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Home - Chrome OS (google.com)
142 points by bound008 on Dec 7, 2010 | hide | past | web | favorite | 102 comments

"Nothing but the web"?

"Nothing but the web"??

How can you be so tantalizingly close to such a glorious tagline as "Nothing but net" and not use it?


I saw "Nothing but net" used as a slogan for a dialup Internet product in 1995. It was a little too precious, even fifteen years ago.

That's even worse than the AOL demo CDs I got which said, in enormous letters, "56K TURBO!"

Has our collective taste improved since then? It often seems that way.

Makes one think... If fifteen years ago someone thought that dialup makes everything that's not online obsolete, they were of course gravely wrong. What does this say about Chrome OS? Will we sitting in 2025, smirking about the naivete that made some think that in 2010 nothing but the web is required?

There are several trademarks for "nothing but net". I didn't find any for "nothing but web" but there may be some in process applications that I can't see.

Could have said "nothing but 'net".

Wow, the pilot program applications are significantly different depending on where you're coming from.

This is the form linked from the above site: https://services.google.com/fb/forms/cr48advanced/

And the form linked from within Chrome's new tab page: https://services.google.com/fb/forms/cr48basic/

Edit: Also amusing, one of the options for "Which program do you use to listen to music most often?" is "Dude with a guitar on the corner."

I think they may have messed up a bit on the pilot application; I applied using the long form, but it forced me into choosing a State (list of 50 USA states) even though I selected my country to Canada. I understand that they only want US residents right now (Verizon-tied), but as a web form it doesn't make any sense.

We'll see what happens. :)

I thought the same thing - and then read the fine print:

> I understand that Google will only ship the device to a US-based address and cannot send this device to a P.O. Box or address outside of the US.

The most interesting page to me is this one:


I think Google is far more ambitious in the business space than most people realize. They are aiming directly at Microsoft's empire. Consider the amazing TCO for a business that deploys only Google Apps and ChromeOS notebooks to its employees. Obviously, Google Apps are not quite good enough yet, but Google knows this is a long term project. The apps are constantly improving and at the same time people are steadily migrating to the web for many of their workflows anyway. At some point it'll get really hard to justify spending $1-2k up front plus IT overheads per employee when you could get it for virtually nothing with a ChromeOS notebook.

Irony: clicking on the "Chromium and Open Source" link gives you a "you must upgrade your Adobe Flash plugin" message.


I really want to try one of these, but I can't lie to Google. I don't use the Web for anything. I listen to music with xmms2 on the command-line. I write in Emacs. I read my email in Emacs. I download TV shows from Usenet.

I realized that Emacs is the Chrome OS, except with 25 years of libraries and applications to show for it.

For someone with 23544 karma, I think you use the web quite a bit, even if it's from within Emacs.

No, it means I submit comments to Hacker News :)

I use the web for visiting websites, but that's only a very small part of my day. Most everything I do for fun or socialization or for creative purposes I do without the web. I may publish my stuff to the web, but it's a medium, not a tool. A painter wouldn't say he spends a lot of time working with magazines, even if most people know his paintings from one.

Anyway, I'm not criticizing the idea of Chrome OS. Like I said, Chrome is basically a pretty Emacs, which is a great environment. But it won't work for me today.

(Would I buy a Chrome OS tablet, just for reading random crap on the web? You bet! But I wouldn't commit to using one as my primary computer, because I wouldn't be able to do anything I want to do.)

Why do you assume Google only wants testers who already use the web for every application? They may seek feedback on the transition process, which many potential customers face. That is, unless this is targeted squarely at children.

so do you browse the web with emacs as well or what is your primary browser?

That was a great idea to put a "search" key in place of a caps lock key. I search all the time, and haven't (intentionally) used caps lock once my entire life.

Seriously – good riddance. Now what could the "insert" key be replaced by?

What about those of us who use CAPS LOCK as another CONTROL key (for Emacs)?

I think your missing the fact that Emacs wont run on this OS.

Emacs won't run? Then why would I want to use it? What about all my Lisp code?

And why on earth do I want to give Google so much control of my OS? And full control of my laptop? Maybe I should just give bots from outer space full control of my workspace.

Not sure this OS is for you.

Why is this being upvoted? It neither contributes to the conversation nor is it interesting. It amounts to uninformed opinion dreg.

You can share opinions on HN. It is my opinion that ChromeOS is more than a little likely to fail. There is too much the web can't replace. And the Chrome web app store? Meh. I hope it fails. I'd love to start paying $4 for all those crappy flash/javascript games. "Installing" web pages? Who came up with this nonsense?

See. I just shared some opinions. Feel free to share your own.

Our opinions also amount to reviews. This is a new product, and we're speculating about how we would review it had we tried it.

Actually it will run, you can switch to console mode and install any app you want.

You're right, I didn't know that. I would imagine, though, that Emacs will eventually be ported to Chrome.

Web-based "Emacs": http://www.ymacs.org/

Awesome - they've fixed C-n since this was first posted on HN!

You'll be able to do that within Chrome OS.

I didn't notice that. I hope you can swap it out with control. I've used that for so long it would be annoying to have to relearn.

How do you type acronyms like NASA?

It's faster to hold shift. Caps Lock + n + a + s + a + Caps Lock is 6 keys, vs Shift + n + a + s + a is only 5 keys.


But I use both fingers for the letters in NASA so I would normally have to hold 2 different shift keys. Are you saying you hold just one shift and type the rest of the letters with your other hand

Hold left shift with left pinky. Type n-a-s-a with both hands. I honestly have no idea how else you would do it. Hitting caps lock seems like such a waste of time.

How is it a waste of time when caps lock is as close to my little finger as shift is and I can type normally for those few letters?

Because you have to press it twice. I tried both and shift was definitely easier.

Except that NASA has two a's -- which I would normally type with my left pinky. // That being said -- I instinctively type it exactly as you describe.

I hold the left shift key and type NASA with the rest of my fingers. Just because a finger is tied up holding down a key doesn't mean the rest of the fingers cannot also be used. :)


Maybe emacs loses this round...


or legacy table names

I have no idea whats the big deal about Chrome OS. Didn't a lot of OEM's already have this kind of functionality?

Atleast my 1.5 yr old Sony VAIO has a Web button, which boots the system to slightly stripped down version of Firefox without booting OS. Its also very fast, boots in 10-20 seconds and runs flash content too.

There is business strategy involved as well. Google wants to reduce its dependency on Apple and Microsoft. Unless you were a GNU+Linux/BSD enthusiast, you were accessing their products from a laptop running the software of one their competitors. Similarly, this is one of the reasons for Android. They could have just made apps for the iPhone, Windows phone, RIM, etc, but they made apps for the iPhone and Android to help reduce the dependency and give themselves more freedom

.. then why didn't they give us a free OS X instead of a locked down platform?

...because that would still tie them to Apple.

I share your confusion. If all I want to run is a browser, I can easily achieve that today. The only point in its favor I can see is that it removes "attractive nuisances" for users that only use email and a browser, but I don't see anything it offers to geeks or even moderately knowledgable users.

Every major OS out there caters to people who don't run the browser 100%. I don't need Evolution, Gedit, Rhythmbox, Gwitter, Empathy, or any other app that gets shoved on my Ubuntu whenever I install and downlaod the netbook version. And that's the open source operating system!

A simple solution is to uninstall all of those after your install. There is simply no need to make a spinoff simply for that purpose.

Even better way is try installing Arch Linux, you only get what you install.

I run Windows 7 Ultimate on a $219 Aspire One that I added a decent 60GB SSD to ($100) and an extra 9 cell battery $59. Between both batteries, I have enough charge to last my from Barcelona to San Francisco with a 4 hour layover at JFK. And, I have a full web experience, any files I need are perfectly synced without any hassle via Dropbox. And, I can use most any desktop software I like.

3G service from most any carrier that I've tried is barely adequate for surfing the web on my Android cell phone. I would hate to have to rely on 3G service for all external storage for my computer.

I don't see how eliminating local storage on my computer and putting all my data on Google's servers is better than having access to that data locally. Random access to an SSD is 10^(3-4) ns, a random seek on disks with spindles is 10^(6-7)ns and a packet sent round trip across the country is 10^(8-9)ns.

I can buy a 16GB flash drive at Frys for $15. When local storage is so ubiquitous and cheap, I don't understand why would you want to develop an OS that relied on packet transfer for permanent storage rather than local storage with delayed synchronization.

It's not like having local permanent storage is much of a hindrance. I've never said, "Damn, if I could only get rid of 60GB of local storage on my computer, every thing would be great". I do find myself cursing my lack of network coverage on a regular basis, however.

I suppose that it makes sense if you are Google and you want as much of people's data on your servers so you can money by mining that data. Aside from that, I just don't get it.

Doesn't it have an offline mode? I'd expect there tobe one, with syncing to the cloud behind the scenes.

It runs web-based applications, not legacy PC software

When did PC software become legacy?

My experience is that "legacy" refers to "any software that we want to put down or don't want to support 100% any more", so I guess Google decided all native software was legacy the minute they announced Chrome OS.

I've seen the same thing happen with code internally - a developer writes an untested replacement for a component and then instantly declares the old version "legacy", even though it still works fine.

It could be worse...

"Netscape will soon reduce Windows to a poorly debugged set of device drivers." — Marc Andreessen (1995)

Yeah, I agree. I know I've often described all IE<9 as being legacy browsers, when IE8 is actually the current stable.

I'm a little uncomfortable about the wording of this sentence too. Perhaps if they were called traditional desktop apps, I would've been happier.

I still like to run a lot more desktop apps and some things are just not there as a webapp, or certainly not as tweakable. But I can give Google that much, I'm perhaps not their target audience. Which is also fine by me. What I'm worried about is the mom-pop people who will use it in the appropriate fashion, will have young kids also using them. I don't want to sound like the old guard here and I'm happy to see Google making real progress in making computing for everyone, but there is something about running my first Basic program on my parent's computer or accidentally fdisk'ing the whole thing, that I hope the nextgen of geeks don't get to miss out on. With wording such as 'legacy software', I just hope they somehow come to tinker with the OS too rather than just seeing better webapps.

Probably when SysAdmins did too, as I believe the ChromeOS program manager was quoted along those lines the other day. The wording was closer to pink slipping them completely, but I'm going off the top of my head here.

I think the pilot program is about right for something as bold as how they're marketing this. Putting as many of these in the hands of the very people they're pissing at and saying "ok, you tell us then" is the only way to change some minds. If they don't ship 100,000 of these to smart people, I can't see it taking off.

The marketing is horrendous otherwise. A new sort of web based platform? I get that, I'm ok with that. A new sort of product that has marketing materials telling me my opinions are bullhookey and a PM that wants to see me out of a job is another.

I think that is precisely their mindset. For 99% users, once you move office-suite applications to the cloud, 99% of their computer use is on websites. Therefore, the operating system and "legacy" PC software should fade from view.

Native apps became legacy on June 24, 2010. [release date of first iPhone :)]

Don't worry, they will become cool again for chrome OS in another year or so.

[oops, copied the wrong date from wikipedia. you get the idea...]

What a poor survey. These notes are about the Developer version.

The final question is, "If selected, will you use this Chrome notebook as your primary computer and provide regular feedback?" This should have been the first question so people didn't have to waste their time filling out the survey if they won't use the machine as their #1 machine.

How many developers would use a Chrome OS netbook as their primary computer? A secondary computer (think tablet) sure, but for doing their day-to-day coding?

I've used a tiny Viao (pre-netbook era) as a main (home) development machine, but that had a full Linux OS and was unusual.

Other issues:

- Have to provide a US state even for people outside of the US

- Item labeled "Primary Email" with a note, "If you have a Gmail address, please supply that."

- Can only answer once to, "Which OS do you use most of the time?" (How about people who use two OSes equally?)

- Similar problem for, "Which web browser do you use most of the time?". (Different browsers on different computers? Using multiple main browers at the same time?)

- "What type of device do you use most frequently?" Again, only one answer. (I use laptop, desktop and ipad extensively)

- "How do you check your email most often?" single option. (How about people who, you know, check both work and personal email?)

- "Which apps or tools do you use at least once a week?". It names specific applications. Hard to tell if "Adobe Reader" is meant as a proxy for "PDF Viewer" or not.

- "How do you connect to the Internet most often?" only a single answer...

- (snip: other questions with only single answers that should allow multiple)

> How many developers would use a Chrome OS netbook as their primary computer?

Boom, right here. That said, they might send you one even if you don't use it as the #1.

Also, I think your form was borked. There were several things you encountered that I didn't.

So... Google has two OSes now, Android and ChromeOS. One is for mobiles and pads, one is for.. what?

Computers. You know, the ones with keyboards and mice.

That's the part that confuses me. Computers are traditionally more powerful and flexible than SmartPhones / tablets but a computer running ChromeOS is actually more limited than an iOS or Android device at this point.

Most computer users are not powerusers and they don't need a powerful PC or OS. Current operating systems are over complicated for casual users and limitations work as an advantage for people like my parents. They shouldn't need to understand what a file system is, everything should just work in the background.

Then think about it in terms of form factor and input devices: computers have physical keyboards and indirect relative pointing devices. Tablets and smartphones are touch-based, with (so far) no haptic feedback and lower precision of pointing, but the advantages of direct pointing.

How nineties.

In the consumer space, they're on the way out, pads are taking over.

Don't forget the bastard Google TV OS (it's Android, but not as we know it).

I was under the impression that both ChromeOS and Android were just Linux distros, not new OSs.

Netbooks and notebooks.

this is the worst thing eswat has posted yet.

"Waitlessness means never having to wait for the the web. "

Seriously, Google?

So is there any concept of "files" and/or "folders" on the hard drive of these computers? If so, is there a file explorer app to manage them? Or is it black-boxed, like an iP(hone|ad|od)?

The Pilot program is open to individuals, businesses, schools, non-profits and developers based in the United States.

Sad faces for people in the UK.

OT but nice minimalist design.

Excuse me, but what is OT?

Off topic

Chrome OS is just another step in the division of labor. Instead of managing our data ourselves, it pushes us even further than most other products so far to let others take care of it for us. It'll be there when we want it, and probably better organized, too.

And, for a lot of people, security is a concern, but in the background. A fly buzzing by the screen door, but not something that would keep them from taking an easy option from a company that 'knows the answer to everything'.

So, for most people, what's not to like?

Anyone know why they switched the shortcut for "view shortcuts" from the Gmail/ Google Reader "?" button (shift+/) to "Ctrl+Alt+/"? Seems strange to me, as "?" makes intuitive sense and adding a modifier key (like ctrl) would be sufficient to distinguish between shortcuts in Gmail and those in the OS.

Ctrl-? opens the help application. We had to add another modifier for the shortcuts.

Makes sense. Thanks.

US only :(

I've tried applying from Poland without any error messages appearing at least.

It's rather confusing though; why have a country drop-down if it's only open to US residents?

My guess is that they'll use it to gather demographics of people interested in the device. There was a ton of information to fill in that I'm sure any marketer would love to have.

Probably so that people think it's OK to apply from other country and do so rather than use some friend's or temporary address in the US to get the notebook.

Here's hoping Alabama doesn't have any towns with same name as my little UK town!

It just looks like a web browser. I thought Chrome OS was going to be a nice user interface which had websites appear like native apps. Instead, it's just a web browser. Not impressed at all. I expected more.

Could you be a bit more specific about what you were expecting? Did you think they could make it magically shoehorn web apps into a desktop metaphor? What more does it need than just a web browser, given that the whole point of Chrome OS is to be just a web browser?

It's a fair criticism. If the OS is a web browser, why use tabs? They just steal valuable screen real estate. Replace them with a windowing system where each page/app gets its own resizeable window, and you can reclaim some of the virtues of a desktop metaphor.

Are overlapping or tiled windows really that useful for web apps being squeezed in to a low-end 12" laptop screen?

They've got a system for chat windows and notifications to show up on top of the main window, and they've got a full-screen button to hide all the window decorations. The only real use a more complex window manager would have is enabling you to show two documents side by side, but I doubt that the horizontal screen resolution is high enough for that to work with most web apps.

I do think that overlapping and tiled windows are very useful for a 12" screen. They're certainly highly useful and desirable on my 13" Macbook screen.

But how many web apps (or any web sites) are actually useful when reduced to a width of 640px? Almost everything on the web these days is designed for a width that's far more than half of the 1280px that is the widest reasonable estimate for the Cr-48's screen. I've measured GMail, Picasa, and Google Docs as needing 795px, 813px, and 889px, respectively, and Pandora with its ads wants a window more than 1000px wide. If Google's going to show off side-by-side multitasking on a ChromeOS notebook, they'll have to use somebody else's web apps.

If "the cloud" starts to tread on more serious territory and people reach the point where they're willing an able to do things on the web that they would previously use a $1000+ computer for, then Google will have to revisit Chrome OS's basic paradigm. But until then, the main purpose for Chrome OS is to make a true netbook.

There are several applications for OSX which take a website and make it appear more like a native app.

The Windows Start Bar, the OSX dock, the OSX dashboard are all much nicer methods for managing apps than how ChromeOS appears to do it, and they've all been around for years. Google should have come up with something better than these for ChromeOS, not worse.

Looks like it's for US only, but the form allows me to change to another country. Any idea why?

Pilot selection is US only for now.

Oh wow, nice design - I hope they start selling those. Shame the pilot is US only :-(

>"Base Bamp"

Check, wait, no, uncheck.

Chrome OS: The Closing of Open.

Are Chrome tablets coming out?

Not in the near term. During the Q&A, several questions were asked about tablets, including how the rise of iOS and Android tablets have affected the team's conception of what an ideal device would look like.

In all instances, the ChromeOS team members reiterated that from the very first day, their vision was to address the notebook form factor, because they're attempting to build a platform that can be used as their own primary device.

Free Laptop will arrive, when my free google TV arrives.

How else can you get people to fill out a survey?

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