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Summary:

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 […]

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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.

  1. This is exactly why I like you so much :) Thanks!

    1. and BTW, you haven’t followed up about your cat’s reaction to the new camera at home. You promised the juicy staff. I predicted she is going to eliminate the moving camera and you said she is too scary by nature. Still looking forward to it …

  2. Nice. I wonder if there’s a printing solution for ChromeOS.

  3. Kevin, can you do a Linux slim disctro comparo? Like mobiln vs. ubuntu netbook remix.

  4. so maybe Kevin can answer this since i havent seen any1 else talk about it,

    is Google going to keep my Gprofile on their servers (ala Palm Profile)? so that when i log in everything is exactly as ive left it.

    would this mean the end to OS re-installs? if i broke my smartbook & then ran out to buy a new 1, could i simply log in too be up & running immediately?

  5. Kevin,

    could someone create a separate “private” profile for their private surfing, private bookmarks, etc? also, could this profile be logged into with some kinda proxy (i.e. Tor) already running at ChromeOS boot?

    i dont mean just because of porn, although that would probably be the most common reason. there are numerous other serious scenarios were someone might need a private profile not associated with their “real life” profile.

  6. THIS is what i look forward too from you Kevin, you have been preaching Cloud computing forever. Google is the first company that could make thin client cloud computing an actual reality.

    this could be a tremendous blow to MS/Apple once the mainstream realize how much of what they do can be recreated in a browser (browse, bookmarks, mail, contacts, chat, media, torrents, file exploring, light games) regulating hardcore tasks (media editing, hi end games) to that dusty old traditional PC in the corner. no one ever questions why servers do only specific operations when they have the capability to do anything. traditional PC’s could become the next specialty “appliance” as well.

    keep it up & you could be the poster boy for Googles ChromeOS, which i personally believe could change computing forever. i look forward to watching your crusades with ChromeOS. i think you should start up a fund so that we could all donate a few bucks to buy you a Sony P, which is the reference design all Smartbooks should be based on in the future.

  7. Great video, really interesting to see Chromium OS in such detail. Does it offer any kind of video conferencing? I imagine it is impossible to use Skype since that is not a web based app, but I really could not live without it anymore. Any browser-based alternatives available?

    1. Johan – VoIP Buzz Douro Sunday, December 6, 2009

      Yes you can use video conferencing on ChromeOS. There are a couple of flash-based VoIP services that run in the browser and some even support video (Flaphone for example).

  8. i wonder about security as well. even if you could log into a “private” profile via some kinda proxy extension like Tor at boot, ChromeOS is going to use HTML5 offline cache so everything will be sitting on your local machine fully exposed. the only way around that would be some kind of Whole Disk Encryption. but Google is goig to contorl the boot process every step of the way.

    security has never been something Google takes very seriously outside of press releases. security (software) & privacy (user services) are not the samething.

  9. i am HEAVILY interested in ChromeOS as well. ive got $100 for Kevins Sony P fund, my only request is that he list alternative cloud based apps for my desktop apps. i think the Sony P idea is great, as form factor will mean alot for the ChromeOS experience. plus having all that resolution will help alot in the browser. i dont mind contributing as i would like to see how life for Kevin goes before i switch my life over to it. if Kevins not comfortable taking money, in a year or so when your done sale it & donate the money to charity or a person/family that may need a little extra help. this is a community project, its bigger than just Kevin or his readers.

    does anyone know if ChromeOS standby state will be always on/connected like my cellphone (WIN) or will it go into standby like Windows machine (FAIL)?

  10. i am sick of smartphones, i would LOVE to have a 5-7″ ultrathin ARM-based 3G ChromeOS tablet that fits in a pocket. maybe a regular cellphone if i have too, unless i could get a internet based phone number service.

    i played with a 7″ dummy tablet from MS years ago, was plastic with no internals. it surprisingly fit in my pocket very well for 3 reasons, it was THIN, no bezel, was longer than wider.

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