Splashtop Linux: A free Chrome OS alternative

This instant-on operating system coexists with Windows and offers a taste of life in the cloud.

Web surfers tired of waiting for the official release of hardware featuring Google's Chrome OS now have a browser-based alternative right at their fingertips: Splashtop Linux 1.0, a downloadable instant-on operating system tailored to life in the cloud.

Splashtop Linux has already been around for some time as an OEM-installed Linux distribution on hardware from vendors including Acer, ASUS, Dell, HP, Lenovo and LG. On Wednesday, however, its maker released the instant-on operating system as a free download, making it widely available to anyone.

"For people who spend all their time using Web apps and services like Facebook, Twitter, Dropbox Google Docs and Gmail, adding a fast, safe and secure browser-centric environment to the traditional desktop-oriented environment makes total sense," said Phil Sheu, CTO and co-founder of Splashtop Inc. "With Splashtop OS, users don't need to buy new dedicated hardware, and they don't need to wait for six months."

The lightweight, Web-centric operating system is not only optimized for notebooks and netbooks, but it's actually designed as a "companion OS" that co-exists with Windows. Even based on Chromium, Splashtop includes the Google Chrome browser and the Bing search engine. It provides one-click access to the Chrome Web Store for easy installation of thousands of web apps, games, extensions and themes.

Following a beta period that started in November, the free Linux distribution is now available for download from the Splashtop site. The quick video below demonstrates the operating system in action.

Settings Automatically Imported

Splashtop Linux includes no native applications beyond the Chromium-based browser, and it boots in seconds directly into a start screen featuring a Bing-powered search box. A raft of core plug-ins are pre-installed, including Adobe Flash.

With support for a wide variety of hardware, Splashtop OS sets up easily alongside Windows by automatically importing numerous critical settings from Microsoft's operating system. Web apps, extensions, games and themes can be imported from the Chrome Web Store to personalize the user's experience.

"We picked a Linux kernel version to achieve good hardware compatibility with majority of the PCs from the past few years," explains Sheu in a company blog. "2.6.32 isn't the latest and greatest, but is an ideal platform to make both new and old Wi-Fi chips, audio codecs, and other PC peripherals work. We make use of the SquashFS filesystem and special X11 architecture to cut down on the boot time."

No Separate Installer

Indeed, Splashtop's boot menu allows users to choose between Splashtop OS and Windows upon start-up, requiring no separate installer. Splashtop's maker -- formerly known as DeviceVM -- estimates that its operating system can be successfully installed on the majority of PC notebooks and netbooks that have shipped in the last three years.

I don't know about you, but I'm not sure why anyone would feel the need to wait for Chrome OS devices. Splashtop is proven, and it's downloadable today. If you value speed and a Web focus, it's time to check it out.

Follow Katherine Noyes on Twitter: @Noyesk .

Tags Linuxopen sourceapplicationsinternetacercloud computingoperating systemsFacebookDellGoogleCloudbrowsersLenovotwittersoftwarenon-Windowsunix

Keep up with the latest tech news, reviews and previews by subscribing to the Good Gear Guide newsletter.

Katherine Noyes

PC World (US online)

Comments

Comments are now closed.

Latest News Articles

Most Popular Articles

Follow Us

GGG Evaluation Team

Kathy Cassidy

STYLISTIC Q702

First impression on unpacking the Q702 test unit was the solid feel and clean, minimalist styling.

Anthony Grifoni

STYLISTIC Q572

For work use, Microsoft Word and Excel programs pre-installed on the device are adequate for preparing short documents.

Steph Mundell

LIFEBOOK UH574

The Fujitsu LifeBook UH574 allowed for great mobility without being obnoxiously heavy or clunky. Its twelve hours of battery life did not disappoint.

Andrew Mitsi

STYLISTIC Q702

The screen was particularly good. It is bright and visible from most angles, however heat is an issue, particularly around the Windows button on the front, and on the back where the battery housing is located.

Simon Harriott

STYLISTIC Q702

My first impression after unboxing the Q702 is that it is a nice looking unit. Styling is somewhat minimalist but very effective. The tablet part, once detached, has a nice weight, and no buttons or switches are located in awkward or intrusive positions.

Resources

Best Deals on GoodGearGuide

Latest Jobs

Don’t have an account? Sign up here

Don't have an account? Sign up now

Forgot password?