Home Android Ported to Google’s Cr-48, the Chrome OS PC

Android Ported to Google’s Cr-48, the Chrome OS PC

Developer Liam McLoughin, more commonly known as “Hexxeh” on the Web, has ported Google’s Android mobile operating system over to the Cr-48 notebook computer, which previously ran Google’s notebook operating system Chrome OS. The basic, black computer, test hardware currently being distributed to thousands of tech journalists and enthusiasts worldwide, is meant to demonstrate the upcoming cloud-based desktop operating system from Google known as Chrome OS.

Hexxeh, who typically releases customized versions of Chrome OS via his website, had previously ported Chrome OS to iPad, among other things. With this latest port of Android to the desktop now in the open, a question is raised: if Chrome OS can run on tablets and Android can run on notebooks, why is Google developing two separate operating systems?

Android on Cr-48

McLoughin tweeted the following image of the Android port last night, but subsequent tweets noted that the files used in accomplishing this feat are currently incomplete.

To one follower (@coggy9) who said he had found Hexxeh’s Android.tar.gz files online (sneaky!), McLoughin replied that the files the user discovered were incomplete, out of date, and that “the kernel needs options changing to support the GPT partitioning on the Cr-48.” In other words, this project isn’t finished yet.

However, it appears that @coggy9 was able to get Android to boot on his Chrome OS PC, regardless.

The port was made possible, no doubt, by Hexxeh’s firmware toolkit for the Cr-48 computer, which allows you to load any OS unmodified onto the machine. That project, documented here, should only be undertaken by serious hacker-types as it involves opening up the casing of the computer, flipping a “developer mode” switch on, launching a shell and running various commands. And the entire process could turn your machine into a brick if you mess up.

If that doesn’t sound too intimidating (ha!), you can follow the steps outlined here to get going, if not with Android yet, at least with Ubuntu, Mac OS X or Windows 7.

Why Two OS’s, Google?

Much has already been said about Google’s decision to develop, simulatenously, two different computer operating systems, Chrome OS and Android. Originally, Chrome OS was meant for netbook/notebook computers while Android was designed for smartphones and other mobile devices.

However, as tablet computing – thanks to the iPad – took off, the line between a mobile computer and a desktop computer is beginning to blur. Windows 7 is appearing on new tablets at CES this week, Android is already running on tablets and Chrome OS, courtesy of another Hexxeh port, made it to the iPad.

This had led some to speculate that the two operating systems will merge or that, perhaps, Chrome OS will even fail. Most notably, former Googler/Gmail creator/FriendFeed founder turned Facebook engineer/Y Combinator partner Paul Bucheit recently tweeted a predication that “Chrome OS will be killed next year (or ‘merged’ with Android).” He later explained via FriendFeed that he felt “ChromeOS has no purpose that isn’t better served by Android.” It was a sentiment that struck a cord, as you can see by the discussion that followed.

In the meantime, we hope Hexxeh will release the details of this latest Android to Cr-48 hack so developers can do a little “merging” of their own.

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