Written by Luke Ponio
Thursday, 26 November 2009 23:25
One week ago on November 19th, the source code to Google’s Chrome OS was released. The open source version of the OS was released under the name Chromium OS. For those unfamiliar with the product, Chrome OS was announced July 7, 2009 as a web-based OS designed for speed, simplicity, and security and targeted at the rapidly expanding netbook market.
The difference between Chrome OS and all other operating systems available today is that Chrome’s data comes from the “cloud” which is a magical place that stores all your information. There are no software updates or application installs. It isn’t clear what Google’s plan is for local storage but there will be open-source options if it isn’t officially supported. Google is not including drivers for normal hard disk drives either. Chrome OS will rely solely on solid-state memory for increased speed. This won’t be a large problem because the target for this operating system is the netbook market where most devices already include a sufficient solid-state drive. Chrome OS uses a customized Linux kernel that doesn’t check for things like floppy drives and legacy options not found on netbooks. Combined with a solid-state drive this allows Google to improve OS boot time to less than 7 seconds.
The interface of Chrome OS looks just like the Google Chrome web browser with some additional UI for apps and system configuration. There is no desktop or place to drag and drop files. Everything you do is inside of a browser. You are able to open Microsoft Office documents with Office Live, update Facebook and Twitter, watch Hulu or Youtube videos, read ebooks, and many other things. The UI is clean and unobtrusive with only enough things to do what you do with a normal operating system on a day to day basis.
Google has a long way to go with this product but by the time netbooks are shipping with it installed in the second half of next year it should be as familiar as the computer you are reading this on.
I’ll have a guide on how to install Chromium onto a bootable USB drive tomorrow so you can try it for yourself.
Here is a quick video explaining what Chrome OS is: