Friday, January 15, 2010

ChromeOS - Zero

Yes, an updated usb-bootable ChromeOS image has been issued by Hexxeh.
Following Hexxeh's instructions, I burned the image to a usb-key on my MacBook and this went without problem. Indeed, the dd needed only 7 minutes (actually 419 seconds) rather than the 25-75 minutes that's mentioned in the guide.
I then booted to it without problem on my EeePC901.
Although up to now I really haven't spent a lot of time playiong around with it, it really doesn't seem to be very much different from the earlier Cherry version of this OS.
Yes, it has an updated kernel (2.6.31-4) and it seems the root partition is now mounted rw rather than read-only. But really this only eliminates a very simple

# mount -o remount,rw /

As with the earlier version, my rt2869sta wifi card is immediately recognized and initial connection only requires typing in the encryption key.
Apparently, automatic updates are included with this new version of the OS but I haven't experienced anything of this as yet. I presume this only refers to updates on Hexxeh's incarnation of this OS which really don't come out with any great frequency. But still.
I dd'ed the image to a clapped-out old 4GB pendrive that I had lying around with no problems. In looking in GParted at the key after the burn, I found two partitions (C-State, 250 MB with only 13.9 MB used; C-ROOT, 700 MB with 563 MB used)
Both partitions have the ext3 fs and C-ROOT is boot flagged.
I couldn't get GParted to make any changes whatsoever to C-State but I was able to enlarge C-ROOT to 1 GB in size without problem.
As with Cherry, I can get Zero to boot from my Grub multiboot menu on the EeePC 901 without difficulty. I've already posted on this for Cherry.
The only difference for Zero is that /boot contains only vmlinuz and initrd.img rather than vmlinuz- or initrd.img- This has the advantage that if the kernel is updated no Grub boot menu changes are required.
For me, ChromeOS-Zero doesn't boot all that fast (20 seconds from boot menu to login, then 10 seconds from login to Desktop). This compares with 12 seconds total for Haiku to boot on the same machine.
In reality, for the casual user ChromeOS, at the moment, is little more than a curiosity although it's exciting to be involved in the early stages of development of what's likely to be a major player in the OS field for years to come.

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