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  • Chromium OS vs. Tiny Core Linux
Technology Articles > Software > Network & Internet > Chromium OS vs. Tiny Core Linux

Chromium OS is the open source project created by Google that Google OS is based off of. Google OS is basically a web browser baked in to an incredibly pared down version of Linux. The goal is to create an operating system that takes 10 seconds to boot, rather than 10 minutes, like so many sluggishly slow computers running Windows XP, Windows Vista, Windows 7 and even OS X. Chrome OS does away with everything that’s not essential to the web browsing experience so you can get booted and get connected and surfing fast.

It’s a great concept. But it sounds a bit familiar...

You may or may not heard of a project called {{http://distro.ibiblio.org/tinycorelinux/welcome.html|Tiny Core Linux}}. Tiny Core Linux is a minimalist distribution of Linux 2.6 that strips away all of the non-essential drivers, apps, processes and services so you can boot in fast. In fact, there are some reports saying that Tiny Core Linux can boot in as little as 5 seconds. And unlike a terminal or command line server-based distribution, Tiny Core Linux actually boots into a graphical desktop interface. From there, you can install any programs that you need--including, say, a web browser such as Chromium.

So, what’s the benefit of running a build of Chromium OS over something like Tiny Core Linux? For the most part, it’s user-friendliness. Tiny Core Linux is extremely bare bones, and that includes support for wireless networking devices (though it does work out of the box for wired connections). Chrome OS, on the other hand, comes with a wireless network manager built-in and gets you right to your Chrome new tab screen, where most users will know exactly what to do.

But there’s a trade off with that.

With Chromium OS, the web browser is the operating system. The idea is that instead of installing applications Open Office or Pidgin or Amarok or Fspot, you’d use Google Docs, or Gchat or Google Music or Picasa Web and Picnick. The latter list of applications, as you may know, are contained completely within the browser. All of the data, processing and other heavy lifting is done server-side. The makers of Chromium OS are so confident that you won’t need anything beyond what the world of web apps offers you that they don’t even allow you to install local applications. The closest thing you can get are extensions for the browser, which are more like plug-ins than full-fledged applications. The downside of this, of course, is that if you don’t have an Internet connection, then you don’t have any apps (though Google is slowly adding offline support for popular web apps),

Tiny Core Linux, on the other hand, does let you install native applications, such as gEdit, Firefox, Chromium and any other Linux application you desire. This is handy for anyone who hasn’t completely uploaded their lifestyle to the cloud.

Other benefits of Tiny Core Linux revolve around its size. It is, as its name indicates, tiny. It can be as small as 10 MB, before installing applications, which is quite impressive compared to Chromium’s size of approximately 700 MB. It’s tiny footprint allows Tiny Core Linux to run straight from your RAM, meaning that A) you can remove your bootable media after you’re running Tiny Core Linux and B) you can remove all traces of your session activity when you’re done. This makes Tiny Core Linux the ultimate portable distribution of Linux.

That being said, Chromium OS is going to be more stable for more users. Tiny Core Linux’s weakness is hardware support, and that’s prety much what you can expect from an open source project supported by nothing but a few dedicated (yet talented) enthusiasts who work for free. Chrome OS has commercial interests behind it, so it’s obviously going to be more palatable to more markets than the fringe of geeky hacker types.