It’s been a busy few days on the netbook operating system front. While the vast majority of netbooks still ship with Windows, Google is about to launch a competing operating system, and the company might just have the name recognition and industry pull to make a serious dent in Microsoft’s market share. And while few netbooks still ship with Linux preloaded, there are plenty of options for users looking to replace Windows with a Linux-based OS of their choice. Here’s a roundup of news related to a few of those operating systems.
Google Chrome OS
Google could be ready to introduce a public beta version of its Chrome operating system for netbooks as early as next week. TechCrunch is reporting that a “reliable source” says Chrome OS should be ready for download within a week. I’m going to file this in the rumor category for now, but Google did say that a public beta would be available before the end of 2009 with a full release expected in early 2010.
We probably won’t see any actual netbooks running the OS for at least a few more months, but thanks to the magic of leaks, we already know a lot more about Chrome OS than we did a few months ago. At least we think we do. For instance, while the operating system will be built around a web browser and web-based services, it will have the ability to mount hard drives and let you access local files.
The folks at Mandriva have just released Mandrive 2010 Linux which includes several netbook-friendly features. First, it’s compatible with the hardware for every currently available Asus Eee PC, which means that the audio, WiFi, sleep and resume, and other features should all work out of the box. Mandriva 2010 is also compatible with a number of other Intel Atom powered computers such as several Acer Aspire One and MSI Wind models.
Mandriva 2010 also supports two netbook-friendly user interfaces. In addition to choosing from the GNOME and KDE desktop environments, users can choose to use the Moblin or Sugar environments. There’s also a tool that lets you copy the Mandriva installer to a USB flash drive to install on a computer that doesn’t have an optical disc drive.
The team behind the OpenSUSE Linux distribution just launched OpenSUSE 11.2. And among other improvements, the new operating system includes a few netbook-friendly features including the ability to boot the openSUSE ISO from a USB stick. The operating system also includes new drivers designed to support a “wider range of netbooks.”
The folks at JoliCloud are hard at work developing an operating system designed specifically for netbooks. It’s designed to integrate closely with web-based applications like Gmail and Google Docs as well as social software such as Twitter and Facebook. The OS is based on Linux, and this week the Jolicloud team updated its netbook compatibility list to include a number of additional models including the Acer Aspire One D150, the LG X110 and X120, Samsung NC10, Toshiba NB200, Lenovo IdeaPad S10-2, and HP Mini 110 and Mini 5101. For a complete list, visit the Jolicloud netbook compatibility page.