Use Jolicloud for a Web App Dashboard in Firefox, Safari (or Chrome)

Use Jolicloud for a Web App Dashboard in Firefox, Safari (or Chrome) | 40Tech

One of Google Chrome’s best features is the Apps Dashboard. With the current push toward cloud computing, it sometimes seems that a new web app surfaces almost daily. When used in conjunction with the Chrome Web Store, it’s easy to sort through the multitudes of services out there, get a quick review, and have your favourites at your fingertips. Sometimes the buttons are nothing more than spiffy bookmarks, and others integrate with the browser, adding context menu functionality and other things that make your life easier. The ability to sync your apps between machines is an added bonus, bringing us one step closer to Google’s dream of us all living in the almighty Browser [see ChromeOS].

Unfortunately, if you are a Firefox user, even with the recent leaps forward in Firefox 4, there is no native service that offers what the Apps Dashboard does in Chrome. You could use specialized start page plugins or services and put together your favourite quick-links, but you would still be missing out on the best feature: discoverability. Unless you use Jolicloud, that is.

Jolicloud Web App Dashboard, App Desktop in Firefox | 40Tech

Jolicloud started as a specialized Linux OS for netbooks, attempting to give those small screens an easy and visual user experience. Because netbooks are small and built mostly for web browsing, it made sense for Jolicloud to focus on web apps, and while they did offer native software installs, they were much more cloud-based (hence the name). They added a social component to their OS, allowing you to connect with and share your favourite web app recommendations with other users, and you could log in on any Jolicloud machine and sync your apps over to it, too! This might sound a lot like Google ChromeOS, but Jolicloud was doing all of this actively before ChromeOS was even out of the gate.

These days, Jolicloud still exists as an OS, but has changed its name to JoliOS. What Jolicloud is now is a very pretty web app itself that functions as a dashboard that can be opened in any Firefox 4 or Safari 5 browser. It can also be opened in Google Chrome — and is actually an app in the Google Web Store. Jolicloud has built up a decent list of web apps in its directory, and though it doesn’t have the ability to integrate its apps into your browser, it does a few things that the Google Chrome App Dashboard can’t do. Like look pretty — or be multi-page.

Jolicloud Install Web Apps List | 40Tech

Jolicloud has many different wallpapers that can be applied to it, and has several pages for you to organize your apps. The pages function very much like iOS in that you can drag the app icons around and move them from page to page by pushing them against the right or left edge of the screen. Combined with the fact that the apps are always in the same position you left them in, no matter what computer you open them on — as opposed to Google Chrome missing some in syncs, or occasionally reordering them on you — and you end up with a very good experience.

Another thing that actually gives Jolicloud a leg up over Chrome’s App Dashboard is the ability to add whatever site you like by URL, using the Add New App button on the bottom of the web apps category list, which you get to by pressing the big green plus button. Essentially, you could use Jolicloud as your web app library and as your speed-dial to your favourite sites — very handy! If that’s not enough for you to give it a shot, then click on the folder tab in the top left — you can actually connect Dropbox and Google Docs right into the app, with available space reports, and in-app previews and editing, which makes for all kinds of convenience.

Jolicloud Connects to Dropbox, Google Docs

I’ve found only two annoying things about Jolicloud:

  1. That the site has experienced the occasional weird 400 error, and made it seem that my apps were wiped out. That can usually be fixed by restarting the browser, sometimes with a clean cache, and logging in again.
  2. That the sync with the actual OS will bring over apps — or offer apps in the list — that are actually for installed software. Generally, these are just greyed out if you are using them in JoliOS, but there are times they can be made to work. I got Skype to launch from Jolicloud, for example.

If you want to use Jolicloud with your Firefox 4 or Safari 5 install (Opera is not supported, and IE only works — sometimes — with Chrome Frame), just head to and create an account, then click on My Jolicloud. The rest is pretty self-explanatory. Once you have your apps in place, either set Jolicloud as a pinned tab, or have it open as your start page. The are reports of the devs working to create a Firefox extension for Jolicloud to make it an even better experience for FF users. They are also apparently working on Android compatibility, and already have experimental iPad support.

If you like Jolicloud a bunch, you might want to go the whole way and install JoliOS — it can be installed and removed in Windows and configures your system for dual boot. You could also buy the cute little Jolibook computer, if you have some spare cash and are in the UK.

Have you tried Jolicloud? What did you think?

Bobby Travis

Bobby isn't 40-something, but is a strong supporter of the Grown-up Geek kind. He's a loving husband and father first, but is also a freelance writer, productivity nut, operatically trained singer, and (not-so) closet geek. Check out his random thoughts, wackiness, and Instagram pics on Tumblr, Twitter, or Google+-- or just head over to


  1. I’ve been playing around with JoliCloud as I think it is a possible solution for the desktop in the cloud, accessible from all my machines. I like the integration with DropBox and Google Docs but the rest currently seems like a simple bookmarking system. I like your description of it as a speed-dial page – that actually makes me like it a bit more!

    The first thing I’d like to see added is a way to manage all the apps that get added to the dashboard. They need to be grouped in some user-defined way, such as productivity or photo, so they make more sense. Then I’d really like to see some form of widget icons, telling me the weather, or how many unread gmails I had. Wouldn’t that be fantastic?!

    It’s definitely got potential.

    • Thanks for the comment, Martin!

      You actually can group your apps how you like. I need that sort of organization myself, and it was the first thing I did. All you need to do is establish what sort of categories you would like to use, then assign pages to those categories, dragging your icons to their specific pages (drag to the edge of a page to change it). I know you get at least six pages, but I haven’t had the need for more, so am not sure about the limits if you have a ton of apps that you bookmark.

      The main issue here, however, is that the pages are limited to 14 apps per, so a lot of apps could still get confusing. Being able to name pages or have combined categories on a page a la iOS would be a good thing.

  2. Yes, I was thinking more along the lines of the categorisation of apps on a page. When you move one app to a page, one falls off to the next page. It’s difficult to keep a group together sometimes. It would be nice if you could create pages and not have them all full.

  3. Hello there!

    I am writing from my Joli OS. Actually the OS is pretty nice and much, much faster than Windows 7 Starter installed by default on my netbook.

    I haven’t been using Joli OS for a long time but I am quite amazed by the possibilities offered. In particular, as I already said, the smooth flow. It is good to use a Linux product again.

    However, I am not completely used to web apps. I still want my old native apps, and I am quite disappointed not to find Firefox to install from the desposit directory. Anyway, Chromium is fast, and run most of the Web Apps, which are more or less bookmarks as someone said previously, but I would like Firefox to browse the web.

    The organization of the apps need to be rethought a little bit to fit a netbook, which is not a smartphone, but the concept is good.

    See ya.

    • Hi Nic!

      I used Joli OS back when it was still the main Jolicloud offering, and I liked it. It still had some of the typical Linux problems, like getting it to work with your wireless networking hardware, and it was a bit temperamental here and there, but it was blazingly fast, and is apparently much improved.

      I hear you on wanting to be able to use the native apps you like — I thought that there was a way to install Firefox on Joli OS? Are you still locked out of the repository?

Leave a Reply