Wednesday, July 8th, 2009

Google Chrome OS: Web developers rule! :)

Category: Chrome

Google is getting into the operating system business (again) with Google Chrome OS. Palm put WebKit at the heart of a device with webOS, the Crunchpad talked about it for the netbook, and there have long been desktop-boot-to-browser devices out there.

Google Chrome OS goes deeper:

Google Chrome OS is an open source, lightweight operating system that will initially be targeted at netbooks. Later this year we will open-source its code, and netbooks running Google Chrome OS will be available for consumers in the second half of 2010. Because we’re already talking to partners about the project, and we’ll soon be working with the open source community, we wanted to share our vision now so everyone understands what we are trying to achieve.

Speed, simplicity and security are the key aspects of Google Chrome OS. We’re designing the OS to be fast and lightweight, to start up and get you onto the web in a few seconds. The user interface is minimal to stay out of your way, and most of the user experience takes place on the web. And as we did for the Google Chrome browser, we are going back to the basics and completely redesigning the underlying security architecture of the OS so that users don’t have to deal with viruses, malware and security updates. It should just work.

Google Chrome OS will run on both x86 as well as ARM chips and we are working with multiple OEMs to bring a number of netbooks to market next year. The software architecture is simple — Google Chrome running within a new windowing system on top of a Linux kernel. For application developers, the web is the platform. All web-based applications will automatically work and new applications can be written using your favorite web technologies. And of course, these apps will run not only on Google Chrome OS, but on any standards-based browser on Windows, Mac and Linux thereby giving developers the largest user base of any platform.

It is interesting that Google pre-announced this so far in advance. Google is very different from other companies, that normally hold back for a release. They instead come out and tell you what they are doing (sometimes) and promise to open source it :)

This is great news for Web developers of course. The Web as a platform continues to push outwards, and we can use our skills to reach more and more folks out there.

There is a reason that we won’t see the fruit of this labour for awhile though, and that is because there is a ton of work to be done. I am excited to see us all come together to push the Open Web platform further and get to a point where it can do everything we need to create compelling user experiences!

Some will say that Android and Chrome OS are totally different beasts, but Jim Pick does have a point:

Google now has two competing open source in-house Linux-based operating systems with Webkit browsers. This won’t end well.

Competition baybee.

Posted by Dion Almaer at 12:14 am

4 rating from 54 votes


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I hereby swear allegiance to the Open Web.

Comment by andysky — July 8, 2009

> “Google now has two competing open source in-house
> Linux-based operating systems with Webkit browsers.
> This won’t end well.”

Why not? This is open source after all. Both can feed off each other.

Comment by andysky — July 8, 2009

So, based on the graphics gsOS is a compressed version of Microsoft Windows? :-)

Will Chrome be renamed to Internet Chrome Explorer and get features like poor CSS and HTML support too?

Comment by asylmottaket — July 8, 2009

If one OS has to die I hope it’s Android: it’s not really Linux, it’s not really Java. At least Chrome is really a web browser.

Comment by pmontrasio — July 8, 2009

The architecture is very similar to Cloudo, our own project. We are still in beta phase and we do have lots to do left but at least you can try it out.

Have in mind that we are just a small company with few employees and we’re financing this project privately ourselves by undertaking profitable projects.

Comment by hbi — July 8, 2009

This is crazy s%&t!

Comment by soundseller — July 8, 2009

@hbi: After i saw your post I was thinking.. here we go yet another web os. Not true, I am in awe of what you and your team have achieved, I can’t get over just how much work has been done to make it an almost full-featured OS and being funded off of your own back to boot.

You and your team must be commended on such a fine effort.
I look forward to seeing where this goes.

One thing I quickly noticed was commits to source code in existing applications. What happens with these? Is it stored only on the users instance or is it pushed back to a source control branch etc? can see where I’m going with this right. Imagine the collboration when you have people branching and fixing bugs for you!


Comment by loadx — July 8, 2009

Ditto soundseller and loadx’s comments… Cloudo is extremely impressive. I’ve looked at every web OS that’s come down the pipe, and I put in a few months’ time developing my own, which ain’t bad… but then I see something like Cloudo and I realize I’ve been wasting my time :)

I’ll be watching your project with great interest. Obviously you’re a business, so the cost is going to be interesting to see, but if it’s reasonable then I’m excited about this. What you’ve done is very, very impressive and I’m more interested in it than Google’s project at this point :)

Comment by fzammetti — July 8, 2009

Chrome OS looks awesome. Cloudo looks awesome too.

I don’t see how the architecture is similar though. Correct me if I’m wrong, but it appears Cloudo is a web app that looks like an OS and allows file storage/sharing. And Chrome is a local desktop environment that runs over a linux kernel.

Comment by WillPeavy — July 8, 2009

Isn’t this exactly what gOS Cloud is doing?

Comment by fredclown — July 8, 2009

Web development is about to evolve. The current technologies we use to create web apps can’t build the kind of apps that consumers want/need. HTML, Javascript, CSS, Ajax: they’re too slow, not powerful enough and suffer from cross-browser compatibility problems that make web apps expensive to build. What is needed is a unified platform for building web apps that could target the middle ground between apps like Google Docs and MS Office.

We’re already beginning to see the precursors. Flex, Silverlight, Google Chrome OS: these are being created in response to demand from consumers who want a richer, faster Internet experience and who want the Internet to play a more central role in their daily lives.

It’s coming…watch for it.

Comment by kitntodd — July 8, 2009

@soundseller, @loadx, @fzametti:
First of all, thanks for the kind words. Even though I’m a daily reader of Ajaxian, I have deliberately postponed submitting anything about Cloudo at Ajaxian. The reason for this is that I don’t feel we’re anyway near a final release. Additionally, we want to avoid the cliché “promise mighty, deliver poorly”. Instead our aim is to deliver our vision of how it should be and at the end we will be judged regardless but at least we have not promised limitless blue skies.

The goal is to submit/surrender applications running in Cloudo to suitable developers/groups. They will decide and plan the development branch themselves. Obviously, the open source community works for everyone’s benefits so why not absorb this process? Furthermore, IMHO, if some day Cloudo (or any other platform) becomes popular, the control as well as contribution to it should be decentralized. Of course we’ll organize some important applications in Cloudo, such as Finder and the core of Cloudo. Our intention is to offer Cloudo for free and we want to deliver a solution so that the developers/groups share revenues from potential banners (or whatever commercial ads they add) so that their work in fact is rewarded. I think you see where I am going with this but have in mind that this is our goal. It might take some time before we’re there.

Perhaps I have misinterpret the article but gcOS will work on standards-based browsers. A thin Linux kernel, with a great browser (such as Firefox) “pre-installed” and auto-started is insignificantly done. There are already such distro:s available. This task is on our to-do list as well but not as prioritized. I suspect the gcOS will have some additional features but why speculate? :-)

Once again, thank you for taking a positive pose towards Cloudo. But we have received criticism for not developing Cloudo faster but the reason is as stated above. We’re working with other projects as well. If you like Cloudo and what we’re doing with it, I hope you’ll have patience with us.

Comment by hbi — July 8, 2009

Here are a few tips on how to monetize Google Chrome OS:

– short Microsoft stock
– long Google
– write a book on Chrome OS
– add “10 years of Chrome OS experience” to your resume
– offer PowerPC and other processors support
– register lots of Chrome OS-related URLs now and sell them later

Comment by OutputLogic — July 8, 2009

Chrome OS Beta

That’s all we’ll see for the next 5-6 years. Google’s notoriously bad customer support will undoubtedly be ramped up by a person or two to handle stone walling the increased number of users looking for help.

Sigh… it’s an exciting announcement, but I call bullshyt until it’s out of beta with strong customer support.

Comment by thnkfstr — July 8, 2009

Nice Wired article that takes a hard look at why Chrome OS has a lot to overcome. Apparently no one wants Linux netbooks (~25% market share in 2008, ~5% expected in 2009). Will Chrome OS successfully disguise itself as something more than another Linux distro? I’m not convinced…

Comment by thnkfstr — July 8, 2009

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