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It looks like Dell will join Acer and HP in offering netbooks based on Google's Chrome OS sometime this fall.

Dell isn't among the official Chrome OS partners named by Google, but as noticed by Download Squad, the code repository for Chromium OS — the open source incarnation of Chrome OS — includes some rather conspicuous bits that point to Dell as an early manufacturer.

The repository includes three "overlay" files for configuring hardware support during the build process. One carries the Dell name, while the other two say Acer and HP.

Asked to comment, Dell said it's looking into the matter. And in the meantime, the company pointed out that just after Google released its first snapshot of code to the Chromium OS project, Dell engineer Doug Anson put out his own unofficial Chrome OS build for the Dell Mini, the company's 10-inch netbook. "We weren’t announcing anything formal, just sharing that the landscape is getting interesting," a company spokeswoman says of Anson's release.

But Anson continues to turn out new builds. He released the latest on June 8 here. "I really enjoy popping out these images every few weeks," Anson said recently on the Chromium discussion mailing list. "I can say that the images themselves seem to be getting better and better with each iteration."

Chrome OS is essentially Google's Chrome web browser running atop a Goobuntu flavor of Linux. It will not run local applications other than the browser itself. All other apps will be accessed inside the browser, and it now seems that this will include applications running on remote machines: Google is developing something it calls "Chromoting," a kind of browser -based remote access tool.

The OS will print via a new online service Google calls Cloud Print, and HP has already introduced printers that will work with the service. Essentially, Cloud Print will send jobs from Chrome OS to Google servers and back down to network-connected printers like HP's or to printers plugged into network-connected desktops that actually include print drivers. ®

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