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exp(x)

Google Chrome Notebook

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I applied to test drive one two days ago and it showed up at my doorstep this morning unexpectedly. The thing is quite sexy and feels extremely high quality. If you don't already know, Chrome OS is basically the web browser turned into an operating system. I use Gmail and Google Calendar all the time, and I've been meaning to use Google Docs more. Obviously this isn't a replacement for my other laptop or desktop because I cannot run my engineering applications or compile code, but it's great for recreational use.

Conclusion: Embrace your overlords.

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exp(x) said:

I applied to test drive one two days ago and it showed up at my doorstep this morning unexpectedly. The thing is quite sexy and feels extremely high quality. If you don't already know, Chrome OS is basically the web browser turned into an operating system. I use Gmail and Google Calendar all the time, and I've been meaning to use Google Docs more. Obviously this isn't a replacement for my other laptop or desktop because I cannot run my engineering applications or compile code, but it's great for recreational use.


It's a computer that you could give to your grandparents, and you wouldn't have to worry too much about the operating system's survival because of all of the Windows crud floating around on the Big Bad Internet.

Where did you sign up for the demo?

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spicyjack said:

Where did you sign up for the demo?

There was a pop-up in the Chrome new tab window. I use the beta version.

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Partition36 said:

What's the performance like? And is there any sort of terminal app?

Performance is decent for web browsing. It has an Atom N455 and 2GB of RAM. Interestingly, the option for 720p is not present on YouTube videos that normally have it.

Also, no command line :(

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There used to be a trick to get to the command line before the newest version of ChromeOS was released. It was based on Ubuntu at the time, though.


Also, in before someone says this is a big brother notebook, yadda yadda. Cause a post like that is so short sighted it isn't worth humoring a rebuttal post.

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There's a jailbreak switch under that battery that allows you to boot non-Google OS images, but I'm not brave enough to play with it yet.

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Definitely not for me (I <3 my command line) but I can see how this could be a useful operating system for the older generation or simply people who just want to browse the internet. I'd need flexibility though, but then again, its a netbook, so that might be asking for too much.

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Csonicgo said:

There used to be a trick to get to the command line before the newest version of ChromeOS was released. It was based on Ubuntu at the time, though.

I remember a year ago, you could just use Ctrl-Alt-F1 to get to a text mode tty... the Chrome part of the OS was just a fullscreen X11 window. I don't know if they've disabled the VT switching since then though.

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I dunno, this seems to combine the worst aspects of devices like the older WebTV and netbooks: too restrictive -someone browsing will, sooner or later, want to download & play some "ULTRA COOL GAME" or view some video with some weird-ass codec, and too weak hardware compared to what people are used to on the desktop -though it may compare favorably to stuff like iPad and Android devices-.

At least in my experience, "pure browsing", even if there is way more you can do within a browser now than in the past, you'll sooner or later hit some limitation e.g. missing plugins.

Then again it could be worse: you could be locked on an Apple product that can't even view youtube videos without a ton of hacks that surely don't qualify as "it just works™". But I'm sure this one will have its own share of those, maybe not as bad. The whole idea is to limit the user to a precise application market, although at least with the Android platform Google has been lax and open enough, until now.

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Maes said:

Obligatory Maes Apple Butthurt

Did Apple rape and murder your first born child whilst disguised as you in front of the whole town or something? Seriously dude, get over yourself.

Anyway, what I'm mostly interested in with ChromeOS is how it handles those times when you absolutely positively need local storage of some kind. Like, can you plug a camera in a check out your photos anywhere, can you plug a flash drive in to view some documents, even though you'll have to edit them with Google Docs or what have you, etc. Because if it doesn't handle any local anything at all it's definitely going to fail pretty badly. We aren't at the point that using web everything is a viable option, hell even Android phones have plenty of storage for media and the like. On the other hand if it can manage those sorts of things, it might actually be a fairly viable netbook OS for most people.

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Hobbs said:

Obligatory Hobbs Apple Butthurt


You sir are seriously misinformed. Plus my more recent experiences with both a MacBook and an iMac 22" just confirmed what is plain obvious: Macs are nothing more than overpriced personal computers that just happen to have a decent OS now but suffer from a terrible vendor lock in and planned obsolescence at all levels.

These facts combined make them lose practical value extremely quickly (design/collector value is another thing).

Apple pride and fanboyism aside, I don't know how someone can overlook the fact that you can run more modern stuff on a 2000 Pentium III PC with Windows XP than on that Power PC relic from the same era, and it's no mystery who is to blame for that state of things. Unless you ditch OS X for Ubuntu or Debian, of course, but who the hell gets a Mac to run Linux on it?

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Read the post again please, then we're talking.

And yeah, I consider not being able to run stuff on an OS released in 2005 (OS X Tiger) quite gripe-worthy, hardware notwithstanding. Modern Macs are infinitely more versatile, being Intel and all, and they may even be (gasp) a better investment compared to e.g. a prebuilt Gateway or Dell PC. There, I said it.

However that doesn't change the fact that there has been, there still is and there will always be an asphyxiating vendor lock-in which affects how long you'll be officially "allowed" to use your Mac. E.g. it's ridiculous to lock G3s and G4s out of OS X 10.5, and thus losing access to a lot of applications (yeah I know you can cheat and install it anyway, but seriously, is the average Apple user such a hacker?)

Maybe hardcore Apple fans have learned to live with major application breaks and architecture changes every now and then (and yet, there are still PowerPC and OS 9 afficionados that never liked the Intel/OS X bandwagon anyway), but hell, even LINUX users are used to more consistency and application longevity.

The worst thing about Apple fanboyism is that the "aggressor" never self-identifies:

  • Are you a developer that develops on Apple? (A developer knows perfectly well the state of things that I've mentioned, and would nod in agreement. Let alone that such a person would choose a PowerMac or PowerBook, rather than the iMac line, and thus would have little do with the "typical" Apple user)
  • Are you a person who uses/has used both Macs and PCs? (I class myself here, and most people in this class I've talked to would agree)
  • Are you mainly a desktop/notebook Apple user, with an Apple as your primary computer? (A few are capable of civilized discussion, but some degenerate to the inferior class of "desktop Apple zealot")
  • Are you a desktop/notebook Apple zealot? (These use only corporate duckspeak, slogans and insults as "arguments", and discussion on rational arguments alone is near impossible).
  • Are you mostly an Apple gadget (iPad/iPod/iPhone) fan? (these are particularly vitriolic, but mostly about the gadgets, not so about the computers)
  • Are you a wannabe Apple product owner? (these tend to be the worst of the bunch, even more than actual owners)

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Maes said:

E.g. it's ridiculous to lock G3s and G4s out of OS X 10.5, and thus losing access to a lot of applications (yeah I know you can cheat and install it anyway, but seriously, is the average Apple user such a hacker?)

Are you also one to complain that you can't install Windows 7 on some old Pentium 2 or 3? Sure there's hacks to force it to get installed, but those machines likely won't have enough RAM to make it remotely usable.

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chungy said:

Are you also one to complain that you can't install Windows 7 on some old Pentium 2 or 3?


Actually you can, but that's beyond the point. The point is that there's no specific vendor lock-in or check to actively prevent you from doing so, apart from having a Pentium (I) CPU and "enough" RAM.

chungy said:

Sure there's hacks to force it to get installed, but those machines likely won't have enough RAM to make it remotely usable.


Alright then, come up with a good reason why I can't "officially" run Google Chrome on my PowerMac G4 with 640 MB RAM just because the OSX requirement has been arbitrarily set to 10.5. It rans damn fine on a Pentium III under either XP or Debian, and with half the RAM. N.B., I took that PowerMac from 128 to 640 MB, and it could be -in theory- expanded to a full blown 1.5 GB, so RAM could cease being an issue.


However as usability goes... TBQH I find the performance of a G4 even with 640 MB of RAM on Tiger and even on the older Panther quite unexceptional -it's sometimes better, sometimes worse than a Pentium III of comparable age, and from user reports I've read around installing Leopard doesn't change much performance wise, other than breaking certain apps.

For the rest, what really makes using modern apps like e.g. Mozilla or Battle for Wesnoth a pain is the RAM: those hogs will eat as much RAM as on a PC (perhaps more, which is really the main bottleneck on a system where it comes at a premium -if you have a PowerMac with PC-133 slots-.

Still, in my "simplistic" PC user mindset, nobody should artificially preclude me, as a user, to at least try and run an application. Seriously, AFAIK there are no Vista or 7-only Windows applications (and if there are they must be the exception rather than the rule). Hell, most Win32 stuff will ever run on Windows 98 if you meet the library/DLL requirements, but that's another can of worms.

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Maes said:

Alright then, come up with a good reason why I can't "officially" run Google Chrome on my PowerMac G4 with 640 MB RAM just because the OSX requirement has been arbitrarily set to 10.5. It rans damn fine on a Pentium III under either XP or Debian, and with half the RAM.

I doubt it's been set arbitrarily. I'm sure it was for the same reason Win7's minimum RAM is set for 1GB when it can easily run with less: to avoid people with weak hardware and little computer knowledge placing the blame for its poor performance on Microsoft.

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Wow that's an argument with all the strength of a wet toilet tissue if I ever heard one. Let alone that Windows 7 has a 512 MB limit on installation (it will run with less once installed, just like the XP 64 MB limit).

Since when does a software company tries to save face/hide bloat behind greatly overengineered requirements? If anything at least Microsoft tries to do the exact opposite: it advertises near-minimum requirements as "satisfactory" to appeal to a larger customer base, which lead to the initial XP frustration and the Vista fiasco later on.

In the case of Chrome and Leopard, we're talking about a virtually arbitrary OS requirement (the CPU and RAM requirement differences between Tiger and Leopard are almost inexistent), while e.g. Firefox works great. I don't know if Chrome uses some magic that is only possible in Leopard and not Tiger (Keep in mind, we're talking about two OSes that are less than 5 years old! XP is 10 years old and still going strong), but I'm sure it's some bullshit requirement: Firefox works fine, although it's as bad a memory hog as it is on Windows, and I see no reason to be precluded the superior Chrome/Chromium browser just because of the OS version.

Can you imagine if e.g. Chrome only worked in some bullshit version of Windows only like e.g. Vista x64 and not on Vista x32 or XP? It would be totally unacceptable.

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Maes said:

Since when does a software company tries to save face/hide bloat behind greatly overengineered requirements? If anything at least Microsoft tries to do the exact opposite: it advertises near-minimum requirements as "satisfactory" to appeal to a larger customer base, which lead to the initial XP frustration and the Vista fiasco later on.

Actually, I think that's what they specifically tried to avoid this time around.

Ironic, since most netbooks ship with 1GB of RAM and manufacturers love to bog them down with their proprietary shovelware, making them nearly unusable. That, along with Windows 7 Starter - the most ill-conceived use of programming technology I've seen so far. It's horribly crippled, not allowing users to run more than 3 third-party programs at once. There are no better improvements to general performance, other than forcing the default Win7 theme. And forget switching to the even-lighter Classic theme; you have about as much control over tweaks and settings as your average OSX user.

It's ridiculous how they insidiously limit the hardware to do what they think it was meant to. Hell, five years ago I was authoring web pages, reading company mail and editing documents while rendering movie clips in Blender in the background, on comparable hardware.

That rant was a lot longer than I'd planned, but there you go.

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Bucket said:

It's ridiculous how they insidiously limit the hardware to do what they think it was meant to. Hell, five years ago I was authoring web pages, reading company mail and editing documents while rendering movie clips in Blender in the background, on comparable hardware.


Oh yes, I knew I wasn't the only one that saw right through that Win7 Starter bullshit.

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I wasn't aware that they ship a Windows 7 crippleware edition (I knew there was a minimalist XP which IMO is also crap, normal XP can also run fine on the same PCs the "minimalist" is supposed to be run on, with some tweaks).

Still, with Windows you almost never get that sort of planned obsolescence or explicit vendor lock-out. Being warned that "your rig is too old, you might not run software X perfectly" is quite different than being told "Fuck you, we decided that you simply can't run this, and that you don't deserve an explanation either".

The day I see the next version of Chrome or Firefox being "Vista only" I might reconsider, and then it would still be stretch. The only thing that came remotely close to this state of affairs on windows was DirectX 10.0, and even that is still struggling to catch on due to the existing userbase using XP and launch fiascos, and the competition from OpenGL.

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You remind me of installing Bootcamp on Windows 7 x64. Bootcamp told me I wasn't allowed to install it on a 64-bit OS. It didn't give a good reason; it just said I couldn't. So I popped open an elevated command prompt and ran the msi file sitting in Bootcamp's folder. Worked great. Stupid Apple.

Their lock in is worse than telling you what you can run. They even tell you what you can't change. MS builds stuff you can't change (think something like the size of the Start Menu). Apple builds things that try to keep you from changing them. Most of their apps will ignore the settings from their own tweak tool! OSX is completely unusable for anybody who needs anything in large print.

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Maes said:

Actually you can, but that's beyond the point. The point is that there's no specific vendor lock-in or check to actively prevent you from doing so, apart from having a Pentium (I) CPU and "enough" RAM.

You can't reasonably expect such a computer to have enough RAM, not even the 512MB bare minimum Vista and 7 want.

Maes said:

For the rest, what really makes using modern apps like e.g. Mozilla or Battle for Wesnoth a pain is the RAM: those hogs will eat as much RAM as on a PC (perhaps more, which is really the main bottleneck on a system where it comes at a premium -if you have a PowerMac with PC-133 slots-.

Wait, those are your two RAM hog examples? Seriously? They're pretty light as far as applications go. (And as far as browsers go, Google Chrome for Linux is a real waste of RAM)

Maes said:

Still, with Windows you almost never get that sort of planned obsolescence or explicit vendor lock-out. Being warned that "your rig is too old, you might not run software X perfectly" is quite different than being told "Fuck you, we decided that you simply can't run this, and that you don't deserve an explanation either".

Have you looked at first-party Microsoft software? Much of it is dropping support for XP for pretty much no reason at all. Hell, if Vista didn't bomb so badly at launch, you can bet that XP would have been near unusable for modern applications by this point.

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chungy said:

You can't reasonably expect such a computer to have enough RAM, not even the 512MB bare minimum Vista and 7 want.


We will degenerate into debating prebuilt/"Vista ready" vs homebuilt here. However nothing prevents me from popping a grand total of 768 MB into a Pentium III -I have the hardware and means to do it- and install 7. It won't complain -at least not in an installation breaking way- and will let me go on and run whatever can run on an Intel (TM) CPU.

As we say in my country when debating the obvious:

  • Guy A: Jean Claude Van Damme is a martial artist.
  • Guy B: There are better ones.
  • Guy A: But he can still fuck your ass at least once.
So with this whole debate: whether a system will actually be top-notch or rate for a "7" user experience is irrelevant. It still beats any vendor locked-in system fair and square. Aka "fucks it in the ass at least once". No?

chungy said:

Wait, those are your two RAM hog examples? Seriously? They're pretty light as far as applications go. (And as far as browsers go, Google Chrome for Linux is a real waste of RAM)


A 2D RTS game that eats more than 200 MB of RAM is a hog for me. Compare with Doom. And Firefox has a minimum memory consumption at idle of 80-100 MB, and adds nearly 80 MB per tab. That's also a memory hog for me. Compare with IE or Chrome.

chungy said:

Have you looked at first-party Microsoft software? Much of it is dropping support for XP for pretty much no reason at all. Hell, if Vista didn't bomb so badly at launch, you can bet that XP would have been near unusable for modern applications by this point.


The latest Office and Visual Studio are still perfectly usable, and please don't make me repeat the same old tirade of how MS goes out of its way to ensure backwards compatibility -at least until now. If something is coded for the Win32 API, it will work all the way back to Windows 98 unless specifically forbidden, which is NOT common practice in the Windows world.

This ain't the Mac, nor Solaris, nor UNIX. It would simply backfire, because Microsoft can't count on Apple's marketing model which seems capable of imposing even the most compatibility breaking changes upon their users without them even flinching.

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chungy said:

Have you looked at first-party Microsoft software? Much of it is dropping support for XP for pretty much no reason at all.


Have you looked at Mozilla software? Much of it dropped support for win98 for pretty much no reason at all. yet the betas always work. I even compiled the beta version of FF2.0 for Windows 95.

But you know what DOES work in win98? Opera.

So you can take that M$ shit and go home with it.

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Well, M$ actually is in the business of selling OSes, and making something too good can be counterproductive, as would be continuing supporting it, for a whole bunch of technical and legal reasons.

Still, it's always a bummer when phasing out support for an OS/platform is more driven by business and legal decisions than actual technical limitations -as CSonicgo pointed, FF can be compiled in Windows 98, but e.g. Microsoft wouldn't produce a compiler capable of doing so anymore, or go out of its way to keep supporting VS 6.0.

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Csonicgo said:

Have you looked at Mozilla software? Much of it dropped support for win98 for pretty much no reason at all. yet the betas always work. I even compiled the beta version of FF2.0 for Windows 95.

Have you actually looked at <i>why</i> they dropped it? Or why you need such an ancient version of Firefox? Because maintaining Unicode support for Windows 9x/Me required using a totally different API than Windows NT uses, none of the developers have said operating systems to even test it, and the user base is almost non-existent. It wasn't driven for "no reason at all" or being paid off by Microsoft or any silly nonsense like that, it was because the technical resources to maintain such support were just too great for any real benefit.

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chungy said:

It wasn't driven for "no reason at all" or being paid off by Microsoft or any silly nonsense like that, it was because the technical resources to maintain such support were just too great for any real benefit.


And such similar reasons couldn't be why MS is dropping support for XP, right?

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