What Gael Did Next – Ulteo Online Desktop
Gael Duval is the creator of Mandrake Linux (now Mandriva, since the merger with Connectiva Linux). Gael left Mandriva in March 2006 and went on to start a new project called Ulteo. Mandrake was the first distro I persuaded to install and was, for some time, my alternate work PC. Interestingly, he was fairly quiet on the whole Ulteo project for some time – I guess he wanted to concentrate on setting it up and getting it working before talking about it. So what’s it all about?
I am going to assume that everyone who reads this blog is savvy enough to know about Google apps and to have, at least, tried them out for at least a few minutes. This is similar but bigger. Ulteo is an entire desktop available via your internet browser. It’s based on Ubuntu and gives you everything you need to be fairly productive as long as you have access to an internet connected PC. In the spirit of Linux, you can create an account and use it for no cost. So what does it look like? It looks like this:
As you can see from the desktop, the whole thing is designed to help you be productive from the beginning – you have a shortcut to Konversation (for instant messaging), Thunderbird (for email), Firefox (for internet browsing) and to 3 of the most used OpenOffice.org programs. Ulteo saves your settings so that, no matter where you log on, your desktop will be as you left it. You are also given 1Gb of storage space, so if you absolutely need to work on a document you can. Duval has also come up with a great idea for printing: when you hit print a pdf copy of your document is created allowing you to send it to a print enabled machine, to a colleague or to a USB key.
The product is dependent on the PC having Sun Java installed, other versions will produce errors and problems. Usage speed also seems to be dependent on your connection speed, as with any remote desktop. I will admit that I haven’t played with it that much, so this review is a bit limited. That said, if you are away from your home machine, your office machine or even your home country, you can be working fairly quickly whether you carry a laptop or not.
If you are interested, go to the Ulteo homepage and sign up and try it out. It’s still in it’s relatively early stages (the software included in the desktop is not current) but already you can see that you have much more than Google are offering.