Sunday, 29 April 2018

Neverware





After hardware and software we now have Neverware.

It's a marketing thing. Neverware isn't a computer science concept but it is an idea that is based on the Chromebook. Chromebook's are Google's idea of cloud computing. You have a laptop, and most of them are laptops, which is little more than a browser. Traditional PCs rely on an operating system that can stand alone in the world. Traditional PCs can connect to networks but are defined by having access to applications that function on their own. They can store significant amounts of data without an Internet connection. They can do real work, play music and play games without needing to connect to anything.

A Chromebook is the opposite. It has a minuscule operating system. The operating system is primarily there to run the Google Chrome web browser and connect to Google services on the Internet. No internet connection means it can do very little. There are grey lines. Chromebooks can store some stuff and do have some offline capability. However, these abilities are seen as complementing what is expected to be an "always online" experience with occasional disconnection.

While Chromebooks can be bought in retail stores there is inevitably an open source project to reproduce the experience. This is called Chromium. Chromium was started by Google to provide open source code that feeds into the propriety Google technology around Chrome and Chromebooks.

Back to Neverware. Neverware is a version of Chromium that allows almost anyone to convert a laptop to Chrome OS. In effect turn old laptops that might be heading for recycling into usable devices you grandmother might like. If you have an old laptop running Windows Vista or something equally as unloved you can create a USB installation kit and turn it into a Chromebook. It will even boot from the USB so you can have a "PC on a USB stick".

You can literally buy an old laptop suitable for conversion for under £50 on ebay. With Chromebooks starting at £199 new giving an old laptop a Chromebook conversion with Neverware might be just the thing to revive an old PC.

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