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:

Basic Desktop (click for bigger)

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.

More screenshots:

Office_OptionsGraphics AppsMultimedia AppsFirefox within Firefox!

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Posted on 22 March, 2008, in Computer Stuff, Distro Reviews, Open Source and tagged , , , , . Bookmark the permalink. 14 Comments.

  1. Interesting. Not too thrilled about it needing Sun Java installed. I’ve used Goowy.com’s web based OS. It’s an entire desktop written in Flash. Not bad, but I mostly carry a laptop around with me nowadays since I’m on call pretty much 24/7 for work, so no need to have a saved desktop out there on the interweb. πŸ˜‰

  2. wow, firefox within firefox. Woot. πŸ™‚

    titanium’s last blog post..get your bookmarks anywhere

  3. OH! Groovy- my last blog post underneath my comment. yay. Nice feature Ray!

    titanium’s last blog post..get your bookmarks anywhere

  4. ooh… comment spamming a bit here- sorry- maybe I should collect my thoughts before commenting. πŸ™‚

    Anyway, it seems pretty much un-usable for me at 1060kbps down and 130kbps up, which is definitely not dial-up. Then again, I’m in South America, so that might make a difference also.

    Looks like you can install it on your own server, so it could be something for people who have a lot of kiosks, perhaps.

    titanium’s last blog post..get your bookmarks anywhere

  5. I really have to wonder about the wisdom of having a web browser within an OS that is based on the browser. πŸ™‚

    hari’s last blog post..CGI scripts have always mystified me

  6. Nice. Pretty slow though for me. Gah. Comment sent from ulteo online desktop πŸ˜€

  7. It seems that I couldn’t type anything if I were to launch it on Opera. Worked well on Firefox.

    od’s last blog post..The art of lying –

  8. Wow, possibly a new record for comments for between posting and next logging on πŸ™‚

    Drew – it’s not much use to people who travel with a laptop, but for those who prefer to travel light, or who get surprised while travelling light by the need to do some work it’s probably invaluable. And yeah, I wasn’t overly impressed by the need for Java, but I suppose it’s pretty much standard on most desktops, particularly in internet cafes.

    Alison – they are working on other apps to cut down on the desktop, I saw they had OOWriter as a standalone app, a la Google Docs I guess, so potentially it could help with slow connections. And the last post thing seems to fail on some blogs, Drew’s for instance, not sure why.

    Hari – yeah, seemed a bit odd to me but then if you are trying to access your company’s intranet while on the road, it would be useful. Or if you need to demonstrate an app. I suppose it cuts down on the need for VPN or stops people trying to use other company’s networks.

    od – I saw a bit of a slow down myself, I think they have a lot of tweaking to do πŸ™‚ Odd that Opera doesn’t work well.

  9. Yeah, the Goowy WebOS account I have, I mostly use as a backup contact list of email addresses and such. It does come in handy for those purposes. It does lack the web browsing but you can do email, calendar, AIM/Jabber, disk storage.

  10. Weirdly, I recall a conversation with a friend of mine around 15 years ago. He was telling me that his lecturer on the computer course at university said that desktop PCs were pretty much dead, that everything would be an online app and you would only need to have it available when you wanted to use it.

    And now the desktop PC is itself an online app. Good thing dumb terminals are a thing of the past, eh? πŸ˜‰

  11. Good thing. πŸ™‚

    The DevilMy former employer serves all its apps to the clients. They acquired a building that had housed the same kind of business and took over the computers that were there, mostly Dell Optiplex workstations and Compaq Deskpro EN’s, all with CPU’s ranging between 700Mhz and 1.7Ghz and Hard drive space between 20GB and 40GB. The other centres ran thin clients. On these reasonably capable machines, they put a stripped version of Mandrake 8 with a Citrix client on it. They barely worked on that kind of demand. The hardest working part of the machine would have been the NIC.

    Ulteo might be an interesting development for the mobile phone, if leveraged correctly.

    MrCorey’s last blog post..Unplanned Trip Next Week

  12. On the one hand, that many thin clients is fantastic. If you get a problem, kill the client and restart it. On the other hand, that would put so many deskside engineers out of a job.

    Then again, less messing around with customers. Decisions decisions….

  13. That’s exactly what they were planning. It worked on the sites where there were only the true thin clients, as they trained the floor managers in how to properly unplug them and plug in a new one (I am trying to withhold the sarcasm here, on the training part). With the PC’s emulating thin clients, and so many new workstations in use (around 450), and the bandwidth requirements, they actually had to hire an on-site IT person for about 18 months. So, your supposition has been supported by evidence already.

    MrCorey’s last blog post..Double Check that Hard Drive before you Toss It

  14. Ulteo really is cool application, I have given it a try. I mostly like its seamless integration with Firefox. Thanks for sharing

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