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Blake Ross Working on Parakey Web OS

ScuttleMonkey posted more than 8 years ago | from the web-2-point-oh-no dept.

150

prostoalex writes "IEEE Spectrum is running an article on Blake Ross, creator of Firefox, and his new project called Parakey, which will bridge the gap between Web and desktop operating system. From the article: 'As he describes it, from a user's point of view, Parakey is "a Web operating system that can do everything an OS can do." Translation: it makes it really easy to store your stuff and share it with the world. Most or all of Parakey will be open source, under a license similar to Firefox's. There are differences between the two projects, however. Although Ross plans to incorporate the talents and passions of the free-software community, he's building Parakey around a for-profit business model. And he's leading the charge with a simple battle cry: "One interface, not two!"'"

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Is this just a virtual file system? (3, Insightful)

rminsk (831757) | more than 8 years ago | (#16680953)

How is this an OS? An OS manages the hardware and software resources for a computer. Is this just a virtual filesystem?

Re:Is this just a virtual file system? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 8 years ago | (#16681103)

Hmmm ... browser "pioneer" making outlandish claims about his new project.

Hey, Blake, I have two words for you:

Marc.
Andreessen.

Re:Is this just a virtual file system? (4, Informative)

AKAImBatman (238306) | more than 8 years ago | (#16681131)

I did a bit of searching to find out what it is. His idea is simply to take files from a machine, and make them accessible on the web. (Potentially via your own subdomain of parakey.com.) To that end, it will probably be a program that would automatically handle the upload of things like digital images from your camera, and important documents to the web. It's conceivable that it's implemented as a virtual file system, but it could be something as simple as a right click menu item that says, "Send to Parakey". It could even be a set of drivers to handle things like digital images automatically. We'll have to see.

Re:Is this just a virtual file system? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 8 years ago | (#16681327)

GMAIL FS on win32 already does this

Right click on file > send to > Gmail Drive

besides this is just another WebOS mimic that failed in 1998 even though it was cutting edge, if it didnt work in 98 why should it work now ? i guess it exists to take advantage of VC funding suckers

WebDAV, anyone? (1)

Kadin2048 (468275) | more than 8 years ago | (#16681557)

Sounds suspiciously like WebDAV, only with less brain-damage than Microsoft's implementation of a client for it.

Personally I think WebDAV should get the "Internet's Most Unappreciated Technology Award", in terms of having a lot of promise but being seldom used. (Although Apple does drag it out every once in a while; I think the .Mac services use it.) It has a lot of potential.

Nobody uses IMAP either (1)

DragonHawk (21256) | more than 8 years ago | (#16683307)

"Personally I think WebDAV should get the "Internet's Most Unappreciated Technology Award"

Too late, IMAP already won that one.

Re:Is this just a virtual file system? (1)

AKAImBatman (238306) | more than 8 years ago | (#16681657)

After a bit of pondering over the "One interface, not two!" motto, I think I may have a guess about how it will work.

What you'll probably see is a XUL application that acts as a Windows Explorer type of app. It will keep a local cache of the files you're working on, then mirror them back to the server. I could also see it containing an interface to allow you to drag and drop files into a pre-defined page layout. (e.g. Drag your images into a photo-album page.)

Considering that it would be an XUL application, you wouldn't even need to install it. Just accept the secure signature, and it will render right in Firefox.

Re:Is this just a virtual file system? (1)

daeg (828071) | more than 8 years ago | (#16682927)

Great. So users will start using it and get tired of bugs and paying for a service. They then cancel, only to find their files locked away in a proprietary service they have no control over. With an operating system, you can always reinstall and hopefully recover you files that way.

I think Ross will quickly find that name recognition alone won't get you very far.

At least with the .Mac online service, you know Apple won't suddenly fold and delete your files. Startups are a dime-a-dozen.

Re:Is this just a virtual file system? (1)

killjoe (766577) | more than 8 years ago | (#16681697)

If that's all he wants to do (doubt it) then he should use ifolders or subversion.

YourOS? (1)

PopeRatzo (965947) | more than 8 years ago | (#16682527)

I don't know how different it is from YourOS. I kind of like the idea, though, even if it's not the unified solution many of us want.

Re:Is this just a virtual file system? (1)

dslauson (914147) | more than 8 years ago | (#16681965)

More than that, it sounds like it is basically going to be client software for hosting your virtual life. So, you can manage files on your computer remotely through a browser, and also your friends and family can see all the stuff you have flagged as shared.

This aspect of it will be sort of like MySpace on crack, only it's hosted from your computer, and hopefully it's a lot more robust and user-friendly, and a lot less lame.

At least, that's the impression I got after R-ing TFA.

Anyone Know How? (1)

drpimp (900837) | more than 8 years ago | (#16681607)

How does this differ from You OS [youos.com] ? Previously reviewed on Slashdot [slashdot.org]

Netscape + Java was supposed to do that (1)

billstewart (78916) | more than 8 years ago | (#16681769)

The reason MS came out with IE was that Netscape+Java was supposed to be a sufficiently portable user+services interface environment that the underlying OS was supposed to be irrelevant, and therefore running Linux underneath could be just as useful as Windows. They didn't care about the market for free browsers, they cared about keeping Windows from getting killed.


Breaking compatibility took care of that problem for them - why is it different today?

Re:Is this just a virtual file system? (1)

cptgrudge (177113) | more than 8 years ago | (#16683035)

It sounds like a glorified CMS that runs on the local computer and connects to an external web server. The local application can connect with devices, for example like a digital camera to extract pictures to your picture area within the program. Then you select which pictures to share and who has access. Other functions like movie editing and office suite will follow. I'm guessing that there will be an extension system like Firefox to add functionality and "programs". You still need another OS to run this all on, I think. There's nothing in the article to convince me otherwise.

FTA: ""We all know people...who have all this content that they are not publishing stored on their computers," [Ross] says. "We're trying to persuade them to live their lives online." Why? Because online is how the world, like it or not, increasingly talks. If Ross's mom can't do something as basic as share her recipes or photos with her future grandchildren online, then she gets left behind. In the 21st century, this sort of information isn't passed on at the Thanksgiving table anymore. It's communicated through the Internet."

I think we're giving the Internet too much credence here. I like online communication as much as the next person, but it's good to have the systems separate. The whole social networking thing is leveling off as people realize that having no secrets is sometimes a bad thing. I know plenty of families that still keep "family cookbooks" that are passed down. Shall we start having Thanksgiving on the Internet now as well?

There's nothing particularly groundbreaking about this that couldn't be accomplished by a simple drag and drop helper application to use with a web hosting package. And data you've deemed "unshared" is still being stored on some other computer somewhere, which is held by a corporation? NO. He's trying to leverage his success with Firefox into a product he can sell, but it's a solution in search of a problem. I don't see the point; maybe someone else can enlighten me.

Oops! Grandpa accidentally shared that porn collection! Hope the grandkids didn't see that during the two weeks it was shared!

Share, and share alike. (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 8 years ago | (#16680969)

"Translation: it makes it really easy to store your stuff and share it with the world."

A P2P OS.

Nifty (4, Funny)

Virak (897071) | more than 8 years ago | (#16680983)

I've always thought you should be able to write interrupt handlers in Javascript.

Re:Nifty (1)

dreamchaser (49529) | more than 8 years ago | (#16681127)

I'm really interested to see their scheduler too, and their memory management code. This looks, from the scant information available, to be Yet Another Browser that tries to integrate everything people do into one interface. It's not anywhere near being an OS, probably not even a Window Manager.

Re:Nifty (1)

colonslashslash (762464) | more than 8 years ago | (#16681153)

Or Action Script Flash kernel modules. "CLICK THE EPILEPTIC SEZUIRE INDUCING MONKEY TO WIN A FREE .KO!"

Don't use so many caps. It's like YELLING filter bypass.

Re:Nifty (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 8 years ago | (#16681563)

thats a spiffy idea! im up for it. What could possibly go wrong?

Re:Nifty (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 8 years ago | (#16682829)

That, and isn't it a stupid idea to start with (even disregarding technical implementation)?

Open source, minus the Free/free part (beer & speech).
Open source, minus the choice.

And I don't know where they're getting the idea people want a "web OS" of some kind from. I sure as hell DON'T want one.

One job, one tool (5, Insightful)

Harmonious Botch (921977) | more than 8 years ago | (#16680997)

Why must we have tools that try to do everything?

I remember hearing about some guys named Brian and Dennis and uh I forget the third guy's name - it was back in the 60's - trying to write an operating system based on the idea that each part should do one distinct thing, and do it well. I don't know if anything ever came of it, but I thought that it sounded like a good idea.

There is a major distinction between MY computer and the rest of the world. One is mine; the rest belongs to others. I treat them differently. I want my desktop to reflect it.
There are already too many people who seem to forget that my stuff is mine - spammers, politicians, cold callers, door-to-door salesmen, etc - and that I might want it separate from the rest of the world. I don't want my OS forgetting this too.

Re:One job, one tool (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 8 years ago | (#16681091)

Lighten up, Francis. Time to cut back on the caffeine. The dude is just trying to write some software he thinks will be useful. He's not threatening to stuff it down your throat or forcibly install it on your desktop.

Re:One job, one tool (1)

OakDragon (885217) | more than 8 years ago | (#16681151)

Why must we have tools that try to do everything?

And why are some web devlopers so obsessed with the OS model? Everyone of these that I have seen, and I mean everyone of them, has either been a toy or an intentional joke. And if they're a toy, they're not even fun to play with.

To tell you the truth, I think what we have already - meaning various file keeping and sharing web applications - is all people would want out of a "Web OS."

Re:One job, one tool (1)

AuMatar (183847) | more than 8 years ago | (#16681311)

Because web devs have an inferiority complex. They want to be real programmers, but they just can't hack it. So they try and pump up their egos by writing "web OS" type web apps.

Obsession through emulation. (1)

Kadin2048 (468275) | more than 8 years ago | (#16681605)

And why are some web devlopers so obsessed with the OS model?

Because deep down, all web developers want to be OS programmers?

Re:Obsession through emulation. (1)

Eli Gottlieb (917758) | more than 8 years ago | (#16682151)

Because deep down, all web developers want to be OS programmers?
Operating System Programmers do it with interrupts disabled.

Re:Obsession through emulation. (1)

mabhatter654 (561290) | more than 8 years ago | (#16682981)

he's working up to it... he's one of the Firefox developers... that's not kids stuff.

Re:One job, one tool (1)

ozmanjusri (601766) | more than 8 years ago | (#16682557)

And why are some web devlopers so obsessed with the OS model?

Because we've read William Gibson and we want to build cyberspace.

Microsoft, Apple et al all rely on the clear separation of workstation and world so they can sell the same product millions of times.

Governments have lost the will and the ability to conceptualise and sell beautiful futures.

If we want a great infrastructure project like cyberspace, we'll have to muck in and do it ourselves. This may not let me burn chrome tomorrow, but it has the potential to leave a bigger footprint in the cyberdust than the OS vendors have made in the past decade.

Re:One job, one tool (1)

abigor (540274) | more than 8 years ago | (#16682923)

"Cyberdust"? "Burn chrome"? Get a fucking grip.

Re:One job, one tool (1)

asa (33102) | more than 8 years ago | (#16682693)

To tell you the truth, I think what we have already - meaning various file keeping and sharing web applications - is all people would want out of a "Web OS."

Yep. I just love having one account for my image hosting, a different account for my weblog, a third account for my video uploading, another account for my webmail. I love that it takes magic to make any of them talk to each other. I love that it takes magic to get any of them to actually know what's on my machine or for my machine to know what's up at those servers.

"What we have already" is just perfect. Don't change a thing.

- A

Re:One job, one tool (1)

MightyYar (622222) | more than 8 years ago | (#16681269)

I remember hearing about some guys named Brian and Dennis and uh I forget the third guy's name

It was actually 4: Brothers Brian, Dennis, and Carl along with Mike Love.

Re:One job, one tool (1)

blakeross (611172) | more than 8 years ago | (#16681951)

We're all about "one job, one tool." That was the concept that drove us to fork Firefox in the first place. What about the article suggests that we're deviating from that with Parakey? Perhaps I can clarify our intentions.

well... (1)

zogger (617870) | more than 8 years ago | (#16682649)

...go right ahead.

In the article, you say you would like to open source all of it, but...Well, why not stick to your guns and keep wading through the vulture capitalists until you get what you want? Hold out for an angel investor instead.

I am inferring from the article you are primarily a windows user, true? And follow up, although you say it will be browser agnostic, will windows OS be the primary dev platform?

And money, this will be subscription based or ad driven? That appears to be the only two viable ways other than burning up startup capital, so which is it? And when will your alpha (or beta-whatever) code be available to people?

Re:One job, one tool (1)

fossa (212602) | more than 8 years ago | (#16682235)

If someone set out to make a entire toolbox of tools that did one thing well, would you deride them because the toolbox as a whole can do many things?

Re:One job, one tool (1)

asa (33102) | more than 8 years ago | (#16682647)

There is a major distinction between MY computer and the rest of the world. One is mine; the rest belongs to others. I treat them differently. I want my desktop to reflect it.

You're a slashdot reader. Of course you see a distinction there. You're atypical. You will see and treat these two as different because you understand the internals of the system. My little sister who wants to share her travel photos with me doesn't. The highschool english teacher that lives next door to me and wants to get in invitation to our upcoming barbecue doesn't. The Montana farmer getting his first computer to manage his heavy equipment doesn't. My grandmother who wants to see how my cat is recovering from surgery doesn't.

When we designed Firfox with built in search features, you understood that there was a browser and there was a search providing website. Those people I just mentioned probably doesn't even know what a browser is and they certainly don't consider the browser and the Google search to be two different products.

You're atypical. You're also a minority -- a shrinking one. Why should the rest of the web population be forced to think about these kinds of distinctions. My answer, and what I've seen of Blake and Joe's work on both Firefox and Parakey, is that users shouldn't have to understand how it works, especially if that costs in terms of how well it works.

I remember slashdot criticism of early versions of Firefox fondly. I'm glad we stuck to our guns and built a browser for the not-slashdot audience. With tens of millions of users today, a reinvigorated internet, new browser releases from a company that had abandoned the browser half a decade ago, it was clearly the right decision.

- A

Re:One job, one tool (1)

TRACK-YOUR-POSITION (553878) | more than 8 years ago | (#16682759)

You're a slashdot reader. Of course you see a distinction there. You're atypical. You will see and treat these two as different because you understand the internals of the system. My little sister who wants to share her travel photos with me doesn't. The highschool english teacher that lives next door to me and wants to get in invitation to our upcoming barbecue doesn't. The Montana farmer getting his first computer to manage his heavy equipment doesn't. My grandmother who wants to see how my cat is recovering from surgery doesn't.

Those are all examples of people who want to share or at least aren't hiding the information in question. Maybe slashdotters are the only ones who see a difference between the desktop and the web, but even two-year olds see a difference between mine and theirs.

Re:One job, one tool (1)

asa (33102) | more than 8 years ago | (#16683295)

Maybe slashdotters are the only ones who see a difference between the desktop and the web, but even two-year olds see a difference between mine and theirs.

Yep. But the difference between mine and theirs is orthogonal to the issue of local or remote, or PC or the Web. I can care deeply about what's mine and what's not and still not have to care about the difference between local or remote applications or storage.

- A

Re:One job, one tool (1)

Osty (16825) | more than 8 years ago | (#16683379)

The Montana farmer getting his first computer to manage his heavy equipment doesn't.

Completely off-topic, but this bit of your example is wrong. The average farmer in question probably got his first computer 20+ years ago, and was probably on the internet well before most people here. Being a farmer means manual labor, sure, but it also means being an accountant, a people manager, a stock broker, etc. To that end, every farmer I've ever known has been using computers since they became viable for home use (and some even before that, being able to justify the expense for business purposes). You think you're cutting edge because you had sat-nav in your car a couple years ago? Farmers were using GPS 10+ years ago for mapping purposes. You long for a future where cars drive themselves? Farmers already have that, with automated tractors that can plant an entire field with little to no human input.

Contrary to popular belief, the family farmer is one of the more high tech people in the world today. They're not their grandfathers, walking behind horses dragging plows.

(Note: I grew up on a farm, and I'm not making this up. Also note: This mostly applies to the indepdendent grain farmer, though I'd bet it generalizes to farming/ranching in general.)

Re:One job, one tool (1)

Cid Highwind (9258) | more than 8 years ago | (#16683407)

My little sister who wants to share her travel photos with me doesn't. The highschool english teacher that lives next door to me and wants to get in invitation to our upcoming barbecue doesn't. The Montana farmer getting his first computer to manage his heavy equipment doesn't. My grandmother who wants to see how my cat is recovering from surgery doesn't.

Then those people need education, not software.

There is and always will be a fundamental difference between data stored on a system that you control and data stored elsewhere on someone else's nebulous array of servers and caching proxies and backup media. The difference is that data on my machine goes away when I delete it. Data on the internet stays on archive.org and other similar services forever. The teacher's students will always have their 9th grade english papers available for the world to laugh at. That farmer once downloaded a porno movie; that'll come back and haunt him when he tries to run for town council. Let's not even delve into the ways little sister's bitter ex-boyfriend can misuse her "private" data to cause her trouble. These hypothetical people may not know now what the difference between their local hard drive and google's servers is, but they'll learn. The question is how painful the lesson is going to be.

w00t (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 8 years ago | (#16681059)

The first OS made entirely out of DONGS!

Win98 called.. (1)

QuantumG (50515) | more than 8 years ago | (#16681081)

they want their lame idea back.

For profit AND open source? (1)

Kevin143 (672873) | more than 8 years ago | (#16681101)

Nothing is said about he is planning on monetizing this. Any ideas?

Re:For profit AND open source? (1)

AKAImBatman (238306) | more than 8 years ago | (#16681233)

Any ideas?
Yeah. The source is free (at least the client component), but the service to hold your files on the web will cost $$$.

Think: Different
Think: .Mac

Is very .Mac-like (1)

Kadin2048 (468275) | more than 8 years ago | (#16681731)

Yeah. The source is free (at least the client component), but the service to hold your files on the web will cost $$$.

Seems like it shouldn't be hard, then, to reverse-engineer the code and figure out how to use somebody else's servers as the data repository. Unless he's planning on doing something sneaky/evil, like using encrypted binary lumps or something. Even then, if it's really that neat an idea, people will figure out a way to do it on their own servers.

Think: .Mac

Agreed; the whole thing reminds me of .Mac, both in terms of the business model (client is free -- in Apple's case it's included with every system -- but the server space is what you charge for) and some of the functions (document storage, integration with desktop applications, web services). Perhaps what he should be more interested in are the rumors I keep hearing about how Apple is going to pull the plug on .Mac any day now...dunno if it's true, but I heard the service was going to stop being for-profit and start being a free service coincident with the release of Leopard. Course, I can't find any substantiation of that now.

There seem to be a dearth of good (by which I mean, tightly integrated) end-user client programs for accessing remote volumes over the Internet from Windows clients; if all this project ever amounts to is making a nice interface for Windows users to manipulate files on a remote FTP/HTTP/SMB/NFS/whatever server, then it might be a nice thing to have. I wish him well, I guess.

Re:For profit AND open source? (1)

happyfrogcow (708359) | more than 8 years ago | (#16681255)

Nothing is said about he is planning on monetizing this. Any ideas?

selling your data.

Re:For profit AND open source? (1)

MightyYar (622222) | more than 8 years ago | (#16681361)

Presumably you'll need a server so that you can "Access Your Computer Anywhere!" Sounds like .Mac on steriods.

References (1)

alienmole (15522) | more than 8 years ago | (#16681579)

Nothing is said about he is planning on monetizing this. Any ideas?
The answer to that is well known in the industry, as "Step 2". For more information, see the seminal work in this area by Parker & Stone, entitled "Gnomes".

I hope it's walled off (2, Insightful)

Alcimedes (398213) | more than 8 years ago | (#16681113)

Anything that makes it "really easy" for me to move/save/delete files while online from any computer means that unless you're amazingly careful, you're also making it that much easier for someone else to do it for you.

Maybe I'm just paranoid, but I have yet to see *any* vendor, be it closed source or open source take enough time and care with their code to write something that doesn't have gaping security holes in it.

What's going to happen when what was a simple browser problem becomes a file system problem? Drive by downloads that wipe your machine.

You say Parakey (1)

Mr. Lwanga (872401) | more than 8 years ago | (#16681145)

I say butter.

So in other words... (1)

SoulRider (148285) | more than 8 years ago | (#16681201)

He is writing iPhoto/iWeb for windows?

A simple battle cry? (1)

ScentCone (795499) | more than 8 years ago | (#16681209)

a simple battle cry: 'One interface, not two!'

Of course, when MS - also seeing a change in the traditional boundaries - wants to embed a browser in their own OS, and make poking around the local file system feel similar to poking around web sites... that's the battle cry of... Teh Evil!

*sigh*

Re:A simple battle cry? (1)

AKAImBatman (238306) | more than 8 years ago | (#16681291)

I'm sure Microsoft's battlecry would be, "Free Sharepoint!*"

* With a qualifying purchase of Windows Vista Home Multimedia Office Television Edition.

Re:A simple battle cry? (1)

glwtta (532858) | more than 8 years ago | (#16681693)

Teh Evil!

Here we go again - what part of "monopoly" do you people not understand? When you are a money-grubbing monopolistic power with a strangle-hold on an entire industry the rules are different. We don't have to be "fair" to MS, that's not how it works.

Is this really that hard to grasp?

Re:A simple battle cry? (1)

ScentCone (795499) | more than 8 years ago | (#16681787)

Here we go again - what part of "monopoly" do you people not understand? When you are a money-grubbing monopolistic power with a strangle-hold on an entire industry the rules are different. We don't have to be "fair" to MS, that's not how it works.

So, it's better for lawyers to dictate which is the best user interface in an O/S? How about what the shift key does? Or whether the screen resolution is adjusted with a slider bar or radio buttons? Or whether notepad.exe does, or does not support choosing your printer settings? Or whether the displaying an HTML file is something that a modern desktop should be able to do, natively? Yes, I want the court system, and lawyers getting 30% of some vague settlement, to define all of that for me, please. If you think MS is an actual monopoly, in the sense that the term was applied to Standard Oil or AT&T, you're really, really mistaken (and probably not making much sense to the Mac users, and all those *nix box users out there).

Re:A simple battle cry? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 8 years ago | (#16681719)

Of course, because if it's Microsoft, it's automatically and inarguably evil, especially on Slashdot.

Not to mention, I'm not so sure how he's planning on making money off of this... and judging from Firefox (which has had its own fair share of severe bugs -- massive "it's not a bug, it's a feature" memory leak, bookmark deletion, not to mention the various giant gaping security holes that have appeared from time to time), I'm not so sure I'm willing to put a "Browser OS" in charge of ANY file on my computer.

Lest we forget, "free, open-source application" does not mean "secure, up-to-date". It means that it's free and open source.

*puts on flame-retardant suit*

On an unrealted note, please consider changing the "confirm humanity" image. As useful as those are, having to take a guess at what some of them are because it covers up the crucial parts (is it a G or a C? l or 1 or I? e or o?) is getting annoying.

Re:A simple battle cry? (1)

WilliamSChips (793741) | more than 8 years ago | (#16682859)

...Because Blake Ross has a history of writing good programs, while Microsoft has a history of writing bad programs(Although it's not because their programmers are bad per se, it's because the company is, in the words of Paul Graham, a walking mountain). In addition, Blake Ross's effort is cross-platform and this makes all the difference.

MySpace++ (1)

Salvance (1014001) | more than 8 years ago | (#16681217)

This sounds great for the vast majority of web users ... people who want to create blogs, picture pages, keep notes, network with their friends, use e-mail, chat, etc. Calling it an O/S is a bit of a stretch since it doesn't perform any hardware/software control on the computer or the server, it simply comes with an application to facilitate file manipulation/moving/sharing/tagging/etc. Sounds like MySpace meets e-mail meets Flickr, on steroids.

BTW - if you'd like to get more information on this product when it launches, you can get on their mailing list or just bookmark their site at www.parakey.com [parakey.com]

Everything an OS can do!!11111 (1)

Ant P. (974313) | more than 8 years ago | (#16681243)

Including running like molasses and then BSOD!

But seriously, is this just another one of those "desktop in javascript" things? They've been done a million times, and they all suck.

Re:Everything an OS can do!!11111 (1)

ZlatanZ++ (978060) | more than 8 years ago | (#16681727)

But seriously, is this just another one of those "desktop in javascript" things? They've been done a million times, and they all suck.

Actually i think you'll find that it's called AJAX, not JavaScript, its, like, totally the best coding langauge out at the moment, all the cool people like google are using it.

Re:Everything an OS can do!!11111 (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 8 years ago | (#16682685)

I used to think it was caled Emacs and I know some people who still use it (I use vi, so I need a real O/S underneath)

Re:Everything an OS can do!!11111 (1)

WilliamSChips (793741) | more than 8 years ago | (#16682875)

Emacs is a great operating system.
It just needs a text editor.

Re:Everything an OS can do!!11111 (1)

Ant P. (974313) | more than 8 years ago | (#16683181)

But it's written in Lisp...

Oh no, don't tell me someone wrote a Lisp interpreter in JS just to run Emacs.

Most used feature: web recycle bin (2, Interesting)

Statecraftsman (718862) | more than 8 years ago | (#16681251)

I wonder how this project will manage to give a "web os" more power over hardware while not simultaneously throwing our security in the "web recycle bin".

IE had too much power over the OS and it caused problems. Firefox and IE7 do more to put some distance between the os and the web for good reason.

Maybe it's just me... (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 8 years ago | (#16681297)

...but I just don't get the idea of what a "Web OS" is. It's still going to be a bunch of code running on a physical webserver running a traditional operating system, right? I mean, doesn't that make it just one big web application?

Web Os.... (1)

scoot80 (1017822) | more than 8 years ago | (#16681319)

Why would you want to run an OS from within a browser, in your own OS, and then surf the net from the browser in an os which is in your browser on your OS!!. The idea is ridiculous. How about just making a "functional website" rather then glorify it by calling it an OS. I'm sure if you had enough time you could do the whole thing in flash. It stinks - as much as the idea of Office live.

Dumbing down of terminology (1, Insightful)

linguae (763922) | more than 8 years ago | (#16681421)

Am I the only person appalled by these web interfaces, or even web desktops, being referred to as operating systems? It is technically wrong by a large margin. An operating system is the interface between hardware and software that manages the resources of hardware. Web "operating systems" do not manage any hardware.

I find this usage appalling, and I hope that this terminology doesn't spread and dumb down the use of technical terms.

Re:Dumbing down of terminology (1)

scoot80 (1017822) | more than 8 years ago | (#16681509)

Everyone wants to glorify themselves these days. Every technician calls himself an engineer, i've even heard of helpesk staff calling themselves helpdesk engineers. Like doctors, engeering titles should be applied to people who have engineering degrees and are doing actual engineering work. Same goes with these glorified OS things.

Re:Dumbing down of terminology (1)

Purity Of Essence (1007601) | more than 8 years ago | (#16681571)

I find this usage appalling, and I hope that this terminology doesn't spread and dumb down the use of technical terms.

If you find that appalling, wait till you find out what they call a hacker.

Re:Dumbing down of terminology (1)

Viking Coder (102287) | more than 8 years ago | (#16681975)

How about if you say "An operating system is the interface between resources and software that virtualizes the specific characteristics of the resources, allowing software to be written generically."

There's no problem that can't be solved by introducing another layer of abstraction. Calling it a WebOS is a pretty easy way to introduce the topic to the largest audiences you care about: end users, and to a lesser degree, application developers.

If the term offends your purist sensibilities, that's basically just too bad. At least they didn't call it iOS or OSpod.

The triumph of ignorance (1)

dbIII (701233) | more than 8 years ago | (#16682601)

If the term offends your purist sensibilities, that's basically just too bad

It's just like an intelligent but illiterate professional dancer talking about how he has worked out there are 35 "senses" because he hasn't listened to anyone long enough to find out that the word perception exists. It appears that many are spinning different definitions of existing terms to profit from confusion or due to simple ignorance or lazyness. My instant reaction to this usage is to treat anyone who uses it as ignorant and gently correct them like those who are misled into thinking that linux is part of a gnu operating system - while the gnu operating system is the hurd.

An apologist could argue that it is something that operates a system of web links or something and not a computer system - but of course my instant predjudiced opinion of people who radically change meanings of existing terms and loudly proclaim them is that they are some sort of not paticularly funny clown to be ignored or somebody up to no good.

Calling it an OS is overkill (1)

DaveWick79 (939388) | more than 8 years ago | (#16681529)

It's hardly an operating system. It's more like trying to combine all your data into one browser window. It is a unique idea - no application I'm aware of centralizes this functionality. Why noone has thought of it before, who knows. It seems like the only reason I'd want to use this would be to share files with other people. It wouldn't seem like it would be a big deal to write an application that showed you the files on your computer, give you the option to post them online to any web server of your choosing, and format them nicely with a web portal. Even filtering the site so that different sets of people would see different data would hardly seem to be a problem, as you can email a 'key' to them that sets their level of access.

As others have said, the most important thing to worry about would be security. What will prevent malicious code from altering your local files, or uploading sensitive data?

eyeOS is a free PHP app that does this (1)

VGfort (963346) | more than 8 years ago | (#16681565)

Check it out eyeOS [eyeos.org] , its open source also :)

Very Cool (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 8 years ago | (#16681751)

I just checked it out. It's very nice. I've no use for it, but it's a nice implementation of the idea.

Wow (1)

Bogtha (906264) | more than 8 years ago | (#16681637)

Parakey is "a Web operating system that can do everything an OS can do."

It can be more useful than a brick when the network connection is down? No? Then it can't do everything an OS can do.

Re:Wow (1)

blakeross (611172) | more than 8 years ago | (#16681799)

As the article indicates, it works the same whether you're online or not.

Let me save everyone the trouble :) (5, Informative)

blakeross (611172) | more than 8 years ago | (#16681717)

I'm well aware that a "web operating system" would not fulfill the same functions as a true web operating system, and I'm as tired of the "WebOS" rhetoric as anyone else. I did explain this to Spectrum, and it seems the magazine decided to leave the mention but explain that it's only an "operating system" from the average user's perspective--which is difficult to prove either way, since my mother probably thinks an "operating system" is some kind of surgical device.

As for the "how is this different from XXX?" comments, I understand that it may be difficult to differentiate Parakey based solely on the description provided in this early article. Rather than chase those sorts of questions here, I'd rather continue working towards putting the product in your hands so you can decide whether it's different and, ultimately, whether it's worth your time. Thanks everyone.

Re:Let me save everyone the trouble :) (1)

blakeross (611172) | more than 8 years ago | (#16681835)

"...as a true operating system...", that is.

Re:Let me save everyone the trouble :) (1)

diegocgteleline.es (653730) | more than 8 years ago | (#16682465)

So, from a geek to a geek, parakey looks more like a sort of IM-like, "social" program, that tries to unify IM, email, archive sharing, photo sharing/sending, calendar, blog (everything that can be considered "social", that these days means almost everything, even sharing experiences between sysadmins).... and unifying it with a server/client model like God Intended to replace the protocols mess we've today?

If so, it looks nice :)

Re:Let me save everyone the trouble :) (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 8 years ago | (#16682547)

I'm looking forward to seeing how you work around the problem that Javascript doesn't have any means to handle threads and therefore browsers only expose a single thread. So far every "web app" is limited to pushing things around, but I have yet to see a Javascript application which actually processes meaningful amounts of data.

The Hydra (1)

travalas (853279) | more than 8 years ago | (#16681765)

I think this is another solution to the same semantic problem. That is how do I integrate my real digital worlds into my real world. I love my Mac G5's interface but it's not terribly portable. I love the remote graphics of X11. I love the lightweight powerful interface I get through a CLI in ssh. The problem as I see it is there are way to many solution verticals implemented without enough development done to mesh them all together. It's all pretty fragile. For me I want the same information availible on my cell phone, a website, a login, a desktop, and to those ends I have a myspace page, a flikr account, a linux box running a website with my blog and photo gallery and NX Server, a Laptop, a G5 and a G4. The all have pretty much the same information stored redundantly. It's way inefficient, since I'm duplicating processing power, storage, and memory just for different access features, it tends to break and it's difficult to keep in sync. From what I can tell of this parakey.com it seems like a good idea but it sounds like another vertical framework. Until there are more horizontal interfaces designed and integrated into these personal computing verticals we're going to continue to reinvent a square wheel.

Shades of Desktop.com and WebOS (1)

_flan (156875) | more than 8 years ago | (#16681861)

What makes Parakey different from Desktop.com and WebOS, two companies that looked like they had a decent future during the internet bubble? Desktop.com had a full operating system inside Netscape 4.5 and IE 4. You could share file, folders, etc. with your friends, use online "AJAX" applications, etc. WebOS had a very slick interface, too.

At Desktop.com, we had a couple of problems making the product fly. The first was technical: it bloated the browser up to 32Megs and made it unstable. (Nowadays, I don't bat an eye when Firefox is hungrily consuming 250M.) The second was usability: the online experience just wasn't as smooth and easy as a local application. This was partly due to the lower connection speeds that people were using back then, but also due to the inability to seamlessly interact with local files. And the really big problem was the business model: you either have to charge the users, or figure out how to put ads somewhere where people aren't used to ads -- like in the application title bar. Ick.

So, "one interface, not two" is all fine and dandy, but I'll be interested in seeing if they actually make it work and worthwhile.

Re:Shades of Desktop.com and WebOS (1)

blakeross (611172) | more than 8 years ago | (#16681917)

Thanks for your perspective. We've been at this for awhile now, so we've had plenty of time to think through the issues you mention. Of course, only time will tell whether we get them right. As for the business model, we do have it figured out, but it's not something that will be made public until we launch (which is still some time off).

Nah (1)

/dev/trash (182850) | more than 8 years ago | (#16682317)

All they have to do is get Google to buy em.

You don't need the marketing speak here (1)

dbIII (701233) | more than 8 years ago | (#16683047)

Desktop.com had a full operating system inside Netscape 4.5 and IE 4.

Come on guys - we are not all in the first year of high school and no good at anything but football here. Silly lies to children to dumb things down about computers are not necessary - statements like the above are more likely to intially confuse people into thinking a qemu window is running in a browser than what I assume you really mean from the rest of the context.

move OS into cpu? (1)

Loconut1389 (455297) | more than 8 years ago | (#16682057)

I've begun wondering lately why the processors themselves can't be extended to handle much of the functionality of the 'OS'- essentially migrate the basics into the CPU? If there was a way to get things up far enough to access some flash memory that would house some signed net/video/input/storage drivers to get things up and running. This is just a very basic idea and by no means is all-inclusive of every possible requirement..

Re:move OS into cpu? (1)

scoot80 (1017822) | more than 8 years ago | (#16682283)

You already can - most microprocessors have flash memory and its own OS (MSP430 for example by TI).Youll fnd them in just about everything - water heaters, lcd screens, washing machines, microwaves.. The idea of putting them in PCs however is silly because of the amount of hardware that is out there, and how will you decide that you'll have drivers for this, and not drivers for that..

Re:move OS into cpu? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 8 years ago | (#16682437)

This is off topic, but IMHO interesting. Why don't you expand it into an article and submit it? I'd sure like to read the resulting discussion.

An idea in search of a name (1)

mcrbids (148650) | more than 8 years ago | (#16682307)

I'm going to start with some obvious information to establish why I think there's a real development going on here.

Historically, computing improvement has been achieved by layering the technology, so that each layer operates with a high degree of autonomy from the layer below it. Depending on your perspective, there are anywhere from 6 to dozens of layers within the computer you're using to read this.

This layering, called "abstraction" by most, has minimized the amount of complexity that needs to be managed at any one point, allowing us dumb people to work together and improve the whole by incrementally improving each part.

Even with a single "layer", there may be multiple internal layers. For example, much of the software I write is managed through a file abstraction layer that takes care of the details of converting a memory object to a file on disk. I do something simple like ($obj->FWrite($object)) and all the rest is managed for me.

Now, on to the point. There are major abstractions in use today. EG:

Hardware ->
FirmWare ->
Operating System ->
Application ->

And there's a new, cross-system development now underway. Technologies like SOAP, XML, RPC, AJAX, and similar, related words describe a new layer of abstraction on top of the Application layer.

It's not a well-developed idea yet, and the foundational principles of this idea are now being explored. Yes, there are definitely specific implementations of this, but just like the Operating System developed after decades of exploration in designs, this next abstraction hasn't been well defined and/or commoditized yet. So far, any development in this area really requires a very specific implementation - code reuse is minimal.

IMHO, the best implementation of this new abstraction is probably XML/RPC. But it's honestly not much more than a transfer protocol.

So, yes. There will be a "Web O/S" - though we'll probably not call it such. It's closest cousin is called "Middleware" by IBM.

Huh? (1)

Ayanami Rei (621112) | more than 8 years ago | (#16682787)

First of all, SOAP _is_ XML RPC. And AJAX is SOAP launched from a web client by javascript (as opposed to a piece of middleware).

Everything you're talking about is using XML and the web CGI model for transactions. This technology exists in MULTITUDE other forms. Let me see, uh, RMI, CORBA, ringing any bells? How about jabber? If I scripted interaction with a jabber client using Lua for driving voice/text prompt tree navigation or something, would we make some new acronyms for that?

What you're talking about is still client/server, but dealing with application platforms and interpreted code (specifically using web servers for arbitrartion, since everyone seems to like those, and they can be the basis for some nice frameworks).

I don't think it needs a new name. We've been doing it all along, but we were programming to APIs. Now we create platform independant artifacts that depend on other software to act as an interface, providing a runtime (although at times I wish javascript had a JIT compiler too). You are simplfying the distribution aspect of your software product... if you get can to the website, then you can start using it, oh and please enter your credit card number here.

Web based OS already available (1)

lobiusmoop (305328) | more than 8 years ago | (#16682345)

Windows RG Edition [deanliou.com]

PROFIT! (1)

Lord_Dweomer (648696) | more than 8 years ago | (#16682359)

There are differences between the two projects, however. Although Ross plans to incorporate the talents and passions of the free-software community, he's building Parakey around a for-profit business model.

Ah...the classic "Get your product/service made for free and then sell it for profit" business model. Best of luck to people who work for this and don't get compensated for their time and efforts.

Re:PROFIT! (1)

blakeross (611172) | more than 8 years ago | (#16682445)

Profit and open-source are not mutually exclusive. We would never try to profit unfairly off the backs of others.

I like it (1)

thinsoldier (937530) | more than 8 years ago | (#16682373)

I think it might be comparable to using wordpress or some other CMS vs. updating your site's content in the html source without the benefit of a sql database.
I'd much rather my mom be trapped in a user friendly and productive content management system instead of nagging me every two minutes to do something for her.

For the average person all popular OSes are too complicated.
Does grandpa really need the contents of c:\windows\ showing up when he searches for one of the few files that he himself created?

I think a lot of people would feel comforted knowing that something like parakey is sandwiched between them and the 'real' OS and they don't have to worry about possibly destroying their computer some how.

Sure, this isn't a good fit for most people like me with our 1800 php files, 3000 html files, countless psd gif jpg, mb, 3ds, wav, ogg, etc...
but we're not the "average joe". One of the main reasons IE is so damned popular is because a large portion of computer users ONLY use their computer to update their profile page on some community site, check their mail (ever had to help someone set up outlook over the phone, people hate all the steps and foreign terms),
and search for information.

When last did you see somone buy and encyclopedia on cd/dvd? stuff like Wikipedia is faster and easier and like so many things on the web it's straight to the point.

Sure other people have attempted something like this in the past maybe. But maybe their implementation sucked. Maybe this won't suck so bad. With so many examples online of just how useful a good CMS can be, I'm sure they have a good chance to get it right and make something good.

not getting it (1)

asa (33102) | more than 8 years ago | (#16682469)

I work with Blake on Firefox. As one of the few people who's actually seen and used Parakey, I can tell you that the assumptions being made here are misguided. It's a unique product that surpasses anything similar I can find out there today.

The article referenced does a poor job of explaining what Parakey is about and an even worse job of describing how it works. It won't be long before you all can see for yourself.

- A

Re:not getting it (1)

dedazo (737510) | more than 8 years ago | (#16682679)

I sure hope this is not the end for him. We've seen enough careers and reputations get bogged down in the "I think I'll design an OS now" phase.

YOU INSENSiTIVE CLOD! (-1, Redundant)

Anonymous Coward | more than 8 years ago | (#16682551)

Beyond the scope of wor5e and worse. As ass of them aal, could save it

OS + web vs. OS + wiki (1)

dbc001 (541033) | more than 8 years ago | (#16682553)

The idea of a "web operating system" sounds very 1990s to me. It doesn't really sounds the least bit interesting these days. On the other hand, I don't understand why linux distros don't take more advantage of things like wikis. I'd really like to see linux distros become more integrated with wikis - error messages could have links to wikis or forum posts, control panel applets could contain links to editable howtos, etc. there are some security issues but nothing impossible.

Major assumption... (1)

Ayanami Rei (621112) | more than 8 years ago | (#16682843)

... that the internet works and you can get to a browser.

Big assumption to make in an OS. Better to have local documentation that is thorough.

Never fear, Ross! (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 8 years ago | (#16682561)

[H]e's not very practiced with bow ties. "I never made it to my prom," says Ross

Buddy, you will soon get more women (and sex) than you will know what to do with. Do your best! You are fucking on behalf of well over a million Slashdotters, the vast majority of whom can only dream getting jiggy with the ladies.

Migration to this uber OS (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 8 years ago | (#16682957)

Ok fellas, lets migrate all our systems from Windows, Mac and Linux to this new uber OS.....hmmmm... where are the install CD images?...... what are the hardware requirements?.... are drivers available???.....oh wait!
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