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Archive for June, 2010

Chrome OS: Why so much confusion?

June 14th, 2010 4 comments

Earlier this morning I was reading this article from the author (Garett Rogers) and it just seemed to me that the author is a bit confused about Chrome OS and its purpose alongside the audience it caters to. The same could be said with some of the people responding to his post. Note I am not attacking anyone here, just merely writing my view on what Chrome OS intends to deliver.

Extract from article:

Google’s idea of an operating system that consists of only a web browser sounds interesting, and unfortunately, very restrictive. There are a staggering number of applications out there that people use on Windows/Mac/Linux machines — any of which would give enough reason to avoid switching operating systems.

He goes on to explain a feature Google is designing into the Chrome OS that functions similar to a remote desktop.

It just seems that through all this hype of Google’s much anticipated release of its Chrome OS, many look to it as Google’s replacement to all competing Operating System when the reality shows that this will not be the case.

First of all, let us look at the audience this new OS is catering to: someone who pretty much uses the web for everything (i.e. entertainment, productivity, communications, etc.). Someone like my wife would fall under this category. For the past 2-3 years I have had my wife using a Linux-based operating system. She is no different than your traditional PC user. Except for a few rare cases in which she would need to rely on a local application, everything else she does is accomplished on the web: Facebook, e-mails, e-Bay, Amazon, streaming music/videos, chatting, online banking, etc. If she needed to word processor or spreadsheet, I am sure I can help her configure a Google Docs account but for now, she uses OpenOffice.org. I can see someone like my wife utilize the Chrome OS with no issues. It will do everything that she needs to do.

As for me on the other hand, it is a bit too limited and restrictive. I also feel the same way about Microsoft Windows, but that is another story. The point I am trying to make is that there are many people like my wife out there who would be just fine with a setup like the Chrome OS. It will not be for everyone.

Second, let us look at packaging. Do we know how this new OS will be packaged onto the netbook, tablet, or other mobile device? Again, the OS will be installed on mobile devices. That means, it is not intended for intense workload. If you are a casual user then this would not be a problem.

Also relating to packaging, I remember reading in early reports about the Chrome OS that it will be delivered as a dual-booted system alongside another full-blown operating system (insert Microsoft Windows, Ubuntu Linux, etc.). Chrome OS is an instant on with quick access to the internet solution. Within seconds you are up and running and should have access to your local drive(s). If that is the case, then the concern for using special purpose applications means nothing here; as you could reboot into the other operating system and do what you need to do.

Third, let us look at its limitations. We know that it will look to the web for web-based services and solutions to work with and utilize. At least to my knowledge and at this point it will not allow the user to install any applications. Files on the other hand (i.e. images, music, etc.) are a different story. These limitations and restrictions is what will increase the security of the OS. Without the ability to install potentially malware infected programs, the threats of the Internet are much less. But this goes back to my discussion of the intended audience. People like my wife will not need to install anything. Everything will already be available to them.

What Chrome OS is not:

  • It was never intended to be a replacement for Microsoft Windows, Mac OS X, or any of the Linux/UNIX -based distributions.
  • It is not going to cater to everybody’s style in computing.
  • It will not necessarily bring everything that you are looking for in an OS (see previous statement).

Chrome OS is a solution, but a solution that will not be intended for everyone. It may succeed. It may fail. Who knows? This is why we have choices. If this operating system does not meet your requirements, then you will find something else. I just don’t understand why we keep on comparing this solution to others that are drastically different.

Categories: Linux Tags:

Compatible with…(insert operating system)

June 10th, 2010 16 comments

I don’t get it. Or maybe I am not expected to understand it. Yesterday I went to a local Best Buy retail store to pick up a USB Flash Drive. After doing a quick price comparison I ended up purchasing the Geek Squad (the Best Buy) branded product. The next day I took the device into work and just as I was about to open it I quickly glanced at the back of the package and noticed:

Compatible with Windows 2000 SP4/Windows XP/Windows Vista/ Windows 7, Mac OS 10.x and above.

What about Linux? Coincidentally this device was getting plugged into and used only by a Fedora Linux system. Now I know that this would have worked (despite the package’s information) and not have any problems with ANY Linux and for the most part almost all UNIX -based operating systems. The device (as all other USB Flash Drives) are labeled with a FAT32 file system and Linux, like any other OS kernel can read a FAT32 labeled volume with no problems. On top of that, most mainstream distributions (if not all) enable automount and an auto open of USB storage devices. The user doesn’t need to do it themselves, similar to Windows and the Mac OS. So what is the problem? Why couldn’t the package say “Linux 2.6 and above” or something to that extent?

You would think from a marketing point-of-view it would have been wise to place this on the package for individuals new to the world of Linux and unsure about a few things. Maybe someone new to Ubuntu or Mint or even SUSE just got a netbook with a preloaded Linux-based image on it. They are looking to find some hardware compatible with it and wait a minute the Geek Squad USB Flash Drives sold at Best Buy do not say that they will work. There is a lost sale.

Some of you may think that this is not such a big deal and that I am thinking too deep into this. I don’t disagree. I am thinking too deep into this, but it is only because I am still surprised when I come across things like this. For instance, not too long ago I was looking at laser printers and guess what some said on it (I specifically remember Lexmark):

…compatible with Linux

I remember buying a pack of labels to print names and addresses, guess what the package of labels said on the back:

…compatible with Linux

The list goes on. Whether end-user market share for Linux is 1%, 0.01% or 100%, manufacturers need to get used to the fact that its market share is creeping up especially with the huge influence Linux holds on mobile devices. For instance, when the Android-based tablets come out, people are going to be looking for:

…compatible with Linux” or “…compatible with Android

Categories: Linux, Microsoft, UNIX Tags: