Google Chrome OS: What to look for this week

By Sean Michael Kerner on November 18, 2009 9:35 AM


From the ‘It’s Not Vaporware‘ files:
Google is holding an event on Thursday to discuss its Chrome OS open source operating system. Details are sparse at this point, though the official media invitation gives us some clues that we’ll get some real technical insights.

"This event is a follow-up to the announcement we made in July, and Sundar Pichai, Vice President of Product Management will be speaking along with Matthew Papakipos, Engineering Director for Google Chrome OS," the Google media invite states.

Though the official briefing is tomorrow, there is a whole lot that we know today about Chrome OS. There are also a few items that we can speculate on, (which is always good fun in the absence of the official specs).
We know that Chrome OS uses the Chrome Browser, most likely built from the dev-channel for Linux Chromium build. I use Chrome for Linux everyday now and it is a solid, capable and fast browser.
We know that Chrome OS will be Linux based.  We don’t know which distro (if any) it will be based on. Chromium is available in the .deb packaging format (used by Debian based distribution including Ubuntu), so one obvious guess would be that Chrome OS will in some way shape or form be Debian based as well. 
That said, Android (Google’s other open source operating system) is not Debian based, so perhaps Google will just build their own Linux distro from the kernel up for Chrome OS.  Personally, I think that’s the better route for Chrome OS, though they really should stick with a common packaging format (.deb or .rpm) in order to enable some degree of easy packaging for applications.

The other item that Google that is likely is a new Google engineered Windowing system and user interface. Chrome OS will not be using GNOME or KDE. Chrome OS will have its own windowing system. Seeing as Google is doing this all in open source, I’d expect that whatever the windowing system is, it will eventually be available on all distros as a rival to GNOME and KDE.
We also can expect that since Chrome OS is browser based, and Chrome used Gears as its HTML 5 offline storage base, that Chrome OS will include all the major Google Apps. That is, I’d expect to see Gmail, and Apps available as desktop shortcuts with full offline storage (via Gears) built-in to the OS.
Instead of Skype, we’ll see Google Voice for VoIP.
Overall, I think many of the components that make up Chrome OS are already known.
What isn’t known is how they’ll all be put together and what the actual interface will look like. But after nearly 6 months of anticipation, I’d expect that on Thursday, we won’t have to guess any longer.

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