The Future Of Chromium OS – An Interview With Hexxeh
Posted by Nigel Mabandla on October 15, 2010 in Chrome OS, Press Releases · Comments (3)
Today I had the chance to interview ‘Hexxeh‘; the creator of the most popular Chromium OS distributions since Google released it’s source code. Most of us are already familiar with his work; his latest being Chromium OS Vanilla. His Distro’s are now being used by over 85,000 people each day.
In this interview Hexxeh gives us an overview of his thoughts about Google’s upcoming Chrome OS and the future of Chromium OS.
A lot of your ‘followers’ (for lack of a better word) are keen on hearing what you have planned for them in the coming few weeks and in the long term. It would be great to hear your opinions on these questions and hopefully get your views on a few other issues.
The big question: I know you don’t have a definitive answer to this one but thought it would be interesting to hear your opinion; When do you expect Chrome OS to be announced (as complete) and when do you think the first devices will arrive?
I’d say November/December.
Following on from the previous question, do you think the release of Chrome OS is a threat to Chromium OS? Why will people use independently developed builds when they could use what they may perceive as “the real thing” (Chrome OS)?
In no way is it a threat, it’s a good thing, actually. Lots of people will see ChromeOS devices in stores, and like the OS, but not want to buy a new laptop to use it. Since, as far as I’m aware, Google won’t be supporting existing hardware, lots of these people might go home and just download the unofficial versions to run on their existing laptop.
In the same way many users use custom Android ROMs, like the CyanogenMod ones, I suspect many users will want to run a customised version of the OS to run on their device. I’m fairly certain that the devices will include a way to replace the stock OS with your own version, in the form of a developer mode. Don’t quote me, but I believe that’s how things will work. Because of this, I expect we’ll actually see a huge rise in users of these unofficial builds when ChromeOS devices are announced and ship. We’re currently averaging about 85,000 users running my builds daily, and I expect that will probably triple at the very least after ChromeOS launches.
Do you have any short term plans for your Chromium OS builds? Should we be expecting anything from you in the very near future? Maybe you’ve already got a name in mind for your next build?
Short term, I’m planning on adding the VM images to the Vanilla builder. I’ve still got some work to do on this, and it’ll probably be QEMU first, then VMWare Player. VirtualBox is proving to be more of a pain, but it’ll happen eventually.
Wouldn’t expect anything major for a couple months, things are in the pipeline (as always), but I’ve got less time now that college has restarted and so progress is slower. Priority is to update the Flow series to a newer build, similar to Vanilla but with the extra hardware support (and eventually merge these, but that’s quite a way off yet). No names decided yet, I tend to do that once I’m almost finished.
Where do you see the “Hexxeh” brand in a year’s time? Do you have any set milestones that you are hoping to achieve?
While I don’t really see it as a brand, I think that the focus will be on maintaining a version of ChromiumOS that is as similar to the official ChromeOS as possible, only with extra hardware support. I think this is what the majority of users want, and so it’s what I’ll be catering for. Hopefully, Google might do something slightly more official for existing hardware. I know they didn’t intend people to be using it right now, but maybe they’ll support it after the official release. Really doubt it, though. I think they’ll leave it to people like myself, and understandably so. Supporting all the existing hardware in the field (and making it stable/reliable) is quite a pain, I don’t blame them for not wanting to take it on. Any instability would reflect badly on them, no matter how much they warned people, so it’s unlikely they’d do it.
No milestones as such, since the goal is just to keep in sync with official releases.
We’ve spoken about the potential of Chrome OS eclipsing ‘independent’ Chromium OS projects but I feel that the very success of Chrome OS is still hotly debated. Do you believe that Chrome OS will be a success? What do you think the key indicators of it’s success should be?
If the interest in ChromiumOS builds we’ve seen is anything to go by, ChromeOS should be a huge hit. ChromeOS is heavily simplifying computing, which is going to suit many casual internet users. I see this as being kinda similar to the iPad, which simplified things in the world of tablets. Many people criticised the iPad for this simplification before it was released, complaining that Apple hadn’t loaded it with a desktop-style OS. However, 6 months later, here we are with it sitting as one of the fastest selling electronics devices of all time. ChromeOS should do the same thing for the laptop/netbook form factor, and I think Google will have a similar level of success with it, if not more.
I’m sure readers here at Chrome OS Site already know about the video that you recently published; reportedly showing Chromium OS running on an Ipad. Was this a “hoax” as some claimed or was this for real? Or maybe the blogosphere was a bit overzealous in their reporting?
It’s certainly no hoax, there are some pretty big caveats, but it was just a cool tech demo. It wasn’t something I really intended to release. I might publish instructions eventually; but it’s a pretty difficult/long process to get it working like that.
Lastly; I’ll ask a question that I think a lot of people have wondered about for a while now: Because you have been quite prominent in the “Chromium OS community”, has Google been ‘helpful’ in your endeavours to develop any of your builds or are you self motivated and making your own way?
Google have been awesome, hugely supportive: they hooked me up with some cool Chrome/ChromeOS gear and an awesome Nexus One a couple weeks back, for example. Huge thanks to everyone there, looking forward to meeting the team in the coming months..! icon smile The Future Of Chromium OS An Interview With Hexxeh
Thanks for taking the time to answer these questions and I wish you the best of luck with your next release. I think I speak for most readers at Chrome OS Site when I say we are really excited to see what you will come up with.