[LINK] Open Source Chrome+

stephen at melbpc.org.au stephen at melbpc.org.au
Sun May 9 23:30:37 AEST 2010

The Chrome Operating System. 

<http://www.nytimes.com/2010/05/09/business/09ping.html?th&emc=th> (snip)

Google is not expected to unveil the highly anticipated Chrome OS until 
the end of the year, and the software is expected to run, at first, only 
on the class of low-cost PCs called netbooks. 

(But) people are downloading home-brewed versions of the operating system 
derived from the esoteric source code, which Google releases under the 
name Chromium. 

Google is developing the Chrome system as an open-source project, and 
periodically releases the Chromium code online, to let other developers 
contribute to the project. 

Several resourceful users have taken those undistilled vats of source 
code and done something Google says it never expected: they’ve compiled 
it into working versions of the operating system, tailoring it for use on 
dozens of computer brands, and making it available to regular folks who 
want to preview one possible vision of their high-tech future. 

The Chrome operating system is designed to allow computers to boot up to 
the net within seconds, onto a home screen that looks like that of a Web 

Users of devices running Chrome will have to perform all their computing 
online or "in the cloud," without downloading traditional software 
applications, or storing files on hard drives. Devices running Chrome 
will receive continuous software updates, and most user data will reside 
on Google’s servers. 

Some analysts are skeptical that regular folks will flock to devices that 
place such severe limits on their computing activities. 

Chrome OS "is a bet on a future in which we move beyond rich applications 
and everything eventually gets delivered through a browser," said Michael 
Gartenberg, an analyst at the research firm Interpret. But that time is 
not here yet, he said: "Chrome this year and next year is mostly a 
science project." 

But for legions of Google heads, the fact that it feels like a science 
project adds to the allure. 

Working versions of Chromium have appeared across the Web and have been 
downloaded more than a million times. 

By all accounts, the most popular and functional have been on the site of 
a 17-year-old in Manchester, England, who goes by the net handle Hexxeh.


Liam McLoughlin, as Hexxeh is known to family and friends, is a college 
student and programmer who has taken Google’s Chromium code and compiled 
it so the operating system can be downloaded to a separate USB memory 
stick, which can then be used to boot up a computer. 

He has spent countless evenings and weekends configuring Chromium to work 
on various kinds of computers, including the Macintosh, and added 
features that Google has not gotten to yet, like support for the Java 
programming language. 

He explained that his work on Chromium began partly as a way to 
demonstrate his computing skills and possibly open doors in the 
technology industry. It also sprang from an interest and belief in 
Google’s computing vision. “Many people don’t care about how PCs work and 
all the security software that comes with today’s computers. They just 
want to use the Internet,” he said. 

Steve Pirk, a former systems engineer at the Walt Disney Company and now 
based in the Seattle area, helped to support a coding marathon this year 
by donating $50 via PayPal, which Mr. McLoughlin spent on a supply of 
highly caffeinated Jolt cola. 

Mr. Pirk said he tested Hexxeh’s resulting software, code-named Flow, on 
a half-dozen computers; all functioned properly running Chromium from a 
USB drive. He says he looks forward to the day when low-powered but fully 
functional computers running Chrome can help lead to a new wave of 
telecommuting. “The more work we do in the cloud, the less need there is 
for people to be in physically secure network environments,” he said. 

The Google executive in charge of Chrome OS took pains to express support 
for the Google fans trying Chromium — and for their presumptive band 
leader, Mr. McLoughlin. 

Sundar Pichai, vice president of product management, said that “what 
people like Hexxeh are doing is amazing to see.” Though he called the 
Chromium releases an “unintended consequence” of the process of 
developing open-source software, he said, “If you decide to do open-
source projects, you have to be open all the way.” 

A version of this article appeared in print on May 9, 2010, on page BU3 
of the New York

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