Feeds

Google Chrome OS goes native (code)

We hate plug-ins. Except our own

The essential guide to IT transformation

The new Active X?

"There is a security concern," Opera's Bolstad says. "I'm not saying there's anything in particular that's insecure about their current implementation. But the moment you start executing native code, there is a trust issue. Users may not realize that they're allowing native code to execute when they visit a webpage."

Google does acknowledge the difficulty of ensuring security with such a platform. But the company is confident it has taken the necessary precautions. "To help protect users from malware and to maintain portability, we have defined strict rules for valid modules," Google said when it first open sourced the project.

"At a high level, these rules specify 1) that all modules meet a set of structural criteria that make it possible to reliably disassemble them into instructions, and 2) that modules may not contain certain instruction sequences. This framework aims to enable our runtime to detect and prevent potentially dangerous code from running and spreading."

But no matter how secure the plug-in is in and of itself, Native Client is still a plug-in. Folks like Buckler question whether Google is opening the same Pandora's Box it opened with Google Chrome Frame, the infamous plug-in that turns Microsoft browsers into Google browsers. Buckler cites the rather convincing argument against Chrome Frame laid down by Mozilla vp of engineering Mike Shaver.

"Although Chrome Frame is a niche solution to a known problem, Mozilla is worried that the web could become fragmented if companies eschew web standards in favor of plugin-based solutions," he says.

After the release of Chrome Frame - which essentially put a browser inside a browser - Shaver questioned whether Google's plug-in would send netizens into a state of confusion. "The user’s understanding of the web’s security model and the behaviour of their browser is seriously hindered by delegating the choice of software to the developers of individual sites they visit," he said.

"It is a problem that we have seen repeatedly with other stack-plugins like Flash, Silverlight and Java, and not one that I think we need to see replayed again under the banner of HTML5."

Google with NaCl

Shaver tells The Reg that Native Client is a slightly different case, but he still sees Buckler's concern. And he still prefers HTML5. "[Native Client] is not as clean when - in terms of what the user's mental model is - compared to HTML5, which is what we would prefer," he says.

"[Native Client] is not quite a problem to the same degree as [Google Chrome Frame]. It's not as problematic structurally. But if you can implement a complete web stack with standards without having to mix-and-match components, I think it's better for web users."

But Google is going to do what it's going to do. As he discussed the possibility of hardware acceleration on Chrome OS at that November press conference, Matthew Papakipos went so far as to say: "We do think Native Client is an important part of this story." Not that he was ready to go into detail. But surely, we can connect the dots. ®

Secure remote control for conventional and virtual desktops

More from The Register

next story
The Return of BSOD: Does ANYONE trust Microsoft patches?
Sysadmins, you're either fighting fires or seen as incompetents now
Munich considers dumping Linux for ... GULP ... Windows!
Give a penguinista a hug, the Outlook's not good for open source's poster child
Intel's Raspberry Pi rival Galileo can now run Windows
Behold the Internet of Things. Wintel Things
Linux Foundation says many Linux admins and engineers are certifiable
Floats exam program to help IT employers lock up talent
Microsoft cries UNINSTALL in the wake of Blue Screens of Death™
Cache crash causes contained choloric calamity
Eat up Martha! Microsoft slings handwriting recog into OneNote on Android
Freehand input on non-Windows kit for the first time
Linux kernel devs made to finger their dongles before contributing code
Two-factor auth enabled for Kernel.org repositories
prev story

Whitepapers

Implementing global e-invoicing with guaranteed legal certainty
Explaining the role local tax compliance plays in successful supply chain management and e-business and how leading global brands are addressing this.
Top 10 endpoint backup mistakes
Avoid the ten endpoint backup mistakes to ensure that your critical corporate data is protected and end user productivity is improved.
Top 8 considerations to enable and simplify mobility
In this whitepaper learn how to successfully add mobile capabilities simply and cost effectively.
Rethinking backup and recovery in the modern data center
Combining intelligence, operational analytics, and automation to enable efficient, data-driven IT organizations using the HP ABR approach.
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.