Open Ballot: Chrome OS: zero or hero?


Now we all know that Google's Chrome OS really is little more than a full-screen Chrome browser window running on top of Linux, it's time to weigh in with your views for our podcast: is Google onto something with the super-slim and light design, or do users want more than a window onto the web in their personal computers? Furthermore, do you think having Chrome OS around is going to be a good thing for the growing Linux netbook market?

Add your comment below, preferably answering either "Yes, Google has the right idea" or "No, I need more than just a browser" plus some sort of explanation/wit/assorted cleverness, along with a username that isn't Anonymous Penguin, and we'll read the best out when we record the podcast.

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Your comments

Open Ballot: Chrome OS: zero or hero?

No, I need more than just a browser

Yes, Google has the right idea

I agree that for the 'average' user just a browser should be enough. Nothing additional to install and nothing (hopefully) to go wrong. They can just get on with what they want to do.

Me on the other hand, would like to do a bit more with my pc/laptop/netbook. I love Linux and all the customisations, extras and program I can tweak to my hearts content. But then I woul probably class myself as a power user and not an average user.

Good luck with the debate!


for now.
when the world has sorted its self out and everybody just gets along. I'm sure there'll be plenty of dual boot scenarios that little OSes like this slot into. It would be really cool already if it had Picasa with it.


I'd have to say this feels like a lame idea. perhaps on limited hardware devices, it maybe the solution for netbooks/smart phones for people who can't handle the minor complexity of a true netbook distro install. wether or not it is good for linux? If google contributes to the open source kernel, a qualified could be good for other linux distro/users. Otherwise it feels like an unnecessary layer of complexity masking as simplicity, if that makes sense.

in the meantime I'll stick with ubuntu. and enjoy tweaking and customizing.


An OS that only lets you use Google applications, or at best Google-approved apps? No bleeding way. Even the most casual user, in my experience, appreciates some choice when it comes to using PCs. As for we Linux geeks, isn't 'choice' part of the attraction? I recently got fed up with the clipboard manager I was using, so I simply downloaded another. Problem solved. You almost certainly won't be able to do that on Chrome OS, so you can count me out.

Yes, it will have limited appeal to absolute neophytes in computing, but even those people are well-served by other offerings. I just can't see it taking off, even with Google's name attached to it.

Not to mention the presumably limited scope for tinkering around "under the hood."

title of blog here

No, I need more than just a browser. Did I win?

I'm a self professed minimalist when it comes to everything including but not limited to computers, and I'm constantly analysing what I can do to downgrade my experience. I am more efficient in simplicity. Because of this, I know for a fact that I cannot live in just a browser - I need music playback, I need text editors and terminals. Even jobs that I don't do every day are important - disc burning, image editing, number crunching, etc. (I use a stripped down Gnome and am in the process of migrating to Fluxbox, because I can)

Even so, I spend 95% of my computering time in a browser, and Chrome isn't bad. If I had a more disposable income I'd jump on the bandwagon in a heartbeat - a Chrome OS device would be handy to carry around with me rather than my full-on laptop when I'm just going to a nearby coffe shop to chill and read the news. I find netbooks annoying and limited in their habit to wedge an entire desktop onto a smaller platform where it does not belong, but if you manage to tailor a smaller workload for your smaller platform, you might just get me interested.

There's something to be said for computing that does one thing very, very well. We don't get enough of that in our world of digital swiss army knives, where feature sets are as big as the code itself. Whether or not Chrome OS will make a shift to that shiny, wonderfully happy idealist notion - or even if it has its heart in the right place - remains to be seen in the hardware Google allows it to be installed on and how it surfaces in the market.

I like the concept, but an alpha is too early to tell.


Additionally, I think that users yelling about how Chrome OS isn't enough completely miss the point.

Chrome OS was not created to supplant the computer experience as a whole. Google is not stupid, they know this. They've been watching computers and see how things are moving.

We have dedicated computers for playing games or movies. Dedicated handhelds for playing music and checking e-mail. And yet it seems like all of the dedicated internet browsers are either poorly designed or too expensive (or both!).

Like how the iPod was never meant to overwrite your use of your music management software on your computer, Chrome OS is not here to take away the computer environment you love and cherish, but rather offer a small, cheap device that offers Google's services outside of the usual laptop paradigm.

No, I need more than a browser.

I use a media player, although I have managed to set up a browser based media server, many others wont have (and I only use it when on the move and space is required for other things) so how would they listen to music. I am working on some blender stuff, what's next weblender? The web browser is good for the web, but many of our ajax applications push the web beyond what it was intended to. Sooner or later I believe either the web shall have to be totally reimagined for performance and sanity reasons, or a move back to local applications (just with more advanced networked features) will happen.

I'd prefer the later to be quite honest.


Many of the people I know need nothing more than a web browser with a few additional capabilities. Of course, I expect Chrome will be able to play music and videos that are stored locally, and things like Google chat will increase in popularity because of the integration with Chrome OS. I personally cannot live with just a browser, but for a netbook, I think this is perfect. The minimal boot up time is a great reason to switch, although this is possible with most distributions with a bit of configuration. As mentioned before, this is great news for the hardware compatibility issues under Linux, and on top of that, people who are happy with Chrome OS are bound to try out other full blown distributions such as Ubuntu or OpenSUSE, and a few brave souls may venture out and try Gentoo. I suppose none of those Gentoo individuals would ever try Linux again...

When there are good free

When there are good free online storage sites. I will need more than a browser.


OS - What OS! Glorified Google interface is what we are talking about.

Why is that Smart phones are taking off? iPhone & Android (along with Palms WebOS and Symbian) - people want to be able to do things that require local compute cycles and local storage. Yes the web plays a big part in that, but usually not the only part and if you have a device that can do more then why restrict it???

Backup to the cloud, store non sensitive data on the cloud, sync with the cloud - but don't use it as your only platform.

I am sure there are people who will gladly hand over the ownership of their data to Google (or some other 'cloud' based provider) but I for one am not so keen.

Google's desire to "KNOW" everything and control the web quite frankly makes me nervous. According to Eric I am a "miscreant" because I don't want Google peering in to my activities and making them publicly available or even available to Google only. But, by utilising an OS operated by Google then I am essentially going to be doing that!

So "No Thanks" Google - I prefer to be a miscreant.

PlugIns and Connection

Depends on the available plugins and how you connect to the net.

First if you have to use a Google service or some sort of cellular network, then "forget about it"!

Second, I expect some local storage, not 500G but 2-10G for sure ( it might make more sense if potential platforms could hanbdle a few USB ports ). Of course this is hardware and not an OS feature, but I expect the OS to support such hardware and the question of whether I would find the OS usable will depend on the hardware.

Since it supports local storage I expect the browser to act as a file manager, but hey even the crappiest modern browser does this.

Third, I expect to have multiple broswers open with some sort of tabbing between browsers ( which could work really well if the tabbing were like window tabbing KDE 4). It would be nice to also have tiling browsers ( but not necessary ).

Finally I expect plugins for some sort of pdf reader, vpn/vnc, email browser, flash, and a generic multimedia plugin. Also I would expect some sort of sortware to turn my main computeer running Linux/OSX/Windows into a mini cloud server.

In other words what I expect from a netbook OS is to create a semiintelligent "terminal" for my main computer, which can also do browsing.


No, I need more than just a browser.

Does that require any explanation? Also, like Kota said, if nothing else Chrome OS will do its part to break the stranglehold MS has on the OS market.


@Forget Irving:

I think Eric was misquoted in that interview - if you watch it the context isn't revealed.

I think what Google is trying to say is that they don't know information that you don't give them. So, you know, when you're doing illegal or embarrassing activities, don't go through Google. I mean, you wouldn't post all of the Pr0n you watch on Facebook for your friends to see, would you? Common sense, but the anti-Google trolls are spinning it completely out of proportion.

Google has information on you, and so does every other website across the internet that you browse without protections. If that bothers you, stop using the internet, or use services and websites you trust. I don't see how this is a challenge to anyone.

I wish I cared more than I do, personally.


Any distro can be striped down to no apps and just a browser. WiFi is not prevalent enough for most people to get around with no apps. I refuse to pay $50/month for cellular wifi with crappy speed and a 5Gb cap.

Something New?

Couple this with 'cloud' and it maybe the catalyst that generates a whole new device, somewhere between a netbook and a smart phone in power. Cheaper than a netbook, but more usable than a smartphone.

For me NO, for my mum YES

As above already described we are power users so this also would mean that we are not the main target audience of the ChromeOS. I think the OS will be booting up fast and make the internet goodies available within 10 sec. on a netbook so I think even though we are not the target group we could also use as a second Netbook OS. You know when you are travelling and waiting somewhere and all you need is just a browser to check mails/news or just surf on the net.

On the other hand my mum does not need much more than a browser a mail client and a chat application. Oh and every 3 months a photo browser just to save the pictures from the camera. And she would need these as simple as possible. Without any pop-ups and stupid questions. I don't know how is it with you but I am not happy when I have to problem solving on the phone about what is the latest thing that her PC just pop-up/asked and she is no longer able to reach her favourite application... So for this purpose the ChromeOS would be perfect for her.


You know, I see only one good thing about Chrome OS...I think that it will push up sales of netbooks with ARM processors. We need this stuff. Cheap netbooks with long battery life. But I don't think that we'll use Chrome OS installed on netbooks, we'll use our favorite GNU/Linux distro:-) Now the commercial community of Intel and Microsoft stops promotion of such netbooks, but Google can help with this things:-)

This is a good but dull thing

I think this is a good thing for Google and the FLOSS world but somewhat dull for a tinkerer like me (and I guess most of us here!)

This is good. Google are competing against MS and the mindset that a computer = Windows. The more Chrome OS, Android, Symbian, Palm, Mac OS and Desktop Linux erode MS mindshare the better for Desktop Linux; people will be ready to try something new.

Imagine an embedded terminal program in one of the Chrome OS machines. Every hospital, bank and institution seems to have a terminal open to their ancient back end mainframe systems. More of the systems are moving to web frontends. (I was just in hospital with my wife. MRI scans were accessed from a webpage, blood tests from another webpage, notes on a third system, patient billing and personal data on a terminal system). A fast, secure, free, low power (will run on ARM etc.) solution could fit the bill. Why these places currently seem to run it all on Windows desktops anyway is a mystery.

So I see Chrome OS as very significant to the erosion of MS desktops. This has to be good for the FLOSS community!

1st question: No, 2nd question: Yes

Google Chrome OS isn't right for me. However, due to the vast number of browsers likely to surface after its release, it will be good for Linux.


I can't see much of a point in it. The reason why I bought myself a netbook is not only to surf the internet, but also to have a highly portable device that allows me to work in places where I am not connected - trains, busses, waiting at the airport etc (or to kill time by watching a movie in any of those places). A computer that is completely useless everytime my ISP makes problems or I am not at home is a lame compromise.

The only advantage might be if it is incredibly cheap - but even then it wouldn't make much sense. People that cannot afford a 200 Pound Netbook usually can't afford broadband internet either, and I can't imagine working in the cloud with a modem connection is a lot of fun.

Of course Google is also disregarding rural areas and countries that are not that blessed with internet access.

One more thing

Plus I am very annoyed how this topic is treated in the media. I already read quite often that "Google wrote their own operating system from scratch" - I don't think any of those average Chrome OS users will ever know what this strange Linux-Thing is...


linux is about freedom to do whatever, if google want a browser only distro let them make it. it is upto the individual what they want from a distro so let the public decide.

No not for me but maybe for someones grandmother

I wouldn't mind a slimmed down distro that runs fast on netbooks but it has to have more than a browser. Something like Debian running LXDE with lightweight apps would be good (I think they are going to make a Ubuntu derivative running LXDE called Lubuntu) but you do need some apps not just a browser.
Even Puppy comes with a load of apps and thats only about 100MB, I don't know why this is such a bigger download.

Having said this I think there may be a market for a super simple OS that's very secure that you can't screw up but I am not the market for it. Could be good for people who know nothing about computers and don't want to learn running on very cheap devices.


With regard to the need for a consistent connection to do work I agree that would be a bad requirement for an OS. However it's my experience that when working on a laptop that has intermittent connectivity, I will always lose my connection just when I need to access some remote file.

But I always have some reading and viewing to do, so any netbook I have should allow me to store stuff locally and process it. If Chrome can act as a file manager, and has several important plugings, it would let me do peripheral parts of my work when offline.

A challenge to the guys.

Why not use GNUStep exclusively for a few weeks?

PS Sorry to go offtopic.


Actually, system with nothing but a browser is already in existance, and can be found at Also, i HATED Chrome.

While I'm not particularly

While I'm not particularly interested in the os, Google is pushing for better hardware (read:printing) support on Linux, which is a good thing.

As long as the improvements in this area are pushed into Linux proper, I don't care what Google does.

What are they thinking

Yes Chrome is a bit off. strike that.. way off..

and her comes the "But" part

But look 10 years in the future, do you see internet everywhere, whit broadband as a minimum. Yes, this future is unavoidable.

Will development continue moving in that direction. Yes.
The two real questions are: Are people reddy for this,
new = scary.

And: are Google reddy for this; do they have the apps, the support, the community backing, the marked and sales.

after what I have read, I'm afraid the answer is NO, not yet


As far as I understand it, Chrome OS is pretty useless for any offline activity - you can edit files over google docs - and while some clever mind might come up with an offline text editor plugin for Chrome, that would certainly not be enough for the vast majority of computer users that get freaked out if they don't have something similar to MS Word.


There are ways to use Google web apps offline using Google Gears. Surely these new Chrome OS netbooks are going to have a way to attach portable storage so you can access your offline documents, like PDFs. And if you're using lots of Google apps already, like I do (Gmail, iGoogle, Reader, Gtalk, Calendar, Docs, and most recently Wave), Have you taken a look at Google Business Solutions? If companies can trust their private information and infrastructure to Google, why can't a peon home user trust them too?

Not sure

For me personally, no, it not the right solution. Like many here, I need my machine to do more than just browse the web.

Initially, I dissed it as useless, and to a degree I stand by my comments. I do genuinely feel that Android is more versatile and better suited to netbook devices, not least because you have an App Store.

However, if google changed the focus from netbooks and went down the road of shipping it on laptops, i.e. got the manufacturers to install on along side the main OS as an alternative (for instances when you genuinely just need a browser to perform a small task) then I would be very interested in it.

Yes, Google has the right idea

A netbook with ChromeOS would be awesome for me. I'd also need my laptop or a desktop but only for professional work (so it could be in my office).

ChromeOS is an excellent idea, imo.

"Yes" say comp makers

"The trend is your friend" as they say on the stock market. Lately, makers seem to have moved towards ligther devices. Which also means cheaper of course..

Now I hear you guys come argue with some "I wanna be able to play 3D games with XYZ resolution and mega-pixel-shading-desintegration! How am I going to do that with Chrome OS?"

Well you wont.

to tell you the whole truth, you won't even be able to run Windays on it.

But maybe that's because most people just don't care about that stuff. :)

Yes, it' works... as an instant-on solution.

Tons of people here say "no, I want more than just a browser". But that opinion really makes sense - a lot of the people here ARE power users after all who definitely need more than just the browser. I, however, see launching a pocket browser OS when I only need to access the internet quickly as something very useful! Acer(?) had its instant-boot Linux for small things like playing media or reading text files, and Chrome made it more practical by having a browser instead.

I don't think the OS can work just all by itself - this really needs to be installed alongside a full-blown OS. But I don't think it really ever was Google's intention to have the OS as the "only" one on most netbook devices.


Chrome OS will work on ARM processors.

Think - a net book size device, hooks into Wi-Fi, takes 7 seconds to boot and runs for a week between charges and costs around £100.

Ideal for those 'Google it' moments when the kids are on the main system and the wife is on the laptop.

If we are really lucky, the big G will give them away so that our eyeballs see more of their adverts........


You do know that services such as Google Docs and GMail are also accessible even when you're offline, right? New features in (previously) Google Gears and now HTML5 allow this kind of offline "browsing".


No, how could a Browser on top of a linux kernel possibly be enough for anyone. Especially here in germany where even the wired internet is extremely slow. So how can anyone think that wifi is fast enough to use a cloud based system which by the way also has less features then the cheapest net book could have. I think it would be very bad if this idea was successful because that could mean that good net book solutions like the ubuntu net book remix get stopped because they aren't used by enough people.

@Tom Z 1:27pm

Ive installed NUR for a laptop im offering too my sister soon. And typing these words right now from Ubuntu 8.04.

So I like ubuntu much. Just like the rest of us here I guess:) ubuntu helped me get in touch with linux. Helped me learn UNIX tricks also. However I like it because Im a soft developer.

And that's the whole point. You can answer NO to GG Chrome OS because of your likes and dislikes.

But speaking for the crowd, if more people can get access to the web, and to computers (as they get cheaper), I say go Google! Cheaper maybe, wider also:)


NUR: i meant UNR or whatever. That is Ubuntu Netbook Remix. Which is pretty good looking:p and not just for netbooks i believe for I installed it on a regular laptop.

OOOOH a POSTER with my

OOOOH a POSTER with my latest LXF! Awesome :D

I like the Google idea but I can't see it becoming mainstream. If I needed a cheap and cheerful netbook for emailing etc when abroad it would be perfect.

just talking..

[as i see this thread is sleeping, I guess its no big deal tchating on it right?:p]

@John 2:53
Don't know what who your referring to ? Maybe "LXF" is some kind of moniker/abbreviation ?(just curious, to learn a new word! :p)

Right of passage?

Is this a right of passage for every technology company? First IBM and their "we only need X computers in the world", then Sun and their "Java Desktop strategy" and now all the mobile/internet vendors saying "program" everything in javascript and serve your "applications" through the web? The pendulum will continue to swing back and forth, thick then thin then thick then thin. I think time will show Chrome OS as the thin client extreme that starts us back towards the thick client.

For netbooks, yes, but not

For netbooks, yes, but not for power users. I think I'll stick with Fx!

still talking..

@RAM 3:51

alright thanks:) I thought maybe it was some kind of blogging shortcut

didn't know lxf mag. Just gave it a quick look. however, judging only by the titles on the cover, I believe there are more "professional" linux mag:p

anyway, good that there are some widespread linux mags.


If you're on the go, I think it's a fantastic idea.
However if I'm at home, I'd like more than just a web browser.

Yea why not.

i believe that this would lead to awareness of linux and increase the shares of the os being used. There is another reason too, Google designed the os to be a bike(netbook) that would run along the the car(pc). But i must agree it needs alot of fine tuneing as offline support is needed and the network manager needs to be more simple to connect to the internet but the only thing I can falt is it needs more documentation on how to connect to the internet, otherwise a very polished interface and browser.

still talking again..

my bad about lxf. i see you mention it here in some posts, so i must have misjudged it.

must be a pretty decent mag then (i just gave a quick look at the cover, which reminded me of stuff i see in some France's linux mags-not all- that's why:p)

im still learning there, kind of a linux newbie:) sry for the mess, i tend to overblog myself sometimes... too much spare time probably.


Definition of a "netbook"

Maybe I'm alone, but it seems to me that Chrome OS falls perfectly in line of what I think of as a "netbook". If you're trying to store data locally on a machine Chrome OS is intended for, then I think you're confused about what kind of machine you bought.

+1 for Chrome OS


Chrome it nice. Not better than Firefox. Mater of face, not anywhere as nice. Still not bad.

Will it make me go over to it? Not at all.

Good to have options though. That's what it's suppose to be all about.

But, no, I think I'll stick to Firefox.

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