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eyeOS: Your Own Private Linux Cloud that You Control (part 1)

Initial Setup

  • September 21, 2009
  • By Eric Geier

Cloud computing is a relativity new computing concept where resources are provided via the Internet instead of on the local computer or network. One of these resources can be an entire operating system (OS), or at least Web applications that try to mimic Windows and other OSs. This resource is commonly referred to as a Web OS.

One of the points behind Web OSs is to relieve the local computer of the work; to put the computing power behind a central server. It's virtualization over the Internet. The client or end user computers don't have to be regularly maintained; they just need a Web browser. For example, applications can be globally installed or uninstalled from the Web OS server instead of on each PC.

Web OSs also has advantages for the mobile worker. You don't have to setup remote desktop connections. Web OSs already live on the Internet. You can log into your desktop at home, work, or on the road.

Features of eyeOS

We're going to set up eyeOS (see Figure 1), an open source Web OS. Before you install the server, you can experiment by creating an account on their demo server. In addition to the desktop environment, eyeOS includes over 60 applications and utilities. If you're proficient in PHP, XML, or Javascript, you might even be interested in writing your own applications for the platform.

figure 1
figure 1

You'll find eyeOS is probably loaded with all the applications you'll need day-to-day. The eyeDocs word processor (see Figure 2) is compatible with the Microsoft Word and Open Document formats. The eyeMail email client (see Figure 3) supports POP3 and IMAP accounts. You can import your contacts into the eyeAddressBook. Play your music and videos with eyeMedia. View and edit photos with eyeImages. You'll find programs for most tasks.

figure 2
figure 2

figure 3
figure 3

Like other Web OSs, files on eyeOS are stored on the Web server. You can move or upload files from your local or real computer to eyeOS. One way to do this is by accessing the upload utility from the eyeFiles File Manager application and selecting several files at a time. However, you'll probably want to also use eyeSync to synchronize files from a folder on a computer.

You can easily communicate with the users on your eyeOS server. The eyeMessages internal messenger is for user-to-user conversations, and looks like an email client. The eyeBoard is a public message board application where all users can collaborate.

Setup a Web server

You install, or actually upload, eyeOS onto a Web server. The only server that's officially supported is the Apache HTTP server with PHP5. If you already use a third-party Web host for your site, you may be able to upload it there if it's a Linux/Apache service. If so, you can skip this section and move onto the next.

You can always set up a Web server on a regular PC that's connected to the Internet. Apache is a great open and free server choice for Linux or Windows. If you're a Microsoft fan, you might be able to still use the Internet Information Server (IIS) that's available on the professional or business editions of Windows. You can search the eyeOS forums for details on the patch to get eyeOS working with IIS.

We're going to install Apache and PHP5 in Linux; more specifically, in Ubuntu 9.04:

  1. Open the Terminal from the Applications menu.
  2. Enable root privileges: sudo su
  3. Install the Web server: aptitude install apache2
  4. Install PHP5 and the Apache PHP5 module: aptitude install php5 libapache2-mod-php5
  5. To use the email client in eyeOS, install the PHP SQLite module: aptitude install php5-sqlite
  6. To use IMAP email services with the email client, install the PHP IMAP module: aptitude install php5-imap
  7. Restart Apache: /etc/init.d/apache2 restart

To see if the Web server is working, bring up a Web browser and type in localhost. If successful, you'll see the "It works!" page. In Ubuntu, this default page is in the server's root directory: /var/www. You can find the configuration file to change the server settings at /etc/apache2/apache2.conf.


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