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Israel, Palestine: Free Virtual Computer Conquers Wall

Categories: Middle East & North Africa, Israel, Palestine, Technology

A new Israeli-Palestinian Internet start-up called G.ho.st is taking on Microsoft [1] and Google [2] in the competition to develop a “cloud computing [3]” operating system that allows people to access all their files and software via the internet.

G.ho.st [4] [4]launched on July 13 and is offering users 15GB of free disk-space as well as various other applications to edit documents, presentations and spreadsheets. The system enables a user to manage email, photos, videos, bookmarks and the option via any computer or mobile device [5] that has Internet access. The operating system is  currently available in 20 languages, including Hebrew and Arabic. G.hos.t welcomes [6] improvements to the translations as well as any new language contributions, making it accessible to as many people as possible.

Here's an explanatory video, explaining why the system was developed:

And it’s the operating system’s slogan, “No walls”, that has really created a stir and excitement. G.ho.st not only overcomes technological ‘walls’ or barriers by making data something that is no longer bound by a device, but it also overcomes political walls of separation [7].

The virtual operating system is the result of a rare collaboration between Israeli and Palestinian developer teams on both sides of the infamous West Bank separation wall. G.ho.st was founded in 2006 by Zvi Schreiber, an Israeli businessman, and the chief engineer, Elias Khalil, is Palestinian.

Their teams have never visited each other's offices because often Palestinians cannot get the permits needed to enter Israel. And Israelis aren't allowed to travel to certain areas of the West Bank. Most communication between the teams takes place via video conferencing. As the G.ho.st website [8] [8]explains:

Ghosts go through walls and the very first wall that G.ho.st goes through is the 425 mile wall and fence that Israel is building in the West Bank between itself and the Palestinians and which physically divides the G.ho.st team into two. However the Internet and positive collaboration between human beings transcends all physical boundaries.

So far, most reactions to the operating system have been positive. Here are some of the comments appearing on Twitter:

sstrand12 [9] :

Virtual filing system, developed by Israeli-Palestinian team. Really useful, no more emailing yourself files: http://g.ho.st/ [10]

jebbrilliant [11]: [11]

I think G.ho.st has huge potential for those that can't afford a computer but have access to one. Go check it out at G.ho.st

wllm [12]:

Why can't we all just get along? Like these guys: http://bit.ly/MySDY [13] #cloudcomputing [14] #g [15].ho.st #palestine [16] #israel [17] #cloudheads [18]

There also seems to be some interest in future use and development of the operating system:

jebbrilliant [19]:

@Ew4n [20] Mobile version is lacking but I foresee G.ho.st being useful for people w ultra basic handsets and access to a shared computer.

markherring [21]:

Is anyone using g.ho.st with their students. Could solve file protection and storage issues at schools. No need for massive servers?

Regardless of how this operating system develops, or whether or not it is a success, G.ho.st is a nice indicator that collaboration across conflict lines is possible when people embrace a world with no walls.