Chrome OS Serves as the Unlikely Basis of a Revolutionary New Server OS

The minimal, web-powered operating system turned out to be a great choice for servers

By Lucian Parfeni on August 22nd, 2013 20:31 GMT

Chrome OS has been going strong since last fall when Google introduced two new, very cheap Chromebooks. It seems that the price was a crucial factor in adoption, as Chromebooks have been dominating the top selling laptop charts ever since.

Now though, a team is taking Chrome OS, or rather its core, in a completely opposite direction. Instead of serving as a thin OS layer for the web, it's going to serve as a thin OS layer for cloud applications.

CoreOS, as the new Chrome OS-based operating system is called, takes the best ideas and concepts from the Google-built OS and applies them to the server market.

The result is something unlike anything before it, occupying a space between a full-blown server OS and a VM hypervisor.

CoreOS' main advantage comes from Chrome OS' sandboxing technology, i.e. the idea that apps don't need direct access to the underlying OS or the hardware resources.

This simple concept completely changes both the way cloud apps are built and the way the server OS operates and is maintained.

This is why CoreOS borrows another of Chrome OS' best features, automatic updates. Since the apps are compartmentalized and separated from each other and from the OS, the software can be updated without disrupting the apps.

This also makes it trivial to move apps from one server to another, even from one provider to the other, since the software and the data is neatly packaged.

These ideas seem pretty common sense and they are. But building the software to implement them isn't, which is why CoreOS actually owes quite a lot to Chrome OS from which it borrowed quite a lot of technology.

In the end, basing a server operating system on Chrome OS makes a lot of sense when you think about it, since Chrome OS was designed to be as minimal as possible and is essentially the Linux kernel and the absolute bare-bones minimum amount of libraries and programs needed to run Chrome, most of those custom built by Google.
Chomium OS served as the base for CoreOS
   Chomium OS served as the base for CoreOS
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