Jolicloud 1.0 review

Shown in the image below are the default folders in your local or home directory. Keep in mind that if you create a new document and try to save it, the system will try to save it in the htdocs directory, that is, it will try to save it in the cloud somewhere. You may, of course, opt to save it to a local directory.

Default local folders

Applications: Aside from a few legacy applications and the three applications installed by default (Chromium, Facebook and The Cloud Player), there are about 650 free and non-free applications available in the applications directory. The applications are in 18 different categories, in much the same manner that you will find on any graphical package manager on any Linux or BSD desktop distribution. Adding (installing) and removing an application is a one-click operations (actually two for removing an application).

Adding, or installing, an application is a one-click process.

Adding applications from the list of available applications

Removing (uninstalling) takes two clicks.

The process of removing an application

Security Profile: Like all distributions derived from the desktop edition of Ubuntu, Jolicloud has a very poor physical security posture. For a distribution expressly designed for use on computers that can be easily misplaced or stolen, it provides no facility to deny physical access to an unauthorized person, that is, aside from the user login. As noted earlier, you cannot encrypt the disk, your home directory (this really makes no difference), or password-protect the bootloader. Anybody gaining physical access to your computer, and is able to login, not only has access to your locally saved data, but also to any data you have saved in the cloud. It is a security nightmare. Aside from the physical security of your computer, I wonder what steps Jolicloud has taken to ensure the privacy of the data saved in the Joli-cloud.

What about network security? It is just as bad – as far as I can tell. Of the more than 600 applications available for installation, not one performs a firewall or security-related function. There are 16 application categories, but none is security-related. If we are going to move local computing into the cloud, I think there should be a concerted effort to move the same network and physical security structure that protects locally generated and stored data, into that cloud.

Final Thoughts: Doubtless, Jolicloud is a decent and innovative approach to desktop computing. For some people, cloud-based distributions will likely be their primary distribution. For me, however, some of what we call cloud-based computing and cloud distributions are objects to be admired – from afar. For privacy and security reasons, I would rather do as much of my computing tasks locally. I like to assume control over stuff that I should have control over.

Resources: Standalone x86 iso installation image and Windows installer are available for download here.

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One Comment

  1. Interesting review. I assume you have looked at Peppermint? Its also derived from Ubuntu but offers a more “happy medium” between local/cloud than Jolicloud seems to.

    Kind regards

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