17 September, 2011

Joli OS - A Primer - Installation Steps Included


For fun, I set out to accomplish the following within a two-hour window.  I achieved all my goals.  Joli OS really is simple.  For full disclosure, note that, a few days earlier, I did create my Jolicloud Desktop online account, a step that would have added five minutes to today's adventure, had I waited.

  • Learn enough about Joli OS to install it as a multi-boot option to my Acer One D255 netbook.
  • Learn enough about Joli OS to install it to a USB key that I could use on any PC.
  • Learn enough about Jolicloud to configure my online account.
  • Write this primer
The primer was written in a text editor, with Dokuwiki syntax.  It is thus not the prettiest, but it should be short enough to live through to get you where you need to go to accomplish the first two objectives, listed above, in a 15 minute window.


====== Joli OS - A Primer ======

Quick Notes by Dan Reams (@ebsewi)

===== Summary =====

Joli OS is an OS, optimized for netbooks and old PC's, based on the Ubuntu GNU/Linux OS, with a modified Ubuntu kernel.

It currently has two download options - an ISO image, from which you can format a hard drive and install the OS, and a Windows installer, with which you can install a multi-boot system and thus run, for example, Windows XP OR Joli OS, chosen at boot time.

It provides integration with your cloud-based files, allowing you to easily access them all from any Joli OS implementation you have.  E.g., I can access my files from my netbook's installation, from my dedicated Joli OS ancient house PC -- given new life, by Joli OS -- and even from the Jolicloud desktop, available via any supported browser from any OS, thus allowing me access to my files from my primary home Windows XP machine, my work Windows7 PC, a Mac, my wife's iPad...etc.

===== Clarification between Joli OS and Jolicloud =====

Joli OS used to be called Jolicloud, but branched off as an OS when the Jolicloud name was repurposed to refer to the online desktop product.  One can use Jolicloud from any compatible browser.  For more information on Jolicloud, visit http://www.jolicloud.com and follow the links.

If someone tells you they are running Jolicloud, on their netbook, they are more likely running Joli OS, versus an older version still called Jolicloud.  This can be confusing if you go looking to install the OS...and find yourself staring at the online desktop product.

The sheet you are reading now is dedicated to Joli OS.

===== Installation Methodologies =====
Depending on your needs, you can choose any of the methods listed below.

I recommend dedicating a USB flash drive for the purpose.  I dug around in my junk drawer and found a teeny 1GB drive, copied the EXE to it, and ran it from my netbook.  I then deleted the EXE, from the USB drive, and ****

==== Preface ====

I recommend you read http://help.jolicloud.com/entries/191624-what-are-the-differences-between-the-jolicloud-windows-installer-and-an-iso-install , as it explains the difference between running Joli OS, from a file-based partition, existing within your Windows NTFS partition, and the use of an actual separate system partition, on your hard drive.  For my initial installation I chose the former (see 'My Netbook Experience', below).  Even though my gut told me to use the separate partition approach (due to my general geekiness and adoration of keeping OS's separate), I opted for the "from Windows" approach to see how it works, figuring most of my readers might also prefer this simpler solution.  From the docs, the performance differences are stated to be negligible, if at all noticeable.

==== Running from a USB Flash Drive or Other Removable Media {E.g., Flash Disk} ====

This allows one to boot the OS from a flash drive, assuming one has configured one's netbook (or other PC) to boot from the flash drive.  As always, choose a fast USB port if your device has a choice between the ancient USB 1.0 ports and the newer USB 2.0 (or even newer) ports.  See http://help.jolicloud.com/entries/248282-how-do-i-try-jolicloud-and-joli-os-without-installing-it , which outlines this method.

To create the USB Key itself -- which is just a USB flash drive with a boot partition and software on it -- go to http://help.jolicloud.com/entries/231051-creating-a-jolicloud-usb-key-guide and follow the directions.

In summary, download the jolicloud-usb-creator-installer-{version number}.exe and the Joli-OS-{version number}.iso file, run the creator EXE, and follow the screens.  Don't fall asleep yet!  Your 'create' button will be grayed out until you browse, in the application, and locate your ISO file that you downloaded above.  See the link above for screen shots and instructions.

Note that, once the USB Key installer is installed, you can create as many keys as you want, whenever you want.  Very, very cool.

You will find the Jolicloud USB Creator in your Windows' Programs.

==== Installing and Running the Windows Multi-Boot ====

I choose to run the multi-boot, on my Windows XP netbook.  This is great for general web browsing or note-taking circumstances when I need to get information, or write notes, extremely quickly.  It also allows me to boot into Windows XP when I need to do so.  Note this does not COME WITH Windows XP; it merely allows one's Windows XP to survive, on the machine, untouched.

As mentioned in the 'Preface' above, I chose to install Joli OS to my netbook using the Windows Installer, versus installing it to my netbook via the USB ISO file.  For the required steps, see http://help.jolicloud.com/entries/230291-how-do-i-install-joli-os-while-keeping-windows .

The above link refers to 'Joli OS Express', which is the Windows installer (Joli-OS-Installer.exe) found at the downloads link.  The quick steps for doing that can be found at http://help.jolicloud.com/entries/230291#download-jolicloud-express .

=== My Netbook Experience ===

As previously stated, I chose to run Joli OS from a file-based partition -- a virtual partition, if you will -- housed within my existing NTFS file system.  To accomplish this I simply ran the Joli-OS-Installer.exe file, allowed it to create a 50GB partition file, determined a PC login name and password,* and allowed the device to restart.

*I chose a generic login name and password that my whole family, or even a guest, can use.  Reason: After restart, one will be prompted to login to their ONLINE Jolicloud Desktop account, and each person can have their own.  Thus, my method allows for multiple users to utilize the Joli OS installation, versus just dedicating it to myself.

I found the above struck-through methodology to be an incorrect approach.  The result of that procedure was the creation of an administrator-level user that had NTFS-level administrator access to the entire PC.  I.e., that user could browse to any folder, on the system, including all the Windows users' documents folders, etc.  Thus, an alternate, safe approach is to have the users utilize the Joli OS's "Guest" account, which will offer the user the ability to login to their Jolicloud address.  Using the guest login, the user can still modify their data, online (in the cloud), but no files will be saved to the local device.

I had hoped that the Joli OS' "Guest" login would take the guest to a generic app page, where the user could utilize each app, as needed (such as Gmail), logging in as necessary.  Unfortunately, Joli OS is married to Jolicloud (online Desktop), making the utility, of Joli OS, as a general kiosk solution, for my old dumpy family PC, far less useful.  It will require each family member to have her own Jolicloud account/profile.  While this is fine, and something I can set up for them, it is not likely any house guests will have such an account.  I will check the forums, for possible solutions, and update this blog entry with my thoughts as I learn more.

Summary: I erred in having defined my goal.  My goal was to create a general kiosk, usable by anyone, allowing them to connect to any web app they chose -- even just a web browser if they so chose -- and relying on them to authenticate to their own web resources via any given app.  This was achieved, but only if the guest user has an existing Jolicloud account or is willing to create one on the fly. Thus, Joli OS is not a tenable solution for a public-access kiosk, at least based on what I have learned so far (three hours into my Joli life).

My post, to the Joli OS 1.2 Feature list Facebook page, in response to my above experience:

Dan Reams: I installed the latest Joli OS, and it's neat. However, the Guest mode requires the guest to have a Jolicloud account. If they do not have one, they cannot be passed through to a generic guest Jolicloud dashboard. Instead, their only two options are to sign in or sign up. Such users cannot even use a web browser without signing in. This makes the concept of "loan the PC to a friend" only useful if one's friend has a Jolicloud account or is willing to create one on the fly.

Don't get me wrong; I'm still a fan. I understand Joli wanting to direct people to create accounts, to be exposed to Joli content. I also realize that doing so is especially simple if the guest allows Jolicloud to link to their Facebook accounts. My point is simply that the use of a guest account should be understood to be defined as "allowing a Jolicloud user to use this device without user data being permanently stored on the device," versus "allow a friend to easily access the Internet."

My full experience can be found here: http://tinyurl.com/437wjn3


After the restart the installer continued its work, installing Joli OS, providing a progress bar and various tips and tricks screens to keep me occupied.  I ignored these screens, preferring to write this document.  After a ten minute installation process, the netbook rebooted and notified me that I would need to connect to a network to continue, advising me to click the network connectivity icon.  I did so, saw my home network, logged into it*, and was ready to go.  In the Joli OS login screen, I was prompted to log in to my online Jolicloud account.  I did so, and was then staring at my online account.  I quickly configured my Google Mail and Google Docs, and was then ready to explore.

*I opted NOT to save my Joli OS Desktop login information, so that only I would have access to my data.  Any other users of the OS can then proceed to access their data via their own online credentials.

I then logged out (via the Power Button icon), held my breath, and was greeted with the standard Windows boot options menu (Yay!), offering me both Joli OS and Windows XP.  I was able to launch XP just fine.

Synopsis:  A pleasurable experience, both in installation and usage.  Since the online desktop interface applies to anywhere I log in to Joli Desktop, I can add and configure my apps, from the comfort of my home PC, and use them on my netbook later, without having to configure them VIA the netbook.  My total time spent, from getting up and making coffee, downloading and installing the OS, and writing this entire document, was exactly two hours.  Granted, I was using two PC's, but still...not too shabby.  If you follow the instructions you can be up and running in about 15 minutes, I'd guess.

==== OS Installation to a Hard Drive ====

This is a fantastic refit for your old, retired and under-the-stairs box that you've always been meaning to strip for parts, or wipe its HD of sensitive data, but just haven't gotten around to doing yet.  Quickly make a Internet kiosk that your guests can access...without screwing up your main PC or otherwise allowing them access to your personal data devices.

Follow the steps at http://help.jolicloud.com/entries/230978-how-do-i-make-joli-os-my-only-operating-system to make this happen.

NOTE: This method also allows one to install the OS, to a separate PARITION, on the hard drive, keeping your other OS intact.

In summary, you will need to download the ISO file, the USB Creator application (for Windows, Mac, or Linux), create a USB key, and set up the device.

HINT: If you want to see what this will eventually look like, use the USB method with 'Try Joli OS without installing', which will let you run Joli OS from the USB drive, without installing anything to your device.

===== Downloads =====

Official http://www.jolicloud.com/download
Both the "Keep Windows" (multi-OS) and ISO (disc image) packages

===== Support =====

Official Support http://www.jolicloud.com/support
Includes various installation options

===== Information =====

Official http://www.jolicloud.com/product

Official Blog http://www.jolicloud.com/blog/

Wikipedia http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Joli_OS

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