Chrome OS install, hints and tips & my first experience

Horay! Chrome OS is out at
You can preview it a bit here

First you need to go to install all the pre-requisites to compile it on your Linux system listed here – OR
If you run ubuntu just do this
sh (hit Y near the end when it wants to install binutils-gold ok?)

Download the tar.gz from here
Or grab the git repo

sudo apt-get install git-core
mkdir [chromiumos]
cd [chromiumos]
gclient config
gclient sync

Note: This process may appear to hang while downloading the kernel source. It may take anywhere up to 10-20 minutes before you get more feedback

Follow the build instructions here

Once its booted up and running, you will realize very quickly its just a bootable web browser. There’s nothing else installed or to install. No logout button, no shutdown, no nothing.
If you are cunning like me and want to play then nothing like a ctl+alt+t to bring up a terminal then use your sudo to get root access. (no tutorials on this, if you dont know the power of sudo you shouldn’t be messing with things!)

First thing i noticed was that the main root file system was mounted what seems to be read-only. This i can only presume is for speed (and it is blimmin fast!) amoung other things.

The home directory was mounted read-write however to allow for downloading etc.
Package management or editing system files is impossible without remounting the root filesystem as read-write
mount -o remount,rw /

It appears to be based on Ubuntu, and its so cut down nothing much is installed. However in saying this, its still 589MB on disk when installed, which considering the fact that its not actually running anything other than a web browser, that’s pretty shocking. I can get a full debian install with xwindows and basic apps in that size fairly easily. Perhaps they havn’t had time to strip more garbage from it yet?
I noticed when its running that its using 653MB of my 1GB RAM, and has no swap at all. I presume its entirely running in RAM which contributes to its speed.

Catch 22, ChromeOS uses your google user/pass to login, if you use this then it will automatically log you in to your google acct at the same time, however, Wireless networking doesn’t come up until you are logged in (WPA key) .

I decided I wanted to add another offline user, so i did. My default username/password was chronos/chronos and i didn’t want that (yes downloaded a precompiled image). I added myself a user, then added my user to the admin,video,etc groups identical to the main user. I was still not able to login using this user which sucked, so i copied the homedir over from the first user to the second.

Still no go, so i checked in /etc for hard coded user names and found a few
/etc/security/pam_mount.conf.xml had the homedir to be mounted hard coded into it
/etc/init.d/ has export USER=firstusername
/etc/init.d/ has su firstusername -c “/etc/init.d/ ${MCOOKIE}”
/etc/acpi/ has export HOME=/home/firstusername

I edited all these to point to the new username, also copied the firstusername to secondusername homedir, chown’d all the files and grep -r’d and changed all instances of username hard coding.

Whilst editing these files i noticed that the pam_mount.conf contained information for mounting the home directory as an encrypted area.
I rebooted and hoped like heck after editing it would all go well. I should mention here that I’m using my 701 EEE PC laptop here, its a great test bed for lots of things.

After reboot i was still unable to login as the new user, so i checked directories other than /etc and found /usr/lib/chomeos-cryptohome/common

At this point, im tired, its late on a sunday evening and i never quiet got it the other user going. Since i need that offline user account to login before my WPA key/WIFI works, i will pursue this one further, for now im heading to bed (may update post later)

Google impliments Portable Contacts

“Lots of websites ask you to invite your friends when you sign up, and for good reason; the web is more fun when you can share your experiences with other people. However, too many of these sites access your list of friends by asking for your username and password so they can sign in as you and scrape your contact lists. The problem is that once a website has your password, it can access all sorts of data, not just your contacts.

Portable Contacts to the rescue! Portable Contacts (affectionately known as “PoCo”) is an open standard that aims to make it easier to access “who-you-know” information in a secure way — this means sites don’t have to employ the “password anti-pattern” of scraping websites.

Using PoCo is ‘easy’ to use because it builds on existing standards and libraries. In fact, PoCo uses the same data format as the OpenSocial REST protocol. The ‘secure’ part is provided by OAuth, an authentication mechanism that allows users to grant access to only certain sets of data (address books in this case).

Web developers can now access Google Contacts using the OAuth and Portable Contacts standards. To test this out, you first need to Register your Domain and get an OAuth key. Then you can use Plaxo’s Portable Contacts test client to send some test queries. Just enter your OAuth key, hit the “Grant Access” button to authorize access to your Google Contacts, and start submitting queries to see PoCo in action. For more information, check out the Portable Contacts Developer’s Guide on or visit”

And another write up about it at

Google has announced that the company now offers a secure way for third party websites to access any user’s list of friends, with their permission, and based on a proposed new industry standard. No more giving away your GMail password and then having random services you want to try go into your account and scrape the information there.

Called Portable Contacts, the technical spec offers a standard, interoperable way for social networks to serve up your friends lists to anyone you give permission to access them. This should allow application developers to innovate on top of your social connections much more efficiently.

Personally, i see the good points in it, but ill hold back judgement until its been about for a while. No doubt there will be the bunch that jump up and down and scream ‘invasion of privacy!’! But that asied it would be handy, considering ive just moved email addresses and the thing i miss most is that i couldnt import/export contacts in any decent fashion.