EditorsAbout the SiteComes vs. MicrosoftUsing This Web SiteSite ArchivesCredibility IndexOOXMLOpenDocumentPatentsNovellNews DigestSite NewsRSS

12.26.13

On Google Chrome, ChromeOS, Chromecast, and the Lesser Benign

Posted in GNU/Linux, Google at 3:59 am by Dr. Roy Schestowitz

Summary: Thoughts about Google’s self-branded free/libre Web browser, operating system (not just Android), and efforts which extend that to surveillance-rich computing (“cloud”) with DRM

WHEN Google first introduced the world to Chrome it was a Windows program (in 2008). Google has an iffy history when it comes to desktop GNU/Linux, but in recent years, especially now that Google is selling Chromebooks (running GNU/Linux), there is a gradual change of policy. GNU/Linux itself is improving, which makes it easier for Google to serve applications and service to GNU/Linux users.

The other day Chromebase was introduced [1]. It is basically a GNU/Linux computer which looks similar to an Apple iMac. Chromebase, as the name suggests, runs a locked-down operating system similar to Apple’s. This is where Google seems to be taking GNU/Linux, for better or for worse. People’s positions on this vary; some say it’s a good thing (attracting more users), others say it’s a step in the right direction, and some say that it’s a distraction which takes us further away from freedom-respecting GNU and Linux.

Then there’s Chrome, the Web browser. Android usually comes with it and they are difficult (if not impossible on some devices) to decouple. Version 31 recently came out [2,3], promising PDF viewing and Voice Search (lets Google record, then indefinitely retain one’s search strings and also voice) [4,5]. Google is eager to get developers involved in Chrome extensions (or Android extensions) [6], introducing Chromecast to them as well [7] (may include a lot of DRM). The main problem with the browser (Web-facing) layer is that interaction with distant/remote servers makes surveillance (domestic or overseas) very simple. Chrome hardly tries to prevent this and by default it is quite privacy-infringing, based on my findings over the years. Then there’s the problem with DRM, which Google now advances as part of Web standards (threatening the Internet as we know it, not just by abandoning net neutrality).

The sure thing is, Chrome and other well known browsers are becoming rather heavy (too many features at the core) while simpler, lighter options exist [8] (I like Rekonq myself). The same goes for operating systems. It does not, however, mean that the big and potentially clumpy options are bad; it’s just that in practice they’re being optimised not for performance but for surveillance, lock-in, capturing of one’s tasks (even PDF readings/multimedia), and tying to various online service (YouTube, Microsoft's surveillance-friendly search, or remote-stored bookmarks).

Google — like Ubuntu — shows that just because something is free/libre software does not automatically make it benign.

Related/contextual items from the news:

  1. Does the LG Chromebase look too much like an iMac?

    Is the LG Chromebase too much like an iMac? And will Apple sue because of it?

  2. Google Launches Its Latest Chrome Web Browser, Version 31

    Chrome 31 includes some 25 bug fixes to the world’s most popular Web browser.

  3. Google Chrome 31 out now

    Google Chrome for Mac, Windows, and Linux has reached version 31, bringing the features we saw in the Chrome beta. In this update you’ll find…

  4. Google: Chrome safer than Acrobat for PDFs

    Google’s François Beaufort has confirmed that starting with the Chrome Canary release for developers, users who have downloaded a PDF while in Chrome will find that the browser itself opens the file, rather than the native application.

  5. Google Delivers Voice Search Hotword Extension for Chrome
  6. Google Woos Developers with Packaged App Strategy, Updated Plumbing

    At its recent Chrome Developer Summit, Google officials made more clear than ever that they see the Chrome platform as a strategic on-ramp for Google’s services, with packaged apps and mobile apps playing a central role in that effort. As I’ve been covering recently, Google Chrome is, effectively, behaving much more like an operating system, in the sense that it is gaining plumbing and services that make it an effective springboard for applications.

  7. Google: Hey, devs – grab ahold of our Chromecast pipe and work it

    Google is working on a webbified development to build the “next generation” of Chrome Apps.

  8. 5 lesser-known browsers: Free, lightweight and low-maintenance

    Are Internet Explorer, Firefox or Chrome slowing your machine — or are they simply more than you need? We look at some alternatives.

Share this post: These icons link to social bookmarking sites where readers can share and discover new web pages.
  • Digg
  • del.icio.us
  • Reddit
  • co.mments
  • DZone
  • email
  • Google Bookmarks
  • LinkedIn
  • NewsVine
  • Print
  • Technorati
  • TwitThis
  • Facebook

If you liked this post, consider subscribing to the RSS feed or join us now at the IRC channels.

Pages that cross-reference this one

What Else is New


  1. Links 25/10/2014: KDE Mockups, Update on GNOME Outreach Program for Women

    Links for the day



  2. After Infecting Unity -- Successfully -- Microsoft's Partner Xamarin Wants to Infect Unreal Engine With .NET

    Xamarin continues to spread dependence on Microsoft to more gaming frameworks, not just platforms such as GNU/Linux, Android, and even permanent-state devices



  3. Taking Microsoft Windows Off the Grid for Damage to Businesses, the Internet, and Banking Systems

    Microsoft's insecure-by-design software is causing massive damages ([cref 27802 possibly trillions] of [cref 13992 dollars in damages to date]) and yet the corporate press does not ask the right questions, let alone suggest a ban on Microsoft software



  4. City of Berlin Does Not Abandon Free Software, It's Only Tax Authorities

    A Softpedia report that says the City of Berlin is moving to Microsoft Office is flawed and may be based on a poor translation



  5. Nadella a Liar in Chief at Microsoft, Pretending That His Anti-Competitive Practices Are Unfortunately Imposed on Microsoft

    The nastiness of Microsoft knows no bounds as even its assault on GNU/Linux and dirty tricks against Free software adoption are characterised as the fault of 'pirates'



  6. Reuters Writes About the Demise of Software Patents, But Focuses on 'Trolls' and Quotes Lawyers

    How the corporate media chooses to cover the invalidity of many software patents and the effect of that



  7. Links 24/10/2014: Microsoft Tax Axed in Italy, Google's Linux (ChromeOS/Android) Leader Promoted

    Links for the day



  8. Links 24/10/2014: GNU/Linux History, Fedora Delay

    Links for the day



  9. Links 23/10/2014: New *buntu, Benchmarks

    Links for the day



  10. Links 22/10/2014: Chromebooks Surge, NSA Android Endorsement

    Links for the day



  11. Links 21/10/2014: Debian Fork Debate, New GNU IceCat

    Links for the day



  12. Criminal Microsoft is Censoring the Web and Breaks Laws to Do So; the Web Should Censor (Remove) Microsoft

    Microsoft is still breaking the Internet using completely bogus takedown requests (an abuse of DMCA) and why Microsoft Windows, which contains weaponised back doors (shared with the NSA), should be banned from the Internet, not just from the Web



  13. Microsoft 'Loving' GNU/Linux and Other Corporate Media Fiction

    Microsoft has bullied or cleverly bribed enough technology-centric media sites to have them characterise Microsoft as a friend of Free/Open Source software (FOSS) that also "loves Linux"



  14. India May be Taking Bill Gates to Court for Misusing His So-called 'Charity' to Conduct Clinical Trials Without Consent on Behalf of Companies He Invests in

    Bill Gates may finally be pulled into the courtroom again, having been identified for large-scale abuses that he commits in the name of profit (not "charity")



  15. The Problems With Legal Workarounds, Patent Scope, and Expansion of Patent Trolls to the East

    Patent trolls are in the news again and it's rather important, albeit for various different reasons, more relevant than the ones covered here in the past



  16. Links 20/10/2014: Cloudera and Red Hat, Debian 7.7, and Vivid Vervet

    Links for the day



  17. Links 20/10/2014: 10 Years Since First Ubuntu Release

    Links for the day



  18. How Patent Lawyers Analyze Alice v. CLS Bank

    Breaking down a patent lawyer's analysis of a Supreme Court's decision that seemingly invalidated hundreds of thousands of software patents



  19. Is It Google's Turn to Head the USPTO Corporation?

    The industry-led USPTO continues to be coordinated by some of its biggest clients, despite issues associated with conflicting interests



  20. The EPO's Public Relations Disaster Amid Distrust From Within (and EPO Communications Chief Leaves): Part VII

    Amid unrest and suspicion of misconduct in the EPO's management (ongoing for months if not years), Transparency International steps in, but the EPO's management completely ignores Transparency International, refusing to collaborate; the PR chief of the EPO is apparently being pushed out in the mean time



  21. Links 18/10/2014: Debian Plans for Init Systems, Tails 1.2

    Links for the day



  22. Links 18/10/2014: New ELive, Android Expansion

    Links for the day



  23. Another Fresh Blow to Software Patents (and With Them Patent Trolls)

    Another new development shows that more burden of proof is to be put on the litigant, thus discouraging the most infamous serial patent aggressors and reducing the incentive to settle with a payment out of court



  24. Links 16/10/2014: New Android, SSL 3.0 Flaw

    Links for the day



  25. How the Corporate Press Deceives and Sells Microsoft Agenda

    Various new examples of media propaganda that distorts or makes up the facts (bias/lies by omission/selection) and where this is all coming from



  26. Vista 10 is Still Vapourware, But We Already Know It Will Increase Surveillance on Its Users and Contain Malicious Back Doors

    The villainous company which makes insecure-by-design operating systems will continue to do so, but in the mean time the corporate press covers only bugs in FOSS, not back doors in proprietary software



  27. Links 15/10/2014: KDE Plasma 5.1 is Out, GOG Reaches 100-Title Mark

    Links for the day



  28. With .NET Foundation Affiliation Xamarin is Another Step Closer to Being Absorbed by Microsoft

    Xamarin is not even trying to pretend that separation exists between Microsoft and its work; yet another collaboration is announced



  29. The EPO's Protection Triangle of Battistelli, Kongstad, and Topić: Part VI

    Jesper Kongstad, Benoît Battistelli, and Zeljko Topić are uncomfortably close personally and professionally, so suspicions arise that nepotism and protectionism play a negative role that negatively affects the European public



  30. Corporate Media Confirms the Demise of Software Patents in the United States; Will India and Europe Follow?

    It has become increasingly official that software patents are being weakened in the United States' USPTO as well as the courts; will software leaders such as India and Europe stop trying to imitate the old USPTO?


CoPilotCo

RSS 64x64RSS Feed: subscribe to the RSS feed for regular updates

Home iconSite Wiki: You can improve this site by helping the extension of the site's content

Home iconSite Home: Background about the site and some key features in the front page

Chat iconIRC Channel: Come and chat with us in real time

CoPilotCo

Recent Posts