WebOS conversation heats up - EyeOS claims Orca is vaporware

WebOS conversation heats up - EyeOS claims Orca is vaporware

Summary: My post on WebOS candidate Orca has stirred up a heated debate in the Talkback between representatives from WebOS companies Orca, EyeOS and XIN. I've already profiled two of these WebOS solutions, XIN and Orca (also see my overview of the WebOS market).


My post on WebOS candidate Orca has stirred up a heated debate in the Talkback between representatives from WebOS companies Orca, EyeOS and XIN. I've already profiled two of these WebOS solutions, XIN and Orca (also see my overview of the WebOS market). My review of EyeOS is coming soon.

But I'd be interested in some outsider perspectives on this 'healthy' debate going on in Talkback. ZDNet readers, what do you make of these 3 products? There seems to have been some kind of fall-out between the Orca and EyeOS team members in the recent past, but behind all that are some real questions about the products:

1) Is Orca currently "vaporware", as Eduardo from EyeOS wrote:

"eyeOS is live and 21,000 users strong at http://eyeOS.info. As far as I can see Orcaa is vaporware, you announced a "launch" on Apr 14. Well, now it is May, what can you show us ?"

Eduardo follows up with more on the 'vaporware' theme here. Leon from Orca responded to that charge here and here - he points to www.orcaa.com and an app called Minitop as evidence it's real.

2) There is also some confusion about whether Orca is open source. The others say it isn't and Eduardo from EyeOS gives his reasons why:

"Since Orcaa was "based" in the eyeOS code, and eyeOS being GPL, we assumed that Orcaa code would be GPL too ...."

However Leon Bollerup from Orca wrote in response:

"Orca has at NO POINT been based on eyeos core, the closest we ever got to you was with VIKI.OS, based on x-desktop."

Leon also noted:

"The core of Orca is not going to be gnu/gpl, the but Orca minitop & OrcZilla is, thats what i call fair bizz.. dont you ?"

Mikael from XIN (which btw is not open source) has made several comments on all this, including this one regarding how his product compares to EyeOS:

"I work for a project codenamed 'Xin', and we are doing not so much a webOS as a system to relieve the serverload when running multiple apps, but I and my companions have long admired the work done by EyeOS."

3) What do ZDNet readers think of Orca's "umbrella concept"?

Leon from Orca:

"Lets picture orca as a warehouse, were people can join in, add their software, and maby.. just maby make some money on it the way they want."

As I said, I'm not sure who's right or wrong - and really I'm not interested in the personal battles and accusations. But it would be good to get some external perspective on the relative merits of Orca, EyeOS and XIN from ZDNet readers. What do you think?

Topic: Mobile OS

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  • Everything looks like a nail

    If a browser is your hammer, everything looks like a nail.

    It's a browser. BROWSER. Good for browsing the web and eye candy or maybe booking an airline ticket. It's brilliant if you want to write crappy, mashed up code that's a nightmare to debug. It's like a spoon trying to pretend its a swiss army knife.

    Anyone who spins this Web 2 stuff is unwilling to confront the security and reliability problems or just doesn't understand them. It's not even that 70s show - it's the 60s. Big mainframes and dumb terminals (sorry - thin clients - sounds so much better) except this time you have no control over the mainframe, you rely on the wonderful reliability of the Web and you're just going to be another client to Internet companies that are famous for their long life (that's sarcasm).

    Ride a painted pony and let the spinning wheel spin.
    • From Team Orca: .. your so right ..

      And thats the whole point, dont forget that Orca was made for a thinclient setup at schools like Odsherreds Efterskole in Denmark (EU) - http://www.odsherredsefterskole.dk .

      The idear just .. got much more support than i ever expeted, and since Microsoft seems "afraid" of taking the last step.. (i understand why, Orca with OrcZilla undermines in some ways Vista, remember i said SOME) .. we'll you figure out the rest.

      I think the user of a WebOS sollution will be a very aware user, he/she will know WHY they need it, and use it for that very same reason, dont you ? ;)

      Leon Bollerup
      Team Orca
  • From Team Orca: The truth is all that matters..

    Hello Everyone

    These are the facts:

    Eyeos things we are wapoware (or whatever it is called)

    We say:
    Fair enough

    We hereby launch OrcZilla v0.0.1 by Josh Shand, Minitop v0.0.1 by myself, now.. this is by faaaaar done code, but consider this a taste of idears, and a "word-up or whatever you americans call it :)" .. on our promise to you.

    We are working hard with alot of people who have good questions to ask, we just hope that we can fullfill our duty - go signup for the FREE beta account on www.orcaa.com - even try the "old" core3.. its on http://orcaa.com/desktop (user demo/demo).

    Whats latest news:
    Besides the sudden release of OrcZilla and Orca Minitop we work hard on core "Hiven" - as mentioned.. its hard work, but good people as Richard here keep us our word, he alone right now as a puur access to the active Devleopment demo, we are creating Orca infront of his eyes, so stay tuned in.

    Leon Bollerup
    Team Orca
  • Silly, stupid, sad

    Just because it can be done, doesn't mean that it SHOULD be. How many layers of OS do we have to go through? Linux running Xen running Linux running a browser running Orca. I wish these guys luck (NOT).
    Roger Ramjet
    • Team Orca: i dont agree.. sadly

      Fact is (atleast in Denmark) that there is a marked for WebOS Software - this is basicly due the huge amount of companys, schools etc. allready running in a Terminal Service env.

      If you take a good look at something like
      Windows Live
      .. must i go on ?

      .. you will notice a great deal of people trying to bring you the best online application suite, FREE of charge ?.. think about it.. if you must "pick" on it, how about giving usefull critisim, something that we all can relate to, work with ?

      Leon Bollerup
      CTO, Team Orca
      • I will agree

        that "beefing up" the browser is important. The scripting languages available (Javascript and VBscript/ActiveX) are insufficient to create the rich Web 2.0 environment. But WHY go with ANOTHER OS layer? How many layers do we have to deal with? Not only that, but with every new layer comes new problems - that get harder to track down. Have you thought about viruses/trojans/security in general? You would need to replicate security functions in your WebOS that even the "expert" OS companies are STILL struggling with. Why would I believe you if you said you had solved these (intractable) problems?

        WebOS smacks of a high-school student doing something "real neat". But I see it as immature and undesirable. IF we need better browsers - lets get better browsers. Lets NOT create half-@ss workarounds without addressing browser weaknesses.
        Roger Ramjet
        • From Team Orca: Next level computing..

          So see besides the schools that we talked about, we also have to look at small bizz. - companies who allready use expensive Terminal Service sollutions with expensive license platforms - going from there to a entirely new thing.. UMPC and MIT's 100$ pc, with a online interface .. eg. Orca, Xin.. whatever.. simple things as data storage, remote computing eg. takes on a brand new level of computing.

          When people look at WebOS's they try to find a present need, and make it fit into that.. you have to look at it a total diffrent way.. you have to ask yourself, what can this product do for me, how can i use it to better my self.

          A WebOS isent for everyone, you have to know your reason for using it.

          .. maby as we go along, you to will find the need a virtual desktop.

          Leon Bollerup
  • What is a WebOS?

    There are many levels of a webOS at this point.

    a) A window manager running on the client, where apps are located in these windows as iframes.
    This is not really an OS, rather a window manager, regardless if they contain the most impressive serverapps avaliable.
    - Those can be cool too, though.

    b) A window manager, where apps are in draggable layers/windows as a part of the webpage, running javascripts supported by a javascript library and possibly by the server with a public API for that purpose.
    This API would have to have some limitations/restrictions or it would be plain dangerous securitywise.
    However, everything mentioned above is true for exactly 100% of all webapps today, if only you put a window manager ontop.
    If this is a webOS, then every webapp online is one too.
    The same applies if you replace 'javascript' with 'flash' or 'java'.

    c) The above, and then also a system for adding/removing apps on the fly, both on the client and on the server.
    Nice, but there are still things missing.
    This sounds more like a portal, like Netvibes, doesn't it?.

    d) The above, and then also the managing of multiple users and their individual settings.
    But still there are things missing, and this still sounds very much like a portal.

    e) The dynamic negotiation of resources, supervising the apps so that they are as lightweight as possible when running, preventing collisions, conflicts, and making sure they all play nice together, done by the webOS and not the apps themselves.
    This means that they exist within an enviroment that controls their existence and what they can and cannot do.
    This is true for apps running on any OS, which is supposed to let you now if you don't have enough memory to run something.
    It's also true for Windows live's Gadgets, also runnable on Windows Vista.

    This is about as far as a true 'webOS' can go as I see it, since there are even more levels, all the way down to the hardware when you boot the machine, which a webOS cannot do, even if you can fake it starting a browser onstart, taking the user to a webpage.
    - But it's still just faking it.

    A lot of the hype driving this webOS thingie seem to be the desire to fake a 'real' OS, and that's another thing that separates the different approaches that I've seen sofar.
    The ones with a practical and technical reason for it are the ones I tend to root for.
    Otherwise, it's just the internet hype all over again.

    The first window manager using DHTML I ever encountered was Windows ME actually.
    Now and then I get a javascript-error using the fileexplorer in windows for example, so I guessing it's a dhtml app, albeit hiding it maybe a bit. ;-)
    There are also some cool HTA-apps that I've come across in this vein.

    I have also worked with a lot of embedded systems that have a (d)html interfaces.
    It's not very uncommon, they can be designed and deployed easily, and be quickly updated when needed to.

    On the web, Google has something of a OS going with it's many API's already, and all they would need would be a window manager to tie it all together, but they dont see the point of it, and neither do I, to be perfectly honest.
    They dont want it all neatly in one place, do they, they run on ads, that's how they make their money, and that means pageviews, lots of pageviews, and people jumping around within Google generates more of those precious pageviews with their displayed ads/links/paid links/etc.

    But an email app like Gmail is different in nature..

    It makes more sense to have an 'app' feel to it if you have a fairly complex application with a dynamic workflow, like Gmail, where the serverload can change violently from one person to another, because we have different approaches, workstyles if you will, to get things done.
    You open one dialogue, minimize another, jump back and forth, getting it done as a chaotic human, and not as a rational computer.
    That was the great alure of the desktop anology to begin with, and Gmail also has some of that 'human element' in it's design, using Ajax to achieve it.

    Man is chaotic and using windows responds well to that.. um.. 'quality', it's like papers all over the desktop, but YOU know where everything is, don't you?

    In the end, it's not a real OS unless it's GOD for the apps it runs, and has a direct relationship with the hardware.
    A webOS is less about being a 'real OS', and more of a human interface for the types of apps that require that quality, and about relieving the serverload when there's a lot of apps running simultainiously, that can be open/closed erratically at any time.

    This discussion should be where a webOS should be used, and not IF it should be used, based on the (false) assumption that it's somehow a 'real' OS.
    We know it's not, we didn't design it as such either, it's a interface approach, plain and simple, and the discussion should be where this approach best applies, and how far the 'desktop' anology should be taken online.