As reported, Dell has
reached an agreement with Eazel
to include their Nautilus shell and Eazel Services on all Dell
computers that ship with Linux preloaded, which includes all
client-side systems. Additionally, Dell has made an equity
investment in Eazel of an undisclosed amount.
A Dell representative said that Eazel's software would begin
shipping on Dell computers when GNOME 1.4 is available.
Brian Croll, Eazel's VP of Marketing, stressed that this is a
very important step for their services model in part because the
software itself is open source. By having Dell's assurance that the
entire package will be installed and set up properly, Eazel knows
that users of all skill levels will be able to use it right out of
the box. Croll likened Eazel Services to a Palm VII wireless PDA,
saying that, "it only comes alive when it's connected."
The two services, which will be accessed via a "Services" menu
in the Nautilus shell, will be the Eazel Software Catalog and Eazel
Online Storage. The Eazel Software Catalog will let users find and
download either initial installations or upgrades of open source
software, and it will maintain the user's system in a coherent
state, taking into account and resolving library versions. Croll
observed that one of the major problems with desktop and laptop
computers today is the amount of time and skill it takes to
maintain them, and that the Eazel Software Catalog is intended to
automate that process as much as possible .
Eazel Online Storage will provide users with 25MB of online
storage, accessible from any browser, similar to that offered by
Xdrive and Driveway.
Initially the Eazel Services will be free, but they will be
enhanced in the Spring of 2001 and offered on a paid subscription
basis, a situation Croll characterized as, "Give us X dollars a
month, and we'll take the system management monkey off your back."
The Eazel Software Catalog will be expanded to include alerts when
new versions of installed software or security updates become
available. The Software Catalog might be used as a delivery vehicle
for non-open, commercial software, as well.
Eazel Online Storage will be enhanced to include a user
interface that will back up and restore parts of the user's system
to their Internet-based storage. Croll pointed out that there's an
interesting synergy between the two services once they're enhanced,
since they will combine to let users make snapshot backups of their
system and then revert to a prior state. This mirrors another
aspect of Eazel Services' plan that Croll commented on, that many
of the pieces for better and more automated system management have
been around for some time, but that until now no one company or
project has put the pieces together into a coherent and usable
When asked about pricing for their subscription services, Eazel
said they're still considering options, but that their goal is to
keep it low enough to make the service "ubiquitous".
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