Feeds

Google open sources flash-happy Chrome OS

Uber browser shuns hard drives

Intelligent flash storage arrays

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.

Top 5 reasons to deploy VMware with Tegile

More from The Register

next story
Netscape Navigator - the browser that started it all - turns 20
It was 20 years ago today, Marc Andreeesen taught the band to play
Sway: Microsoft's new Office app doesn't have an Undo function
Content aggregation, meet the workplace ... oh
Sign off my IT project or I’ll PHONE your MUM
Honestly, it’s a piece of piss
Return of the Jedi – Apache reclaims web server crown
.london, .hamburg and .公司 - that's .com in Chinese - storm the web server charts
NetWare sales revive in China thanks to that man Snowden
If it ain't Microsoft, it's in fashion behind the Great Firewall
Chrome 38's new HTML tag support makes fatties FIT and SKINNIER
First browser to protect networks' bandwith using official spec
Admins! Never mind POODLE, there're NEW OpenSSL bugs to splat
Four new patches for open-source crypto libraries
prev story

Whitepapers

Forging a new future with identity relationship management
Learn about ForgeRock's next generation IRM platform and how it is designed to empower CEOS's and enterprises to engage with consumers.
Cloud and hybrid-cloud data protection for VMware
Learn how quick and easy it is to configure backups and perform restores for VMware environments.
Three 1TB solid state scorchers up for grabs
Big SSDs can be expensive but think big and think free because you could be the lucky winner of one of three 1TB Samsung SSD 840 EVO drives that we’re giving away worth over £300 apiece.
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.