In one of my crazier moments last night, I installed the Diet ChromiumOS on my Toshiba NB205 netbook. And by installed, I mean it’s the primary operating system on the hard drive. With one fell swoop, I wiped out my triple-boot instances of Windows XP, Windows 7 and Moblin 2.1. I’m certainly not recommending you follow my lead down this path — you can simply run the build from a USB key. Sure, I could have done that, but I really wanted to see if a native install would uncover any more speed or additional features. The answer was yes… and no. Check out the 10 minute hands-on video and some thoughts on how this is working and where it’s heading.
Overall, this build of ChromeOS isn’t booting fast. When Google showed off their developer build, it was far faster. But that was on different hardware — a Solid State Disk drive system — and was a full build. The version I’m using is stripped down and totally not optimized for my netbook. So I really didn’t learn anything from the boot process, but that’s OK. We’ll have to see how well a final version that’s optimized for particular hardware works. Browsing performance — the crux of ChromeOS — is pretty darn fast, however. No bells, no whistles, just speed. It’s faster on the hard drive than when running from a USB key.
With the latest homebrew build — ChromeOS Cherry — I do have Wi-Fi support, which is new. And I’m learning more about the little panels that float for your Calendar and IM. Plus, I have my Google Bookmark sync and a few other bits, like a quick sleep and wake — with one gotcha that you’ll see. And what exactly does happen when you plug a USB drive or memory card to your netbook running ChromeOS? Again, ChromeOS isn’t ready for you or for me to use on a daily basis. That’s not the point of what I’m doing. I’m simply trying to get a feel for where this browser-based experience is and where it’s going. If I can eventually run this on a netbook all day, it could be an ideal mobile companion to a full-fledged notebook running a traditional desktop operating system.
Note: in the video, I wasn’t able to connect to my music files on SugarSync due to a security certificate issue. That surprised me because I connected with no issues prior. After shooting the video, I noticed that the clock in ChromeOS was three hours behind. Once I addressed that, I was able to connect to SugarSync and my music files without an issue. Of course, with no support for sound hardware, I couldn’t listen, but I wanted to clarify. Oh, and this pic of the web-based music player was captured on my iPhone and sent directly to my ChromeOS netbook in the browser. Using WiFiPhoto, it was a snap — even without an app on the netbook! I was then able to add it to my post within the browser.