Interview: Chrome OS Zero’s Hexxeh

Posted on 14. Jan, 2010 by in Features


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chromiumoszero1From Chrome OS Diet to Cherry and now the latest, Zero, Hexxeh has been the primary source for Chrome OS build releases ever since Google released the Chromium code to the masses in November. They’ve been popular mostly because they work with a lot of existing hardware, plus the builds are small enough to fit on any USB drive. We got a chance to ask some questions of Hexxeh, who just released Chrome OS Zero a few days ago and talks about how he got started, future job prospects and some features in his latest version.

Tell us about yourself.

Well I’m a UK college student doing AS levels, planning on doing Computer Science at uni. I do web development work here and there, worked a few cool projects. I’d say Chromium OS is one of the most interesting yet, though.

Why did you get you involved in Chrome OS?

I first heard about ChromeOS mid-2009 when the rumours were flying around about an OS from Google. When they made the announcement in November, I just saw it and thought “that looks like it’d be cool to play with”. So I downloaded a copy that night, a couple of hours and a bit of tinkering later, I had it running on my netbook, and I was happy with it. I decided to share it with a few friends who wanted to play around too, and they liked it, and shared it around. So then I just created a site to share it on, I didn’t really have any intention of keeping it up to date, it was just something fun to toy around with for a bit. But then a few tech news sites made posts about it. This killed my small home server stone dead. It was clear people wanted more. So I released Chromium OS Diet, and the same happened again. It just went from there really, two versions later we’re at Zero and I’ve no intention of stopping yet, still got lots of ideas for new features and improvements.

Has the Google Chromium team been helpful when you have had problems come up?

Yeah, they have Google Groups where you can ask questions and it’s proved really useful, it tends to be the case that if I hit a problem, someone else had to and there was a fix. Where there wasn’t, I could ask and many people would come to the rescue and help me out. All in all, they’ve been great.

Are you getting a lot of support from the open-source community? In what ways have they helped you develop this project?

Many an open-source developer has offered to help out with various things, mirroring of the files, supporting the build server by buying shares of it as VPSes and so on. The #linux and #chromium-os  IRC (freenode) channels have been a great source of information too.

How much time do you spend working on this?

Too long, haha! When I get down to working on it, I’ll spend all night getting it to work, I don’t like leaving it until it works or it’s 6AM. This gets especially difficult when combined with college. But it’s totally worth it, I love reading the responses from people who’ve tried it out.

What are your goals for working on Chrome OS? There must be something that drives you to do this.

Long term goals are vastly improved hardware support. Obviously, we’ll follow the main Chromium OS source tree too, so any improvements made there will flow downstream to my builds. I hear stuff in the pipeline includes 3G modem support, multi-language support and a new login UI. Anyone interested can check out the main Chromium OS wiki, much of the stuff there will make it’s way into the open-source builds. I like to think I might be building myself the possibility of working with Google is in the cards too, but we’ll have to see about that.

What do you think are the best new features of Chrome OS Zero?

The speed increases are one of the biggest things for most people. Personally, I’m a fan of the new artwork that was added, gives the build amore unique feel and makes it indentifiable against any others. While the update system didn’t ship with Zero, it will be able to be installed separately as a feature, that’s the big one for me. Right now, if I want to release even the tiniest of updates, that means a full new build. There is a lot of work that goes into the build, and it can take a very long time to get it ready to download. The faster I can get the new stuff out to people and get feedback, the better.

Can you talk about how the auto-update capability works in Chrome OS Zero?

It’s pretty simple actually, the way I’ve designed it is so that it downloads a shell script from my server along with a payload archive, and simply executes the script so that the update is installed. After a reboot, anything changed should be available. You should get an pop-up message upon login if an update is available, with an option to install it or ignore it. There are a couple limitations, mostly the amount of disk space allocated by the image.  If it becomes a problem I’ll either have to try and trim more out of the OS or just publish a larger build. I’m hoping this will please the people who’ve been asking about fixing the problem where they lose their settings upon re-imaging a new version. The biggest potential issue is that I make a change breaks something for someone else. I could maintain revert scripts, but I dunno, I think it’d be better for everyone if they just reported problems when they arise and I’ll try and get on it asap. Hopefully people can understand it’s not exactly easy to implement something like this. Updates won’t be forced, but I can’t really support old versions, so it’s best to keep up. Hopefully this’ll please those with slower connections and low download limits too, downloading an update is far less expensive in terms of bandwidth than a full new image. You will, however, need to do full updates now and then to get the latest Chromium OS code, this is very difficult to do in an update cleanly.

What’s up with Flash? Is it Adobe or what?

Heh, the amount of people who’ve asked me about this! Was a case of bad luck really, I just happened to check out the code for Chromium at a point when there were problems with Flash, they were fixed very shortly after but I’d already started the build process and didn’t know. Hoping to push a hotfix out for this via the update system beta soon, along with a fix for Bookmark Sync.

Lastly, can you talk about what’s in store in the future for you?

I don’t know yet, but I’m pretty excited to find out myself. There was talk of the possibility of something happening with a couple companies, but we’ll see how it pans out. I’ll let you know how I get on, heh.

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Related posts:

  1. Hexxeh Releases Chrome OS Vanilla – Straight From Chromium
  2. Hexxeh Shows off Touch on a Chrome OS Tablet
  3. Chrome OS Lime from Hexxeh on its Way Soon?

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17 Responses to “Interview: Chrome OS Zero’s Hexxeh”

  1. Darren

    15. Jan, 2010

    Really love the work you’re doing Hexxeh!

    Al the best with the job offers :P

  2. hannabil

    17. Jan, 2010

    i et your dog

  3. ChromeOS Zero publiziert - yellowTAB

    18. Jan, 2010

    [...] vor kurzem hat der Entwickler ein recht ausführliches Interview gegeben in dem er darüber spricht, warum er an diesem Projekt arbeitet und wie es mit der [...]

  4. bob

    18. Jan, 2010

    “…that if I hit a problem, someone else had to and…”

    …that if I hit a problem, someone else had too and…

  5. lee

    18. Jan, 2010

    good on ya m8! gonna try it tomorrow..

  6. [...] super Hexxeh, criador do Chrome OS Zero, deu uma entrevista bem interessante ao The Chrome Source, contando um pouco do processo de criação do [...]

  7. [...] Interview: Chrome OS Zero’s Hexxeh From Chrome OS Diet to Cherry and now the latest, Zero, Hexxeh has been the primary source for Chrome OS build releases ever since Google released the Chromium code to the masses in November. They’ve been popular mostly because they work with a lot of existing hardware, plus the builds are small enough to fit on any USB drive. We got a chance to ask some questions of Hexxeh, who just released Chrome OS Zero a few days ago and talks about how he got started, future job prospects and some technical features in his latest version. [...]

  8. [...] – Uno studente di informatica, intervistato dal sito The Chrome Source, ha dichiarato di aver compilato Google Chrome OS e di averlo reso [...]

  9. [...] One young sharp young developer in England, who hasn’t even graduated yet, has been releasing …This young man does not have to worry about getting a job, he will have his pick of them. This does not mean his life is perfect. I have known some of these bright young types, and they are as good as anyone else about messing up their lives. But at least they don’t have to worry about money. [...]

  10. [...] - ChromiumOS Zero (Vía Slashdot) - Interview: Chrome OS Zero’s Hexxeh (The Chrome [...]

  11. ChromiumOS Zero desafía a Google » Chromium, Google, Operativo, Zero, Sistema, ChromiumOS » Conexion Geek

    19. Jan, 2010

    [...] | ChromiumOS Zero | Slashdot | The Chrome Source ¿Te gustó este post? [...]

  12. Esclusivo: Nuovo Sistema Operativo da Chromium OS, senza i limiti imposti da Google - Tgeek - Il telegiornale dei geekers

    20. Jan, 2010

    [...] a Hexxeh rivela che il codice si basa sul sorgente di Chrome, con alcune modifiche che permettono un sistema operativo molto simile a Google, ma con alcuni [...]

  13. [...] entrevista a Hexxeh que publican en The Chrome Source revela cómo nació este proyecto, que se basa en Chromium OS -el repositorio de código, base de [...]

  14. [...] as we’ve seen many fake builds of ChromeOS over the last year or so. However, after doing a bit of research, it appears that this is the real [...]

  15. [...] out my interview with Hexxeh earlier this year. reddit_url = http://www.thechromesource.com/hexxeh-puts-chrome-os-on-an-ipad/;reddit_title = [...]

  16. [...] who knows Chrome, knows Hexxeh- the fellow behind pretty much every open source Chrome OS build available on the net. If [...]

  17. [...] who knows Chrome, knows Hexxeh- the fellow behind pretty much every open source Chrome OS build available on the net. If [...]

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