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Free Jolicloud OS breathes new life into old Netbooks

Before you consign your aging Netbook to the scrap heap, try installing Jolicloud. It's a slick, easy-to-use OS built with Netbooks in mind.

Rick Broida Senior Editor
Rick Broida is the author of numerous books and thousands of reviews, features and blog posts. He writes CNET's popular Cheapskate blog and co-hosts Protocol 1: A Travelers Podcast (about the TV show Travelers). He lives in Michigan, where he previously owned two escape rooms (chronicled in the ebook "I Was a Middle-Aged Zombie").
Rick Broida
2 min read
Finally, an operating system built for netbooks! Jolicloud is free, easy, and even a little fun.
Finally, an operating system built for netbooks! Jolicloud is free, easy, and even a little fun. Jolicloud

Got a Netbook collecting dust? Hey, it happens. Many users find that traditional operating systems, be they Linux or Windows, just don't work well in compact, low-powered PCs. (I once tried running Vista on one. The horror, the horror.)

Consider making a switch. Jolicloud is a new Linux-based OS that was designed expressly for Netbooks. Not sure about the "Linux" part? Don't worry: Jolicloud has decidedly user-friendly trappings. It's a snazzy, intuitive, well-rounded operating system; one that might just earn a permanent home on your mini PC.

Jolicloud's app-centric interface reminds me more of a smartphone than a desktop. It comes with about a dozen apps already installed (including Facebook, Dropbox, Gmail, and Google Docs), but you can download hundreds more (all of them free) from the baked-in library.

The only potentially tricky part is installation. Your best bet is probably the Windows-based installer, which creates a dual-boot configuration and leaves your existing Windows installation alone, allowing you to return to it as needed (and uninstall Jolicloud as easily as uninstalling any piece of software).

You can also load Jolicloud on a CD or flash drive, then boot from either one (keeping in mind that Netbooks don't have CD drives, so you'll probably want to go the flash route).

I tested the OS on an aging Acer Aspire One and came away mighty impressed. Granted, there were a few setup glitches, and it took me a little while to learn how to navigate. But overall, I liked Jolicloud's nimble, attractive interface, and found that it never once left me longing for Windows.

If you bought a Netbook but haven't found it as satisfying as you'd hoped, give Jolicloud a try. It's free, extremely functional, and even kind of fun.

Bonus deal: Today only (and unlikely to last the day), MidnightBox has the refurbished Insignia NS-BRDVD3 Blu-ray player for $59.99 (plus $3.99 for shipping). It streams Netflix and Pandora! I have this player, and it's terrific.