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Google's Chrome OS gets official launch

Google's Chrome OS gets official launch

Google's Chrome OS - a cloud-based operating system for netbooks - is now available in source-code form.

Google's long-awaited Chrome OS - a full, lightweight operating system based around its open-source Chrome web browser - has finally gone official, with the company holding a small event to preview the features and functionality of the OS.

Engadget, present at the event, explains the core ethos behind the package: a cloud-based operating system which runs entirely from within the Chrome browser. Rather than having a 'desktop' per se, all applications are simply integrated links to Google cloud services - such as the 'Notepad' package which actually creates a document on Google's Docs site.

While it's cloud-based, the OS does use local storage to keep things nipping along - and should be able to function in an 'offline' mode when a 'net connection is unavailable.

Perhaps most interesting is the news that Chrome OS will not be made available for generic hardware, but rather for a specific design of platform that Google will mandate: as an example, a Chrome OS-based machine must use an SSD rather than a traditional mechanical hard drive. The rather better news is that the entire OS is now released under an open source licence, and supports both x86 and ARM-based CPUs.

GigaOM, also present at the launch event, describes an innovative security protocol which should prevent malware from taking over a Chrome OS-based system: in the unlikely event of infection, all cached data is saved and then a fresh copy of Chrome OS is automatically downloaded and installed on to the machine. Because of its cloud-based nature, no personal data is lost.

If you want to try the system out for yourself, an enterprising hacker has already compiled the source code for the Chromium OS - Chrome OS's open-source moniker - and posted the result as a VMWare disk image to popular BitTorrent search site The Pirate Bay. In order to use the image, a copy of the free VMWare Server virtualisation package is required.

Google's Chrome OS gets official launch Google's Chrome OS gets official launch
Chrome OS is very closely related to the Chrome browser, but adds a tab UI and apps menu

If you want to see exactly what happened at the launch event for yourself, Google has posted a video to YouTube for your delectation.

Do you like the look of Google's Chrome OS, or does the idea of everything you do hitting Google's servers fill you with the heebie-jeebies? Will you be trying the open-source version yourself - or even contributing code to the project? Share your thoughts over in the forums.

25 Comments

Discuss in the forums Reply
500mph 20th November 2009, 10:25 Quote
Downloading the VMware version now. This should be interesting.
Jamie 20th November 2009, 10:37 Quote
MUST have an SSD? Odd.
bogie170 20th November 2009, 10:47 Quote
No pics of the interface?
Sifter3000 20th November 2009, 10:59 Quote
SSD only = pro.
stonedsurd 20th November 2009, 11:06 Quote
eek 20th November 2009, 11:48 Quote
Interesting video! Having no native apps I can never see this being the only OS on a machine... great for dual boot though as you can have your usual OS (win, osx, linux) for day to day stuff then ChromeOS for those times you just need net, and want it fast!!
TWeaK 20th November 2009, 11:52 Quote
I'd like to install this on my girlfriend's eee-pc but the SSD requirement is annoying. Will have to try it on my dad's laptop when he comes to visit I guess.

Anyone know why you need an SSD? Hopefully someone will hack out the requirement - at least it's open source
l3v1ck 20th November 2009, 12:03 Quote
Quote:
Originally Posted by Jamie
MUST have an SSD? Odd.
I guess it saves Google worrying about defragging hard disks, plus they can optimise the OS for a storage device that will likely be dominant in years to come.
Plus if everything is cloud based, including saved files, people won't need large HDD's. Very small SSD (like the ones on the original Eee PC) can be used instead.
UncertainGod 20th November 2009, 12:07 Quote
This wasn't the launch event, it's a year away from launch. Why has almost no-one managed to report on this event correctly, even the press at the event asking question were wondering if you could install other browsers, android apps, etc. Were they even awake during the presentation.
perplekks45 20th November 2009, 12:07 Quote
Thank **** it's open source so someone will remove the stupid limitation to SSD only.
Well, sure, ulow power will be SSD-only devices pretty soon and they are the future but this limitation basically killed 90% of the netbook market already. Then again, I think this OS is meant to be sold pre-installed on new ultra-super-portable devices [<8" displays] so they won't care too much about this.

In the end it's just another bit of software Google uses to advertise their brand and to gain more market share in their main markets...

edit:
Quote:
Originally Posted by l3v1ck
Plus if everything is cloud based, including saved files, people won't need large HDD's. Very small SSD (like the ones on the original Eee PC) can be used instead.
I guess they will offer Google Gears to make your private files available to you while you're not online. Otherwise their concept is flawed in my eyes.
UncertainGod 20th November 2009, 12:13 Quote
There is no limitation to SSD only, as they said in the preview, they will only officially support devices that pass vendor certification and they see no need to bother with HDD's as the devices it's initially targeted at simply won't use them.

Also, every bit of data that syncs with the cloud is also cached locally and apps through gears will still function without a net connection, they just won't be able to update the cloud.

And it is in no way designed for <8" devices, as they said at the announcement they believe current 10" netbooks don't give enough of a quality user experience so they are looking at for factors that can provide a full sized keyboard.
Skorchio 20th November 2009, 12:52 Quote
Downloading now :)
perplekks45 20th November 2009, 12:56 Quote
Quote:
Originally Posted by UncertainGod
And it is in no way designed for <8" devices, as they said at the announcement they believe current 10" netbooks don't give enough of a quality user experience so they are looking at for factors that can provide a full sized keyboard.
Yet they said netbook, and netbooks are <=10", bigger is ultra-portable/sub-notebook.
And to be honest, I don't see this challenging Windows on better-specced notebooks.
UncertainGod 20th November 2009, 13:00 Quote
That's because it's not meant too. And they only said netbooks for now as we get other form factors into market.
pizan 20th November 2009, 15:07 Quote
Quote:
Originally Posted by eek
Interesting video! Having no native apps I can never see this being the only OS on a machine... great for dual boot though as you can have your usual OS (win, osx, linux) for day to day stuff then ChromeOS for those times you just need net, and want it fast!!
You act like my computer is ever fully turned off or that win7 pro doesn't boot up in under a minute on an intel 80 SSDg2
perplekks45 20th November 2009, 15:12 Quote
Still instant-on machines are nice.

New form factors like tablets? There aren't too many possibilities left: <7" smart phones, 8"-10" netbooks, 11"-13" sub-notebooks, 14"+ notebooks.
Please correct me if I'm wrong [as usual].
Shagbag 20th November 2009, 15:42 Quote
Quote:
Originally Posted by perplekks45
and netbooks are <=10"
to clarify, Microsoft says netbooks are 10" or less. No one else does.
NuTech 20th November 2009, 15:45 Quote
A very good question asked at the event was "Will Chrome OS allow you to print?". Some may regard that an obvious question, but it's actually very relevant. Google cannot expect dozens of manufacturers to release drivers just for their OS.

Anyway, Idan Avraham said "you will be able to print, but we'll take a more innovative approach". Any guesses as to what this may be?

Could any Linux users tell me if it's possible that Google could 'hack in' support for Linux printer drivers?
steveo_mcg 20th November 2009, 16:02 Quote
:? Linux has perfectly usable printer drivers for most printers
perplekks45 20th November 2009, 17:02 Quote
I do, as well. If bigger netbooks mean under-powered 12" sub-notebooks, I don't really need them, thank you very much.
themcman1 20th November 2009, 17:04 Quote
Going to have a go at compiling this now.
eek 20th November 2009, 17:24 Quote
Quote:
Originally Posted by perplekks45
Still instant-on machines are nice.

New form factors like tablets? There aren't too many possibilities left: <7" smart phones, 8"-10" netbooks, 11"-13" sub-notebooks, 14"+ notebooks.
Please correct me if I'm wrong [as usual].
In the presentation it's repeated a few times that they want this to go on laptops/netbooks/notebooks/call-it-what-you-will with full size keyboard, large screens, and decent resolutions. It wouldn't surprise me to see it appear in at the smaller end eventually, but the first few devices will definitely overlap in the traditionally sized laptop territory
UncertainGod 20th November 2009, 17:25 Quote
If you just want to try it out in a VM there is a vmdk image already floating around the net (don't get the vdi image, it doesn't really work.

http://gdgt.com/google/chrome-os/download/
tyrandan 20th November 2009, 23:35 Quote
Quote:
Originally Posted by Jamie
MUST have an SSD? Odd.

Shouldn't be a problem, it's released in source code form, so just change the source code to allow HDD's.
Cthippo 21st November 2009, 07:25 Quote
Bear with me as I haven't thought this all the way out, but...

What if you turned it around? Instead of having the data in the cloud and the OS on your machine, you had the data on the machine and your OS was managed through the cloud. I'm thinking of this specifically in terms of servers and network appliances which need smaller or minimal OSes. The automatic update and repair feature, coupled with some sort of online monitoring, sounds very promising.

Imagine for a minute you have a server farm. One of your servers gets hacked or infected or whatnot. We'll also assume you have some sort of automatic backup on another server. A overhead monitoring server or perhaps a connection to a cloud function detects the changes in the target machine's behavior and activates the backup. It then collects the record of the intrusion or infection, wipes the OS drive and re-installs, rapidly bringing the machine back online. In theory, the attack could be automatically analyzed, a patch created, and the OSes on all machines updated, all without any user input.
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