Recently, various outlets, such as TechCrunch, had reported that an early build of Chrome OS has been leaked into the wild. Well, I hate to tell you but those reports weren't exactly accurate.
What leaked was in fact was an Alpha/Beta implementation of the Chromium browser that will be used in Chrome OS. As such, it was distributed in .deb package format, which is the very same format used by Debian-based Linux distributions, such as Ubuntu.
I was able to install this build of Chromium (188.8.131.52-r28902) on Ubuntu 9.04 simply by downloading the .deb package distributed on Rapidshare. Ubuntu immediately recognized this as a .deb package and prompted me to install it. What you see here is clearly a work in progress but may bring a little bit of early insight into what Chrome OS actually is.
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I have no doubt from what I have seen that Chrome OS is built upon a Ubuntu or Debian foundation, probably the former rather than the latter, since a version of Ubuntu is already used in-house by Google as "Goobuntu". By looking at some of the dialog box settings in Chromium for Chrome OS, it's clear that many of the configuration and settings for the OS will be implemented in the browser itself. In other words, it will be a largely browser-based OS, with cloud-based Google applications.
For the most part, Chrome OS's Chromium browser implementation is very similar to what exists in Windows and in the current mainstream Linux Chromium build. By default, however, it doesn't have any plugins installed, so it will have to depend on Google to pre-install those (Flash, media codecs, Java, etc) into Chrome OS in order for sites that depend on those to work. To get a better feel of how this browser actually looks and performs, take a look at the video above.