Acer to make the Chrome netbook a reality

Chrome Os

Acer has announced that it plans to be the first manufacturer to produce hardware running Google’s Chrome operating system.

Chrome is a Linux-based system which is centered on the existing Google-made browser. It’s aimed primarily at users who want a low-cost machine for internet use and a few basic applications. The system is really just a souped-up browser which contains hardware drivers and links to on-line applications. One of the main selling points is that the system allows ultra-fast start-ups, meaning it can be used in devices which allow you to start using a website almost as quickly as you can turn on a TV and watch a show.

Though there are tentative plans to offer Chrome on machines with solid-state drives, the recently-released source code is designed for use on machines with no storage, the idea being that all data is kept online through services such as Gmail and Google Docs.

According to Asian tech business newspaper Digitimes, Acer says it expects to be the first firm to release a Chrome-based netbook, probably some time in the second half of 2010. Acer had already been the first company to sell a computer running Android, Google’s operating system better known for its use in smartphones.

It looks likely that Acer won’t be alone in developing Chrome-based products. One person working for Dell has already used the source code to produce a customized version of the system for the firm’s Mini 10v netbook, complete with the relevant drivers. It’s pretty much proof-of-concept at the moment and, though Dell has made it available for download, the creator freely admits it is “highly experimental and completely unstable.” Still, it does show firms are interested in creating versions of Chrome customized for their machines, which makes it much more likely that consumers will be able to simply buy a computer, turn it on and use it without needing any technical knowledge.

If you really do want to try out Chrome, there is a version that’s already been created to run from a USB stick. It’s available as a compressed 300MB torrent which unzips to a 3GB 1GB disk image file, so you’ll need a 4GB 2GB key to be on the safe side.

Given that there’s no guarantee of driver compatibility with your hardware, and that it doesn’t really offer anything in practical terms that you can’t already get from simply using a browser, it’s really only of interest if you want to nose at some new technology just for the fun of it. (And there’s nothing wrong with that…)