google-chrome-ball Last week, Techcrunch reported rumors of the release of the Google Chrome OS. They stated that the info came from a reliable source, and indeed that source was reliable. Google had an event at their headquarters, and indeed provided new details and a demo of the Chrome OS. The Chromium Blog has some great videos that provide some additional information about Chrome OS as well.

The Chromium OS source code is available for download (Chromium OS is the open-source version of Google Chrome OS), and you can compile and build it. It took some time, but I did manage to do this on my 64-bit Ubuntu 9.04 (Jaunty Jackalope) machine. I also managed to put together a VirtualBox virtual appliance that is all ready to go. I built a torrent for it, so feel free to download it here:

Download the Chromium OS VirtualBox Appliance Torrent

Please continue to seed, as I’m sure there will be many people out there wanting to try it out.

To use it, just start up VirtualBox, click File and then Import. Navigate to the chromiumos.ovf file and select it. The virtual appliance will be imported into VirtualBox and you should be good to go.

I also included a txt file that more or less has the commands I used to build it. You may be able to run it as a script, although I haven’t confirmed that it will work. I guess you could say I more or less took “script-like notes” as I was building Chromium OS.

If you hit Ctrl+Alt+T when you first log in, you’ll get a shell prompt. You can run “sudo su” (no quotes) to log in as root, and I’ve set the password to “password” (no quotes). If you use this machine for anything serious (although I doubt you would), be sure to change the password.

It is absolutely astounding how fast it boots. It really is nearly instant-on and takes a mere few seconds to bring up the login screen.

chromium-os-login

Once you log in with your Gmail account, it launches and you’ll see the Chromium interface open up to your Gmail. There is also a Google Calendar tab and a New Tab tab. The little chrome sphere appears in the upper left corner, but when you click on it you don’t get a menu as you see in some of the Chrome OS videos. Instead, you get a Google.com account login page.

google-chrome-running

As you can see, it looks very much like the Chrome OS screenshots that had surfaced last month. Of course, being that this is running on a virtual machine without any decent video drivers on the operating system, the resolution is quite low (800×600). Your dear old granddad may be the only one that actually finds it visually appealing at this resolution.

Right now the most impressive thing is how fast this operating system loads. Of course, it should load fast because there really is hardly anything there. In any case, it is rather neat to see an early release in action. The fact that it actually works on a virtual machine is quite promising. Eventually as drivers for more hardware are incorporated into it, it should be possible to run it your own real hardware.

I also found a VMWare virtual disk image on a Google Wave about the Chrome OS. You can download it here:

Download the Chromium OS VMWare Virtual Disk Image

As of now, the link to the VMWare disk image is valid and the download works. However, I haven’t tried using it, so I can’t confirm that it will run on VMWare without issue. Enjoy your Google Chrome OS virtual machines!

[Via GeekLad]