications. We think the developers have done a great job integrating Prism into their interface and find it very usable. Only time will tell if users are willing to migrate from traditional browsing, to using web apps for what they really are: an application.

13 thoughts on “Jolicloud OS Seeks To Move Past Browsers

  1. I’m a little pissed off at prism. It’s barely any better than just a plain browser. There are features that developers can use to make there applications compatible. It also has some serious problems with linux (can’t convert to image native format). So I’ve found that UZBL is pretty much the same just faster.

  2. I was not impressed with Jolicloud – it’s basically an ugly UbuNBR with the Jolicloud application which is basically a dashboard for a fancy SPM.

    It also jacked with my windows partition and ruined the mbr somehow on install, but I didn’t hold that against it being as it’s an alpha release.

  3. I tried this OS and gave it an honest shot and found it sorely lacking. I realise it is alpha but it is a far cry from cloud computing. It’s not much more than a slick looking UI to ubuntu with built in access to your facebook page. I use linux to help increase my personal security and privacy and because these things are important to me I do not use social networking sites so unless you are a facebook/whatever the next privacy disaster is junky its pretty much bunk.

  4. Using Jolicloud on my Dell Mini, I’ve found its instability and the sheer lack of proper support for the intel graphics (understandably an upstream issue) aren’t justified by the cool webapp stuff, because Prism apps can be created from normal Firefox via the menu.

  5. Hello,

    thanks to hack a day for this nice article. Few comments, your prism is a bit different from the official one. We have compiled our own firefox 3.5 (7 to 8% faster than the original debian/ubuntu one) and have tweaked a little bit to make the experience nicer on jolicloud.

    @xrazorvirex well we hope to beleive we are just more than what you say. We have done some significant modifications and improvements and our users enjoy a larger out of the box experience.

    @zmjjmz it sounds like you are using a dell mini 10 with a GMA500 graphic card, that is not supported yet. We are trying to do miracles on that card but it’s hard with the lack of proper support.

    give jolicloud a try and don’t forget that we are open to comments and improvements. There is some really hard work of a dedicated team to provide an alternative for netbooks.

  6. I currently have it on my netbook and I’m not very impressed with it. The app directory is seriously lacking, in other versions of Linux, including the Ubuntu Netbook Remix, there is a program where you can get a bunch more free and open source programs. Much more than you can get with the app directory. It looks pretty cool, and the navigation is cool, but similar to Ubuntu Netbook Remix. So overall, I’m not very impressed.

  7. i think some ppl over look the concept/idea with jolicloud its more of an on the go Os alot more light weight than other OS and doesnt call for much from the system in terms of requirements to run.

    i should how ever point out the security sucks
    should not have to create a facebook account, it practically forces you to connect to a profile

    the integration of wine was a nice touch but how about someting along the lines of a VM so we can possibly pop sumting from other linux distros as this one doesnt really have support for much
    thats just my two cents.

  8. Yea I know this is an old post but I found it because I was doing a search to see what find out why I can’t to what its supposed to do, or at least I think they are saying what it’s supposed to do. Also I discovered that the current developers are going to stop at the end of 2013 and posted the source to github from Wikipedia;
    ” On 22 November 2013, the developers decided to discontinue Joli OS by the end of 2013, but keep the source code open.”

    The only thing good I can say about Jolie in that it worked with my mini9 WiFi out of the box. I like the feel of Easypeasy but it doesn’t work with the WiFi despite it reporting the the driver is installed and working. In the event all you want to do is surf the web and use web based office suites its OK. However I need to use my mini as I would my desktop whenever I’m away from internet access. Other than skimming the online support and a couple of searches I really didn’t try it that much, but I don’t expect much from free Applications and OS.

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