Thoughts On Chrome OS Beta – Interview With Hexxeh
Some of you may remember that a month or so ago we had the chance to interview ‘Hexxeh‘ (Liam McLoughlin) who is by far the most recognizable Chromium OS developer thus far. He has compiled such great Chromium OS distributions as Chromium OS Cherry, Flow, and Vanilla. I took the opportunity to ask him a few questions about his thoughts regarding the recent release of the Chrome OS Beta and the unveiling of Google’s CR-48 Chrome Notebook.
This interview is also a follow up to the last interview we had with Hexxeh which you can read here.
Ever since then quite a lot has changed. And I believe the major event has been the release of the Chrome OS Beta. Google has chosen to only ship it out in special CR-48 notebooks. Do you think that this is a good strategy or would it have been better to have it as a download which could be installed on any compatible machine?
It’s the only strategy, really. If they want to give the good impression of speed, ease of use and zero-maintenance, then it needs to “just work”. This isn’t going to be the case if you try to support existing hardware, because there are so many different configurations that people could try it on.
During your last interview with us you mentioned that Google had invited you to California. It turns out they had invited you for the recent Chrome Event. What did you get up to when you were there? Did the Chrome team share with you any spicy details of what’s to come?
I met the Chrome and Chrome OS teams, got given a tour around their MTV campus and the SFO offices, and watched the event live on the Tuesday. Google very kindly invited me over for the week to show me around their offices and even allowed time for me to see some of the Bay Area. They also hooked me up with some sweet Google swag too, which is awesome.
Did they suggest any interesting partnerships with you or was it more of a polite gesture to thank you for the work you have done with Chromium OS?
Heh, it was just a thank you, amazing one too at that! Lots of people I talked to thanked me for what I was doing, which was awesome. It’s great to know that they’re very supportive of what I’m doing!
I assume you did have a chance to play around with the CR-48 while you were there. What are your impressions of the device; and most of all, how polished is the Chrome OS Beta?
I’ve had a play around with one. The hardware itself; it’s a very nice piece of kit! I’m a huge fan of the matte black shell, reminded me of the old black Macbook, but with a nice matte finish instead of the fingerprint magnet gloss you got on a Macbook. In terms of the software? There are lots of rough edges, bits of functionality missing: however, it has come a very long way since their original announcement last year. Much of the work is quite behind the scenes, work a user isn’t actually going to visibly see. I wouldn’t say it’s “polished” because it isn’t really. For example, there are problems with Flash performance right now, and the trackpad driver (though this might not be an issue in other hardware, actually). It’s certainly taking shape well though, and they’ve stayed true to their original word of having a release (albiet a limited one) in 2010.
Lastly: as you may remember, our last interview focused on the future of Chromium OS (and your Distro’s) after Chrome OS has been released. You mentioned that the release of Chrome OS will not mean the decline of Chromium OS distro’s like Flow. In fact you said that you believe the highest interest for Chromium OS will come when Chrome OS is out. Now with the release of the Chrome OS Beta, do as many people still use your distro’s?
Yes! In fact, it’s sparked a huge rise in our user counts! We’ve also seen a huge increase in activity on our IRC channel, and with my next custom release on the horizon, I think this trend is going to continue. Last time I checked out our stats, we’re on around 120,000 users, and counting.