Linux distributions designed specifically for use on netbooks is nothing new. Canonical produces the Ubuntu Netbook Remix version of Ubuntu for these small-sized devices, Intel has their Moblin distribution that is very fast and offers an attractive interface, gOS has their own netbook distribution, Linpus has QuickOS, and the list goes on. One of the newest netbook distributions coming around is Jolicloud, which is based upon Ubuntu Netbook Remix and is self-described as a cool new OS for your netbook. Jolicloud is focused upon building an OS around the web and one that merges open-source and the open web.
To learn about Jolicloud's goals, read their idea page that describes their concepts at length. Jolicloud is currently undergoing private testing and is currently considered alpha software, but their founder and CEO, Tariq Krim, happens to be a Phoronix reader so we were sent along a testing invitation. We were using the 0.2 alpha release of Jolicloud and it is currently based upon Ubuntu 9.04 packages from the Netbook Remix spin, but it is not a stock set of packages making up this OS. Jolicloud, for example, did not just change out the artwork and call it a new OS, but they have built out their own kernel based upon Linux 2.6.30 (compared with 2.6.28 in Ubuntu 9.04) and there are interface changes as you can see from some of the screenshots. Jolicloud is currently compatible with just select netbooks from ASUS, Dell, MSI, Samsung, Acer, and a few other manufacturers.
Jolicloud's 2.6.30 kernel is also built with GCC optimizations for the Intel Atom processor and has picked up several out-of-tree kernel modules to support different functionality like PCI overclocking and more WiFi drivers. Other core improvements include updating the Intel Linux graphics stack, striping out unused kernel modules, and making other performance refinements.
New web "apps" can be easily installed through the Jolicloud directory, which makes it easy to access such web services as Facebook, Alltop, Blinkx, Twitter, Box.net, and other such popular web-sites. Even for a non-Linux user, the interface is friendly and all of the options are easy to understand with Jolicloud. Real desktop applications like the VLC Media Player can be installed too from their icon navigation system. WINE is even available for those wishing to run some Windows applications off Jolicloud. Jolicloud's updating system is also a "one-click" system and there is a history of all actions performed via their registration-based "My Jolicloud" system.
More on Jolicloud can be learned from the project's web-site. We will likely have more on this netbook-focused Linux distribution in the future.