It has been over a year since Google announced they were developing a new operating system as a complement to the Chrome browser. Android is rapidly gaining marketshare in smartphones, so should we anticipate a similar success for Chromium OS?
Software Architecture provides some surprising glimpses of the operating system. First, Google expects a highly-specialized firmware layer that is optimized for security and speed. Instead of traditional operating systems that have a general software layer called the Hardware Abstraction Layer (HAL), Chromium OS feels the need for speed by specifying the hardware design.
Above the firmware layer is a Linux kernel, very similar to Android. It has been optimized for speed and provides standard Linux services such as networking and security for the WIndow Manager and Chromium.
Also similar to Android, specialized libraries such as X-graphics and system libraries provide specialized support for application layer software. Above these are the Window Manager (doesn't this look like Android?) and finally, Chromium.
Chromium itself provides a Java and HTML 5++ toolkit for applications. It also natively supports Flash. (Okay, I'm with Steve Jobs on this one. I'm weary of continualy receiving Flash and Adobe Reader updates on my computer. Why so many updates when the products do so little?)
Google Chrome OS launching Nov 11 speculates that Google will release the new OS very, very, soon. Mmm. Android is successful because Google developed a very efficient and well-architected operating system for smartphones. They also made the investment to provide an unprecedented development environment. There are many similarities between Android and Chromium OS. WIll the lessons learned from Android limit Chromium OS to smartphone-like capability, or will they produce an iPad killer?