Thoughts on Google Chrome OS

It was interesting returning to Auckland on Thursday night to find out that in the past few days the world has completely changed. Yes Google has finnaly let the cat out of the bag (but I think it actually escaped months ago) that it was developing an operating system to rival Windows.

Google Chrome OS is not planned to be released until late 2010 however the source will be released later this year (so in some ways you could start using it later this year). The full announcement is here: http://googleblog.blogspot.com/2009/07/introducing-google-chrome-os.html

The points that I am most interested in are:

  • This is not Google’s first OS, in fact it is their third. In house they use Goobuntu (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Goobuntu) which is a modified version of Ubunutu Linux. And at the end of 2008 they released Android an open source operating system for cellphones, and it rocks.
  • Cloud Computing. The operating system is going to be very light weight on the end users system and plug directly into the internet. This is going to be a lot like the Android where it is always on and things are straight away at your finger tips. This works really well for a cellphone but I do wonder how much functionality it is going to have for more high end activities. Sure you may be able to edit a word document etc, but what about being able to do some coding, or playing a game. In those realms I think that a full desktop environment will still be a lot better.
  • It is free. Well being open source and based off linux they really didn’t have much more of a choice. Having said that it really gives Microsoft a kick up the pants with the cost of Windows even at OEM price being really expensive.
  • The number of companies involved: Acer, Adobe, ASUS, Freescale, Hewlett-Packard, Lenovo, Qualcomm, Texas Instruments, and Toshiba. This shows that it has some major industry support and the chances of success are high.

I am excited about what it can deliver, but building a web browser that gets 30 million users in 9 months is one thing. Building a operating system that can deliver a smooth user experience without bugs or issues is a whole lot harder.

Windows vs Linux Installation

Okay in the last week I have had to do a windows installation and a linux installation onto a laptop.

In the past the windows install would have won hands down in terms of getting everything running out of the box. But not any longer, I now think that over the last two years linux has really come of age and is just simple to use and for the most part just works.

Firstly my experiences in windows installing.

  • Insert CD rom and install OS – about 30 minutes.
  • Remove cd rom restart do end user install, about another 30 minutes.
  • Boot into windows remove norton anti virus, install avast and do a boot time scan to ensure that in the few seconds between norton and avast nothing snuck onto the system – 1 hour.
  • Download and install windows updates 10 minutes to download 1 hour to install.
  • Reboot and install firefox and thunderbird 30 minutes.

All up for a basic working machine: 3.5 hours.

Linux installation.

  • Install OS from cd rom… 20 minutes
  • Reboot do end user install 10 minutes.
  • Get wireless networking drivers working – 1 hour.
  • Download and install updates less than 30 minutes.
  • Install anti-virus… not needed it is linux.
  • Install other software… apt-get install software name… under 5 minutes per piece of software.

All up… 2 hours… an hour of which was getting drivers for a wifi card to work, and if hardware vendors properly supported linux you could have a fully functioning up to date OS in under 1 hour.

Two years ago a linux set up would have taken days because of driver problems and even dependancy problems, but now linux has really matured and unless windows can improve its security a lot then in the long run linux will just become more and more popular.

….

Now of course people are going to come back and say that windows has more security holes because more people use it so therefore it is easier to break and if linux increased in popularity more people would write viruses and try to break it too. I do think there is half a point here. However for the most part linux makes you manually do stuff where windows if sometimes just a little to smart for its own good. I placed a flash drive into my computer yesterday that had a virus on it set to autorun, lucky for me my system stopped it. However, why windows insists on letting flash drives autorun is just plain weird… so windows getting lots of viruses is as much microsoft’s slack approach to system security as is it the fault of the virus writers themselves. Then again if there wasn’t security holes in windows norton and mcaffee would be out of work so there is an economics side to viruses as well.

Wubi

Okay, now there is no excuse for any geek or anyone with a keen interest in computers to not try out linux.

For the past year and a bit I have been playing around with Virtualbox and virtualization, the major problem here however is the speed of booting, and drivers etc as it is in an emulated/simulated environment.

Enter WUBI. Wubi is an installer that allows you to install Ubuntu and Linux Mint on an NTFS partiation and use the windows boot loader so it does absolute nothing to windows at all. And to make matters better you can access your windows files straight out of the box.

I have now had a WUBI Ubunutu set up for the past week and it is brilliant.

I am now trying a new distro called Linux Mint which is aimed at end users.

If you want some help getting it installed or just want to try it out just contact me, it is brilliant just really awesome.

The Comparison

New Laptop (Jan 09):

Component Details Subscore Base score
Processor Intel(R) Core(TM)2 Duo CPU T5800 @ 2.00GHz

4.9

3.5

Determined by lowest subscore

Memory (RAM) 4.00 GB

4.4

Graphics ATI Mobility Radeon HD 3470

3.5

Gaming graphics 1790 MB Total available graphics memory

3.9

Primary hard disk 77GB Free (116GB Total)

5.5

Windows Vista (TM) Home Premium

Desktop (Jun 08):

Component Details Subscore Base score
Processor AMD Phenom(tm) 9600 Quad-Core Processor

5.9

3.5

Determined by lowest subscore

Memory (RAM) 4.00 GB

5.9

Graphics ATI Radeon HD 3400 Series

3.5

Gaming graphics 1535 MB Total available graphics memory

3.9

Primary hard disk 119GB Free (226GB Total)

5.9

Windows Vista (TM) Home Premium

Laptop:

System
Manufacturer ASUSTeK Computer Inc.
Model F5SR
Total amount of system memory 4.00 GB RAM
System type 32-bit operating system
Number of processor cores 2
64-bit capable Yes

Desktop:

System
Manufacturer Acer
Model Aspire M3200
Total amount of system memory 4.00 GB RAM
System type 32-bit operating system
Number of processor cores 4
64-bit capable Yes

Laptop:

Graphics
Display adapter type ATI Mobility Radeon HD 3470
Total available graphics memory 1790 MB
Dedicated graphics memory 512 MB
Dedicated system memory 0 MB
Shared system memory 1278 MB
Display adapter driver version 8.473.0.0
Primary monitor resolution 1280×800
DirectX version DirectX 10

Desktop:

Graphics
Display adapter type ATI Radeon HD 3400 Series
Total available graphics memory 1535 MB
Dedicated graphics memory 256 MB
Dedicated system memory 0 MB
Shared system memory 1279 MB
Display adapter driver version 8.541.0.0
Primary monitor resolution 1440×900
Secondary monitor resolution 1440×900
DirectX version DirectX 10

In summary both systems are quite similar. On a performance race the Desktop would win hands down, but for a laptop it is fairly powerful.

The Control Centre

I have been planning this post for a while now… I just had to clean my room to make it happen. Here is my “Control Centre” in 2008. The last time I took one of these pictures was in 2006 and you can see the comparison between the two years. (they are also two different flats)

The Control Centre as it appears today. And below as it appeared in 2006

Also for those who don’t know how small my room is here is a good shot.

.

 

New Year, New Website

I have just rolled out a complete overhaul of my website.

The changes in summary:

New:

  • Blog comments are back – provided I don’t get too much spam they will stay.
  • Java Web Start for software section
  • Text versions of many articles

Updated:

  • About me page
  • Articles portfolio
  • Website portfolio
  • Software portfolio
  • Photos

Deleted:

  • Homepage – Replaced with blog
  • Outdoor Activities
  • Links – Blogroll will be its replacement
  • Other stuff I can’t remember