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Try Out Chrome OS In a Virtual Machine 289

Posted by Soulskill
from the that-didn't-take-long dept.
itwbennett writes "Some very generous Alpha OS geeks have snagged the Chrome OS source code and compiled a version to share with the rest of us, writes blogger Peter Smith. 'The build comes in the form of a virtual machine, which means you'll need VMWare or VirtualBox running, and of course the image of Chrome OS itself. The folks at gdgt are distributing the latter, and they've set up a page with all the links you'll need. You'll need to create a gdgt account if you don't have one yet. The Chrome OS image is only a bit over 300 megs, so it's a fast download. If you need a little more handholding, TechCrunch has a step-by-step guide to getting Chrome OS installed and running using VirtualBox, and a Chrome OS torrent they link to.'"
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Try Out Chrome OS In a Virtual Machine

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  • by Obispus (803786) on Friday November 20, 2009 @11:05PM (#30181430)
    It looks exactly like the Chrome/Chromium browser, with a few more desktop icons and a weird window manager.

    The only novelty is that the lack of a "shutdown" option seems to be intentional; the local machine is supposed to be stateless in the sense that it commits all transactions remotely before announcing their completion. Plan 9 also tried to achieve that goal, at least initially.

    Kudos to the people who put these images together, though--they've saved many of us significant time.

    • Well - the other thing that's rather cool is that it boots to usable system in less than 5 seconds (on the VM). For most OS's I play with, it's 30-90 seconds..
      • And why is that important? I boot my system perhaps every two months (the system boots itself monthly, but I'm probably sleeping at the time).
        • Re: (Score:2, Insightful)

          by Anonymous Coward

          Cause some people don't want to leave there system on all the time. Like in order to reduce power consumption. So we don't have to dump a giant ice cube in the ocean every few years. I guess we could just increase the orbit of the Earth by exactly 1 week.

          Robot Party Week!

        • Re: (Score:2, Insightful)

          by Wobble-U (1112077)
          Because most people turn their computers off when they're not in use.
          • That's ridiculous. The boot-up time is not the issue, the time to then load the browser, word processor, development environment etc. is. I find it bizarre that in 2009 people still shut down their computer rather than hibernate or suspend. Surely when you come to use your computer again it's more or less the same half a dozen applications you want to use. What's the point in shutting down, then the next day or a few hours later loading them all again?
        • Clearly it's not important to you. Those of us with laptops and netbooks often prefer to shut them down. I tend to suspend a lot, but 5 seconds is actually as fast as it is for windows to restore from suspend...
        • by kiddygrinder (605598) on Saturday November 21, 2009 @08:38AM (#30183568)
          It's important because you are the exception not the rule
      • Platform shift? (Score:5, Interesting)

        by mcrbids (148650) on Saturday November 21, 2009 @01:19AM (#30182156) Journal

        I've been waiting for the next platform shift. It's been moving towards cloud computing for about a decade, now, but aside from killing the client-server application, the Internet really hasn't caused any major change in platform.

        We all still boot an O/S and run applications on the O/S, some of which are Internet-access applications. But it's struck me for some time that the browser really *should* be the next generation O/S. With plugins and all, Firefox is showing lots of signs, but it's just not stepping up to the plate - I guess the vision isn't quite there - the guys at Firefox still see the browser as a browser.

        A decade ago, the idea of moving any kind of application "into the cloud" was a laughable concept that most people wouldn't dare touch. Nowadays, it's so common that perhaps 50% of all software development is now oriented around "cloud computing". I wouldn't be surprised if the number was even higher.

        So Google's taking this trend to its logical conclusion: why bother with "local" at all?

        It's an interesting take, and one that's sure to really upset the Winopoly if it's got any success at all. The flaws of the Winopoly are obvious and horrible - security woes too many to number, spam spewing from the many leaks, disks that crash, and an Operating System so big, complex, and cumbersome to work on that not even one of the wealthiest companies in the world can do much about it.

        After investing untold billions into the Windows codebase, the result was Windows Vista/Windows 7, which is a bit prettier but certainly won't be introducing meaningful change. It might even be more secure, as much as something larger and more complicated is ever more secure than simpler, ancestral systems.

        But Chromium takes us a whole new direction. My guess is that it *belongs* in a VM/application style software stack, where you can either run it alone on a netbook or something, or run it as a Win/Lin/OSX application. VMWare makes this a reality, even if it's never set up as an "application".

        My guess? It's going to succeed, but in about 5 years' time. Google really needs to unify Chromium and Android. They should be virtually identical platforms. Microsoft is going the other way with IE - trying to pound the web, kicking and screaming, back into Windows proprietary extensions.

        They *still* haven't figured it out...

        • Re:Platform shift? (Score:5, Insightful)

          by NickFortune (613926) on Saturday November 21, 2009 @05:55AM (#30183052) Homepage Journal

          Interesting post.

          We all still boot an O/S and run applications on the O/S, some of which are Internet-access applications. But it's struck me for some time that the browser really *should* be the next generation O/S.

          You're not the only one. IIRC, The reason Netscape had to die was that MS foresaw a day when the browser would supplant the O/S as the primary application environment. Having that sort of control in a non-MS company was unacceptable in itself, but having the browser also be cross platform and therefore capable of eroding MS' lock-in of operating systems generally... You can see how that idea would play in Redmond.

          Firefox is showing lots of signs, but it's just not stepping up to the plate - I guess the vision isn't quite there - the guys at Firefox still see the browser as a browser.

          Part of that may be intentional, in the hopes of not provoking MS as Netscape did. If Firefox doesn't try and encroach on MS primary domain, maybe the softies won't allocate too many resources to the "Destroy Firefox" project. That said, I think it's more likely a hold over from the original vision for the Phoenix browser (back before the name changes) when it was supposed to be an ultra-light, ultra-fast browser with all the heavy-duty code shifted out to add-ons. That was by contrast with the old Mozilla (now Seamonkey) browser, which still had a lot of the Netscape O/S convergence features in it, and which were largely considered to be bloat.

          Personally, I'd sooner see Firefox move back toward to Phoenix model and shift more stuff out to add-ons than to see it adopt more of the features of a graphical shell. On the other hand, if they are determined to add everything but the kitchen sink (as sometimes seems to be the case), then I really can't see why they can't add a decent filer to the app - it would make life so much easier on occasion.

          So Google's taking this trend to its logical conclusion: why bother with "local" at all?

          Well, it's logical to Google. To the rest of the world, there are still issues with having your data stored on someone else's platform. What happens if your internet connection drops? What happens if the cloud service provider folds and takes your data with it? What happens if, in a decade's time they are bought out by BigEvilCo who leverage the vendor lock-in implicit in a cloud architecture and hold a decade's worth of your data to ransom?

          "Local" has some compelling advantages.

          Microsoft is going the other way with IE - trying to pound the web, kicking and screaming, back into Windows proprietary extensions.

          They *still* haven't figured it out...

          No argument there :)

      • by srothroc (733160)
        I know it's fashionable to hate Microsoft and all that, but my laptop running Windows 7 boots to the login screen in 7-9 seconds. Are those four seconds really so crucial?
    • It looks exactly like the Chrome/Chromium browser, with a few more desktop icons and a weird window manager.

      Well, yes - that's exactly what its meant to be: a stripped-down OS exclusively for running webapps.

      Media hype aside, Chrome was never going to be a technically fascinating OS: the interesting bit is going to come when we see what the hardware is, and how it is marketed.

      (The "weird window manager" might make sense when its running on the target hardware - Android or iPhone would be a bit weird on a regular desktop).

  • by Anonymous Coward on Friday November 20, 2009 @11:11PM (#30181446)

    I got really excited until I realised that this wasn't for the DEC Alpha processor. Shit.

  • Counterpoint (Score:5, Insightful)

    by symbolset (646467) on Friday November 20, 2009 @11:11PM (#30181448) Journal

    There's a lot of handwaving [itworld.com] about how Chrome is not Windows, how it won't let you use photoshop on the netbook, as if you would. Here's a hint: if you're trying to run Photoshop on a 10" screen, you're doing it wrong.

    Look for disastrous reports from Gartner, Forrester and of course the Rob Enderle / Maureen O'Gara flackalyst duet on how Chrome is the worst thing since smallpox. These are your clues that this is the real thing. They said the same things about the When Google says they released the source, people build it and publish virtual machines the same day.

    Netbooks are stepping up in performance, as this four-threaded model [reghardware.co.uk] shows, and will soon be able to do many more things. Yes, VDI is starting to ramp. There is still a place for Chrome. It's the dead-simple desktop interface that many of the technology impaired need. It's a point on the graph twice the distance on the line from Debian to Ubuntu.

    A bunch of people are going to whine it doesn't support disk. It's a next-generation operating system and solid state is the storage of the next generation. It has local storage - just not the slow kind you're used to. There is no more reason to support the legacy spinning disk on this platform than there is to support tape storage or floppy disk. Moving parts are so 2008.

    • Re:Counterpoint (Score:5, Interesting)

      by postbigbang (761081) on Friday November 20, 2009 @11:19PM (#30181490)

      Tho I'll agree about Enderle and O'Gara, there's not much to ChromeOS at all. Apps? Look to the web.

      I already have browsers coming out my ears. I like doing some of my own processing on the fat multicores in my notebook.

      Google still hasn't shown a real 1) educational 2) business case 3) entertainment or 4) porn case for ChromeOS. Any of those could drive it. Right now, it's just a lightweight ROM-able appliance and a Microsoft/MacOS/Linux killer looking for a spot marked X.

      This is centrist computing at best, and a goofy attempt at targeting the bloat in all of the aforementioend operating systems. Snooze.

      • by spinkham (56603)

        Web tablets. That's the real market for ChromeOS. Otherwise, I agree with you, snooze city.

      • by gmuslera (3436)

        Google still hasn't shown a real 1) educational 2) business case 3) entertainment or 4) porn case for ChromeOS. Any of those could drive it. Right now, it's just a lightweight ROM-able appliance and a Microsoft/MacOS/Linux killer looking for a spot marked X.

        They dont have to. What educational/business/entertainment/porn gives the search engine per se, already digested? is just a tool, and you are the one that applies it to whichever case.

        Besides, regarding porn, rule 34 [xkcd.com] is still there, even for Chrome OS

      • Re:Counterpoint (Score:5, Interesting)

        by fuzzyfuzzyfungus (1223518) on Friday November 20, 2009 @11:47PM (#30181664) Journal
        While their initial plans don't mention it much, I suspect that(if they can get a decent initial launch as a basic consumer netbook OS), ChromeOS could be absolutely killer across a fair swath of the small business market.

        Here's why:

        In medium business to enterprise IT, there are a bunch of really useful abilities that are taken for granted. They cost a fair amount of initial effort and money; but once you achieve them, you are get the benefits on all client machines. Those are, centralized storage of files and configurations and centralized application of updates and policies. If some cube-dweller's computer dies, IT can shove another one at him, he logs in, and all his files and settings are right there again. Easy, standard.

        On the small business side, they are lucky if they have real backups to recover from, never mind being able to treat client machines are more or less interchangeable, consumable parts.

        Imagine, though, tying ChromeOS' interesting single sign in setup to Google Apps for business(with an interface for managing the ChromeOS preferences tied to your employee logins added to the ones used for parceling out file access and email accounts)... You'd get idiot-proof access to the same client-independent features, and automatic backups, and single sign on stuff that the big guys have, on cheap, common hardware, without any need for much local IT expertise.

        Obviously, this would not be trivial, nor would it necessarily be possible immediately. Google would likely have to either partner with or duplicate and exterminate a number of business software outfits to expand their offerings sufficiently for this to be attractive. Worst comes to worst, they could use Native Client to bring particularly stubborn blobs onto the web. Also, since anything you can get on ChromeOS you could also get in your browser on a full machine, there would be nothing preventing businesses from using a mixture of chrome and full computers.
        • Re:Counterpoint (Score:5, Insightful)

          by chuckymonkey (1059244) <charles.d.burton ... Dl.com minus bsd> on Saturday November 21, 2009 @12:59AM (#30182054) Journal
          I think that Google is going to take some market be surprise soon. Think about it, they have wave. An open protocol that can be used across platform to manage and edit documents, projects, chat, email... /etc /etc. I have a feeling that they are timing a launch where they are going to launch ChromeOS, and Android app, and apps for other major platforms for Wave all at once. This would allow anyone using Wave to be working on projects anywhere they have internet essentially. Think about it, you could be working from your phone on a project with a person in Tokyo using a laptop and another in Spain using a desktop and it would work seamlessly. That is going to be killer for business.
        • Re:Counterpoint (Score:4, Insightful)

          by MightyMartian (840721) on Saturday November 21, 2009 @01:21AM (#30182170) Journal

          Imagine, though, tying ChromeOS' interesting single sign in setup to Google Apps for business(with an interface for managing the ChromeOS preferences tied to your employee logins added to the ones used for parceling out file access and email accounts)... You'd get idiot-proof access to the same client-independent features, and automatic backups, and single sign on stuff that the big guys have, on cheap, common hardware, without any need for much local IT expertise.

          I just unplugged your water. Your wunder platform just nosedived. Even better, I just took a frontend loader through the fiber backbone in your area. Maybe tomorrow, probably the next day, until then, well, there's always picking your nose.

          Do you think this hasn't been done before? For fuck's sake, either the current group of marketers and IT types have amnesia or literally grew up in a cave. There's a reason timesharing lost out to personal computers.

          • Re:Counterpoint (Score:4, Informative)

            by phantomfive (622387) on Saturday November 21, 2009 @04:41AM (#30182822) Journal
            Yeah, but haven't you ever had a power outage? It's the same thing. What did you do, just go home? That's what I did.

            In fact, in the last year at work I had more power outages than internet outages, exactly one power outage and no internet outages. The internet is getting more reliable these days, so while it seems scary, and definitely has a downside, if it saves money then businesses will do it anyway. They didn't mind being locked into Microsoft, they won't mind being locked into Google when it saves money from the bottom line.
          • by mixmatch (957776)
            If the internet is that essential you can spend the money you would be dumping on full desktop systems to purchase redundant internet connections. If that fails, go to Starbucks and user their wireless...
        • Re:Counterpoint (Score:5, Interesting)

          by vux984 (928602) on Saturday November 21, 2009 @02:30AM (#30182406)

          In medium business to enterprise IT, there are a bunch of really useful abilities that are taken for granted.

          In this spare we already have Citrix, Terminal Servers, Roaming Access Profiles, etc. They've got a blackberry enterprise server hooked into their exchange server, and everyone uses outlook to schedule their meetings. The finance people want excel. The marketing group wants powerpoint. The graphic artists want photoshop. The CEO wants an imac on his desk.

          Where does gmail and some watered down office apps fit into this? Seriously.

          On the small business side, they are lucky if they have real backups to recover from, never mind being able to treat client machines are more or less interchangeable, consumable parts.

          On the small business side, everyone has an ipod, and they run simply accounting or quickbooks, or some industry specific accounting/point-of-sale/CRM suite.

          . You'd get idiot-proof access to the same client-independent features, and automatic backups, and single sign on stuff that the big guys have, on cheap, common hardware, without any need for much local IT expertise.

          Except its missing a key feature: the ability to run the apps they rely on.

          If you were starting a new business, and set out to only use stuff that was in chromeos you might make it. But for any established business shoehorning everything you need into whats available from google is outright absurd.

          Just today one of my clients needed to download a 2.2GB iso image from a vendor in australia and burn it to DVDs. This is a trivial task most of us would take for granted. Can't do it in ChromeOS. They burned 5 copies and then ran some simple software that came with their printer to print attractive labels for the DVDs they'd just burnt. Can't do that in ChromeOS either.

          Another client used some software provided by Fedex Courier to print out a bunch of shipping labels.

          Another runs a VB6 app someone wrote to query data from the enterprise SQL server.

          Another runs a C# app to decode the lathe parameters for cutting a proprietary contact lens design.
          Another client.

          It goes on and on and on.

          Also, since anything you can get on ChromeOS you could also get in your browser on a full machine, there would be nothing preventing businesses from using a mixture of chrome and full computers.

          Politics. Nobody likes getting the 'dumb terminal' when somone else got a 'full pc'.

          • First of all, this isn't really about businesses. It's about home users, students, and private individuals, at least for the moment. My babysitter is a nursing student, and I was telling her (i.e. flirting with her geek style) about ChromeOS and she was all over it. Why? Nothing to break. She doesn't need anything but a basic word processor, and actually uses Google Docs already as that's used by her school. Likewise, her email is gmail from school. She is a self-described techno-idiot, and loves the

            • by vux984 (928602) on Saturday November 21, 2009 @05:47AM (#30183024)

              My babysitter is a nursing student, [...] She doesn't need anything but a basic word processor...

              I suspect you are mistaken. Either that or you have found the only student on the entire planet that has neither a digital camera, nor an ipod. Both of which need a real computer, unless iTunes has a ChromeOS version or she likes uploading 4GB of photos into the cloud at consumer DSL speeds.

              She is a self-described techno-idiot, and loves the idea of a cheap computer with limited moving parts.

              I do too. They are called netbooks, and they've been around for a few years already.

              It will replace terminals (either traditional dumb terminals or Citrix) in call centers, at least at first. These things literally run one and only one application all day long.

              The call centers that have reached this point are ALREADY booting off a network image of a locked down OS running that one app in kiosk mode. ChromeOS offers nothing new or compelling here, the PCs they are already using are cheap as dirt and don't have any disk drives.

              Plus even call centers run 17" and 19" screens. The staff are staring at that screen all day, they aren't going to use $100 netbooks.

              But I do think that the availability of the Google platform and ChromeOS may push applications that have in the past been PC based onto the cloud.

              Sure that's generically true. But LOTS of applications can't move to 'the cloud'. That lathe calculation utility I mentioned will NEVER be on the 'cloud'. That VB6 front end to the enterprise SQL will never be on the cloud, etc, etc.

              The real story here, though, is that whether Chrome OS wins or loses, the web has reached the point that Bill Gates feared ten years ago: it is now "the platform" for many apps. [...] It will replace desktop PC's...

              No. It won't. Desktop PCs will evolve. Some of the 'stuff' that is a "Windows application" today, yes, will become a web app and run in a suitable browser. But some won't. Some can't.

              What happens to AppleTV and iTunes store sales when you just stream your movies and music off Amazon when you want to watch them? This technology is already here.

              Will amazon let my kids stream Mary Poppin's 40 times for a one time cost? Will they let them do it on a plane? A boat? A minivan? Will it work on a trip to Mexico? And what happens if Amazon goes under?

              Seriously, streaming is set to kill the rental video. I agree with that. But replace buying movies? I don't see it. Today we can't stream 1080p, a bluray disc is better than anything you can get streamed. Sure 20 years we'll have more bandwidth... we'll also have ultra-hd. And I bet in 20 years you still won't be able stream 1080p to your laptop in a van in the middle of the rocky mountains.

        • There's already huge numbers of VDI constructs to do what you describe and they're all fairly lightweight. But a browser/application instance to do work is also mature. I like that ChromeOS is fast, lightweight, etc. Fast boot is good. Speed is good, both of which are stated goals.

          The ChromeOS then becomes network latency-constrained. Blame speed on the network, or on the host. It's a shift of resources, not unlike mirrors. SaaS we have. Fine. Browsers we have. Fine. Open source we have. Fine. Sandboxing we

    • by gravos (912628)
      I don't expect nerds to be excited about this one so of course we're going to see these "LOL CHROME IS LMAO" comments like below. But Chrome OS really is sufficient for what many people want to do with their computers. I don't think my mother could really tell the difference between a netbook with Chrome OS and one with Windows, except that the one with Chrome OS gets her to what she wants to do faster.
      • by reub2000 (705806)
        It is? I've never seen a computer user use a computer for just internet. They always have this or that app that they run. And even if they don't using anything on their computer other than a browser, the thought of plunking down cash for something so limited wouldn't be very appealing. I see chrome os being limited to specialized situations where an internet-only would be needed.
    • by lhoguin (1422973)

      A netbook with Chrome OS is the perfect solution for companies with employees that need to access their company's intra/extranet while working in the field. Most of the security is already done, all IT has to do is restrict them to a set of the company's URLs and they're good to go.

      I don't see it as anything other than a novelty toy for other consumers, though. But then I don't see the point of netbooks, and people buy them, so I'm probably wrong.

    • You'd be amazed what sane people will try to do on their notebooks and netbooks. At the end of the day it's a 10" computer. For it to not do anything a 10" computer could in theory do is surely a negative any way you try to slice it. For example, I don't have Photoshop on my netbook, but I do have GIMP and Paint.NET. I have used them to do touchups that would have been hard if impossible to do in a web application, if only because I would have had to upload fairly large images. I have edited quick videos on
    • by Cochonou (576531)
      Have they forgotten about www.photoshop.com [photoshop.com] ?
      Of course, it's a very light version of photoshop, but Adobe is also moving towards online version of its software.
    • by syousef (465911)

      There's a lot of handwaving about how Chrome is not Windows, how it won't let you use photoshop on the netbook, as if you would. Here's a hint: if you're trying to run Photoshop on a 10" screen, you're doing it wrong.

      If you're a photographer doing rough edits and need quick turn around (eg. journalism, even wedding photography these days) a netbook that allows you to do quick edits is a much better option than an image tank (hard drive plus card reader and undersized screen for backing up photos). Price is

  • i played with it for 30 minutes today. the entire thing is a web browser and they have some non Google stuff there to keep the DoJ away. believe it or not there is an icon for Hotmail there as well as Yahoo, Hulu, Facebook, Twitter and the rest is Google apps. Each "app" just opens a new browser tab.

    • Re: (Score:2, Insightful)

      by sglewis100 (916818)

      i played with it for 30 minutes today. the entire thing is a web browser and they have some non Google stuff there to keep the DoJ away.

      Yup, good thing they did that. Would hate to see Chrome abuse it's monopoly. But that's not enough, they should open source Chromiu... oh wait. What's the OS' market share again?

  • by imaniack (638051) on Friday November 20, 2009 @11:24PM (#30181518)
    before RMS crashes the party!
  • I don't suppose anyone else has run into this problem, the VirtualBox forum community doesn't seem to be any help with this:

    After I log in, a gradient blue backdrop appears along with a mouse cursor. Then nothing. I can move the cursor around but other than that the system seems frozen.

    I tried 5 different builds... one of which I compiled myself. 3 of them had this problem, the other two couldn't even find the network card and had no offline user so I couldn't get past the login screen.

  • Shameless Plug (Score:4, Informative)

    by Jrabbit05 (943335) on Friday November 20, 2009 @11:33PM (#30181566)
    Torrent and Info: http://pastie.org/706872 [pastie.org] http://dl.dropbox.com/u/457451/ide.vmdk.torrent [dropbox.com] Because making an account on some shady website that's exploiting the situation seems wrong.
    • Re: (Score:3, Informative)

      You can also "steal" my login information: username: ninny

      password: password

      It will work until some wanker changes the password. .

    • by rdebath (884132)

      Damn that's fast. Over a megabyte per second. I don't think I've seen any website manage that sort of speed to me.

      It just shows you what Bittorrent is capable of, and the RIAA think they can top this on the cheap!

    • Re: (Score:3, Informative)

      by Jamamala (983884)
      Another shameless plug: I've got a thread going on here [ubuntuforums.org] about what I've found - how to get a terminal, what packages are installed, keyboard shortcuts etc. Just a little bit more detail than what techcrunch and gdgt have been saying.
  • Google wants everybody online all the time - I want an OS that works when I'm OFFLINE - I'm guessing this isn't.

    • by Draek (916851)

      True, but for that there's, oh, every other OS on the face of this planet. I'd recommend Minix, just for kicks.

    • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

      by bhima (46039) *

      Gears / HTML5

      Please try to keep up, the mindless poorly reasoned whining about Chrome OS was yesterday.

      Probably it's a better idea to wait until there is some sort of Beta release available, instead of this very alpha release.

  • I saw an Eee PC running one of the demos in their presentation...is there a build available for that?

  • by HoldmyCauls (239328) on Saturday November 21, 2009 @12:02AM (#30181750) Journal

    Am I the only one with a CPU lacking virtualization? :(

  • by a.ameri (665846) on Saturday November 21, 2009 @12:06AM (#30181772)

    ChromeOS is a very good move for everyone involved. Remember, this OS and the devices it will run on are not targeting average slashdotters. I can personally vouch that I come across daily contact with people, business people not just teenagers, who don't use anything other than their browser. The worst aspect of a computer for them, is upgrading, updating all applications, viruses, malware, and general maintenance of the system. They nearly all fail in these, and after a year, they think their laptop is not usable anymore and go and buy a new one. They would LOVE this OS, and are they primary targets of it. Also, synchronisation between multiple computers is a bitch, that even they most fail at. And they hate leaving their documents here and there. Files and directories don't work for them, it's a broken metaphor for most people, and as much as love to organise my files in hierarchical directories, they simply don't care. They just want access to their information, when they need, as conveniently as possible.

    I hate Web apps as much as the next guy on this forum, and even use my trusty IMAP client for fetching my emails from Gmail. But I can't deny that web apps are the future, specially when HTML 5 comes off age and becomes widespread. If you look back at what the Web looked like 5 years ago and compare it to now, you'll see that it will be irresistible in 5 years time. Have a look at http://www.chromeexperiments.com/ [chromeexperiments.com] to get a taste of what we are looking at.

    On a more general note, anyone who is comparing this to old failed projects based on thin clients, X terminals or net pcs, is missing the point. Yes, the technology behind this might be similar to those, but times are changing. On the one hand, people are getting used to ever-present always-available services. On the other hand, 3G is now widespread, affordable, and provides great utility for many. Laptops and phones are converging. 2007 was the year of netbooks, 2010 might be the year of smartbooks (running ARM processors). Smartphones are morphing into Internet tablets (e.g,, N900). These are very different, and interesting times.

    Yes, this is cloud computing, and yes, it raises huge privacy issues. It is up to us the tech savvy crown to raise these issues and address them.

    Slashdotters can always run their trusty Debian or Fedora or FreeBSD or on their computer. And they remain great choices. But Google is pushing applications to go online and cross browser. They are pushing for open source drivers. They are pushing for open standards and cooperation with upstream and downstream projects. This is a Good Thing (TM) for all of us, even if we are not the target consumers of this OS.

  • by R.Mo_Robert (737913) on Saturday November 21, 2009 @12:22AM (#30181862)

    The Chrome OS image is only a bit over 300 megs, so it's a fast download.

    I'm on dial-up, you insensitive clod!

    • by julesh (229690)

      I'm on dial-up, you insensitive clod!

      What're you talking about? That's only 11 hours!

  • by Storchei (723338) on Saturday November 21, 2009 @12:30AM (#30181912) Homepage
    Call me paranoiac! Call me antique! Tell me whatever you want, but THEY MUST BE OUT OF THEIR MINDS if they think I would leave ALL my stuff on THEIR SERVERS.
    It might be faster than blinking, but I simply DO-NOT-LIKE the paradigm they're trying to spread.

    It reminds me the "old" ATM machines, when a mainframe did all the processing. I guess I don't have to recall it was a bank who owned the mainframe and that you must pay them periodically.

    I think the idea of avoiding the startup delay is really cool, but has a SMALL detail.. data is stored on GOOGLE servers, which means if Google powers down their servers you cannot access your data.
    Tomorrow Google could say, "ok, since now you must pay to use our services.." And that's when you regret your decisions. I haven't mentioned the fact they can do whatever they want with the data in their servers (yeah.. yeah.. the data confidentiality agreement - i don't think so).

    Nevertheless, I think it might be suitable for some people in some cases. Computers would require less hardware, which is a pro.

    In summary, I like the idea of speed up the OS, but I think some stuff is private property and must remain as such (at least for my stuff).
    • by selven (1556643)

      You don't have to use Google's services. You can use whatever web apps you want, including putting data on your own server.

    • Re: (Score:3, Interesting)

      by itsdapead (734413)

      data is stored on GOOGLE servers, which means if Google powers down their servers you cannot access your data.

      On the other hand, if your laptop is stolen or the hard drive gets corrupted, you cannot access your data either (but whoever stole it might).

      Of course, as /.ers, we all have robust backup strategies (including an offsite backup in case our house burns down) and keep our laptop hard drives strongly encrypted... (it says here) but the most important thing to realise about Chrome OS is that it is Probably Not For Us.

      Lets face it, Google will probably do a better job of keeping data safe than Mr Average Us

    • by jipn4 (1367823)

      There is nothing in Chrome OS that forces you to connect to Google; so, you can leave your stuff on your own servers as well.

  • Define killer app (Score:5, Insightful)

    by Art3x (973401) on Saturday November 21, 2009 @01:00AM (#30182062)

    I don't know about you, but long battery life to me would be a killer app. I think that the standard six hours or less shows a peculiar lack of any progress. Sure, I can go to a coffee shop with my laptop. But I can't relax at a coffee shop with my laptop. How long will a smart-phone CPU with a notebook-sized battery last, I wonder?

    I also consider a boot time of less than 10 seconds a killer app. The standard 45 seconds or more that even Windows XP (old) on my Core 2 Duo (new) gives me is baffling after 25 years of the PC. (Really, its more like two minutes before it is really ready to give me attention.) If my computer shuts down in two seconds and boots in three, l wouldn't plan my morning around it: "Time to make coffee --- no, wait, start the computer before you make coffee, then it will be ready at the same time."

    Security is also a killer app. Encrypted home directory + read-only root + twin root partitions + a lot of other things = a lot more peace of mind. What if my laptop is stolen? Well, at least they're not going to find anything on it. My house guest is asking me if he can borrow my laptop. If it's a Windows laptop, I (but admittedly not the average user) will do a quick mental check --- do I have anything private on it that he might see? Is he going to accidentally download a virus on it? Etc. Sure, I can do things so that it will be less of a problem, but it's a lot easier if the computer already is set up as much as Chrome OS is for sharing.

    Now that I look at them, what do these things all have in common? A less-stressed user experience. I don't have to think as much as I used to about taking care of my computer. Sure, it won't run Final Cut Pro. But I say, you should have made these the priorities --- at least with some --- any of your models. Get battery life, boot speed, and security to where you would have expected to be in the 21st century. Then branch out to fancy applications. Which is exactly what will probably happen. Browsers are only getting abler.

  • Oooh, shiny! (Score:3, Insightful)

    by Shimmer (3036) <brianberns@gmail.com> on Saturday November 21, 2009 @02:37AM (#30182432) Homepage Journal

    C'mon people. I'm sure this is a very nice project and perhaps it might eventually be popular with Grandma Homeuser, but is everyone so dumbstruck by the Google name that they can't state what must be said?

    First of all, it's not an OS, so please don't call it an OS. That term has an actual prior meaning that should not be hijacked in an attempt to sound geeky-cool. Perhaps "operating environment" is the right term? In any case, it's just a web app in the end.

    Secondly, as a developer, I will never ever ever use this kind of app as my main interface. I need to be able to write/compile/debug software that executes on my actual hardware, not just on some virtual machine in the sky. If you take that away from me, you are taking away one of my most important freedoms. Not to mention that you're also thrusting me back into the 1960's. I own a computer, not just a "terminal".

    Third, all your data lives in the cloud. This isn't a showstopper for me personally, but I know it's a big problem for many people. Speak up!

    Folks, once the coolness factor wears off, are you really going to want this? I think not.

    • Re:Oooh, shiny! (Score:4, Insightful)

      by julesh (229690) on Saturday November 21, 2009 @04:57AM (#30182878)

      First of all, it's not an OS, so please don't call it an OS. That term has an actual prior meaning that should not be hijacked in an attempt to sound geeky-cool.

      Err.. you sure? If it isn't an OS, why do I need a virtual machine to run it? And I'm pretty sure the specs I've seen say it's based on a modified Linux kernel, which suggests to me that it's an OS.

    • by reub2000 (705806)
      It's more like a browser running on bare hardware.
    • by slim (1652)

      First of all, it's not an OS, so please don't call it an OS.

      I'm completely baffled by this. How is it not an OS? I know it's an overloaded term (just the kernel vs. kernel + core userspace) but either way, this ticks the boxes.

      need to be able to write/compile/debug software that executes on my actual hardware, not just on some virtual machine in the sky.

      Why?

  • At some point we have to learn to stop hating and realise we already are web app users, especially the /.ers here. As much as I loathe web apps, I am a increasingly heavy user of them. Like many of us I've made the switch to gmail, partly because it integrates tightly with my android phone, and partly because it'll do 95% of what outlook et al can do, the other 5% of that being crash, crash my pc outright and corrupt my data.

    Chrome is going primarily benefit subset of users who were previously forced to
    • by ZosX (517789)

      Gmail is the only app I'll use online. Youtube and whatnot are just media viewers. For real work I'll stick to something I can sit by the river and work on and not worry about an internet connection. I used to imap my google account, but really what's the point? Its just as fast on the browser and I've always liked the interface. I don't even chat much anymore. The web should be for finding information and communicating and not your new operating system. I know most people disagree at this point, but hey, I

  • by Stone316 (629009) on Saturday November 21, 2009 @03:15AM (#30182574) Journal

    netbook style devices for using the cloud and surfing the web. Hardware has come a long way over the past few years. Most home users use email and the web. I work in IT, I ssh, remote desktop or export my display and run things on the server pretty much all day. I could easily do most of my job from a netbook. The only downside is the physical size being too small. (I love my dual 20" monitors!)

    If I look at how I use my personal computer at home, a netbook has enough power to handle about 90% of what I do. I stopped playing intensive games on my PC years ago and bought an xbox. I got tired of having to constantly upgrade it.. Spending 300$ on a console is much more bang for the buck. The only things I wouldn't want to do on a netbook is photo and video editing. My kids computer has a processor that was released in 2002 and it does everything they need it to do. I have an old computer with a celeron processor running my website on linux. Quite frankly, i'm running out of excuses to convince my wife I need a new computer every couple of years.

    These devices won't replace your laptop or desktop in the foreseeable future but they are perfectly suited for those times where you don't want to carry them around. You just want something cheap, lightweight, long battery life but powerful enough to surf the web, check your email, edit some documents, remote desktop back to the office, etc.

    Having something like Chrome OS, that is optimized to interface with the cloud can't lose. If it does lose, it will be to a competitor who was able implement it better.

  • Well, call me old-fashioned for not understanding new trends, but I have to say that I'm deeply unimpressed by what I've seen so far.

    Basically, it's just a browser that you can't minimize or resize. What the hell?

    No need to run this in a virtual box. I already have a browser, thanks.

    • by slim (1652)

      You do understand that the reason for running it in a VM is so that you can imagine what it would be like on dedicated hardware, right?

      This thing will live and die by the price and quality of the hardware it runs on.

      • by moz25 (262020)

        Yes, I realize the reason for running it in a VM (although my wording could indeed be interpreted otherwise).

        As I understand from this demo, the whole OS is basically a well-contained and optimized browser. We already have browsers. The only advantage I can see is that all the rest is so stripped down, you won't have to worry about viruses or updates... but why can't this be done with a modified Linux kernel?

        Maybe I'm just too used to the paradigm of having multiple windows and multiple desktops, but the Ch

  • RTFA (Score:3, Insightful)

    by Danzigism (881294) on Saturday November 21, 2009 @08:57AM (#30183630)
    Not here to bash Google or to talk about what IS or IS NOT an operating system. But the GDGT vmware image runs horrible on my machine. Even after dedicating 4+ gigs of RAM to the VM. Not sure if it's just a mega mega beta release, but I'd like to see how it runs natively on a netbook or something. The videos shown at their conference were pretty impressive. Oh and most people are forgetting that "UI IS SUBJECT TO CHANGE" for christ's sake quit your Google belly aching. they know what they're doing.
  • getting console (Score:2, Informative)

    by Anonymous Coward

    ctrl+alt+t will open up a console session

    F8 will give you a screen with other keyboard shortcuts (there's a bunch of stuff that's interesting).

  • If Ubuntu can be bankrolled for a reasonably small amount of cash (few millions to tens of millions), then surely Google can spare a hundred million to create their own, full linux based OS, without many of the problems of current systems, Ubuntu included.

    I can see how some Google engineers can come up with something pretty special, taking the best of Linux, Windows and Mac OS's (and others) to create something they can then push for on netbooks and desktops throughout the markets in the world.

    With a mass
  • by Zepalesque (468881) on Saturday November 21, 2009 @05:44PM (#30188146)

    Can you not see a team using Bespin on this platform? https://bespin.mozilla.com/ [mozilla.com]

A penny saved is a penny to squander. -- Ambrose Bierce

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