Google bought CloudReady, the largest ChromiumOS distribution

Screenshot of CloudReady interface.
Enlargement / CloudReady is an alternative to ChromeOS built from source available in ChromiumOS repositories, much like CentOS was built from Red Hat Enterprise Linux source code.

Jim Salter

This week, Google acquired OS vendor Neverware, the makers of the CloudReady distribution of ChromiumOS. ChromiumOS is the fully open, upstream version of ChromeOS – the largely cloud-focused limited operating system on which Chromebooks and Chromeboxes run.

The build feels good on paper – Google certainly has more resources than Neverware, including but not limited to the developer base for ChromeOS itself. According to the Neverware FAQ on the move, G will deeply respect the existing licensing agreements and has no current plans to block access to the free Home edition of CloudReady.

All of this good news comes with “at the moment” recordings on every point, unfortunately – which strikes us as a little unimaginable, come as it does in the immediately after Red Hat announced it was killing CentOS Linux and replacing CentOS Stream. .

While there is no real connection between Google and Red Hat, the relationship between CloudReady and Google’s own ChromeOS was largely a true replica of that between RHEL and CentOS. The flagship distribution in all cases is open, and the source code is available – but compiling it into a work product is an important task, and that final work product is not freely available from seller.

CloudReady, like CentOS before it, takes the freely available source for its parent and turns it into a freely and instantly available clone.

Chromebook with another name

The analogy between CentOS and CloudReady breaks down a bit when a hardware issue arises. Both RHEL and CentOS are installed on the same standard x86 hardware – but Google ChromeOS is only rolled out on Google-licensed Chromebooks and Chromeboxes, with limited lifecycles and support windows.

CloudReady intends to extend the ChromeOS experience beyond these hardware limits and short lifecycles – it can be installed on any PC hardware, and it will not “expire automatically- mobile when that hardware reaches a certain age. For schools with older fleets of Windows 7-based PCs that wouldn’t perform well with Windows 10, CloudReady offers a way to update the operating system without updating the hardware itself.

While the main revenue stream for Neverware comes from education and enterprise customers who pay license fees per device, the company also offers an available Home version freely. The Home edition of CloudReady allows anyone to convert an old PC (or a new, very cheap PC) to a Chromebook-like system.

The free Home version cannot be managed with a Google Administration console, as Chromebooks would be in educational or enterprise environments, but otherwise it is a functional ChromeOS proxy, incorporating a regular, self-contained security update. -mobile. CloudReady Education and Enterprise versions take this a step further, with full administration with Chrome Management and the Google Administration console.