back to article Google Cr-48: Inside the Chrome OS 'unstable isotope'

Microsoft gives you the Windows Explorer. Apple gives you the Mac OS X Finder. And Google gives you, well, nothing. With Google's Chrome OS – the browser-based operating system that reached a handful of outside beta testers late last week – there's no ready means of browsing files on your own machine. In their lightning …


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  1. Dodgy Dave
    Thumb Down

    So, Google...

    ...I've got upwards of 20G of MP3s, 60G of digital photos, 100G of VMware images, and a terabyte or so of video sitting in front of me, not to mention 50,000-odd source files and assorted documents.

    If they were already 'on the cloud' I might be able to start using them on Chrome OS. But they're not, and given that I have no more than 448kbps uplink rate it will take _nearly a year of continuous uploading_ to get them there.

    It's a joke, less of a proper computer than an iPod touch.

    1. Samuel Walker

      Missed the point

      Someone needs to learn what netbooks are actually for.

      Netbooks generally aren't meant to handle "20G of MP3s, 60G of digital photos, 100G of VMware images, and a terabyte or so of video sitting in front of me, not to mention 50,000-odd source files".

      They're more meant for web browsing, occasional document editing, perhaps with the odd song thrown in. In other words, for when your out and about. Certainly not hosting VMWare images, or storing a terabyte of video. The odd movie? Perhaps, but even that is pushing netbooks beyond their market.

      It's not designed to be a 'proper computer' at least, not yet - perhaps in 10 years when BlueRays, DVDs, CDs and hard-drives are myths for most people....

      It's designed to be for run-of-the-mill office workers who do document editing (on Google Docs) etc. Or perhaps a general consumer who likes to sit in starbucks and needs to check their e-mail, or download something their smartphone can't open.

      Sometimes I wonder how some commenters here have managed to loose the distinction between the general public, and technophiles.

      1. Anonymous Coward

        were do these people live?

        "for run-of-the-mill office workers who do document editing (on Google Docs) etc. Or perhaps a general consumer who likes to sit in starbucks and needs to check their e-mail, or download something their smartphone can't open."

        Not in any real world I inhabit.

        I know I sound like an old fart now but this is the sort of nonsense that got us into the mess of the 'Dot com' Boom and the current Banking crisis we are trying to extract ourselves from.

        It is the thinking that implies 'Facebook' is an important business communication tool. It is if all you're interested in is presentation. Facebook, twitter and the like are for use by people with too much time on their hands and not enough active matter between their ears. Netbooks and this sort of OS are for those people and we need serious help if that is were technology is taking us.

        1. Samuel Walker

          @AC 09:13

          That is exactly where technology is taking us. The success of Facebook, Twitter et al proves that most internet people do fall into this category. For better of for worse, companies take us where there is demand, and that is where demand lies - with social networking media sites.

          Just because you don't like that direction itself is not reason to deny that that is where we are heading.

    2. Alastair 7

      I can only assume...

      ...that the actual joke in your post is the suggestion that you would somehow have a use for the 100GB of VMware images on your netbook.

      If you use VMWare regularly, you're not the target market for a Chrome OS netbook. I can't believe I had to tell you that. Yet another "Reg readers are not typical computer users" shocker.

      1. DrXym Silver badge

        I don't have huge VMWare images

        But I do have movies I want to play. I do want to play games from Steam etc. I do have times where I am offline. Completely limiting the device so it ONLY works from the cloud is just stupid. I wouldn't put up with a phone like that let alone a netbook.

        1. Samuel Walker


          Sure, but ChromeOS isn't meant to be your main PC.

          How often do you play any Steam game when your out and about, on the train or in starbucks? The percentage of people who do that is tiny.

          1. Anonymous Coward

            So in this case

            why would I spend my money on a yet another device for browsing the Internet ?

    3. Trygve

      On the other hand...

      If you add together all the:

      -Teenagers who never use anything but FaceTubeSpaceTwatRoulette

      -Grandparents who find it a struggle each time they need to write an email

      -Wage-slaves who just want to relax with a bit of iPlayer or Bejeweled after a long day of using their work computer

      Then I think us nerds with terabytes of accumulated gubbins are probably outnumbered 1000:1

      Google might not get anywhere with this in the near term, but the Simple Handy Internet Terminal (c)(R) concept is not such a daft one.

      1. Doug Glass


        "Grandparents who find it a struggle each time they need to write an email". We put a man on the moon and yet can't send email. Of course grandparents come in all flavors, some build PCs for fun and no profit; some just turn them on and off to warm the hovel their kids make them live in.

    4. Doug Glass

      Not A Joke

      Just desperation to make their stockholders more money. That's what corporations do in part, and not coming out with new products is stagnation. And as a money grubbing stockholder in a few corps I say keep up the good work. And bring on the lab rats.

    5. No 3

      The Real World

      Many on this forum, and many reviewers don't seem capable of stepping back for a moment and seeing the world as it is.

      So, here I am to enlighten.

      If you look at you average "young person", they are already at a point where they don't need much "local storage". Most of what they do is ALREADY in the "cloud".

      Look at the iPhone. Hate it or not, it's very popular. The iPhone doesn't have a file explorer. While it does have local storage, many use very little of it, and those that do use the local storage as a mirror of what's in the cloud (your iTunes library).

      As for young people using their laptops, almost EVERYTHING they do is online, they don't use an email client, they use MSN or Yahoo mail. Photos/videos? Facebook and Youtube. The only time they use local storage is when they're uploading something to an online album.

      I myself am an old codger compared to them, and yet most of what I do isn't local. While I don't use "the cloud" as much, I do remotely connect to my home servers for most of what I do. Think of it as a private cloud. The laptops/desktops I use don't really contain much data, it's all centrally stored on my server, so when I'm on the other side of the planet a quick VPN login and I've got all my email, docs and media right there.

      My cell phone? Only thing I have stored on that that isn't in the cloud are the demos videos my phone came with.

      While CromeOS is very "limiting" to some here, for the masses it offers pretty much exactly what they want a computer for these days: a portal to their data.


  2. M Gale

    "Plans providing additional data start at $9.99 a day."

    HAHAHAHAHA... oh hang on, they're serious?

    Chrome. Useful maybe as a dumb terminal, company-owned device or info point. Completely fucking useless as a consumer product, with that kind of a price.

    Mind you, I really don't know what kind of "home user" would bother with this anyway. Businesses, if it comes with enterprise functions and the ability to detach it from Google's spyware, yes. Me? Give me a hard drive, files to put on it and various and sundry backup media.

    Not writing it off yet, not if they get the RDP bit right, but they are going to be screwed if they think this is the next iWotsit.

    1. This post has been deleted by its author

    2. nematoad Silver badge

      Yep, pay, pay and pay again.

      I agree, this is another "screw the suckers scam". Unlike you though I can't see a real use for this thing. Maybe some people are dumb enough to want all their stuff locked behind a toll gate. I looks to me as if Google wants the penny and the bun. Get their hands on all that juicy personal data and also make you pay for the priviledge of handing it over.

      What concerns me is the rise of the rental mode of doing business in IT. That way you can pay and keep on paying. This might suit the likes of Google but it's not for me. I may be an old fart but to me the PC still stands for "personal computer".

  3. Carl W
    Jobs Halo

    no local file browser

    iOS as used in the iPhone and iPad offers no browser of local files. I suspect that OS X may start going the same way with Lion. For most (non techie) people the file browser and hierarchical folder structure is irrelevant. I'm not sure I concur, but I do increasingly find myself storing everything in a single directory and searching for it rather than navigating to it.

    1. Anonymous Coward

      Me too

      I used to be very rigid in my file organisation but since Windows 7 Libraries I am not that bothered. I have a documents library, a pictures library, music & video which bring together all the files from all the accoumts on the PC, plus the wife's netbook, plus my notbook. I dont have to worry about the location any longer, nor do I have to try and remember which folder I stored that particular file in

      1. Efros

        Libraries, jotters and netbooks

        I hate the Windows 7 libraries, seems counter intuitive to my old hierarchical brain. I like my files to be stored in appropriately organized directories. Having said that, I do see a use for something like this GoogleJotter; increasingly I find that I use my dual core 4Gb laptop as a netbook, actually doing very little on it locally whilst essentially using it to access online services and files, and as an RD/VNC terminal for my other machines. When this lenovo kicks the bucket I may be looking for something similar to the GoogleJotter, hopefully the netbook manufacturers by then will have curtailed their expansionist ideas and realize the idea behind the netbook isn't a compact laptop but a frigging netbook and pitch their prices and specs accordingly.

        1. Doug Glass

          Programic cure ...

          ... for laziness.

    2. pip25

      Good luck searching...

      ... after you did not touch the thing for a year, for instance, and you no longer even remember the filename. Search is great for the stuff you use regularly, but as you have more and more things on your hard drive, it is going to need some organization to stay manageable.

      1. Doug Glass

        Business Axiom

        If it stays in your inbox for more than three days, you don't need it. The need for organization is never lost. You can have all the stuff you want on your desktop but you have to have pile control. And organized file location on a computer is just another method of pile control.

  4. Johnny Canuck
    Thumb Down


    Never going to own one...not ever. Frankly, keeping ALL OF MY DATA on the cloud creeps me out. I simply don't trust Google or anybody else enough to let them control everything about my computer use.

    1. Doug Glass

      Yeah, ...

      ... like the paperless office the idea just sucks.

  5. thecakeis(not)alie

    Might yet be useful.

    My Desire can serve as a WiFi hotspot. Baked into the OS, and the telco doesn't charge extra for the privilege. I was thinking about getting a fondle slab of some variety to eventually replace my netbook. Theoretically a ChromeOS netbook could do the same job the netbook is serving now: it’s not my primary computer, it’s a mobile internet device and media player.

    The only issue of course is that the ChromeOS device won’t play media. At least not from the gigantic store of media my roommate has on his server. Everyone in the house has applied to the beta in hopes that one of us will get one. I am very curious to see if we can make the ChromeOS netbook doohickey as useful as a (rooted) Android Tablet or a Fujitsu P1510d.


  6. Ian Johnston Silver badge

    Let me get this right

    This is an OS aimed at the mobile market, right? Which means it will largely depend on mobile connectivity, right? Which is patchy as hell, right?

    Why exactly would I want a mobile computer which I can't use in the train?

    1. Code Monkey

      Mobile computer

      It's a mobile computer that tips the scales at almost 2kg. Weight is the reason my netbook travels with me and not my ThinkPad. This class of browser only device needs to weigh less than a netbook to make up for the lack of a hard drive.

      And it's not just we nerds that want a hard disk. Normal people want to store their music collections, too.

    2. Doug Glass

      Well, ...

      ... there were cars before there were real roads, but that wont work here. If you want to be the leading edge, you best have a place to go as the blade swings. And like you allude to, places to go in this case are just damn hard to get to on a reliable basis.

  7. ElReg!comments!Pierre Silver badge

    Brand game

    "<BLANKED>'s fundamental aim is to shift all your files and applications onto the web. There's no local file explorer because <BLANKED> wants you to forget about your local file system.[...] <BLANKED> is offering beta notebooks to at least a portion of the general public, and if you ask whether a particular feature will arrive with the official OS next year, it tells you not to think in such terms. If a particular feature doesn't arrive on day one, <BLANKED> says, it'll show up with update at some point in the undetermined future. Or words to that effect."

    Now for a funny game. Which brand name was blanked in the above text:

    a) Google

    b) Apple

    c) All of the above

    1. Anonymous Coward

      a) only

      ...but only because b) would never, in a million years, give anything away much less not track down and flog anyone discussing one of their betas in public.

      Sans the free beta part, good point and c) all the way!

    2. Bilgepipe
      Gates Horns


      Let me guess - you've never actually owned or used any Apple equipment, have you?

      1. ElReg!comments!Pierre Silver badge

        re: Yawn

        "Let me guess - you've never actually owned or used any Apple equipment, have you?"

        Yes I have, and that's irrelevant.

        I wasn't even criticizing Apple, I was pointing that they follow exactly the same trend with iOS as Google does with ChromeOS (sans the free/open part).

        Fanbois sure are ticklish these days. Not sure how you selected your icon, either. The Beast Of Redmond was never mentioned.

        Equip Flail.

  8. da_fish27

    100MB a month?

    More like 100MB a day for realistic usage, even more so on Chrome OS as everything would use the network.

    1. Anonymous Coward

      The idea, as I understand it

      ...would be to use WIFI/Local network primarily and use the cell network as little as possible (i.e. maybe between destinations instead of all the time).

      A friend of mine's daughter was using their ATT 3G card to watch Netflix movies around the house instead of their home broadband connection and ran up a $500 bill recently for going over the 2GB or whatever ATT allows each month.

      Of course, in the states at least if you don't give Verizon your credit card you don't have to worry about any of this. You also don't get your free 100MB a month.

  9. ZenCoder

    The cloud should be used to better mange local data not to replace it!

    My three favorite services at the moment are Dropbox, Evernotes, and GMail (accessed via Thunderbird on the PC, Mail on OSX). I can access data from my desktop, laptop, macbook and ipod touch, or any web browser. Each of these devices (with the exception of the ipod touch) has a local copy of my data kept constantly in sync. There is also the copy in the "cloud" and the one on my external hard drive.

    That works really well for a few GB of important data, but even if storage costs were dirt cheap I simply don't have the bandwidth to keep 25 GB of pictures, and 25 GB of music and 100 GB of home movies ... etc in the cloud.

    1. Doug Glass

      Just Damn!

      What a great idea! Enhanced data security via offsite storage of mission critical but maybe not sensitive data. Damn!

  10. Greg J Preece

    A dumb terminal for the entire Net/

    "It gives the option of skipping the photo, and it tells us that when you use Chrome OS, Google collects no more data about your habits than it would if you were using the plain old Chrome browser on Windows or Mac."

    Well that's not saying much! It may not collect any more data than that other massive infosink they developed, but damned if it collects less!

    From day 1 ChromeOS has sounded like a bad idea to me, and it still does, so I'm sure it'll be massively popular. The Beeb will do their normal techgasm over something they don't understand, the clueless will buy into it, I'll keep using an actual laptop.

    And "ChromeOS" still pisses me off. It's Debian. DEBIAN! DEEEBBIIIAAAANNN!! Google just keep building apps on top of Linux and calling it a new operating system. Knock it off, fess up and call it Googlenix, or Lingle.

    1. Marky W


      ...I prefer 'Loogle'

      Hat, coat, taxi for one!

      1. Greg J Preece

        I concur!

        I like this name. "Hock a Loogle on someone from a great height."

      2. Anonymous Coward
        Anonymous Coward

        ha ha ha ha

        I assume this is some kind of Joke. A computer is a fix cost in my household. The only variable is the cost of broadband. Anyone who gets into the game of paying for 'cloud' based file storage and metered access to computing resources is a mug.

        sure a Net only machine is a great idea if you live in South Korea - but for the rest of the world it's going to be one big fat inconvenience.

  11. Neil Barnes Silver badge

    Remind me again...

    Why would any sane person want to keep all their data on *somebody else's servers*? What is the point of a device which is effectively useless without (no doubt expensive) connectivity? What is so difficult about *my fuckin' device, my fuckin' data*?

    Oh, wait. I'm not a user, educated or not. I'm a monetised consuming unit. I forgot for a moment.

    Take it, roll it into a convenient diameter cylinder, and shove it, Google. Sharp edges or not; your choice.

    1. Doug Glass

      I Wonder ...

      ... whatthe single down-voter was thinking. Must be a really trusting soul. And very young.

  12. Greg Eden

    Can be useful for some

    I have Chromium OS installed on an old EeePC, and it is rough as guts - but you get the idea. The Chrome OS netbook will be useful to many people. For a start they should be cheap as chips, light and come with a good keyboard. So if, for instance, you are a student then you have a light cheap device to type up notes and save into you Google Account. When you get home you can download them to your main computer or just access them from Google Docs. If someone steals your netbook it does not matter as your data is elsewhere. If you upgrade you just login and you are running as you left the old machine. You cannot seriously type on a phone. Tablet touch screens are better than phones, but not anywhere as good as a keyboard. You can add an external keyboard to an iPad and have lots more functionality, but then it will be 4 or 5 times the price and you would not want it stolen.

    I cannot see a Chrome OS netbook being you only machine unless all you do is read the web and email, but I can also see that it will be very useful for a lot of people as an adjunct to their main system. It just has to be cheap enough to make it a disposable item.

    1. Ammaross Danan


      I could see such a machine being potentially more useful (and cheaper!) than, say, a Tablet. However, I don't agree with Google's mindset of a home PC is/will be nothing more than a web portal. Perhaps for a 15-yr-old who myTwitFaceSpaces all day, but not for me. Accessing your 4MB+-per-pic high-res photo album would be ludicrous from the cloud, not to mention your home movies.... imagine how long a "zone load" would be for <insert favorite game here> if it had to d/l it each time? That and 100MB wouldn't be enough to browse/edit more than 12 photo album pictures.

      1. Anonymous Coward
        Anonymous Coward

        Cloud is just a pipe-dream for most

        I am an amateur photographer and even with my piddly Canon DSLR regular average RAW picture sizes start at 25MB and balloon to at least 250MB or more once you start playing about with them in Photoshop.

        I know the Chrome Notebook thing is not for this sort of thing, it's early days but until we get suitable network speeds to cope with all this data we all hold, these things will simply be novelties or 'on-the-go' tools.

        Quite frankly a good quality smart-phone can handle most people's needs, you don't need to lug a notebook around.

      2. Doug Glass

        So ...

        .... experience over the last twenty years has taught us that first generation toys, components, and etc. are cheap? I must have been buying from all the wrong places. I'd expect cheap to be a future thing. For somebody else .... I'm still driving a cherry 1999 Ford F150.

  13. Philip Sargent

    Trusted path at logon

    That security at point of entry, and in depth, should give MS federal systems division a lot of sleepless nights.

    Don't the usage patterns described here sound an awful lot like standard daytime work usage for most employees of large organisations ? And with security at logon that other PCs can't match.

    ChromeOS does a cryptographic check at bootup, why not an article about the implications of that? They are huge.

    Philip Sargent

    1. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      ^^^ This

      The security architecture is interesting and deserves a little more coverage.

  14. Bob 18

    Less is less

    OK, so I'm looking at two laptop computers of equal size and spec. One of them can browse the web, via Google Chrome + all its various extensions. The other one has the same Chrome browser installed on it (or any other browser of your choice) --- but can also do all sort of other things locally, if you want.

    I see no compelling reason to choose the Chrome-only version. EVEN IF all you want to do is browse the web, keeping the capability to do other stuff doesn't really cost anything on a modern computer.

    1. thecakeis(not)alie

      I don't know about that.

      If ChromeBooks come in under the magic $100 mark and you'll see uptake...

      1. Anonymous Coward

        That's the problem

        or not, since google has massive money to subsidise these things.

        I'm betting these will be round about the same cost as a small netbook, then you'd have to ask yourself should I spend the extra few quid so I can have a "real" netbbook?"


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