Project of the Month, August 2009

By Community Team

eyeOS


eyeOS

is a free software web desktop following the cloud computing concept, written in mainly PHP, XML, and JavaScript. It acts as a platform for web applications written using the eyeOS Toolkit, and includes a desktop environment with 67 applications and system utilities. The eyeOS project is thought to build the free software alternative to the big Cloud Computing services, especially those which keep the data on their servers. With eyeOS the data is always kept on the local server.

Why and how did you get started?

We started working on eyeOS in January 2005, and the first release was published on SourceForge on August 1, 2005. We have had more than 80 releases since then, and eyeOS is now available in 35 different languages.

Who is the software’s intended audience?

The intended audience is the end user, who will use eyeOS as a web desktop to store data and work.

What are a couple of notable examples of how people are using your software?

One of the most incredible uses of eyeOS is being done in some Catalan schools. A video of how eyeOS works inside the Jacint Verdaguer school in Sant Sadurn’ d’Anoia (near Barcelona, Spain) can be seen here.

Another example is the free public server that we set up for people to test and use eyeOS freely. There are now more than 400,000 registered users.

What are the system requirements for your software, and what do people need to know about getting it set up and running?

To use eyeOS, all you need is a Web server (preferably Apache) with PHP5 installed. If you also want to work with OpenOffice and Microsoft Office files from within your eyeOS system, check our wiki for the extra packages you’ll need.

What gave you an indication that your project was becoming successful?

One of the indicators was the article that appeared on Linux Journal that presented eyeOS as a free alternative to a lot of really big services. Comparing eyeOS in cloud computing to Linux in traditional computing was a clear indicator that we were not just creating good software, but that we also had an important community around it, which is really important.

What has been your biggest surprise?

We have had dozens of big surprises during almost four years of development. We received the Yahoo Web Revelation award in Madrid, 2007, and we were finalists in the CNET WebWare 100 awards in 20 where we competed with Yahoo! in the same category. Of course, being named August’s SourceForge Project of the month was also a great surprise 😉

What has been your biggest challenge?

Our biggest challenge has been to compete with some of the biggest companies in the software world. It has only been possible thanks to a lot of people who have helped our project in a wide variety of ways. We’re not just a team of 15 people working professionally for eyeOS in Spain, France, and Germany, but also an incredible amount of other people working with the same goal: To make a good cloud computing desktop that can be installed everywhere so there isn’t a clear attack to our privacy.

Why do you think your project has been so well received?

We have been working hard from the beginning to provide a well-designed solution, while others have been working also hard but without paying so much attention to the design. Thanks to this, people not related to computer science at all have been interested in collaborating with eyeOS and are now active members in the community. Building a community composed of more than just programmers is always a signal of success in an open source project.

What advice would you give to a project that’s just starting out?

To be perserverent. Several times we thought of leaving the project for a variety of reasons but, in the end, perseverance is everything. If you believe in your own idea then it’s easy to find others to believe in it, too.

Where do you see your project going?

We see eyeOS evolving from just an open source Web desktop to a reference in cloud computing and free software. We presented it this year in the USA at SCALE7 in Los Angeles and Cloud Computing Expo in New York. We’ve also presented eyeOS at Prague’s Cloud Computing Expo Europe, International Free Software Forum 10) in Brazil, and Campus Party 2009 in Valencia and Prague. The result of meeting so many people is to see how eyeOS is a part of a non-stop fight to protect our privacy rights as Internet users, including the right to use good tools without needing to send our data to third-party companies.

What’s on your project wish list?

Our wish list is almost entirely built around eyeOS 2.0. It’s the result of more than a year of design and usability improvements, a totally new toolkit, and new ways to program applications.

What are you most proud of?

We’re really proud of the eyeOS 1.0 release. It took six months of work and we didn’t have a company that offered eyeOS services by that time. All five of us worked really hard making small Web sites as a way to pay our salaries. The result was quite good and we re-started the eyeOS community with that.

If you could change something about the project, what would it be?

I would probably change its focus on the first year. If eyeOS 1.0 had appeared a few months earlier, 2.0 would have already been released.

How do you coordinate the project?

eyeOS has an active development community. Members have different roles to coordinate releases, assign bugs to the maintainers of the different applications, etc. Once a release is scheduled, different people test it under different environments (usually different Web browsers) and test old apps to check everything is working, especially on releases that include improvements on the Toolkit.

How many hours a month do you and/or your team devote to the project?

We founded 15-person company in Barcelona to offer eyeOS-based services mainly to education, public administrations, and ISPs. We should work eight hours per day, but it’s usually more than that 😉

What is your development environment like?

We have different platforms inside the core team. There are PCs using Arch and Ubuntu, one OpenBSD and some Macs running both Linux and Mac OS X. To develop, we used Eclipse but we use now eyeDesigner.

Milestones:

Date Milestone
August 2005 First release
June 2007 eyeOS 1.0
April 2009 eyeOS 1.8.5 (including a new default theme)
January 1, 2010 eyeOS 2.0!

How can others contribute?

There are many other ways to contribute, too. The easiest — and one of the more important — is to help spread the word. Cloud computing will be one of the hottest topics in the next year, and we all must tell the world that there is an open source alternative to all those services which ask us to send our private data to them in order to work.

In the eyeOS community there are people translating, programming, testing, and helping other users in the forum. The easiest way to get involved is to visit the eyeOS wiki and look at the different ways to collaborate.


More projects of the month

Project name: eyeOS

Date founded: August 2005

Project page: http://www.eyeos.org

Project Leaders


Pau Garcia-Mila

Occupation: Working on the eyeOS Company (Founder)

Location: Barcelona, Spain


Marc Cerc-s

Occupation: Working on the eyeOS Company and designer of eyeOS since its first version

Location: Barcelona, Spain


Jose Carlos Norte

Occupation: Working on the eyeOS Company as Technical Officer

Location: Barcelona, Spain


Daniel Gil

Occupation: Working on the eyeOS company as Project Manager

Location: Barcelona, Spain

Key Developers


Anael Ollier

Occupation: Working on the eyeOS company

Location: Tolouse, France


Lars Knickrehm

Occupation: Working on the eyeOS company

Location: Kirchberg, Germany


Daniel Sousa

Location: Portugal


Matthew Powell

Location: USA

Why did you place the project on SourceForge.net?

When we started in 2005, we needed an inexpensive place to put the project. SourceForge gave that to us, even when we weren’t using lots of services. We put the project there, and from that moment we started to try some new services that we didn’t at first plan to use.

How has SourceForge.net helped your project succeed?

Download system, SVN right now, and project visibility.

The number one benefit of using SourceForge.net is:

Being part of its community of thousands of projects where you can find the help you need.

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