We've shown you how to turn your netbook into a Chromebook with Chromium OS, but if you found that your laptop's Wi-Fi or graphics card wasn't supported, there's a good chance Chromium Lime—Hexxeh's new build of Chromium OS—could work. More »
It was only a matter of time: a page on the Chromium Projects website has emerged, detailing how to install Ubuntu on a Cr-48 netbook. The process is, understandably, a little risky -- but it's not like there are any tech bloggers out there that don't know how to use Linux, right?
Snarkiness aside, the process is actually very easy. You have to hack at the SSD's filesystem a little and fiddle with the Chrome OS kernel, but if you do everything right, you should be rewarded with a dual-boot system capable of running both Ubuntu and Chrome OS.
The best bit, though, is that you have to enable 'developer mode' to escape Chrome OS's 'verified boot' security measure. To do this, you need to flip a switch on the back, under the battery, as per the hilarious instructional photo shown after the break.
If you haven't played with Chrome OS yet, it has one fundamental niggle that harkens back to the DOS days of yore: windows don't exist, and it has no way of displaying multiple tabs on screen at the same time. This means if you want to refer to a document while you compose an email, you need to repetitively switch between tabs -- and I think we can all agree that tab-switching is one of the most important omissions from the Universal Declaration of Human Rights.
Chrome OS does support one way of displaying multiple Web pages at the same time, however: panels. If you've looked through our Chromium OS galleries (or taken a quick look at the screenshot above) you'll notice some always-on-top panels across the bottom of the screen. Panels are handy things -- capable of being resized, or quickly popped down out of view. By default, the download manager, popped-out Gmail chat windows and the media player display in panels -- but, for some reason, there's no way to load custom websites in panels.
Which brings us onto our very first Chrome OS-specific extension: Panelize. With Panelize you can put anything into a panel, such as Gmail, Reader, or even Download Squad. In one fell swoop, having to switch between tabs is a thing of the past!
It was last July that Google dropped a nuclear bombin announcing Chrome OS, their operating system based around their Chrome web browser. The world was different back then — namely, Google’s Android mobile operating system wasn’t nearly as powerful as it is now. But its rise has led some to wonder why exactly Google is pushing ahead with Chrome OS — or if they might abandon it? (Remember, they did lose their key Chrome OS engineer to Facebook.) Well, they’re not. All indications are that it is coming very soon now. In fact, it may even launch a month from today.
At their official unveiling event 11 months ago, Google promised that Chrome OS would be ready to by the end of this year — before the holiday season. It looks like they will be able to keep that promise, as bug comments on theirGoogle Code site for the project indicate that the OS has already hit “RC” status — also known as “Release Candidate”. As far as I can tell, it achieved this milestone in the past few days or so, and the most recent build would seem to be 0.9.78.1 (or RC 78.1). When that number evens out to “1″, we can probably expect Chrome OS to be ready to go.
Further, the most recent updates in this thread from three days ago twice have a Google employee referencing a November 11 date. “We will push this after November 11,” the employee writes in response to a question about a specific feature. The same employee then references that date again later. It’s hard to tell for sure if that’s the date Google is targeting for the Chrome OS launch, but it certainly seems inline with everything else we’ve heard.
It’s also possible that November 11 will be a final code freeze and Chrome OS could ship a week later — maybe on the 1 year anniversary of their unveiling event last November? It’s worth nothing that the Chrome Web Store is due out this month — that will obviously be very useful for Chrome OS as well. And yes, you can probably expect at least one U.S. carrier to be on board with the official launch.
More indications that Google is quickly approaching a first build of Chrome OS includes what they’re actually working on now. Screensavers, sign-in screens, and highlight colors — in other words, a lot of UI elements, the icing on the cake.
I’ve reached out to Google for comment and will update if I hear back.
Since Chrome OS is an open source project (well okay, technically, Chromium OS is), it’s fun to take a look at the Google Code page for it from time to time to see what progress is being made. Most of it is tech-speak-heavy, but every now and again they throw in a nice little mock-up of some new features/functionalities/designs.
Tonight, we got a tip about how Google is envisioning Chrome OS to look these days. As you can see from the first image below, the design has been simplified quite a bit. While it’s still basically just Chrome (the browser), a lot of the unnecessary clutter we saw early on has been removed. As you can also see from the image, you’ll be able to browse without being logged in to a Google account.
Based on the images below, Chrome OS definitely seems to be progressing nicely. When we last looked in May, the mock-ups for the OS looked great, but there was still a lot of work to be done on the OS itself. From the looks of things today, that work is certainly getting done. Still, don’t expect to see Chrome OS on actual systems anytime before the Fall.
More substantial seems to be a new side tabs bar option. This replaces the tabs currently found at the top of Chromium OS (and Chrome). Also in this sidebar is time, battery, and WiFi indicators (normally at the top of Chromium OS, as well). And there appears to be a little smiley icon, perhaps indicating some sort of message? This icon is found all over Chromium OS these days.