Dell releases unofficial Chrome OS Linux desktop

Of all the big computer companies, only Dell really supports desktop Linux. Specifically, Dell offers a nice selection of PCs running Ubuntu Linux. But what Dell hasn't done is come out and announce that they are working on Google's beta Chrome OS. Other vendors, such as Acer, HP and Lenovo, are on board with Chrome. Regardless, Dell is actually the first big-time vendor to have released a version of Chrome OS designed to work with one of their netbooks.

This isn't an official beta, though; it's a skunkworks project. In a blog posting, Dell technology strategist Doug Anson revealed that he and some of his work friends decided to try to get Chrome OS running on a Dell Mini 10v netbook. They were successful. Sort of.

You can see for yourself. Anson wrote that he has released a USB image file. (The file name is ChromiumOS_Mini10v_Nov25.img) "It contains a functioning image of my USB key loaded with ChromiumOS," wrote Anson. "In addition, I have made a best effort attempt to get the Broadcom Wi-Fi adapter working in this image. It's definitely not perfect (read: highly experimental, untested, unstable, yada yada...) but it does appear to function."

That Dell is working with Chrome OS shouldn't be much of a surprise. Dell hinted that they might give Chrome OS a try back in July, after Google announced the project. Canonical, the company behind Ubuntu, has also long working on Chrome OS with Google, and Ubuntu is Dell's number one Linux for desktops.

Additionally, Google and Dell also work together on servers. Google's high-end Google search appliance, the GB-9009, for example, is built on Dell's PowerEdge R710 rack server.

The Mini 10v is, as you might have guessed, one of Dell's PCs that already comes with Ubuntu as an option, but this is a very experimental release. Still, as a USB-based distribution, it can't harm your 10v — if something goes wrong or it doesn't work you just remove the USB drive and reboot — so it's worth playing with if you like experimenting with Linux's newest bleeding-edge distribution.

But as Anson points out, "This image comes with absolutely no support of any kind and is to be considered highly experimental and completely unstable [but] with a network connection, ChromiumOS shines. The Chromium browser is extremely fast and makes for a great web-centric browsing experience. Boot time appears quick too — about 12 seconds from hitting the power button." Sounds like good Linux techie fun to me!

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