Chrome OS notebooks from Acer and Samsung are expected to launch next month at $349 and $429, respectively. The fact that you can get a more powerful netbook with Windows 7 pre-installed for roughly the same price, or even less, is already putting some people off. But that doesn't mean you should disregard Google's operating system without so much as giving it a try -- especially since it's available as a free download for you to test on your own hardware.
Google Chrome OS is to Chromium OS what the Google Chrome browser is to Chromium. It's essentially Chrome OS's open source brother, used primarily by developers, with code that is available for anyone to checkout, modify, and build.
While you'd normally have to build Chromium OS from source to try it out on your computer, several developers have released installable builds that will save you the trouble. Over at chromeos.hexxeh.net, builds are automatically generated each day at around 6PM GMT from the latest Chromium source code, and made available in either bootable USB, VirtualBox or VMWare format. We'll cover both methods in this article while highlighting their pros and cons.
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