Feeds

Google open sources flash-happy Chrome OS

Uber browser shuns hard drives

Providing a secure and efficient Helpdesk

Updated It's a big week for Microsoft. Which means Google has made a point of spotlighting a product designed to undercut its Redmond arch rival.

Today, via webcast from its Mountain View headquarters, Google VP of product management Sundar Pichai and Engineering Director Matthew Papakipos unveiled an early version of Chrome OS, the much-discussed browser-based operating system the company first announced this past summer. This initial build has been open-sourced as the Chromium OS, with Pichai saying that outside developers will be able to work hand-in-hand with internal Google coders on the same code tree.

Along with the code, the company has released some user interface experiments and design documents sketching out intentions for future development.

Google also said the OS - "initially" intended for netbooks - would debut "in a year." This summer, the company had said it would arrive in the second half of 2010.

The OS is essentially Google's own Chrome browser running atop a Googlized Linux. Pichai said that only browser-based applications would run on the OS. Local applications are not permitted. Likewise, he said, all user data will be stored "in the cloud," meaning on web services provided by Google and others.

But Pichai said that users would be able to cache data - at least Google-stored data - locally.

The OS is designed to boot uber-quickly, and the company demonstrated a 7 second boot-time on a netbook during its webcast. The OS boots entirely from flash-based devices - not traditional spinning hard drive media.

Though Pichai said he expected it to change over the next year of development, he also demoed the operating system's current user interface. The, yes, browser-like interface uses tabs to juggle web-based applications. This isn't that different from what you'd expect from today's browser, but there are also new, in-browser window panes that pop up to display certain applications and media.

Each application will be run its own security sandbox, and Google says that every time the OS boots it verifies the integrity of its own code.

Chrome OS panels

Chrome OS (click to enlarge)

Chrome OS is designed to run on both x86 and ARM chips, and Google is working with multiple partners on commercial devices, including Acer, Asus, Freescale, Hewlett-Packard, Lenovo, Qualcomm, Texas Instruments, and Toshiba. Google has very specific ideas on how these machines will be designed. As said, the OS does not support hard drives, and Pichai said there would be other hardware restrictions as well. For instance, he said Google would only support certain wireless cards.

Pichai declined to say how much Chrome OS devices would cost. But he said prices would be not unlike "what computer buyers expect today."

You can visit the code base here, the user interface experiments here, and the design documentation here.

Pichai confirmed that Google is "focused" on getting the OS onto netbooks, but other devices are a possibility. He also said that he expected that initial devices will be "second machines" for most buyers, meaning Chrome OS netbooks are not intended to replace current full-equipped PCs. ®

Update: This story was updated after its original posting with additional comments from Google's webcast. And it was later updated to clarify that the OS will run on both x86 and ARM chips.

Providing a secure and efficient Helpdesk

More from The Register

next story
Not appy with your Chromebook? Well now it can run Android apps
Google offers beta of tricky OS-inside-OS tech
Keep that consumer browser tat away from our software says Oracle
Big Red decides it will only support Firefox's Extended Support Releases
Greater dev access to iOS 8 will put us AT RISK from HACKERS
Knocking holes in Apple's walled garden could backfire, says securo-chap
NHS grows a NoSQL backbone and rips out its Oracle Spine
Open source? In the government? Ha ha! What, wait ...?
Google extends app refund window to two hours
You now have 120 minutes to finish that game instead of 15
Intel: Hey, enterprises, drop everything and DO HADOOP
Big Data analytics projected to run on more servers than any other app
TIBCO ponders new 'financial options', including sale or merger
Your challenge: find ways to satisfy shareholders of mid-sized enterprise software outfit
prev story

Whitepapers

Secure remote control for conventional and virtual desktops
Balancing user privacy and privileged access, in accordance with compliance frameworks and legislation. Evaluating any potential remote control choice.
Intelligent flash storage arrays
Tegile Intelligent Storage Arrays with IntelliFlash helps IT boost storage utilization and effciency while delivering unmatched storage savings and performance.
Reg Reader Research: SaaS based Email and Office Productivity Tools
Read this Reg reader report which provides advice and guidance for SMBs towards the use of SaaS based email and Office productivity tools.
Security for virtualized datacentres
Legacy security solutions are inefficient due to the architectural differences between physical and virtual environments.
Providing a secure and efficient Helpdesk
A single remote control platform for user support is be key to providing an efficient helpdesk. Retain full control over the way in which screen and keystroke data is transmitted.