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Facebook Acquires Parakey's Web OS Platform 64

NaijaGuy writes "Facebook has purchased Parakey for an undisclosed sum. We have previously discussed how Facebook recently opened up development opportunities for third-party developers. With this acquisition some observers have noted that Facebook might be trying to become a Google alternative, by providing an application development platform based on Parakey's technology. Facebook's 'Web OS' has also been discussed, and the company has made headlines partly because of the fame of one of its founders. Blake Ross helped launch Firefox, and it was enthusiasm for helping less geeky users like his mom to thrive on the web that got him through the doors of Netscape at the age of 15. A recent interview charts how that same enthusiasm led him to start Parakey, 'a Web operating system that can do everything an OS can do.'"
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Facebook Acquires Parakey's Web OS Platform

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  • Everything? (Score:3, Interesting)

    by Zeebs ( 577100 ) <[rsdrew] [at] [gmail.com]> on Friday July 20, 2007 @10:38PM (#19935167)
    What about bootstrapping the system. I'll venture a guess of no before even rtfa.
    • Re: (Score:3, Interesting)

      From wikipedia (warning: I may have edited this just minutes ago):

      The idea behind it is to make image, video, and writing transfer to the web easier. He explains that the current problem with transferring data to the web is that in order to move an image onto the web you first have to transfer pictures from your digital camera, then upload them to a place like Flickr.

      That sounds like an ActiveX-esque security shit storm waiting to happen.

  • without RTFA (Score:3, Insightful)

    by caffeinemessiah ( 918089 ) on Friday July 20, 2007 @10:40PM (#19935189) Journal
    'a Web operating system that can do everything an OS can do':

    can it:

    (1) boot your computer (without requiring local media and thus becoming more of a "real" OS)
    (2) run photoshop / gimp / doom 3 / (insert resource-heavy app here)
    (3) run without any loss of functionality when you're sitting in the middle of nowhere without a wifi hotspot

    Sure, the answers may all be yes...but not without a lot of hacking at the reasons why.

    • ok now I *DID* RTFA (Score:4, Interesting)

      by caffeinemessiah ( 918089 ) on Friday July 20, 2007 @10:50PM (#19935239) Journal
      at least one of them. Why does /. insist on posting articles with tripe like this (particularly amusing snippets in bold):

      Imagine that in 2-5 years time Facebook has become the No. 1 destination on the web. Facebook as a Web OS is the leader in online storage, online applications, email, blogging and of course social networking. How people interact with Facebook has changed; Facebook OS has absorbed Facebook F8, all previous Facebook applications work under Facebook OS, but they work more like Windows does today; Facebook has become your desktop and not just an internet site. The Facebook Paint application substitutes Photoshop, Facebook Email is a superior offering to Outlook, Facebook Office (Facebook having acquired either Thinkfree or Zoho) provides the market leading word processing and spreadsheet platform.

      • You forgot this rather amusing tidbit: "but they work more like Windows does today "
        • average users of social networking sites....with a platform operating "like windows does today"...

          Its as if a million routers cried out in terror...and were suddenly silenced.

          I fear something terrible has happened.
      • Re: (Score:3, Interesting)

        by AKAImBatman ( 238306 ) *
        Have you heard of XUL? All those things are possible today with a combination of XUL and HTML 5 technologies. Considering that Parakey is run by the fellow who started the Firefox project (Blake Ross), I imagine that basing his "WebOS" on Firefox technologies was exactly what he had in mind.

        Here are a few examples of these applications:

        ajaxWrite [ajax13.com] - Honestly, Google Docs is more usable, but ajaxWrite shows off how XUL can look exactly like a local application.

        CanvasPaint [canvaspaint.org] - An MS Paint clone done with HTML 5 t
        • by suv4x4 ( 956391 )
          Honestly, Google Docs is more usable, but ajaxWrite shows off how XUL can look exactly like a local application.

          That's your problem. Approaching everything from the "looks just like" and "pretends to be" perspective. Skinning his apps is the least possible problem a "Web OS" will have.

          I'd think more along the fact that his "OS" doesn't have a security model, it runs on JavaScript (slow as hell, and Firefox is slower than slower than hell), it can't access local computer resources (hardware acceleration, big
        • Yeah but the thing is, a website will *never* be an operating system of its own. That's somewhere between the realm of extremely improbable to absolutely impossible.

          The closest that would EVER come to happening would be the possibility of remote bootstrapping, with replicating an installation image, or an X-like thin client.

          A "Web OS" that runs through your browser seems ludicrous because even if it were ABLE to communicate with your hardware, there are so many layers between the site content and your h
        • by obender ( 546976 )

          /apps/write/content/content.html was not found on this server Resin-3.0.21 (built Thu, 10 Aug 2006 12:03:19 PDT)

          TypeError: main.document.getElementById("previewframe") has no properties

          I'll stick to my OS for the time being.
      • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

        by moosesocks ( 264553 )

        But you've got the problem that Web Browsers (and most "modern" languages like Java) are hideously inefficient for these sort of tasks. CSS/HTML/Javascript are being contorted to do things that they were never really meant to do.

        The fact that firing up Firefox to look at my GMail (which is, by all accounts one of the more efficent "Web Apps") consumes considerably more CPU time and RAM than it does to fire up a fairly robust mail client is disturbing to say the least. Let's face it -- the Web is a sh
        • Re: (Score:1, Insightful)

          by Anonymous Coward
          What's wrong with a display protocol that pushes document object model changes, rather than vector or pixel changes, to the client? That's where we already are.

          Personally I prefer semantically encoded data to "applications" whenever possible, it's easier to reuse in unplanned ways (the same reason PDFs are prettier but less useful than HTML).
      • And exactly what does "Facebook Office," or "Facebook Paint," or "Facebook Start Menu" have to do with a social network, which is all that Facebook is?

        I mean, as long as we're imagining, lets imagine a world-wide wireless mesh Interweb. Think of it as a series of wireless tubes.
        • by stevey ( 64018 )


          I've been using facebook for a few months, initially to keep an eye on what local people were getting up to. But with the sudden spate of "applications" (many of them both badly coded and pointless) I'm finding myself less interested in returning.

          I'm sure the facebook people don't care because I'm still a member and get included in their statistics, but the "old" facebook was more useful, and less myspace-like.

      • by Godji ( 957148 )
        "all previous Facebook applications work under Facebook OS, but they work more like Windows does today"

        'nuff said.
    • by pooya ( 878915 )
      Well, we have to see what we loose and what we gain. It is like that everywhere. You would think photoshop would never replace pen and paper and darkroom. Or doom would never replace paintball. Ofcourse, if they can make **fast enough** and fun games that you don't need to download they'll be very popular. Plus they can stick an advertisement on the online version and make it free. Which is why many people would rather play the free one rather than paying to buy it.
    • Playing devil's advocate first:

      'a Web operating system that can do everything an OS can do':

      can it:

      (1) boot your computer (without requiring local media and thus becoming more of a "real" OS)

      A bootloader is what loads the OS. One could argue that a web-browser is a boot loader, if you really had to. In any case, booting itself is not, nor defines, an OS.

      (2) run photoshop / gimp / doom 3 / (insert resource-heavy app here)

      You are talking about something arbitrary and relative. Of course it doesn't run Photosh
    • by Mazin07 ( 999269 )
      Oh, sure, I ran Kubuntu for a while. That's a real OS, isn't it? Could it, (1) boot my computer? chances were good when the gods smiled on me, but I made sure to keep GRUB on a CD-ROM nearby. (2) barely / bad hardware support and interface / no / (probably not) (3) no, unless you consider 4 or 5 programs to be "without any" functionality (Make sure you read parent first.)
    • I submitted the story just before leaving work on Friday and forgot to check it until today. Looks like Zonk edited my really long submission, and because of that little web OS quote from the article, we ended up hearing an excess number of repeated comments about how this stuff can't replace an OS (and even some silly guy talking about me or the article writer dropping out of computer science). Let the record show that I do not think they're trying to completely replace all OS functionality, and I really
  • Why would they do it? They already created a facebook API and have a thriving developer community (and some slick apps btw). Wouldn't it be hard to integrate a different sort of code into what they have already? Or is this a defensive purchase?
    • by 70Bang ( 805280 )
      You get two, two, two replies in one.

      #1: Why would they do it? They already created a facebook API...

      But the question just itching to come out is: Did they develop it with an API as they went -- even just to make their lives easier; or, did they shoehorn it in after the fact? It's sad when the latter takes place. The code is forked and anyone who is hopeful things are well and find themselves forked up because their code behaves differently than the original source.

      #2: "a Web operating system tha
  • CS320 (Score:5, Insightful)

    by mrroot ( 543673 ) on Friday July 20, 2007 @10:58PM (#19935281)
    "a Web operating system that can do everything an OS can do"
    I'm guessing you didn't make it to Operating Systems before you dropped out of Computer Science.
    • by archen ( 447353 )
      An understandable mistake though. I mean when people referr to an OS now they also think of things like MSN Messenger, Safari and a slew of other things which really have nothing to do with being a part of an operating system. People have become accustomed to referring to integrated external applications as being the capabilities of the OS. Probably doesn't help that Microsoft uses Windows + {generic_name} and Apple uses i{generic_name}
  • by blakeross ( 611172 ) on Friday July 20, 2007 @11:05PM (#19935315) Homepage
    This has been discussed ad nauseum, even in the last Slashdot article, but: no, Parakey does not do "everything an OS can do" from a technical perspective, which is the only perspective most people here care about. That should be obvious. The quote was in the context of average users--people like my mother--who are not thinking about concepts like memory management. The idea is that Parakey accomplishes the functions of an OS (and much more) from an *end-user's* perspective.

    I'm confident the truth won't stand in the way of another 200 posts on this topic :)
    • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

      The idea is that Parakey accomplishes the functions of an OS (and much more) from an *end-user's* perspective

      Actually the phrase you seek is "software suite", not "OS".

    • Hear, Hear!! I think that's the point that most people here are forgetting; the average user doesn't know/care about PCI slots, memory management, etc. The demand for that type of use will always be there; much like some people will always need an SGI-type box. But then again, this is slashdot, which hardly counts as the target demographic that FB is seeking with this purchase. Whether people realize it or not, but the future of CONSUMER computing is the thin/dumb client with the internet as the central
      • Re: (Score:2, Interesting)

        by Anonymous Coward

        I think that's the point that most people here are forgetting; the average user doesn't know/care about PCI slots, memory management, etc.

        The "average user" can kiss my ass. Just because most people need anything technical dumbed down for them, does not make the dumbed down retard-speak the truth. I don't care who they're marketting their piece of shit software too, but if we're going to discuss it on a technically oriented website, we should call a spade a spade. These javascript/html/"ajax" abominat

    • by suv4x4 ( 956391 )
      The quote was in the context of average users--people like my mother--who are not thinking about concepts like memory management. The idea is that Parakey accomplishes the functions of an OS (and much more) from an *end-user's* perspective.

      Last time you went with the "end-user" perspective I asked you: ok let it play a DVD then.

      One day you'll realize you had to concentrate on the "much more" part that makes an online app/ui unique and market this as an "extension" of people's OS, versus pit your product aga
    • Blake, I'm just an end-user and have never written a line of code in my life, but I admire the passion and motivation you have to take on difficult tasks in order to change the status quo. You, and a cast of thousands of open-source volunteers, did that with Firefox. You changed the world in a small but significant way. How many people can say that their actions changed the lives of millions people? Not many. For that, I just want to say thanks for the time and effort. (ending fanboy rant...) That said, on

  • I suppose this sounds trollish, but frankly to me the very phrase just screams SLASHVERTISEMENT!, because no-one who knows what they're talking about uses language like that -- it's strictly a marketing term.

  • Google. (Score:3, Insightful)

    by Frosty Piss ( 770223 ) on Friday July 20, 2007 @11:28PM (#19935391)
    Of course, Facebook will soon be purchased by Google.
    • Re: (Score:3, Interesting)

      I hope not. Is it just me or has Google become relatively stagnant?

      Take Gmail for instance. That was launched at roughly the same time as Facebook. Since then, Gmail has remained almost exactly the same. On the other hand Facebook has been adding features every other month and dramatically changing itself every year. The same goes for Google Calendar, orkut, Google Images, and virtually all of Google's products. Even Google Search itself is almost exactly the same as it was 7+ years ago (obviously the
      • Re: (Score:2, Insightful)

        by majid_aldo ( 812530 )
        some things don't need to be changed like: the google search page, basic instant messaging, basic email, windows xp, and the jeep cherokee.
      • I like the distinction:

        What makes it even worse is that Google has armies of the smartest kids as well as PHDs working for them, and they double their workforce every year.
        Emphasis mine. Yes, in addition to smart people Google also has people with papers and letters behind their names!
  • It's not margarine, it's Parakey!
  • The OS can already do everything that an OS can do.

    Stop trying to reinvent the wheel.

    Online office apps are pointless once somebody offers decent, cross platform, ad supported storage of data.

    • by Catil ( 1063380 )
      Web Applications are often advertised as "access from everywhere" which sounds like "centralize your data." The real meaning, however, is "access with everything" - Web-Apps should be working on every electronic device running a modern browser; every PC with every possible OS, mobile phones, even game consoles.
      If you, let's say, make a presentation with your favorite online app, you can show it to everyone every time.
      The same goes for Flash, Silverlight and other fancy web technologies. There is nothing "
  • So what can it do? Can it manage memory? What filesystems does it implement? Do you have fork(2) or an equivalent? What about TCP/IP? How are your hardware drivers?

    Shouldn't you invest in a dictionary, son?
  • A web portal with a very tightly integrated, extensible "smart client".

    The following scenario sounded interesting: Plugging in your camera and having pictures automatically copied, sorted, ready to organize on your "local server", automatically publishing once you're connected to the website.

    The bit about developing "applications" using JUL sounded interesting too. I wonder how much cross-over functionality this and Google Gears has.


    'its what we call a "LASER"'
  • by bitspotter ( 455598 ) on Saturday July 21, 2007 @02:49AM (#19936095) Journal
    At first, hearing this pissed me off. Now it just makes me nervous, after reviewing some of the old and new information (neither of which amounts to much, given Parakey's stealth mode).

    The number one thing that encouraged me about Parakey was that not only was it open source, it didn't fork over it's users control over to web services companies. Sure, Livejournal, for example) has its code released under a public license - but that doesn't stop LJ from locking in user data. Alternate instances of of LJ code son't interoperate, and I still can't make complete archives of all my posts, comments, and interactions on any social networking site. This is my life [movemydata.org], we're talking about - I don't want some company to have better access to it than I do.

    Parakey, insofar as it was described in the Spectrum article, did the right thing here by making the user's desktop the central archive (using open code, and open formats, of course). My life would remain mine, and web services would simply syndicate it from its origin under my control.

    From what I've been able to discover about the Facebook platform, it's not nearly as useful as the web interface is - there's tons of crap I've been bombarded with on the web pages after logging in, only a tiny fraction of which is actually accessible through the API. Given FB's dependency upon an advertising model, it doesn't surprise me at all that they want to hold my own social life hostage as a carrot to get me to use the web interface. Unfortunately, I'm not biting.

    So my concern is, has Parakey bailed on the user-centered model in favor of the service-provider-centered model? It would be a shame.
  • Why does EVERY successful tech company suddenly want to be your OS? Christ, even Facebook now wants to be your OS. I ALREADY HAVE AN OS IN FACT WE ALREADY HAVE HUNDREDS OF OSES SO STOP TRYING TO REINVENT THE WHEEL. I look forward to the day when the computer operating system is something nobody thinks about anymore, and instead thinks more about new operations to add to this system. We have an industry full of people falling all over each other to reinnovate the first thing that was ever innovated in this
  • the facebook CEO is a smart guy, he is learning from the best of the best. I don't know if you ever seen he's keynote, but he sells a bit like Steve Job. He buys a bit like Google and he monopolize a bit like Bill Gates. give it a few year, if he manage to generate a yearly net worth of 100$ per users, he will be a billionaire.
  • It's funny that Facebook bought Blake Ross's startup since Blake Ross went to high school (and was in the same class) as one of Facebook's original developers and main financier. Not a bad class of '99...

Who goeth a-borrowing goeth a-sorrowing. -- Thomas Tusser