google chrome logoDell has been offering a Linux option for its netbooks pretty much since day one. The company’s 9 and 10 inch mini-notebooks each come with a choice of Windows or Ubuntu Linux. Now Dell’s Doug Anson says the company is looking at other options as well, including the Intel-backed Moblin Linux distributions and Google’s upcoming Chrome Operating System.

That’s not to say that Dell is definitely going to release products using these operating systems. But the company does plan to “evaluate” Chrome OS once it’s available, and Anson says the idea behind the cloud-based operating system “has potential.” He says the company is “very interested” in Moblin, which is designed specifically for netbooks and offers a number of applications and features that work particularly well on internet-connected devices with small screens. I wouldn’t be surprised to see a Moblin-based Dell product in the not-too-distant future.

But it’s also worth noting that Dell’s current Linux partner, Canonical (the company behind Ubuntu) is working with Moblin as well. So we might just see Dell netbooks continuing to run Ubuntu, but still getting some Moblin features including faster boot times, a custom program launcher, and several apps including media players which have been designed to work on small screens.

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7 replies on “Dell ponders Chrome OS, Moblin for future netbooks”

  1. IMHO:
    If the final version of Chrome OS relies almost solely on the internet for functionality and applications, as is now being suggested, it will have some large hurdles to overcome before taking over a big segment of the netbook OS market.

    Remember, netbooks are all about portability. But very few of them have 3G, 4G or whatever. They rely almost entirely on wifi for internet functionality, and wifi is far from ubiquitous at this point. So Chrome OS, as it’s currently described, would be pretty useless when traveling between hotspots or when remaining away from hotspots for long periods of time.

    Under the current circumstances, I think Chrome OS would be better for netbooks that come with a 3G data plan, especially smaller ones, and even then, I think this would represent a whole different genre of device.

    People are not going to give up their netbooks with full, computer-like functionality. You’ll have to pry then out of our lifeless hands 🙂

    I think it would be great to have Chrome as a dual boot OS along with Ubuntu or XP, for times when you just want to boot up quickly to surf or blog, etc, but I don’t think this is what Google has in mind 🙂

    Another thought: if scadzillions of Linux netbooks were returned because Joe-the-non-geek got home with them and found out they didn’t have windows, what do you think will happen when he gets home with his new Chromebook, to coin a term, and finds out he can’t even use it off the internet?

  2. Dell is smart to keep all it’s options open. There is no reason why they could not support multiple OSes. Maybe some might suit different hardware better than others.

  3. Well, Chrome OS might come out in 2010 but it won’t be ready for grandma and uncle joe until 2011.

    However, Linux destros must get in the game or get ready to the flooded. I’m sure Ubuntu an other destros will do fine. But what they have to prepare for is Chrome OS ‘possible’ taking off and eclipsing their numbers over night. I’m not talking all the servers running Linux, I mean home users. The other destros will keep their communities of support…but Chrome could just be 10x larger which will shift industry focus and development.

    One thing Chrome OS is doing right is downplaying Linux as a word/brand used when talking about it. They should BAN that word for meeting and press releases….it is poison…people’s eye glaze over when you start using such meaningless words as Linux.

    1. Agreed, the word “Linux” scares buyers away – –
      Maybe called it a “Cousin of OSx”?
      (It is, they both can trace their heritage back to BSD).

    1. It depends how you look at it. What we know so far is that it will be
      based on the Linux Kernel. So it Google Android. If you want to say
      anything based on the Linux kernel is a Linux distro, then there you
      go. But the TiVo software interface is also based on the Linux kernel.
      I’m not sure I’d say that makes TiVo a Linux distro.

  4. I would prefer if they would stick with Ubuntu. Its a good distro, with good support.

    It will just confuse consumers if manufacturers continually jumps from distro to distro, some lacking in hardware support more than others.

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