New gOS Reviewed
by Eric Vititoe
Customers now have another choice in the cheap PC market. Wal-mart is now selling a $199 personal computer running gOS, a derivative of the Ubuntu Linux 7.10 distribution. While I haven’t yet touched the hardware, I have downloaded, installed, and tested the operating system.
The stock hardware for the $199 machine utilizes a VIA C7-D 1.5GHz processor, 512Mb RAM, an 80Gb hard drive, and a CD burner. While not a power horse, this machine will suffice for the average user.
The new gOS is simple to use, even for someone new to Linux, as I am. It comes with many programs pre-installed, such as OpenOffice, GIMP, FireFox, and a host of games. From my experience, the average user should have no problem surfing the internet, checking email, or typing the occasional document.
Installation is simple. Boot and run from the cd. Once in the graphical interface, you can run gOS straight from the cd, or choose to install to your hard drive. Simply click the install icon, answer a few questions, and it does the rest by itself. It even has a partitioning template for those who don’t know how to partition the hard drive. Reboot after install and gOS is completely installed.
The entire installation took less than 20 minutes on my test machine. My test PC is a Dell Optiplex GX270 with a 3.0GHz Pentium 4 processor, 512Mb RAM, a 40Gb hard drive, and an ATI Radeon 9800SE video card with 256Mb VRAM.
Once installed, gOS boots fairly quickly. From pushing the button to the log on screen only took my test system 65 seconds, including POST. Another 15 seconds and it was ready to use. If you have a broadband connection, it will almost immediately let you know there are updates available. There were 36 updates available at the time of my installation. It advises you to install all updates for security reasons, and will do so automatically if you press the select all button.
A second system was also used in the testing. A Compaq Presario 5000 series. This older machine has an 800MHz CPU, 256Mb RAM, 40Gb hard drive, and a stock 8Mb Vanta LT AGP video card. This second system was, not surprisingly, much slower. Installation took nearly an hour. After installation and updating, the Compaq took 1min 21sec to get to the log on screen, then another 25sec before it was ready to use.
The interface is clean. By default, the wallpaper is a green leaf print and all windows and cursors have a green outline to them. All open windows have the traditional close, minimize, and maximize buttons, but in a different order and on the left of the window instead of the right. That took a little bit of time for me to get used to.
Using gOS is fairly simple and straightforward. You are presented with a quick launch shelf at the bottom of the screen with your favorite applications. It is pre-populated with Xine Movie Player, Rhythmbox Music Player, Skype, and links to a variety of online applications such as Gmail, Google Calendar, Google Maps, Google, YouTube, Meebo, and more.
If you want to use an application not on the shelf, left click any where on the desktop to bring up an application menu. From the menu, you can also choose administrative functions, such as changing the desktop resolution, update manager or printing.
Speaking of printing, gOS makes it easy to install a printer. The process is simple, but not all printers are supported. It did not have drivers for my Epson Stylus R200 or Brother MFC9700. I could not get my Epson working at all, but did get my Brother printer working by installing it as an MFC9600.
The makers of gOS have not yet made the operating system multi-user friendly. You can only set up the system as a single user. They state that is a feature that they need to work on.
Although the system found both my Sony Cyber-Shot DSC-H2 and Samsung Digimax A503 cameras, it had a little bit of a problem transferring the pictures from camera to hard drive. Dragging and dropping individual photos were effortless, but I received multiple “Enlightenment” errors when copying more than one file. That is definitely something that will have to be fixed in future versions.
Overall, I found gOS very easy to install and use. I believe it to be a good operating system for a new Linux convert or anyone who simply needs an internet appliance. A little more tweaking by the developers would make it a great one. I give gOS 3 out of 5 penguins.