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Does the Chrome OS LiveCD threaten your installed OS?

At least one person has experienced a problem with Google's Chrome OS LiveCD corrupting a partition table on his computer.

At least one person has experienced a problem with Google's Chrome OS LiveCD corrupting a partition table on his computer.


LiveCD operating systems are very convenient and sometimes extremely useful. They are useful not only to us, the users, but also as a marketing tool of sorts for the people who produce and distribute the OS, because they give people a way to try out a new operating system, without threatening their currently installed OSes.

At least, that is the theory. In practice, glitches can occur, and in the case of the Chrome OS LiveCD beta from Google (when was the last time you've seen a Google application that wasn't in beta?), a glitch definitely appears to have occurred.

In a posting to the freebsd-questions list, a FreeBSD user explains that he booted his system from the Chrome OS LiveCD. Unfortunately, when he tried booting into FreeBSD again, it looks like Chrome OS had overwritten some partition table data.

Some glitches like these are to be expected with using testing software, of course, and this probably should not reflect too badly on the people at Google who are developing the Chrome OS software. They surely have not had time to test it against every single OS in existence, after all. On the other hand, one must wonder why a LiveCD is writing to the hard drive at all.

Be careful with beta testing LiveCDs. They may not be as safe as you expect.

Correction: TechRepublic user tthompson pointed out that the Chrome OS LiveCD was actually put together by a third party, and not by Google itself. It is, in fact, an OS "built around the revolutionary Google Chrome browser." I apologize for the misleading statements about the source of the Chrome OS in this article, and appreciate tthompson's diligence in identifying the error. The confusion arises in part because of the fact that Google people are actually working on a Chromium OS, which is not actually available as a LiveCD -- and which is occasionally referred to as Google Chrome OS (even on the Chromium OS site); and in part because I apparently skimmed where I should have read more closely.

About

Chad Perrin is an IT consultant, developer, and freelance professional writer. He holds both Microsoft and CompTIA certifications and is a graduate of two IT industry trade schools.

13 comments
tthompson
tthompson

"In practice, glitches can occur, and in the case of the Chrome OS LiveCD beta from Google (when was the last time you?ve seen a Google application that wasn?t in beta?)..." Are you talking about the Chrome OS ISO from http://getchrome.eu/download.php? "Chrome OS is not related to Google." Google's Chromium OS is at http://www.chromium.org and doesn't have an ISO. But the install method wipes the drive you install it on, so forewarned is forearmed. I run Chromium OS on an Acer EEE PC netbook (one of 10 OS installs I run on it); it's decent, but the WiFi driver is a bit skittish and needs an update.

bhochstetter
bhochstetter

YES Chrome OS LiveCD can threaten your OS I just read the instructions for downloading Chrome OS LiveCD and it distinctly says it doesn't work from the CD but must be installed on the hard drive.

Gis Bun
Gis Bun

You really think Google gives two craps about another OS when they'll have their own? [Wait and see Google OS systems crashing in the future since it's based on a web browser. If the web browser gets infected or craps out, the OS is toast.]

stuart.rowe
stuart.rowe

Google Mail has been out of beta phase for some time now. And there's no assurances that, while he was using the Live CD, he didn't perform any action that would have written to the hard drive.

nwallette
nwallette

I hesitate to believe this is a hard case of cause-and-effect. I lost the WinXP boot loader on my SSD the other day and had NOT used ChromeOS. So, is it fair to say the LiveCD is fine? One isolated case does not form a trend. Let's see whether anything like this happens again before we proclaim it's anything more than a coincidence. Maybe his secondary partition table image got corrupted during shutdown of BSD? Was that ever considered? "Does the Chrome OS LiveCD threaten your installed OS" indeed... Sheesh. Maybe we should see an article on cancer patients whom have used Google's search engine: "Does Google cause cancer?"

alan
alan

What was Google trying to write ? Yet another tracking cookie ! !

Neon Samurai
Neon Samurai

It's a liveCD. It comes as or can be made into an ISO. It shouldn't threaten anything from within a VM.

richard.s
richard.s

I've not yet tried this particular Chrome LiveCD, but the default in some Linux LiveCDs is set to store data & setup files on the hard disk of the host PC - unless the user actively stops this. Although it might be very convenient to have these settings ready for when the LiveCD is next used; writing anything to the hard disk, especially using a "foreign" operating system, is an obvious risk.

apotheon
apotheon

I've added a correction to the article. Thanks for pointing out my error.

terry.floyd
terry.floyd

I downloaded an earlier release via gdgt about six months ago and played with it a bit by converting it into a VM file in VirtualBox. I hope the new release is more polished than the first one I tried.

grax
grax

"I just read the instructions for downloading Chrome OS LiveCD and it distinctly says it doesn't work from the CD but must be installed on the hard drive." I've just checked the official download site and it says: "How to install: Download the iso file and burn it into CD-R. Boot the computer from it and when Chrome OS is loaded, click Live Installer on the desktop. Follow the instructions." So, you download the .iso file and create a CD from it. That's what you use to boot the OS. Just like any other LiveCD Operating System! As I have a sporadic life-style ChromiumOS is not suitable so I'll be sticking with Windows and Ubuntu.

Neon Samurai
Neon Samurai

.. or you really need to take a few minutes to understand ChromeOS before you further demonstrate lack of knowledge.

apotheon
apotheon

I've seen a couple of LiveCDs that ask whether you want to store data, but if the Chrome OS LiveCD does so in an opt-out instead of opt-in manner (or without even asking), it's the first LiveCD I've heard of doing that. It also seems like a monumentally bad idea to write to a partition table, of all things.

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