Chrome OS Was Originally Based On......Firefox?

by Ostatic Staff - Feb. 19, 2013

Former Google engineer Jeff Nelson has a blog post up that is generating lots of buzz due to the inside details it supplies about the origin of Google's Chrome OS platform. The cloiud-focused operating system has drawn lots of headlines lately as more individual users, schools and businesses adopt Chromebooks.

It's well-known that the Chromium core of Chrome OS was based on Linux, and Canonical even helped Google shape the operating system. But among the details that Nelson recalls, the first versions of Chrome OS were actually based on Mozilla Firefox.

Nelson writes:

"Google OS was not originally written for Chrome or called 'Chrome OS.'  The first versions were all based on Firefox.  When I wrote the first version in 2006, Google had not yet started developing a web browser of its own, nor had the name 'Chrome' exist as a Google product.  Chrome versions followed in 2007, after internal beta test versions of Chrome started to be passed around inside Google."

Among other things, Nelson's post serves as a reminder of just how fast Google has traveled as a player in the browser and operating system spaces. In 2006, Android wasn't around either.

He also notes that Chromebooks (the Acer C7 is shown above) were originally rejected by Google management, which is probably why they remained rumored products for a long time:

"Chromebook was initially rejected by Google management.  In fact I wrote the first version as early as July 2006 and showed it around to management.  Instead of launching a project, the response was extremely tepid.  My boss complained, 'You can't use it on an airplane.'  Actually, you could as, under the covers, it was still a bare-bones Linux distribution and could execute any Linux program installed on it."

Nelson remained a backer of Chrome OS because he found both Microsoft Windows and Linux to be too slow. His post is well worth reading if you use either the Chrome browser or Chrome OS, or both.