Google today has released Google Chrome OS - or operating system - as Open Source under the name Chromium Open Source Project.
You may have already read in the past month that Google is working on a operating system that makes use of the core of the Google Chrome web browser, Linux and then some.
Most interesting for users who have followed the project from the beginning is the announcement that the development from this point on will happen in the open so that releases of the operating system (including its source code) will be made available for download in a similar fashion as it is done already for the Google Chrome web browser.
But what's so special about Chrome OS? The Google blog post mentions three aspects that distinguish it from other operating systems:
First, it's all about the web. All apps are web apps. The entire experience takes place within the browser and there are no conventional desktop applications. This means users do not have to deal with installing, managing and updating programs.
This means that Chrome OS is storing all data in the cloud. Many web applications handle data in this fashion already, think about Gmail, blogs or photo hosting websites for example.
Privacy advocates on the other hand might find this problematic depending on privacy and security regulations.
Second, because all apps live within the browser, there are significant benefits to security. Unlike traditional operating systems, Chrome OS doesn't trust the applications you run. Each app is contained within a security sandbox making it harder for malware and viruses to infect your computer. Furthermore, Chrome OS barely trusts itself. Every time you restart your computer the operating system verifies the integrity of its code. If your system has been compromised, it is designed to fix itself with a reboot. While no computer can be made completely secure, we're going to make life much harder (and less profitable) for the bad guys. If you dig security, read the Chrome OS Security Overview or watch the video.
Chrome OS implements some security features like sandboxing to secure the operating system and data from taking harm. The operating system is also checking its code on every startup to verify its integrity.
Would be interesting to know how this affects boot time. Most of this is already available in today's operating systems or by using third party software like Sandboxie.
Most of all, we are obsessed with speed. We are taking out every unnecessary process, optimizing many operations and running everything possible in parallel. This means you can go from turning on the computer to surfing the web in a few seconds. Our obsession with speed goes all the way down to the metal. We are specifying reference hardware components to create the fastest experience for Google Chrome OS.
This does sound interesting but there are already other options to boot a computer in a significantly lower time than today's average (a Phoenix bios showcased a much faster boot time a few months ago).
It will nevertheless be interesting how this turns out. According to the blog posts first consumer releases can be expected at the end of 2010. Here is a short - well done - video about Chrome OS.
Chrome OS itself is only available on pre-installed hardware, while Chromium OS, the open source part of the operating system, is available as a source that anyone with the right tools can compile.
What's your first impression of Chrome OS?
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Ghacks is a technology news blog that was founded in 2005 by Martin Brinkmann. It has since then become one of the most popular tech news sites on the Internet with five authors and regular contributions from freelance writers.