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Google Operating Systems Software Technology

What Google's Chromium OS Is Reaching For 216

Posted by kdawson
from the chrome-detailing dept.
MojoKid sends in a piece that takes a step back from Google's much-analyzed OS to look at what it is trying to accomplish. "Last week, Google open-sourced its Chromium OS project, more than a year before the operating system is scheduled for release. In doing so, Google hopes a variety of developers and companies will become involved in the project, and has pledged to release regular updates as well as a comprehensive log of bug reports and fixes. This article takes a look at Google's design vision for Chromium, the unique benefits it offers, and a bit of why Google is throwing its hat into this particular ring in the first place. Chromium, after all, is a Linux-based OS entering the smartbook/netbook market at a time when the product segment is already being well served by a variety of Linux distros, XP, and Windows 7. In the midst of all these options, do we need another operating system? We just might."
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What Google's Chromium OS Is Reaching For

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  • More, more! (Score:2, Interesting)

    by indre1 (1422435)
    The more the merrier!
    • Re:More, more! (Score:4, Interesting)

      by westlake (615356) on Wednesday December 02, 2009 @12:24AM (#30293876)

      The more the merrier!

      This isn't how it looks to the retailer who has to decide how much shelf space to give the Chromium netbook.

      How much he can afford to spend on advertising, service and support for another entry at the low end of the market.

      Near the end of its last flirtation with Linux, Walmart.com found it necessary to black flag each Linux netbook it offered with a yellow-bordered bold-faced warning that your Windows software wouldn't run.

      The best evidence that returns had become a problem.

  • Diversity is good. (Score:5, Insightful)

    by palegray.net (1195047) <philip.paradis@pa3.14legray.net minus pi> on Tuesday December 01, 2009 @05:19PM (#30289888) Homepage Journal
    Regardless of how many existing approaches there might be to a given problem, another "hat in the ring" is a good thing. Things change fast in tech, and who knows where Chromium might go in the future? Diversity fosters competition and improvements.
    • Re: (Score:2, Interesting)

      by Anonymous Coward
      I actually disagree, not because of a dislike of google but because while diversity is good, fragmentation is bad. There is not an unlimited supply of skilled OS developers despite what people may think and even less of a supply of those willing to freely contribute to projects. Fragmentation means all projects suffer just a little more of not being able to put the much needed cut and polish in or those extra needed features. from what I can see the chromium OS brings little more than extra fragmentation to
      • by palegray.net (1195047) <philip.paradis@pa3.14legray.net minus pi> on Tuesday December 01, 2009 @05:39PM (#30290160) Homepage Journal

        There is not an unlimited supply of skilled OS developers despite what people may think and even less of a supply of those willing to freely contribute to projects.

        I really can't agree with that. As Google is paying good salaries for developers to work on Chromium, the situation is quite different from the traditional open source labor contribution model.

      • by vlm (69642) on Tuesday December 01, 2009 @05:49PM (#30290290)

        Fragmentation means all projects suffer just a little more of not being able to put the much needed cut and polish in or those extra needed features.

        Classic authoritarian mistake of thinking, if I just kill off some dudes pet project, then he will do exactly what I want.

        • by w0mprat (1317953)

          Fragmentation means all projects suffer just a little more of not being able to put the much needed cut and polish in or those extra needed features.

          Classic authoritarian mistake of thinking, if I just kill off some dudes pet project, then he will do exactly what I want.

          A cow is a race horse designed by commitee.

        • by westlake (615356)

          Classic authoritarian mistake of thinking, if I just kill off some dudes pet project, then he will do exactly what I want.

          What you want is to see him dead and buried.

          But it may be enough to get his pet projects removed from the default Ubuntu distro.

          Say good-bye to the GIMP.

          Say hello to light-weight photo editing apps with an attractive and serviceable UI. Something along the lines of Paint.NET.

          Shed the GIMP's excess baggage along the way.

      • The rest of the fragmentation is made up of nearly identical clones of Debian and Redhat. This is, out of the box, substantially different.

      • by blueskies (525815)

        Because if there is anything OS developers really want to work on, it is cut and polish.

      • by micheas (231635)

        You do realize that chromium-os is more or less a special live cd of ubuntu right? (You basically have to install ubuntu in a jail to build it.)

    • by V!NCENT (1105021)

      I for one would wish that a fork would come into existence that would:
      -Let it run on all Linux supported HW and not just Google approved HW
      -Use the full potentional of a cloud OS but used local storage first and upload later
      -Has a one-click-USB-storage-backup-solution-X(tm)

      • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

        by V!NCENT (1105021)

        "I for one would wish that a fork would come into existence that would:
        -Let it run on all Linux supported HW and not just Google approved HW
        -Use the full potentional of a cloud OS but used local storage first and upload later
        -Has a one-click-USB-storage-backup-solution-X(tm)"

        PS: and removes phoning home too...

  • RTFA (Score:5, Funny)

    by houstonbofh (602064) on Tuesday December 01, 2009 @05:19PM (#30289896)
    I wonder who will notice that the link doesn't work at all? Oh, wait... This is slashdot. Never mind. :)
    • A year from now, a lot of Chromium's appeal could be riding on what users can do with one when they aren't connected to the Internet or want to save content locally. There are occasions, after all, where 'the cloud' is the very last place you want certain information to reside.

      Google has come up with a variation on a thin client and plans to deploy it on laptops. If this OS really is a pure thin client then google is going have their work cut out for them selling these devices because eventually people are going to want want to be able to work offline. There must be some sort of offline capability built into Chrome wich makes it more of a hybrid than a pure thin client/Web OS and it will be interesting to see what the final product look like. Then there is the expense, Wifi isn't

      • by AlXtreme (223728)

        There must be some sort of offline capability built into Chrome wich makes it more of a hybrid than a pure thin client/Web OS and it will be interesting to see what the final product look like.

        You're forgetting about Google Gears [google.com]. I think they've been planning their approach for a while now, with Gears-enabled web apps you wouldn't even notice being offline (that is, until you want to access a document that wasn't cached).

        • Re: (Score:3, Informative)

          by slim (1652)

          HTML5 renders Gears (almost) obsolete. Any browser that implements HTML5 will be capable of local storage.

  • by Locke2005 (849178) on Tuesday December 01, 2009 @05:27PM (#30290018)
    In the midst of all these options, do we need another operating system? We just might. If nothing else, it really pisses off Microsoft! In and of itself, doesn't that make it well worth it?
    • Re: (Score:2, Interesting)

      by Anonymous Coward
      Thank God there are people in computing who can look beyond dumb bullshit like this.

      It's a howl that you slag MS at every chance but you still use it. Why don't you just go back to Digg?
    • Re: (Score:2, Interesting)

      by wile_e8 (958263)
      As a Ubuntu user, I'd just be happy if it force a version of Silverlight for Linux that actually works (Yes, I've tried Moonlight. No, it doesn't work for any of the streaming sports broadcasts I'd like to watch). If making it pisses off Microsoft, everybody wins.
  • Niche Product (Score:5, Insightful)

    by Zobeid (314469) on Tuesday December 01, 2009 @05:48PM (#30290276)

    I can seriously see the advantages of Chrome OS in an ultra-portable device. . . netbook, smartbook, Crunchpad-like gadget. . . Simplicity and efficiency and speed are needed there, and it could have a real advantage.

    NO WAY can I see it replacing my OS on my primary desktop computer (currently an iMac BTW). I can't see web apps replacing: Second Life, iTunes, Aperture, GIMP, my word processors and text editors, games, and a number of other programs.

    • Re: (Score:3, Informative)

      by Enderandrew (866215)

      Chrome OS comes with a web-based media player. I think Last.fm claims to have streamed the equivalent of 2000 years of music. Web based media players might be the future.

      GIMP is such a pain that Ubuntu is dropping it. My wife uses web-based image editting tools exclusively these days.

      There has been work on an OpenGL ES framework for full 3D accelerated programing inside the web browser. So there can be a Second Life client that runs natively fully in your browser in the future. It isn't unfeasible.

    • Re: (Score:2, Interesting)

      by whoop (194)

      It's funny, but that's just what Google [blogspot.com]says it's for too. Why Slashdotters INSIST every new thing completely replace everything that's come before it is beyond me. So what you can't do high-end video editing with ChromeOS? It's for sitting on the couch and reading Slashdot, dammit!

      • by jo42 (227475)

        It's for sitting on the couch and reading Slashdot, dammit!

        I already have that. It's called Ubuntu running on a Dell Mini.

        And it (the Mini) can do far, far more than that (run XP, Windows 7 or Mac OSX) double and triple dammit!

  • by hemp (36945) on Tuesday December 01, 2009 @05:54PM (#30290336) Homepage Journal

    I am convinced that Google will work make Chrome in the TV market. Quick boot time and lack of local apps all point to a non-traditional platform.

    Throw in Youtube and Hulu and you have why Comcast is buying NBC. Cable providers will quickly become irrelevant in a few years.

    • by AHuxley (892839)
      Like Appletv? Or a hacked appletv :)
    • I think this is actually an interesting idea. Computers encompass much more than just laptops/desktops that we normally thing about.

    • Re: (Score:3, Interesting)

      by MtViewGuy (197597)

      Given that 1080p TV's have 1920x1080 resolution, they actually become very nice computer monitors. As such, making Chrome OS part of the operating system for a set top box for cable TV (or eventually a set top box for DirecTV or Dish Network) makes a lot of sense--imagine the Chrome OS interface controlling everything on your DirecTV set top box, including the built-in DVR, through essentially a browser interface.

      • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

        by Sloppy (14984)

        Imagine a non-Chrome distro controlling your DVR though a non-browser 10' interface, and imagine the content stored in a way (called "hard disk") that is faster and more reliable than any internet connection can ever hope to achieve, and very likely at a higher bitrate.

        The box you describe does indeed make sense, for the boxmaker and service sellers. For the user, though, it sounds like the same living hell they just escaped from some time in the last 10 years.

        Out of the Comcast pan and into the Hulu/Netfl

  • Sun called, they want their concept back.
    • Sun called, they want their concept back.

      The distinction is perhaps less important now, but perhaps you mean Oracle. It was Larry Ellison's vision that included "network computers" which are cut-down desktop machines which rely on central servers for software and storage. He doesn't look kindly on so-called "cloud" computing today, though.

    • Sun is a lot like a modern day PARC or Bell Labs. They had some absolutely incredible ideas, with great brains behind them to make the technology work. Unfortunately, they were hopeless at marketing these ideas.

      I'm noticing Google begin to trend in this direction, which isn't surprising given that they now employ most of the well-known alumni of the three aforementioned companies. However, Google's past successes (as well as some of their more promising projects such as the Go language) give me some hope

  • by fmerenda (78242) on Tuesday December 01, 2009 @06:01PM (#30290438) Homepage

    "Chromium, after all, is a Linux-based OS entering the smartbook/netbook market at a time when the product segment is already being well served by a variety of Linux distros, XP, and Windows 7."

    Remember when Google entered the search engine space? It was being well served by Yahoo, Dogpile, MSN, Excite and a bunch of other search engine vendors... I mean really, how could they improve internet searching?

    • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

      by Raffaello (230287)

      I do remember when Google entered the internet search market. Google gained search share precisely because that market was not being well served by the existing search engines. Google's results were better (thanks to PageRank [wikipedia.org]) which is why more and more users switched to Google as their primary search engine.

      In the case of notebook/netbook OSes, the current crop of mainstream contenders (Windows, Mac OS X, Linux) has more functionality than ChromeOS, which makes it very unlikely to displace the current matu

      • by Buelldozer (713671) <{cliff} {at} {gindulis.net}> on Tuesday December 01, 2009 @08:48PM (#30292334)

        I think that the iPhone has broken the idea that users want MORE functionality. What your average user wants is a good experience with a popular product that has an excellent price point. If they can do what they want to with a device, feel good about owning it, and pay as little as possible for it then that device WILL be a success.

        Now all Google needs to do is fire the marketing people behind "droid" and find someone who will make the Chrome OS devices appear trendy while making sure they work well and cost as little as possible.

        There's your "beat the world" strategy for any product or service that you care to sell.

  • From the article:

    To summarize the sales pitch: Chromium gets rid of all the crusty old legacy garbage, moves storage online where it's both universally available and backed up, provides a platform that finally integrates browser and OS, all while providing a fabulous, multimedia-rich online experience. Everything you currently do offline will be available online, seamlessly provided by a content platform that presents a universal, standards-based framework rather than a hodgepodge of browsers, security b
  • I want Chromium OS to come out NOW*, if not sooner. Not for me -- I can install Puppy Linux and play around with dependencies and the like, learning from my mistakes. Heck, I can even run Windows without getting more than a virus or two per decade.

    No, I want it for the sweet little old lady who lived a few doors down in my old apartment complex. She doesn't know the first thing about computers. She sends email like a whirling dervish of glurge -- I had to set up my Gmail to filter messages from her into

    • by xwizbt (513040)

      I read what you said, and I thought about it, and I realised that my mother needs Chromium OS. You're right. No sarcasm, no jerking about - you are right. Chromium OS isn't really aimed at us, it's aimed at our mothers.

      My mum's gonna love it. I'm gonna love it, too, because she can log on to familytree.net or whatever the hell else it is she does, and the cursor won't magically (I haven't installed anything I swear) change into a butterfly, or any of the many hundred million toolbar-related problems won't o

    • Doesn't seem so hard: Stable linux distro (Debian?), readonly root fs, $HOME mounted with noexec, autologin enabled and fullscreen Chrome. You could probably do a custom CD in an hour or two.

    • Install Microsoft Steady State for her. That will reduce the need for antivirus software.

      • Doh! I also wanted to say that along with Steady State you could also install the MS AntiVirus product. No cost for that any of that for home use.

  • Conceptually I don't mind the idea of cloud computing - but it does have one huge issue - it raises the bar for market entry. If it was to become 'the' way to use computers then instead of just needing the resources to serve up an installer for your application you need the resources to allow the masses to run your application.

    The only way I see to avoid this is if the cloud the user belongs to somehow downloads your application and runs it in their user space, charging them for resources rather than putti

    • by yelvington (8169)

      Conceptually I don't mind the idea of cloud computing - but it does have one huge issue - it raises the bar for market entry.

      I completely don't get this argument. The entire Web is cloud computing. With EC2 you can point and click and enter a credit card, and within minutes you have as much computing power as you want. You can develop your service, deploy it without capitalizing one cent of hardware (that becomes Amazon's problem), route around the entire (failing, legacy) software sales/distribution nightmare. If anything, the barriers to entry are dramatically lowered.

      Where you don't get a free ride: Having an idea, identifying

  • I can see the benefits, they're apparent; but basically what you've got is a dumb terminal....Zobeid is right, it's a niche product...but I would add that it's for a large niche. This will appeal to corporate users and people who don't like computers....

    For some people and certain applications (particularly corporate applications) this may make a lot of sense....but I see fallacy in their comparisons to the standard PC, because this device wont be able to do 80% of the things a multipurpose PC can do. It ma

  • One, Two Punch... (Score:4, Interesting)

    by killfixx (148785) on Tuesday December 01, 2009 @06:30PM (#30290798) Journal

    One of the big problems people have with cloud computing isn't the computing, it's the storage. I'm sure I speak for a significant percentage of /.s demographic when I say, I don't want other people scrutinizing my private information.

    If Chromium were to be companioned with a personal server app/OS (similar to Opera's Unite initiative), this could be game changing.

    Require the server and client to use IPv6 and you have built-in security and dynamic publicly route-able addresses.

    The potential for Chromium is staggering. Imagine the convergence of Android and Chromium with the aforementioned server component and El Goog won't have enough room for the money.

    I wonder if Google has a branch office near me...

  • I think the reasoning is the same as with the iPhone... and definitely does NOT apply to the slashdot crowd: think of your parents, siblings, non-geed friends...

    The General Public is willing to sacrifice a lot of flexibility and confidentiality for
    - ease of use
    - ease of maintenance
    - money
    - coolness

    This may seem anathema to us geeks... but when I get the monthly "my PC's not working" from my dad (ie: a video driver update messed the screen resolution and the icons are no longer in their usual place ^^), I un

  • Just my opinion for what it's worth. What gets me is the either/or evaluation of cloud computing. It's either good or bad, dumb or smart, the future or a dead end. What I see is the diversification of the technology landscape, not a monolithic movement in any direction. For some people, cloud computing is the ticket. It's all they need and they are going to love it. For others (like me), I like my island PC, enjoy tinkering with it, but will selectively use elements of cloud computing, such as Gmail.

  • This sounds like an Apple move. Create an OS you control on (mostly) controlled hardware.. but then add the kicker of then controlling the other end of the internet as well.

    It works, sure. It's just as annoying though--you're stuffed into their box instead of Apple's. Open source or not, Google is at the head.

    I think if I had to change from a Microsoft environment I'd switch to a full Linux distro (I've done it before). More flexibility.

    -m

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