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11/30/2009
03:16 PM
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Dell Dabbles With Chrome OS

Owners of Dell Mini 10v netbooks can now try a version of Google's Chrome OS for themselves.

Dell engineers have been experimenting with Chromium OS, the open source project associated with Google's Chrome OS, which was released in preliminary form to developers just over a week ago.

In a blog post last week, Dell technology strategist Doug Anson said that he and a few of his colleagues decided to try to get Chromiume OS running on a Dell Mini 10v netbook.

"Without a network connection, Chromium OS is not very interesting," said Anson. "With a network connection, Chromium OS shines."

Google plans to release Chrome OS to consumers next year as a lightweight Web-centric operating system for netbooks. It has not disclosed its marketing plans other than to state that it is working with hardware partners.

A Google spokesperson declined to comment on whether Dell is one of those partners but said that Chrome OS is open source and that it's exciting to see developers experimenting with it.

In July, Google said that its Chrome OS team was working with Acer, Adobe, ASUS, Freescale, Hewlett-Packard, Lenovo, Qualcomm, Texas Instruments, and Toshiba.

That same month, Anson said in a blog post that Dell planned to evaluate Chrome OS, along with other alternative operating system environments.

He also said that Dell "is very interested in Moblin at present and is working very closely with its key Moblin partners (Intel and Canonical) investigating potential offerings."

Moblin is another open source Linux-based operating system for mobile devices and netbooks.

Google and Dell have a long history of working together. Dell's PowerEdge servers, for example, form the basis of the Google Search Appliance for enterprises.

Gartner analyst Ray Valdes recently recently told InformationWeek that the commitment of Google's partners will play a critical role in determining whether Chrome OS succeeds.

Anson reported that his Chromium build took 12 seconds to boot up; when Google demonstrated Chrome OS earlier this month, the boot time clocked in at 7 seconds.

Anson released a USB key image file that can be used to install Chromium OS, with some support for the Broadcom Wi-Fi adapter. "It's definitely not perfect...," he said. "But it does appear to function."

Update: Story updated with Google's comment.

InformationWeek and Dr. Dobb's have published an in-depth report on how Web application development is moving to online platforms. Download the report here (registration required).

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