Modern Software Experience

2009-11-20

Google OS

Open Source Project

The second Google OS is available now (Google Android is the first).
Today, Google announced the Chromium OS. Chromium OS is the open source project for the Chrome OS product just like Chromium is the open source project for Google Chrome.

The announcement makes it clear that Google is still a year away from releasing the Chrome OS product for end-users. Google is opening up the Chromium OS project to get open source developers involved.

That gets Google a community of curious individual developers learning about and contributing to the project, and allows prospective partners to check it out and make sure that Chrome OS will install and work on their netbooks.

web only

To call Chromium OS an operating system may be technically correct, but Chromium OS does not support desktop applications. Chrome OS is an implementation of the thin network client idea. All applications are web applications that run in the browser.
Even the file system browser, which you need to get images from a camera or store stuff on an USB, runs in a Chrome browser tab.

updates

Users will not have to updates or otherwise manage desktop applications. The browser will be updated automatically and you will be presented with new versions of web applications when they are done.
The flip side of that is that you have no control over updates. You will get browser and web app updates, even if the new version does not work half as well as the old version.

security and speed

Google is paying attention to security from the start of the project, as detailed in the Chrome OS Security Overview. That attention to security includes security form the start of Chrome OS, as detailed in Chrome OS Verified Boot.

Google pays attention to security but admits to an obsession with speed. Google does not just say that or do so to appeal to hard-core developers, Google has to pay attention to speed because Chromium OS will mostly like be deployed on netbooks with limited processing power. Google wants the finished Chrome OS to boot fast, so you can go from turning on your netbook to surfing the web in a few seconds.

videos

The Official Google Blog post announcing the Chromium project includes a short YouTube that explains Chrome OS. It is mildly entertaining and insulting at the same time; it assumes you do not even know what a browser is.

The post on the Chromium Blog is just a bit text introducing four short YouTube videos, each of which discusses a different aspect of Chrome OS.

working with Chrome OS

The videos on the Chromium blog contain some information on working with Chrome OS. The video about fast booting notes that Chrome OS is designed to be used with solid-state drives, and the video on user interface that when you log into Chrome OS, you resume your previous sessions. These are design ideas similar to that of Palm OS.

The video on open source notes that Chrome OS provide a quick overview of how Chrome OS relates to other open source projects such as GNU, Linux and moblin.

Chrome OS today

As I remarked a few months ago in Chrome OS already, Chrome OS is mostly here already, and that hard to remove Google Update process keeping Chrome OS up to date is a key component of it.

Chrome OS hardly competes with Windows as an operating system. Chrome OS is not designed to support desktop applications with data on your local hard disk. Chrome OS and Windows are based on competing visions of what an operating system should be. Chromium is a just a launcher for the Chrome, because Google’s believes that is all it needs to do, because you everything need is available on the web.

Google updates

To receive news about Chrome OS including the expected availability of consumer devices running Chrome OS next year, leave your email address the Google Chrome OS Sign Up page.

updates

instant update 2009-11-19 VMWare image

The folks at Gdgt have compiled Chrome OS and are providing a VMWare image for download. Registration required.

instant update 2012-07-01 gdgt image gone

Gdgt has stopped offering the VMWare image. The link has been removed.

links