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Tuesday, January 20, 2009

Google Web Drive and "Cosmo" Discussed in Deleted Document
By Tony Ruscoe

During my research for my last post about Google Web Drive, various search engine results kept returning a document that had been deleted from the online document publishing website, Scribd. The site displays the following message explaining its removal:

The document “GDrive on Cosmo Getting Started Guide” has been removed from Scribd

This content was removed at the request of M. Homsi/Google

For more information, please send questions to Note that we cannot provide you with a copy of the document, as it has been permanently deleted.

(Incidentally, the same person requested this document about “Platypus” to be removed even though it seems to have just been a cached copy of this page, according to cached descriptions.)

GDrive on Cosmo Getting Started Guide was added to Scribd around 2 months ago by a user called “Alexander” using the username “m_w_f” who has also uploaded a number of other Google documents. However, while the other documents were meant for the public, this one clearly wasn’t.

Most of the search engines had already indexed the ’removed’ version of the page, otherwise a cached copy of all the text from the document would have probably made a very interesting read! And although I was unable to find a cached version of the complete document, I was able to piece together most of the content using the snippets shown in Yahoo!’s search results. Some of the most interesting parts follow, with formatting added for clarity and particularly intriguing parts emphasized in bold. (Apart from that, all quotations have come straight from the document.)

The document describes installing and upgrading “to GDrive on Cosmo” for both “Existing Platypus PC Users” and “Existing Platypus Mac Users”, hinting that the client is available for both PC and Mac. The detailed installation instructions explain how to backup files locally and then uninstall “the current version of Platypus” – making reference to names such as “Platypus or Drivetastic or Google Web Drive” for the Mac users. It then says to “Download the latest GDrive client build” from the internal address http://go/getgdrive, install it and double click the “Google Web Drive” desktop icon (for PC users) to log in, perform an initial sync and “Start using GDrive by dragging files in or creating new files.”

Just as a reminder, Platypus was the name of the internal GDrive client that was leaked in 2006 which was available internally at Google for Windows and Linux. Whether this new version is an upgrade to that client or a more recent one is unclear though.

Amongst the FAQ are questions about local disk space and external access using a Gmail account:

  • What if I’m out of space on my local hard disk?
    Moving off of g: will free up space on your c: so this should work, but you can also try copying to filer instead and then moving it back to g: after you install the new build
  • Will the new GDrive client work if I’m not on the corp network?
    Not yet, but soon. We really want to offer this for users and GMail users, but we still have a bit more work to do to set this up.

From the installation instructions we can work out that there’s a client for PC and Mac, but how do you view your files online? The document explains:

Viewing your files on the web in Google Docs
You can view all your files online in a special version of Google Docs by visiting: OR for dasher login (e.g. your address)

Both of those URLs resolve but I was unable to login to the ’special version’ of Google Docs using either my Gmail or Google Apps domains. (Note: “dasher” is an internal name for Google Apps and can often be found referenced in their code.)

So, we now know that Googlers can access Google Web Drive online through a new version of Google Docs, but what other services are integrated?

PicasaWeb Integration
You can see the photos you drop into the “Photos” magic folder in PicasaWeb by going to

This should come as no surprise to Google-watchers, given the current Google Docs already has references to photo albums hidden away, as the Google Operating System blog reported last year.

Why hasn’t Google Web Drive been released yet? There are likely to be lots of reasons, but here are some of the known issues:

  • Performance: Our prod setup does not currently have production QoS Latency, our frontends are in bf and backends in yq GFE in hot
  • Public folder: The public folder functionality is not yet implemented in the Doclist.
  • 10GB quota limit: Cosmo hasn’t integrated with Amethyst yet, so every user has a quota of 10GB, if you have had more space on GDrive in the past it will be available to you shortly.
  • Google Docs Integration: Some folders from your Google Docs account may show up, please ignore these for now. We’re in the process of migrating all Google Doc accounts to cosmo so you may see some [...]

We’ve heard all about GDrive before but what’s Cosmo? And what’s Amethyst? Sadly, I was unable to retrieve any more of the text to finish that last sentence, but everything seems to suggest Cosmo is some kind of update to Google Docs which integrates with this new version of GDrive, perhaps a shared storage solution or user interface for all your online files.

We need to remember that this document has been taken completely out of context, so we don’t really know how old it was when it was uploaded 2 months ago, whether this new version is still being actively worked on, or whether it’s ever going to be released the public, but Google certainly keeps us guessing about GDrive...


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