Bonum Certa Men Certa

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

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.


Recent Techrights' Posts

WikiLeaks Wonders: Major Leaks That Shook the Worlds
Published 14 hours ago
No Outage Here
Microsoft seems to have lost control of the narrative
Microsoft Has Managed to Make GNU/Linux Users Scared of Updating Their GNU/Linux PCs (Thanks to UEFI 'Secure' Boot's Boosters!)
How many people know who's responsible for this mess?
Geminispace Growing and Getting More Free (Independent)
Because self-signed certificates are the way to go
 
Evan Versus Julian
Published by Julian Assange's wife some hours ago
What The Internet Can Achieve When Put in the Hands of the Good People and Not Censored by the People Who Already Control the Mass Media
albeit Wikileaks put that in social control media owned and controlled by oligarchs
IRC Proceedings: Saturday, July 20, 2024
IRC logs for Saturday, July 20, 2024
Over at Tux Machines...
GNU/Linux news for the past day
[Meme] Hate Speech
This is also what makes TikTok so dangerous
Shark-infected Water on the Web
Don't turn Gemini into another "Web"
OpenHarmony, HarmonyOS Next, Deepin, Kylin, and openKylin: How China's Various Manoeuvres Away From Windows Get Covered in the West
Kylin was openly based on Ubuntu
Links 20/07/2024: Tesla's UK Lawsuit for 5G Patents Licence Thrown Out by UK Court, Censorship Examples Surface
Links for the day
Gemini Links 20/07/2024: Why Sleep Is So Important, Bot Problems Online
Links for the day
[Meme] Truth Hurts
"Saying that I physically assaulted women is 'defamation'"
Techrights Turns 18 in About 3 Months
Nothing can stop us
When (Software) Freedom is the Goal
Freedom of thought also
Giving the False Impression That the R blogosphere is Microsoft's Microcosm
Curation that culls "astrotrufing" isn't censorship but quality control for relevance
Expect Many More Microsoft Layoffs After the Latest Windows Outages (Bonus: More Media Says Microsoft Has Cut Half the Staff in Nigeria)
after the latest worldwide blunder we can expect many businesses to gradually ditch Windows
Today GNU/Linux Broke All-Time Record in statCounter Again
Expect more people to hop over to GNU/Linux after the Windows fiasco
Joab Jackson and "The New Stack" Publishing Microsoft Spam (E.E.E. Against Linux) for a Payment From Microsoft
It's not a real news site
Links 20/07/2024: Patents on Software Squashed, Further Attacks on Independent News Sites
Links for the day
Links 20/07/2024: Shopping Mall in Southwestern China and New Health Crises
Links for the day
Microsoft/Windows Has Fallen Well Below 1% (Now 0.7%) in American Samoa
statCounter Sees Microsoft Windows at Below 1% in American Samoa
The Thelio Mega Is a Dual-GPU Linux Supercomputer
System76 sells many desktops and laptops built to run Linux. The company has now revealed its new high-powered Linux desktop, the Thelio Mega
[Meme] "System of a Down"
The latest international catastrophe kills people
Why Microsoft is Laying Off So Many People in Nigeria
Nigeria is a place Microsoft has lost
Over at Tux Machines...
GNU/Linux news for the past day
IRC Proceedings: Friday, July 19, 2024
IRC logs for Friday, July 19, 2024
Gemini Links 20/07/2024: Gopher Catchup and Old Computer Challenge
Links for the day
Microsoft Lays Off Half of Its Workforce in Nigeria
Microsoft continues to implode in Africa
Links 19/07/2024: Microsoft Breaks Down and Amdocs Has 1,500-3,000 More Layoffs
Links for the day
Washington's WARN Site/Portal (That Excludes Many Microsoft Layoffs) is Now Down for Many Hours, Microsoft Causes Major Outages and Incidents Worldwide (Even Deaths)
The mass layoffs (lots of them in Azure since 2020) probably worsen resilience and security some more
UEFI 'Secure Boot' Once Again Bricking PCs and Fake Security Models Are Perishing in Geminispace
Let's Encrypt has just fallen again
[Meme] Conservative (and Fake) Nuclear Physicist Bill Gates
Didn't even graduate from college, media treats him like a world-renowned expert in nuclear energy
The Gemini Capsule of Tux Machines Turns 2 in Six Days
Many people actually use Gemini, some participate in it by creating their own capsule (or capsules)
GNU/Linux Rises to 4% in Saudi Arabia, Says statCounter, Windows Has Fallen to 11% (Android Exceeds 60%)
Microsoft might soon fall below 10% in KSA (Saudi Arabia)
IRC Proceedings: Thursday, July 18, 2024
IRC logs for Thursday, July 18, 2024
GNU/Linux news for the past day
GNU/Linux news for the past day
1901 Days in High-Security Prison (and 8 More Years in Severe Confinement) for the 'Crime' of Exposing War Crimes and Corruption
Julian Assange clip
Opensource.org = Microsoft Lobbying (Openwashing)
Here's the latest pair of blog posts
In Northern Mariana Islands, Where Julian Assange Pled Guilty 4 Weeks Ago, Windows Remains Second to Android, and GNU/Linux Still Grows in Oceania
It was the first month ever that statCounter saw more Web requests there from Android than from Windows
If GitLab Gets Sold (Datadog and Google Named Among Potential Buyers), It'll Prove Our Point About GitLab
Beware the bait on the hook