NayuOS's future after Google

Little by little, Google is extending ChromeOS while leaving ChromiumOS in a kind of incomplete state. What will be the future of NayuOS in this context?
  • Last Update:2018-05-05
  • Version:002
  • Language:en

Little by little, Google is extending ChromeOS while leaving ChromiumOS in a kind of incomplete state. The increasing gap between ChromeOS and ChromiumOS reminds me the now huge gap between Android and the Android Open Source Project (AOSP). Recent version of ChromiumOS on recent hardware are barely usable:

This adds to an ever longer list of differences:

  • no support for non-free video or sound formats in ChromiumOS;
  • no support of Flash in ChromiumOS;
  • no support of Android applications in ChromiumOS.

It seems that Google has decided to move key features of ChromeOS into the proprietary user space and to stop fixing essential features of ChromiumOS.

Should we keep on basing NayuOS on ChromiumOS? What are the possible ways out?

The ChromiumOS way

We would have to fix all bugs introduced in new versions: sound, bogus suspend, broken support of Asian languages. It is not that easy, especially for Asian language support, because the process of building and testing ChromiumOS is quite long. Also, certain features are directly implemented as Chromium browser extensions, something that can be difficult to add to ChromiumOS guest mode and for which little or no documentation exists.

Support of Android applications would be possible using Anbox, with enough effort. 

In short: possible but effort is difficult to guess, from a few man week to a few man month.

The GalliumOS way

GalliumOS provides an alternative to ChromiumOS based on Ubuntu. It fixes most of the issues of ChromiumOS:

It even provides a simpler way to install Anbox than ChromiumOS would.

The only issues it has is that it is not based on the stable read-only, signed, trusted approach of ChromeOS for booting the system image. And it creates an incentive for users to install too many applications.

The Elbe way

Elbe provides a tool to build system images from Debian packages. It could be extended to support Linuxboot as firmware and provide something similar to the stable read-only, signed, trusted approach of ChromeOS for booting the system image. Elbe could be a way to build a browser-only GalliumOS image with Anbox.

The AOSP way

There are a number of non-free projects that turn Android or AOSP into a usable desktop system, including the default system provided on recent Huawei and Samsung phones. Independent solutions include:

There are also quite a few projects that provide an alternative implementation of Android or Google APIs:

Combining the two could lead to an alternative approach that could bring the advantage of unifying OS on all desktop and mobile, whereas Elbe approach unifies the OS on server and desktop. Maru seems to combine all approaches in a single solution, just like running Termux with proot on any Android device (but not reliably).

Conclusion

Unless Google decides to maintain ChromiumOS in a usable state, NayuOS will have to depart from ChromiumOS base.

I am interested to find out how easy it would be to derive from GalliumOS (with Elbe?) a read-only system image for Chromebooks that supports only three applications: a web browser. a terminal and a file browser. It would also be interesting how suitable could be a web browser such as Falkon on a Qt based minimal desktop such as LxQt. Could we reproduce something close or better than the ChromeOS experience?

The AOSP way is interesting but would probably require huge resources and would provide little compared to existing solutions on existing device. It is better to simply follow what Miraxess and Eelo are doing and rely on them.

Contact

  • Photo Jean-Paul Smets
  • Logo Nexedi
  • Jean-Paul Smets
  • jp (at) nexedi (dot) com
  • Jean-Paul Smets is the founder and CEO of Nexedi. After graduating in mathematics and computer science at ENS (Paris), he started his career as a civil servant at the French Ministry of Economy. He then left government to start a small company called “Nexedi” where he developed his first Free Software, an Enterprise Resource Planning (ERP) designed to manage the production of swimsuits in the not-so-warm but friendly north of France. ERP5 was born. In parallel, he led with Hartmut Pilch (FFII) the successful campaign to protect software innovation against the dangers of software patents. The campaign eventually succeeeded by rallying more than 100.000 supporters and thousands of CEOs of European software companies (both open source and proprietary). The Proposed directive on the patentability of computer-implemented inventions was rejected on 6 July 2005 by the European Parliament by an overwhelming majority of 648 to 14 votes, showing how small companies can together in Europe defeat the powerful lobbying of large corporations. Since then, he has helped Nexedi to grow either organically or by investing in new ventures led by bright entrepreneurs.