First Look at Google Chrome OS — Extensions, Options and More


[wpvideo oCOiwsFW w=560]

Although I promised myself I wasn’t going to spend time running Google’s Chrome OS right now, I got the bug. Thanks to gdgt who put an image together, I’ve spent about 15 minutes tinkering with it in VirtualBox. Chrome OS (s goog) is definitely bare-bones right now and slow in a VM, but any performance judgements should be considered irrelevant right now. Two thoughts came to mind as I got my hands dirty: who is this for and what can make it successful.

As far as the first question, Chrome OS is for someone like me — someone who spends 98% of their day in a browser. Or it could be for everyone else, provided they use it in the manner intended. Is it meant to replace a daily operating system for most people? No more so than a netbook would be a replacement for a high-powered workstation. It’s simply not that kind of tool. Chrome OS is intended for quick access to the web on a portable notebook-like companion device. Think of it as the environment and device you’d go to when you don’t want to boot up a full OS but you want a larger screen and keyboard than your smartphone has.

So what can make it successful? There are several factors, but one of the key ones is what makes Firefox so useful — extensions. As Mozilla’s browser has shown, you can do quite a bit in a browser with the right tools. And oddly enough, while Chrome OS doesn’t yet support extensions officially, you’ll see in my video that I have a few installed anyway. That’s my first look and first thoughts. I’ll have plenty more to say as the project matures.

Note: because I couldn’t resize the virtual machine or Chrome OS, I recommend watching this video in full screen and in the HD version when it becomes available.


David McCormack

The Chrome stuff is great…but what really caught my eye was that you had downloaded A Mháire Bhruinneall, which translates as Beautiful Mary but with an emphasis on her…how should I put it…more feminine physical attributes.


I installed ChromeOS in Virtual Box yesterday just to see what it was like. Basically it is the browser, period. And yeah I can see a niche market where you have a small netbook with ChromeOS installed since it will boot fast and give you internet access. I myself spend a lot of time on the web during the day and have a netbook on the table in the living room beside my chair for surfing. Perfect place for ChromeOS. Except now if I want or need to I can access other functions outside the browser. I can access my main computer upstairs if need be. Does ChromeOS have any networking functionality outside of web surfing?

Bottom line is I think ChromeOS will fill a niche market for a computer to just access the cloud. I think it is going to be a small market right now. Will it grow? Maybe. Depends on how many people find that is all they need. I am too use to the ability to do other things on any of my computers beyond web access. Saying that chances are when a netbook comes out with ChromeOS on it I will likely buy one. :) I think a netbook with ChromeOS on it will truly be a netbook.


For me, there are tasks that just aren’t going to be workable on the web: Remote Desktop to my workstations; IM client (I have yet to find a decent cloud based IM solution — I know others who love some of them, but I know just as many who hate them … and I’m in the “hate them” camp); Web page creation (Google Sites is ok, but doesn’t really work with the things I create); and document reading/media playing*. Plus, there are cases where it’s just not possible (we have meeting areas that just aren’t covered — not by WLAN, not by WWAN).

(* I know it _can_ be done through the web, but I don’t see the point in doing static content playing through the web — subscription based, dynamic, services like Rhapsody, Hulu, and Pandora … yes. But when we’re talking about my own music collection? Or documents produced at work that I need to review before a meeting? no)

If Chrome OS is “just web based”, then yeah, it’s probably just a Couch Computer OS (ie. CrunchPad). But, I’m not going to run out and buy one of those. Even my current couch computer does more than that.

For it to be interesting to me, Chrome OS needs to have some ability to run local apps (Dalvik, Java, Python, that kinda thing), and/or it needs to be a splashtop OS (ie. able to hand-off to another OS). Preferably both.


Initally, did not like the idea of a web only OS device, but know Im starting to rethink my postion. I not longer see Chrome OS as a mobile device OS and see it as more of a coffee table/night stand device OS.

My issue was the need to always be connected to get anything done. I don’t think we have good enough mobile broadband coverage for that to be practical and what is there is still to expensive for a lot of people. But a Chrome OS device in a home equipped with a wireless network could be useful. No need to boot up a full computer to check Facebook or send an email. Just open a Chrome OS device and your online.

I’m seeing possibilities

Kevin C. Tofel

Bingo! It’s all in the use case. There is potential here — not the potential to displace a primary machine, but Google explicitly stated that’s not the purpose.


Kevin I knew it wouldn’t be long before you would give this OS a go. From your past “Cloud” computing project. I can see terminal station running this kind of OS to run programs and or something else. I think everyone has their eye on this to see what comes of it.


It’s a solution looking for a problem. Modern hardware in all sizes can support plenty of full-featured OSes, including Android.


They can build this into high end TV and eReader and anything that has a screen.

For XP and OSX, you are looking at realistically at lease $200 worth of hardware.



I can actually see it being a good thing for some TVs yes. But not high end ones. Medium to low end ones.

IMO, for High End TVs, you’re going to want DVR type functionality, in the future. I think that’ll look more like an Android device, than a ChromeOS device.

Another interesting place it could show up: the replacement for your bedroom alarm clock. The “alarm clock” functionality gets replaced by a Google Calendar alarm. The “clock radio” part might be an actual local FM tuner, or some form of internet radio (Rhapsody, Pandora, etc.). And then you’ve got options for local media, hulu before bed time, looking up the weather as you decide what to wear today, etc.


Given that description of what it’s for … it seems to me that it needs to be a splashtop OS. And that means: it must be able to hand-off to other OS installs.

It should have a place where you can tell it “partition A has OS #1” and so forth, with some amount of detection attempted by Chrome OS. Then, it should have a mechanism for “reboot into OS #1”.

That way, you default boot into Chrome, do your business, and if that doesn’t require anything more than web apps, then you’re fine. But, if you suddenly want/need to do Ubuntu things, you click on the Ubuntu button. Or the Windows button. Or the Mac OS X button.

While I’d still like to see Chrome have Dalvik, I think that would fully explain and clarify what Chrome OS actually is. And I’d probably be willing/interested in running it on some devices.

Ideally, though, it should do both: run Dalvik apps, and be able to hand-off to other OSes. Then I’d have my Chrome/Android splashtop on a netbook or tablet, and be able to boot to Ubuntu and/or OS X as necessary.

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