So, Google has surprised everybody and made their own browser:  Chrome.  If you haven’t tried Chrome, you can get it here if you are running Windows.  Google hasn’t released the Linux version yet, but you can sign up for an email notification when it’s ready, if you like.  For now, Codeweavers has hacked together a .deb, available here.

When Chrome first became available, the media was in a frenzy about how Google was going to use Chrome to crush Microsoft or something, and people were downloading it like crazy.  Now, the word is that Chrome is a failure.  The LA Times and ComputerWorld think that Chrome is failing because although it gained a lot of market share the first few days, people are now going back to their old browsers.

Is Chrome a failure?  I don’t think it’s failed, yet.  The reason the media is saying Chrome is a flop, is because they don’t understand why Google made a browser, which is partly because they don’t READ and partly because they don’t understand FOSS.

If you look at what Google has to say about why they made Chrome, and read between the lines a little, their purpose becomes clear.  It isn’t about gaining Chrome market share, it’s about building a faster Java engine for Internet Explorer and the rest of the proprietary browsers.

Google’s Web 2.0 apps like Google Docs, Google Maps, and Google Calendar run on Java, and Google reports that they are being limited in what they can do with these applications only because the Java engines of all the other browsers out there are too slow.

Google’s brilliant solution was to start a project called Chromium, and to build an open source Java engine called V8, which apparently blows the competition (excluding Firefox – see below) out of the water.  The best way to spread the word about this V8 Java engine, so as to hopefully get Microsoft to implement it in IE, was to make Chrome.  Sure, it’s a nice browser, and there is a lot Google might do with it, but it isn’t the point.  It’s just the means to an end.

What about Mozilla Firefox?  Well, Mozilla is working on their own super fast Free Open Source Java engine called TraceMonkey which will be included in the quickly approaching Firefox 3.1 update.  And according to Arstechnia, TraceMonkey is already significantly faster than V8.

Why did Google go to all the effort, if TraceMonkey is faster?  The difference, is that Mozilla’s software is under the GPL and Google’s V8 has been released under a BSD license.  If Microsoft wanted to include the GPL’d TraceMonkey code in Internet Explorer, they’d be bound to the terms of the GPL, which requires putting any additional code changes back into the Free Software community under the same license.  The BSD license has no such requirement.  Microsoft could take the code, and give nothing back.

So, has Google failed?  That depends on Microsoft.  Microsoft will have the choice of delivering a sub-standard Java experience in Internet Explorer, or taking the free gift and making Google’s web 2.0 apps faster.  Time will tell.

Dag, this thing looks cool.  Small enough to comfortably stick in a backpack, and with a solid state drive so I don’t need to worry about it getting knocked around a little bit.  They start priced at $349.

Not to mention, it comes preloaded with Ubuntu!   Dell will be including all the audio and video codecs you will need for playing any kind of media, and all the hardware is obviously fully supported.  This takes care of the two biggest challenges that come with using Ubuntu.  Mmm, sweet Wifi.  I wonder if it comes preloaded with Ubuntu Netbook Remix?

When I get mine, I’ll definitely need to get the webcam add-on for making video calls over the internet.  I’ll also consider upping the RAM to 1GB, and possibly the solid state drive to 8 GB.

I expect that I would mostly use it for browsing the internet and VOIP video calling through Skype, but I’ll also be running applications off my server through ssh with X11 forwarding.

For those that haven’t used X11 forwarding before, it’s an amazing technology.  For example, I keep all of my documents and pictures on my server, but I can run the media viewing software through my network or even across the internet, allowing me to read my documents or view my photos without the software or media installed on the computer I’m sitting in front of.  And since none of it resides on the laptop, I don’t need the space to store it, or the processing power to run it – the server handles all of that.  For more on how to use X11 forwarding over ssh, I’ll be covering the topic in an upcoming post.  You can even play games using this method!  Of course, performance is dependent on how fast your network connection is.

If you want to read more about this excellent device, or build your own, click this link to go to the Dell site.

Update: According to the Canonical Blog, the Inspiron Mini 9 does not use the Ubuntu Netbook Remix launcher, but has it’s own custom launcher, visible here.

If you wish there were an easier way to stay on top of the latest updates from your favorite websites and blogs,  you should start taking advantage of RSS!

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RSS stands for Really Simple Syndication.  Taking advantage of RSS enables you to go to a single place to check for any updates from all of the sites you want to keep track of.  Setting it up involves picking an RSS Feed Reader, and giving it the addresses of the RSS feeds from each of the websites you want to keep track of.  It sounds tricky, but it’s actually really easy – the software does all the work.

There are a lot of different RSS Feed Readers (also known as RSS Aggregators) available.  An RSS Feed Reader is an installed software program or online web service which will accept your RSS feed’s link, and will then automatically check for new stuff from your chosen websites.  Firefox provides RSS Aggregation through it’s Live Bookmarks feature, which you can learn to use here.  My personal reader of choice is Google Reader.  Check it out at reader.google.com.  When you first visit the site, you will be shown a friendly video which explains how to use Google Reader (you will need an account to sign in, accounts are free).  I really like using Google Reader.  Since it is an online service, I can keep track of what I have and haven’t already read from anywhere with internet access.  You may feel the same, or you may prefer to use

I would highly recommend using the Firefox web browser to browse the internet.  Get Firefox at www.firefox.com.  Firefox makes it REALLY easy to subscribe to the RSS Feeds of pages you visit.  The website will provide an RSS link, or a button to click ( RSS Feed Icon ) to get the Feed’s address.  Also, Firefox will put an RSS button in the address bar of the browser for websites which have Feeds available, as a shortcut.  Just click the button, or the link, and Firefox will help you complete the process.

Using RSS would be a great way to keep track of my blog!  Clicking any of the RSS Feed Icon icons on this page will let you subscribe to my blog.  You can subscribe to any WordPress Blog by clicking the  “Entries (RSS)” link at the bottom of the blog page.

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