I guess I got caught up in all the hype over Chrome OS. It’s an idea I’ve bounced around for years as I mucked around learning about embedded Linux. Replace the standard Linux desktop UI with only a browser and throw it on a mobile device. With everything on the web these days, or at least a minimal amount to do something useful, why not?
But I could never escape the idea that you had to have at least some local applications to do things when disconnected, or to take advantage of the CPU and graphics power using native tools for things like games and multimedia.
So I downloaded a build of Chrome OS from gdgt.com to give it a try under VirtualBox. And, BTW, you got to love the tech community and how quickly they get activated when something cool comes along. While the release is about a year away, and the build shows it, you do get a sense of what Chrome OS, or Chromium OS which is it’s proper name, is.
You log in with your Google account and, bang, you’re in the Chrome browser looking at your Google stuff.
But it is what it is. There’s no application menu, no app market, or anything like that. Everything you do is over the web. I did notice an extensions mechanism, and maybe that’s how you take advantage of the native environment, maybe not.
When I had thought of a Web OS, this summer, my thoughts turned to the Eclipse Run-Time and using that in conjunction with the browser to have local apps written for the Eclipse platform. I would also think you’d want to launch 3D and multimedia content full screen, or something. But that’s not what Chromium OS is. It’s web or bust.
So while Chromium OS is interesting, I’m way less excited about it. I think the door is still open for a netbook Linux platform that combines local native apps with the Web experience. Moblin is certainly making strides there for the consumer space. And I’ve been trying out the GNOME Shell which offers an experience much like Windows 7 for the power users. This story isn’t finished yet.