Waiting for Chrome

I keep expecting Google to release an alpha version of their Chrome operating system, but it hasn't happened yet. I know they're working on it, but that's about all I can say. However, over in China, there's a story of early devices running alpha Chrome and some Linux fans have made their own version of Chrome.

First, there's a report from Shanzai, a news site that covers China's technology business, that "devices sporting Google's much trumpeted Chrome OS will start to appear in mid October." Specifically, Chrome will show up in devices using the Chinese-designed Loongson CPU.

The Loongson CPU is a MIPS-based CPU. Like the better-known ARM Cortex chip family, Loongson chips are used in mobile devices, netbooks, and -- at its fastest speed -- these CPUs are beginning to be experimented with in full-powered laptops and desktops. Since Google is working on Chrome with Freescale, the primary ARM vendor, and several Chinese vendors, it wouldn't surprise me a bit if some vendors have gotten their hands on pre-alpha Chrome code.

Be that as it may, some Linux users don't want to wait any longer for Chrome, so they've used SUSE Studio to roll their own version of Chrome Linux.

The base for this home-brew Chrome operating system is openSUSE 11.1, but it quickly goes its own way. It loads up with Google's Chrome Web browser logo and most of important application links go to Google Web applications. Needless to say, it uses the Linux version of the Google Chrome Web browser.

Of course, this isn't the first Linux that decided that Google Apps were the way to go. That honor goes to Good OS, an Ubuntu-based Linux distribution.

So, if you can't stand waiting a minute longer for a taste of a Google desktop Linux system, I recommend giving either Chrome OS, in an appliance version for VirtualBox or VMware or Good OS' gOS 3.1 Gadgets a try. Neither of them are the real thing, but both serve as reminders that in 2009, a little Linux and a lot of Google applications can go a long way towards providing a complete desktop experience.

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