Enterprise Software

A first look at Google Chrome OS

Much abuzz on the Web, the first betas of Google’s Chrome OS are out. What does this operating system give you at this point? IT pro Rick Vanover walks through a Chrome OS beta.

In July of this year, Google announced that Google Chrome OS is a new initiative that follows the successful Chrome Browser. Just what is Chrome OS? Well, at this point, it is not too much more than an operating system hosting the browser.

Last week, I came across a Gadget download of the Chrome OS beta. It is provided as a virtual machine, making it painless to try without dedicating equipment. The beta is provided two ways —  as a VMware virtual machine (VMDK disk format) or a Sun VirtualBox virtual machine (VDI format). After downloading the appropriate image from Gadget, it can be quite easy to get started. If you want to go through this download on your own, the free beta download is here, and there are plenty of discussions on how to fix common areas on the Gadget site as well.

In my situation, I am running the Chrome OS beta on a VMware ESXi host. While I am not aware of a direct install of Chrome OS, running it as a virtual machine is adequate for my needs to evaluate the platform. This is how I evaluate all new operating systems, so it is a good way to start.

Powering on the Chrome OS beta gives us an authentication screen, as shown in Figure A.

Figure A

Figure A

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This login is authoritative to a Gmail account. And if there is no direct route to the Internet, the Chrome OS beta will not let you pass the login screen. Once authenticated to a Gmail.com account, you are taken to the main page of a Chrome OS beta, as shown in Figure B.

Figure B

Figure B
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Once inside the beta, simply running the Chrome browser is a predictable experience. Among the points of interest is a task manager that allows you to see performance statistics and run processes on the browser OS, including a running tab of goats teleported, as shown in Figure C. Figure C

Figure C

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At this point in the game, it is clear that a browser-based OS is where Chrome is going. Is it enough? I'm not sure. I surely need file transfer outside of the Google cloud and not limited to e-mail, and I'd love to have administrator tools to work on my other operating systems.

It is clear, however, that the browser OS has a direction; what about the potential? Have you started using the Chrome OS beta? If so, share your comments below.

About

Rick Vanover is a software strategy specialist for Veeam Software, based in Columbus, Ohio. Rick has years of IT experience and focuses on virtualization, Windows-based server administration, and system hardware.

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