Suddenly computers are a bit more for everyone.

From Digitimes, a Taiwan-based tech news company which has been around for 12 years:

Global brand vendors are expected to launch their new generation smartbooks featuring the Google Chrome operating system (OS) later this month (November), while Google also plans to launch its own-brand Chrome notebook with a similar strategy as its Nexus One smartphone, according to sources from component players.

Google’s Chrome notebook is expected to be manufactured by Inventec with initial shipments to reach 60,000-70,000 units. The Google Chrome notebook will feature an ARM-based platform and will not be selling through retail channels.

The reason this is a big deal is because this is likely to be extremely fast and highly stable. It’s based on the Linux kernel (a fast, lightweight stable and powerful operating system, whose derivatives are used in most servers, all Android smartphones, and a lot of PCs around the world) and can apparently boot in under 10 seconds, including login.

“Telling the story of Google Chrome and how it inspired an operating system.”

It’s also open-source (you may have guessed by it being based on Linux). That means it is free. It also means anyone who wants to develop or modify it, can.

And someone has. The source code was released about a year ago, even though Chromium has not officially released. And a dude known as Hexxeh downloaded, expanded upon and released his own version. It can fit on a 2GB flash drive and functions as an entire operating system. Check out if your system is compatible, then get one version here.

Why does this matter?

  • It’s a free operating system. And it will run smoothly and quickly on cheap, lightweight machines. The main reason people don’t have computers is that they cost too much.
  • Netbooks can be as cheap as a couple hundred dollars, maybe cheaper when you find a great deal—you can mow lawns for a summer and make more than that (or rake leaves for one autumn).
  • You can get a more powerful system in a PC case (sacrifice in mobility, but who cares) for as cheap as $65 through Free Geek—a group local to Portland whose goal is to make computers more accessible to everyone. You could also get one for no money by volunteering for a bit. The PCs you get from Free Geek come loaded with Ubuntu, another free operating system.

Ubuntu is great, but the Chrome OS should be even faster on lightweight machines, because it has even less work to do. This means one could build/use a computer with what would otherwise be considered obsolete parts, and it will run fine.

Which means everyone can plug in. Which means more people can access free course material from MIT, or Khan Academy. Anyone can learn anything, and anyone can do anything.

This isn’t all thanks to Google, by the way. But the Chrome OS will sure help.

Prepare for updates on its official release.


One thought on “Suddenly computers are a bit more for everyone.

  1. The idea is really amazing and simple at the same time.
    However, there are several restrictions for it: 1) nothing will substitute your files storing on your PC, 2) to use Chrome OS one will have to have unlimited cheap Internet that is a dream (at least for my country) 3) the OS will be OK for those who use only Internet and nothing more.

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