Friday, January 22, 2010

Ars Technica Chrome OS Interview

Ars Technica writers Jon Stokes and Ryan Paul interviewed Chrome OS engineering director Matthew Papakipos and Eitan Bencuya of Google PR about Chrome OS, its purpose, and what to expect in the future.

Tuesday, December 15, 2009

Dec 15: Language Selector

Chromium OS now has a language selector for changing the user's IME (input method). As seen in the screenshot, clicking the "US" text displays a menu that will change the user's keyboard locale. Clicking "Configure IME..." opens the Chromium OS control panel (the first tab of the options dialog), but there have been no changes to it recently. Linked from the commit message is a page with two flash animations showing text input from different languages with non-Latin characters.

The status area seems to be a viable and common place for new widgets displaying system information. I wouldn't be surprised if it becomes expandable and adds options for more advanced things, like CPU, RAM, and network bandwidth usage, for "power users."

Sunday, December 6, 2009

Dec 11: Views, Menus, Picasa Web Integration

Chromium OS has switched to the Views toolkit, which I understand to be a wxWidgets-like library specific to Chromium. The underlying code still uses Gtk (or whatever the specific platform uses), but the Chromium OS-specific code does not interface directly with Gtk. This makes the code much more portable for other platforms. From what I can tell, Windows uses Views as its main widget library, but Chromium OS has the flag TOOLKIT_VIEWS defined, while Windows does not. Also, relatively recently, the style of bookmark menus has changed. I don't know when the change happened, but they don't seem to be using traditional Gtk drawing.

The "&" before "Bookmark manager" is Windows' system of making the next character underlined and a shortcut if the menu is open. (The Gtk equivalent is the _ character.) This seems like it's directly using Views instead of Gtk. The other numerous menus, such as the status area, page, wrench, and tab menus still use Gtk.

Also, the "Create application shortcuts..." dialog has changed to be like the about and external protocol dialogs; it's directly using Views.

I'm guessing that the code is shared with the Windows code, because I doubt that they'd rewrite it and include 'Desktop' since Chromium OS does not have a traditional desktop. However, I wouldn't be surprised if the 'Applications menu' stays and actually adds it to the main menu currently hosted on Google's servers. Personally, I quite like the appearance, if the X button were to be positioned a bit lower.

Also, the Chromium OS file browser added an option and an icon for uploading pictures to Google's Picasa Web Albums. (I couldn't find it in the interface.) Chromium OS' platform is the web, so tight integration with it is essential. If more additions like this one to the file browser come, we could essentially have the famous "Google Drive."

Saturday, November 21, 2009

The Chromium OS Menu

(Note: I don't know how long this has been the case. I think it's recent)
Previously, the page for the main menu would be inaccessible to anyone without an email address (read: Google employees only). That page now redirects to, and it only needs any Google account. If you use the Developer Tools ... thing, you can make a sidebar visible.

What's interesting is that the file browser entry links to, which I think was used in the original presentation of Chrome OS. Instead of having some cool integration with Microsoft Office files, it directly linked to Microsoft's Live editor. (Pretty weak, I know.) Obviously that feature's still in development.

Thursday, November 19, 2009

(Nov 19) No Secrets

Google has fully open sourced Chromium OS. Everything is now open: bug reports, design documents, etc. Remember the patch that I would provide for every build, commenting out references to libcros? Well, now it's not necessary.

I have not yet had a chance to update my build. (If you want a new one, go here.) I will continue to monitor Chromium OS' now fully open development. However, because (a) the whole project is pretty freaking huge, and (b) I'm more interested in the browser itself than the underlying operating system, I will be focusing on and building only the browser.

I will hopefully post more tomorrow.

PS: Google, if you want this blog URL, I'd be happy to give it to you. :)

Tuesday, November 17, 2009

Third Party Libraries for Chromium OS: Clutter, X, etc.

Normal Chromium has a list of third-party libraries in use, such as ffmpeg and webkit. (The list is available at about:credits, or here.) The Chromium OS version of this has been added. Some additions are no surprise, such as the Linux kernel and the Synaptics library (touchpads). However, the addition of the Clutter toolkit comes as a surprise.

In the original announcement, the phrase "a new windowing system" lead many bloggers and commentors to believe that Chrome OS will not have the X server, which is used in essentially all Linux desktops. However, three additions to this list has me believe that Google meant a new window manager, (e.g. Metacity or Compiz) which would certainly be much less drastic. xserver-xorg-core and xserver-xorg-video-intel (link) along with xscreensaver are included.

Speculation: the window manager will be a fork of Metacity developed by Google. It will support compositing (it is used in many places in Chrome), though it will be trimmed down from normal Metacity.

Friday, November 13, 2009

Friday the Thirteenth: Lots

This has certainly been an exciting week in the Google WebTM. Google introduced the Go Programming Language which may be related to Native Client. NaCl has been making significant progress in Chromium. Google also announced the SPDY protocol to be a faster replacement to HTTP. Google's cloud storage greatly increased. A posting speculates of Linux and Mac betas of Chrome available in December. TechCrunch claims to have reason to believe that the full version of Chrome OS will be officially available within a week. However, most relevant to this blog is the appearance of a file browser in Chromium OS. I updated my copy of Chromium and got the start of the file browser. (For now) Unfortunately, it uses more bits of the cros library that are as of yet unavailable, so there is no real functionality. But I do have a screenshot of it:

Some observations: the link appears to go to the '/home/chronos' folder, which is nonexistent. I don't know if this means Chromium OS has some cool time-bending feature, or if it's just an odd typo. However, in the status bar 'descend' is misspelled as 'decend'.

Also of note, which has been around for a bit though I failed to mention it last time is that Chromium OS cannot open external protocol (eg chat, apt, etc) links. Screenshot:

The window is being drawn by Chromium instead of the window manager, like with the about dialog. This leads me to further believe that all dialogs will have this window border.

I do not have downloads available currently, as I do not currently have enough time to prepare them. I hopefully will tomorrow. And yes, the close button in the screenshot is different. I personally prefer the older window buttons (which were replaced around the time of the Glen incident) to the newer ones, so I will have a separate build for that next time.

PS: If you miss Glen's head watching you, pass --glen to the Chromium command line on any recent enough Chromium on Linux.
PPS: I finally got my Google Wave invite from the kind folks at Google! If you wish to contact me, my username is sharkbaitbobby(at)

Friday, November 6, 2009

The Fifth of November: (r31140) Fuller fullscreen and updated status area

Verily, a vogue version of the voluminously vaporware venture vis-à-vis Chromium OS is available for your voluptuosity. The full view now is more vast; the bar over the view is no longer visible. The visage of the status vicinity varies from the previous. Moreover, an unconventional button has been conceived. I am not versed vis-à-vis its objective; Chromium dies in vain on click.
This verse is becoming excessively verbose; it is very much a vichyssoise of slovenly-chosen verbiage. I advise you to view the screenshot and be vociferous about its value. You may receive a derivative of Chromium OS if you vote to do so.

Download version 29835: Vent open the chromium-os-rxxxxx.tgz archive and activate chromium-os. To receive the very many translations, uncover chromium-os-i18n-rxxxxx.tgz and move the files to the locales/ folder. To get the HTML element inspector, reveal chromium-os-inspector-rxxxxx.tgz and move the inspector/ folder to the resources/ folder.
r31140.diff (39.3kb)

Saturday, October 24, 2009

22 October (r29835): Status area, about dialog

(Yes, I know this is two days ago, but I only had time to compile it, not write this until today. I should get the latest revision later today.)

One thing that's been bothering me was that the status area buttons (battery, network, and the ~main-menu button) wouldn't change at all on mouseover. Fortunately, they do now, and they look quite nice. The third main-menu button got a redesign and is now smaller. The battery button was switched to the left of the network one. Functionally, nothing has changed.

The about dialog got an interesting change: Chromium OS draws a custom border instead of using the standard Gtk one. However, this does not seem to be the case in the normal Chromium. Speculation: all dialogs will be like this, even the about, import, clear data, bookmarks manage and edit, and several other dialogs.

Also, I fixed some things with the diff that a while ago I (for some reason) thought were necessary when they were not. There now is no option to use the standard Gtk window decoration for the main window.

Download revision 29835: Extract the chromium-os-rxxxxx.tgz archive and run chromium-os. To get the many translations, extract chromium-os-i18n-rxxxxx.tgz and move the files to the locales/ folder. To get the HTML element inspector, extract chromium-os-inspector-rxxxxx.tgz and move the inspector/ folder to the resources/ folder (create it if necessary).
r29835.diff (26.1kb)

Saturday, October 17, 2009

17 October (r29376): Date and Time

This is the first of probably and hopefully many posts detailing Chromium OS changes, which I'll be summing incrementally. Instead of talking here about all the differences between Chromium OS and normal Chromium, I'll just point you to these two: and This is a couple days newer than those two links.

This change brought two minor changes: 1) The menu shown by clicking the clock now has an option to "Open date and time options...", and 2) a Timezone selector in the options menu. Clicking the Timezone selector offers shows the many timezone options.

Some other changes: I don't know if it was this way before, but popup windows seem to open in new tabs instead of separate GtkWindows.

Download revision 29376: Extract the chromium-os-rxxxxx.tgz archive and run chromium-os. To get the many translations, extract chromium-os-i18n-rxxxxx.tgz and move the files to the locales/ folder. To get the HTML element inspector, extract chromium-os-inspector-rxxxxx.tgz and move the inspector/ folder to the resources/ folder (create it if necessary).
r27396.diff (21.9kb)

About This Blog

In case you don't know, Google announced its Linux-based operating system, Chrome OS. Chrome is Google's 99% open source web browser. Chromium is its non-Google-branded, 100% open source counterpart. Any and all active development is done on Chromium. Changes will later be applied to the official, Google-branded Chrome.

Chrome OS will also be open source. The main area of the operating system is Chrome itself. Google includes the source code for the Chrome OS version of Chromium/Chrome in Chromium's version control. Changing some build system files and compiling the modified version allow you to have a version of Chromium, with Google's design for netbooks. Chromium OS is the unofficial version of Chrome OS.

I have compiled Chromium OS. (As far as I know, I was one of the first outside of Google to do so.) Chromium OS is under active, open source development. Being the Chrome fan that I am, I set up this blog to track Chromium OS development and news. I'll update my copy of Chromium OS and run it. I'll see what changes there are and take screenshots, and I'll post them on this blog. And very importantly, I'll share my copies of Chromium OS, so you can play with them too. I'll also share the changes I made to make Chromium OS compile, so A) you can hack on it too, and B) Google doesn't sue me for violating the license. :)

Final tally: 12(+1) Chromia, 9(+1) Chromes