Dell, others tinker with ChromeOS test builds

While mainstream users await Google's pilot program to begin, open source developers are creating builds with the latest ChromeOS code.One engineer from Dell built ISO image files that users can burn to USB to "take ChromeOS for a test drive," reports Steve Pirk, a ChromeOS enthusiast and principal at Yensid, an open source company in Bremerton, Wash.

While mainstream users await Google's pilot program to begin, open source developers are creating builds with the latest ChromeOS code.

One engineer from Dell built ISO image files that users can burn to USB to "take ChromeOS for a test drive," reports Steve Pirk, a ChromeOS enthusiast and principal at Yensid, an open source company in Bremerton, Wash.

As Pirk tests that build, the included read.me file on that build indicates that the latest Chrome open source web operating system beta has been tested on Dell's Mini 10v, Mini 9, Latitude 2100 and Mini 10. For the Mini 10, on which this post is being written, the Dell engineer points out in the readme.txt file that the ChromeOS graphical user interface is "very, very slow. "

"Its overly busy - check out the CPU utilization... and thus makes the Mini 10 extremely slow," the engineer wrote in that readme.txt file, noting, however, that the code is incompatible with the Broadcom wireless driver. "Definitely a works in progress - I'm trying to port over the open source Poulsbo driver... patience appreciated."

Of course, Google is promoting beta testing on the Chrome OS-based Cr-48 netbook unveiled on Tuesday. Yesterday, partner Inventec reportedly began shipping some 60,000 ChromeOS-based netbooks to Google, ZDNet reported.

Google debuted its plans for the open source web operating system in November of 2009 and promised its release a year later. But it will take Google a little longer to complete the important project.

The version debuted on Tuesday is still beta. Nevertheless, the new GUI wowed users and many are waiting for Google to select and ship the ChromeOS-based Cr-48 netbook to an unknown number of users. Several hardware vendors have begun building systems based on the new operating system.

In the interim, it will be interesting to see what open source developers opt to do with the latest builds. It will also be interesting to see whether Chrome remains totally open source. Some observers have been concerned that the web browser and web operating system may evolve the way Android has -- with some development behind closed doors.