Home > linux > gOS 3.0 Review – Promising Distro Breaks a Few Promises

gOS 3.0 Review – Promising Distro Breaks a Few Promises


gOS is one of the lesser known / used Linux distros: I had promised myself that I would keep an open mind while taking it out for a spin.

The latest released version is 3.0, named Gadgets. The name suits it well: it is exactly that. A large collection of Google Gadgets put onto a remade Ubuntu.


It was a simple matter to download the LiveCD ISO, burn it, and take it for a spin. The boot time and process was almost exactly the same as a Ubuntu boot, which was not really surprising, given its pedigree.

Testing it out

I tested it on two systems: one, my regular Acer Ferrari (2.0GHz AMD 64 X2 Turion, 2GB RAM, ATI Radeon Mobility X1600), and two, my old P4, 512MB RAM with 845GBV Intel Graphics.

It booted and configured itself well on my Acer, but the resolution went horribly wrong on my old P4. It selected a higher than normal resolution, leading to a skew of display, and on selecting the correct resolution, the screen simply went [flicker, flicker, blank, flicker, flicker, blank…]. Not very nice, in fact, the first distro I have tested to mess up the simple task. I reset my P4, went live again, and this time, tried to work with different refresh rates (which did not match the correct ones). Interestingly, one of the incorrect refresh rates worked with the correct 1024×768 resolutions, and I got a working screen.

But alas, now the dock bar disappeared, and I could find no way to get it back: the Wbar was not working. So I ditched gOS on the P4 and returned to the Acer where at least the default desktop was working well.

First impressions


The very first thing one notices is the nice green, SUSE type wallpaper (+1 point) and the fact that the interface is an unabashed attempt to completely clone the Mac OS X (-10 points).

Not to say that this is a bad idea, after all, the Mac has a strong reputation for aesthetic, but not even one iota of creativity? The dock, the windows colours, and even the placement of the window manipulation tools (the close, maximize and minimize buttons were on the left, not the right: very counter-intuitive for a long time Linux or Windows user)?

To top it off, they very daintily put a virtual flowerpot on the default desktop. I mean, what WERE they thinking?

And this from a distro that many point out to be amongst the prettiest out there. I am sure the opinion is subjective, but this is definitely the least pretty distro out there. I will take Fedora 10, or SUSE 11.0 for show-off any day.

The Clouded Works

gOS claims to be the “Cloud operating system”. A fair claim, if only it worked as it were supposed to. gOS is very much a Google OS, or better yet, a Google Gadgets and Links OS. It included Mozilla’s Prism by default to make the Google Web Apps look like native apps, and contains a selection apparatus for adding plenty of Google Gadgets

But the problem begins at step 1: how about a Cloud OS that doesn’t want to connect to the internet in any way other than a wired LAN? In other distros, an option to install Atheros drivers was either available, or it was simple matter to download the open source drivers. Here, there is no option to download from any repositories, neither do the MadWifi drivers work. This crippled gOS for me from the word ‘go’.

They also took it upon themselves to squish the three traditional menu buttons of GNOME at the top into one: which may be good for some, but makes for a very long drop down.

Happily for me, they also include OpenOffice.org, and GIMP, but some fundamentals are missing. For example, pictures actually open up in the Firefox browser. That is highly in line with the ‘cloud’ scheme, but honestly, some things should be left to specialist applications.

This is one of the few distros that comes installed with Wine. That is a positive step for those stepping out of Windows, but with the interface all Mac-ish, it seems a little incongruous: at one step, you are making Windows users at home, and the next, you’re making them uncomfortable. There is a lack of direction here.

And then there’s the problem with Compiz Fusion. It does not run. No way. Most of the new distros are now running Compiz on my graphics card by default – gOS refuses to.


I did not install it, after my poor Live experience. The performance was not an issue, the rest of everything was.

Final words

Let me justify my decision: this is the first distro that I am not installing after the live run. There were too many problems, too many things I did not like. When nearly everything is scrounged up, there is no reason for me to remove my permanent SUSE installation, or my Fedora 10 test installation.

This distro needs a lot of polishing. The philosophy is good – the execution is not there. A promising distro indeed – but it will be ready only when those promises are fully kept.

Rating: 4/10

Categories: linux Tags: , , ,
  1. johnboy
    12 December 2008 at 12:10 AM

    It seems that you are a bit late with the review of gOS “Gadgets”. This distro has been out a couple of months now and gOS is preparing to release their new update gOS “Cloud” which is supposed to sport a Cloud Network. There have been a few announcements creating this hype, but nothing officially release as of yet. Hopefully, upon its release, you’ll check it out and report back with a timely review.


  2. 12 December 2008 at 11:47 AM

    @ johnboy: You are perfectly right – I am very late in this review. That is because I never intended to do a review of this distro in the first place: I normally keep myself to the mainstream major distros. See my post http://superphysics.awardspace.com/2008/12/06/testing-the-less-known-linuxes/

    I have heard the hype regarding the new release, I and I have every intention of checking it out. Thanks!

  3. Trent Black
    24 March 2009 at 1:19 AM

    I don’t understand your review at all, and it is not really justified. This is the nicest distro I have encountered. YES, I try them all.

    You trashed the Mac Look, you hammered on creativity, and did not like anything. But you gave a point for SUSE green? WTF? Basically, you need something, OLD SCHOOL. You need Fedora. (I can trash the living crap out of Fedora’s buggy as heck trash).

    Yes, the point is valid on Compiz Fusion. I personally don’t use all this cpu slowing stuff on my computer, but you may. And if you need that, then this distro is not for you.

  4. Trent Black
    24 March 2009 at 1:21 AM

    And as I am leaving, there are COUNT THEM, 3 POP UP WINDOWS HERE. Now I am reporting you are a spammer and to remove your reviews. Maybe you should try a fair review.

  5. 24 March 2009 at 7:24 AM

    @ Trent Black: You must realize that reviews are always a subjective matter. One person’s preferences do not have to match another’s. My review is valid, perhaps not from my point of view, but others. Statistics back me up – if gOS were so far superior to other distros, it would have greater adoption. Furthermore, less reasonable points of argument than mine are classified reviews by many around the world. If you did not like the review (i.e. did not match your own preferences), visit another address.

    As for the second post – you are highly mistaken. Those pop ups do not originate from my blog. I use DMX Direct, Kontera, WidgetBucks and SixApart, and none of those services have been allowed to use pop ups.

    Good day to you.

  1. No trackbacks yet.

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )


Connecting to %s

%d bloggers like this: