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Chrome OS Doesn't Trust Apps Or Users

kdawson posted more than 3 years ago | from the for-your-own-good dept.

Google 410

holy_calamity writes "Google's Chrome OS chiefs explain in Technology Review how most of the web-only OS's features flow from changing one core assumption of previous operating system designs. 'Operating systems today are centered on the idea that applications can be trusted to modify the system, and that users can be trusted to install applications that are trustworthy,' says Google VP Sundar Pichai. Chrome doesn't trust applications, or users — and neither can modify the system. Once users are banned from installing applications, or modifying the system security, usability, and more are improved, the Googlers claim."

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410 comments

Wait, what? (5, Interesting)

Monkeedude1212 (1560403) | more than 3 years ago | (#34516794)

Doesn't that make it even more closed than an iProduct?

Re:Wait, what? (5, Informative)

42forty-two42 (532340) | more than 3 years ago | (#34516942)

The headline's a bit misleading. Users _can_ replace the OS. However, the BIOS will check signatures on the OS, and offer to restore from a known-good backup on boot (without destroying user data). This ensures that if the OS is infected by a virus or something, it's very, very easy to restore.
There are specific points in the design docs [chromium.org] where they make it clear that they do want to support advanced users installing their own OS, to the extent that that does not cause trouble for less advanced users.

Re:Wait, what? (5, Insightful)

Microlith (54737) | more than 3 years ago | (#34516992)

And I expect that to carry zero weight with 3rd party hardware vendors, who will undoubtedly lock the platforms down and, if they're like Motorola, they'll sign the kernel so you absolutely can't load other OSes.

Re:Wait, what? (1, Insightful)

mlts (1038732) | more than 3 years ago | (#34517284)

I'm almost sure that will be the case. I can see third party ChromeOS device vendors not just kernel signing, efuses, or autoreinstalls, but doing one or more of the following:

1: Keeping a manifest of all executables and having a process (kernel or user space) that kills with a -9 anything whose name, inode, and path isn't in on the guest list.

2: Throwing a hardware switch to brick the device (true bricking, as in blowing out sections of the BIOS chips) if the OS thinks its tampered with.

3: Autobanning people's Google accounts who have custom ROMs.

4: Keeping a list of who is rooting the machines, then hitting them with DMCA/ACTA charges in large busts covered by the media done all on one day (think Operation Sun Devil). Of course, jailbreaking is legal for now, but ACTA is going to be the law of the land in the most of the world soon.

What I fear that may end up happening is that the only ChromeOS device that will allow custom OS modifications will be the reference ones that Google does, similar to how Google phones are the only unlocked Android devices (ADP1, ADP2, Nexus 1, Nexus 1S) available commercially.

Re:Wait, what? (2)

DragonWriter (970822) | more than 3 years ago | (#34517356)

And I expect that to carry zero weight with 3rd party hardware vendors

Perhaps not. OTOH, I expect that Google -- for the same reason there is a always an unrestricted Android dev phone available -- to always have an a similar Chrome OS dev device available once Chrome OS is generally available.

Re:Wait, what? (5, Insightful)

Americano (920576) | more than 3 years ago | (#34517066)

The headline isn't really misleading, it's actually quite accurate - Chrome OS doesn't trust apps or users to be safe. That you can replace Chrome OS with something more trusting doesn't mean Chrome OS itself suddenly trusts those apps and users.

Re:Wait, what? (5, Insightful)

mlts (1038732) | more than 3 years ago | (#34517192)

Reading the design docs, having an oem-unlock switch is a nice compromise between keeping Joe Sixpack from getting compromised by malware, then blaming it on Google/device maker's lack of security versus allowing a clued user to do what he or she wants.

With this in mind, one thing that would be nice to have are offline apps. This way, a glitch in Internet connectivity would not mean a corrupted term paper.

I just have one concern though -- the fact that everything you do is stored in the cloud. This means zero privacy. Even with the lack of privacy now, if an application started sifting through Word documents and uploading them to an ad agency, there would be Hell to pay. However, one can't have any assurance that someone isn't doing this when all the docs are stored remotely. There is a fundamental rule, "don't put anything on the Internet that you don't want everyone, including your worst enemy to know." So, trusting a cloud service with everything you do may have negative ramifications later on.

Re:Wait, what? (-1)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#34517448)

Even with the lack of privacy now, if an application started sifting through Word documents and uploading them to an ad agency, there would be Hell to pay.

There most certainly will NOT be hell to pay. This is exactly how Google Docs works today. The very name of the product is that of an ad agency.

Re:Wait, what? (5, Interesting)

phoenix321 (734987) | more than 3 years ago | (#34517458)

I can already replace my Windows installation and when the OS is infected by a virus or something, it's very, very easy to restore. Just hit a BIOS switch, reinstall from a truly hidden (and BIOS-protected) partition - or recovery DVD - and reinstall without destroying user data. (All user data is on D:, while reinstall will bomb C:)

It doesn't work that well, let me tell you. User data is there, but programs need to be reinstalled to access it. System comes back squeaky clean, but everything needs to be changed to my personal liking.

What it boils down is that a computer will be either vulnerable to users, useless for them or anything in between these extremes. Can't install programs? Useless but secure. Can install any program? Useful, but vulnerable.

Without settings and mail saved *somewhere*, a mail client is useless. With settings and mail saved *anywhere*, a mail client is potentially vulnerable.

Replacing the OS with a known-good image only works if someone can truly produce an image that is more useful than say a Windows default installation and still known to be good. Which gets increasingly doubtful the older the OS image is, the more programs are installed and the more data/configuration/specifics are kept in program installations somewhere.

Re:Wait, what? (1, Insightful)

Americano (920576) | more than 3 years ago | (#34516944)

No no no, this is Slashdot.

When Steve Jobs says "HTML5 web apps are all you need," it's naked, leering, monopolistic evil.

When Google VP Sundar Pichai says the same thing, it's for your own good, and the most sensible advance in computing since the GUI was invented.

Re:Wait, what? (0)

moderatorrater (1095745) | more than 3 years ago | (#34517308)

Exactly. Google is the golden calf here on slashdot, that's why any story that mentions google is completely free of comments screaming that Google is now proven to be evil and we're all sheep for trusting them with any data.

Of course, if every article about google was 90% those type of comments, then you'd look like an idiot, wouldn't you?

Re:Wait, what? (3, Insightful)

Americano (920576) | more than 3 years ago | (#34517420)

Come back in an hour when all those posts have been modded down to -1, Flamebait, and look at the stuff that's been marked up.

There are an awful lot of people here who are going through tortuous mental gymnastics to explain why Google locking down its OS so that the only thing you can do is run web apps is a good thing because you can wipe Chrome OS and install whatever else you want.

By that logic, Windows is the best OS ever, because you can wipe your new system from Dell and install something that's completely different from Windows on it. If the best thing you can say about Chrome OS is "you can replace it with something better," then it's not very good, is it?

Re:Wait, what? (4, Informative)

mrsteveman1 (1010381) | more than 3 years ago | (#34516954)

MORE closed? No, because Google has always said that users could get into the core os if they wanted to without resorting to exploits and hacking.

Re:Wait, what? (5, Insightful)

natehoy (1608657) | more than 3 years ago | (#34517046)

I was thinking the same thing. If iOS is a walled garden, this is a walled garden hermetically within a Plexiglas dome and a concrete floor and all the plants in sterilized pots.

But that might not be a bad thing. For the "my phone/computer is an appliance" crowd, this might be perfect. No fiddling around trying to download plugins or extensions, no overhead of antivirus, and no difference between multiple machines, and most importantly almost no tech support required. If I break something like this, I go out and buy a new one, present one username and password to it, and it's exactly like my old one used to be.

If you're selling an OS whose primary purpose is to surf da interwebz, it might not be a terribly bad idea to resurrect the concept of the "dumb terminal" in that context. I presume Google will push updates, so if they keep a current list of plugins and/or extensions that can be enabled/disabled by the user as desired, you have machines that are going to be really, really hard to compromise, and really, really easy to use. And really, really inexpensive.

Well, except by Google, so you'd better trust Google a LOT under this model (much like you have to trust Apple a good deal under the iOS model). If you want your computer to do anything outside what Google had in mind, you're done. If Google gets hacked, your data gets hacked and you might never know about it. And, of course, you'll never be able to do anything without Google knowing about it.

Re:Wait, what? (1)

vtcodger (957785) | more than 3 years ago | (#34517336)

***If you want your computer to do anything outside what Google had in mind, you're done. If Google gets hacked, your data gets hacked and you might never know about it***

Too Right. But if you expect this cloud concept to work, maybe it's how things are going to have to work. Realistically, I don't see how one can leave their personal and especially financial data on someone else's server without fullproof encryption and/or Operating Systems that are far more secure than Windows and Unix are or are ever likely to be.

Re:Wait, what? (1, Insightful)

DrgnDancer (137700) | more than 3 years ago | (#34517112)

After reading the article, I can't come to any other conclusion. This is *way* more closed than the iFamily stuff. It's on par with the attitude that Apple took with the initial release of the iPhone, before the App Store. Even then, Apple provided a fair number of local apps that you could use to perform a lot of basic PDA functions. This is literally a computer with one application installed. It has a web browser, that's it.

This is... pretty yucky. I mean... I consider the iPhone's level of lock down to be acceptable on a phone or PDA, but somewhat limiting on a tablet (one reason I don't have an iPad yet). This is a full fledged laptop and it's even more locked down?

Re:Wait, what? (1)

Microlith (54737) | more than 3 years ago | (#34517230)

I consider the iPhone's level of lock down to be acceptable on a phone or PD

I don't, so you can imagine my opinion of blatantly user-hostile systems like this. But make no mistake, this is the larger target for virtually every mobile device manufacturer. Google is just establishing a basis, leaving the final lock down to the vendors. I refer to my prior post regarding that.

Re:Wait, what? (0)

poetmatt (793785) | more than 3 years ago | (#34517290)

might help to put more than 8 seconds of trolling worth to try to understand the difference between this and what apple does.

what your rage is about, and all the things summed up, are exactly apple things. they are not what is going on here for chrome.

Chrome is more like making sure that people can't get around the UAC concept in windows. This is more about enforcing good software policies, not like apple's "we're restricting user choice" which they have done to everything. This is more restricting bad developers from being able to get people to run bad apps.

Whether that is a good decision or one you want to stick with is another story altogether, but this (chrome) is more like assuming that people cannot be trusted and hiding the shit in your house to prevent theft, as opposed to (apple) telling people they can only be on the main floor of the house when they obviously have more options. Windows just lets people in and hopes that they don't steal shit. Consumer grade Linux requires a password for anyone to come in, but at that point anyone with the password can steal shit. Each of these reflect on the trust.

Re:Wait, what? (1)

mlts (1038732) | more than 3 years ago | (#34517396)

Google may be doing Jobs's path though. First only allowing Web apps and getting that locked down, then eventually adding an App Store, and a mechanism for apps to run securely. I can see ChromeOS sporting the userID protection that Android has, but also sporting a DroidWall like mechanism for only allowing apps to communicate to machines specified in their manifest list. For example, a game company's offering would only have access to their servers and Admob.

If this offering started sporting native apps, and a UI that is decent, it might be a good desktop replacement for the Aunt Tillie crowd.

Re:Wait, what? (2)

Eil (82413) | more than 3 years ago | (#34517114)

Not trusting users and going to extraordinary lengths to lock down and DRM your hardware + software are different things entirely.

It's possible to not trust users and still let developers and hackers have access to the innards. Just make the access relatively obscure an put up a big "Here be Dragons" sign.

And, as another commenter pointed out, the Chrome OS laptops will have a way to wipe the system clean should the user get into too much trouble.

Re:Wait, what? (4, Insightful)

gstoddart (321705) | more than 3 years ago | (#34517310)

Doesn't that make it even more closed than an iProduct?

If I read the article correctly, a purely "the web browser is everything" simply won't be worth a damn if you have no network connection.

It's also got no storage, so it's not like you could load it up with your MP3s or pictures.

So, it's a dumb-terminal that requires me to have constant access to the internet, can't store files, can't have actual programs installed on it. I just can't see who is going to want this.

Say what you will, but at least my iPad lets me install software, store my photos to browse, add eBooks, movies, and music ... and I can use it on an airplane.

Re:Wait, what? (2)

pilgrim23 (716938) | more than 3 years ago | (#34517352)

I never trusted the "one Mao Jacket Fits All" paradigm in fashion, and certainly do not with my machine. Somehow the judgement of engineers who "friended" all my gmail address book is suspect. at least to me in designing a total operating system...

Re:Wait, what? (1)

coldfarnorth (799174) | more than 3 years ago | (#34517444)

No.

Chrome lets you run apps (of the browser extension sort) that are "not trusted." It just runs them in an I-don't-trust-you-any-further-than-I-can-throw-you" sort of way"

Sort of like how you'll carry cash in the street around people that you don't inherently trust. You put it in a safe spot rather than hold it in your hand.

The difference between Google's Chrome OS and Apple's iOS is this: while Google assumes everyone is a pickpocket and takes sensible precautions, Apple just says that you are not permitted go to Mexico.

They will never be safe (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#34516840)

As long as they allow input from a mouse or keyboard.

A little problem... (5, Insightful)

DoofusOfDeath (636671) | more than 3 years ago | (#34516842)

I trust me more than I trust Google.

Re:A little problem... (2)

TheLink (130905) | more than 3 years ago | (#34516886)

But you might trust Google more than you trust some average person to not get pwned by malware.

Re:A little problem... (1)

Monkeedude1212 (1560403) | more than 3 years ago | (#34516948)

Nah, Malware I can deal with.

Corporate Overlords are a bit tougher.

Re:A little problem... (1)

dimeglio (456244) | more than 3 years ago | (#34517422)

Just buy Google shares and join your corporate overlords. At the end, what's more profitable is going to end-up being offered on store shelves.

Re:A little problem... (1)

mlts (1038732) | more than 3 years ago | (#34517488)

If I had to trust Google more than I trust Joe Sixpack on the same WAN "segment" not to get his box compromised and turned into a botnet client (which makes for a staging platform for spam/DoS/attacks against my stuff)... I'll trust Google. Having people who download "coolpr0n.exe" locked down from ever installing anything is a benefit to the Internet as a whole.

However, if I had to choose between my stuff and what runs on the hardware I spent money for, I trust my admin capabilities more than what Google assumes I know. At least if a competent admin drops the ball, he or she deals with it, rather than just blaming someone else as a knee-jerk reaction.

Re:A little problem... (5, Funny)

mozumder (178398) | more than 3 years ago | (#34517036)

I don't trust you more than I trust google.

Re:A little problem... (2)

DoofusOfDeath (636671) | more than 3 years ago | (#34517128)

I don't trust you more than I trust google.

Oh come on baby, don't be like that. I swear I was just fixing her sink...

Re:A little problem... (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#34517172)

> I don't trust you more than I trust google.

Trust me Dude, no one trusts you.

Re:A little problem... (1)

jedidiah (1196) | more than 3 years ago | (#34517178)

It doesn't matter what levels of relative distrust I assign to Google or assign to you personally.

Google can do a lot more damage to me than you can.

Re:A little problem... (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#34517252)

I don't trust Google nor you guys.

Have we reached the peak of our little deduction chain?

Re:A little problem... (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#34517274)

The fact that you don't trust you does not remove your implicit trust of me.

Re:A little problem... (1)

denshao2 (1515775) | more than 3 years ago | (#34517158)

It's great to not trust the regular user, but there should be a way for an administrator to get root privileges without hacking.

Re:A little problem... (3, Informative)

SashaMan (263632) | more than 3 years ago | (#34517166)

Fine, then go make your modifications to the open source Chromium project and install whatever the hell you want on it.

And for those comparing this to Apple's lockdown, that's ridiculous - Apple actively tries to prevent you from jailbreaking, while anyone can mod the Chrome OS.

The fact is the vast, vast majority of users can NOT be trusted to install software, and for those that can, fine, mod the OS and go ahead.

Can't install an ap? That'll slow adoption (3, Insightful)

KingFrog (1888802) | more than 3 years ago | (#34516844)

Really, not letting most users or applications modify the OS is a good thing. Microsoft (and others) have had a TERRIBLE model in permitting this. Third-party stuff has no business altering the foundation of the system's operation. Now, not letting an application that doesn't want to monkey with the OS get installed is probably going too far. I mean, who's gonna run an OS they can't put an app on? That's broken.

Re:Can't install an ap? That'll slow adoption (1)

Nadaka (224565) | more than 3 years ago | (#34517032)

I agree it is broken, but the idea is you link to a remote web app. Chrome would be a lot better if it came with a built in web server you could drop an app into to store and run locally.

Re:Can't install an ap? That'll slow adoption (4, Insightful)

Americano (920576) | more than 3 years ago | (#34517140)

Google doesn't get advertising dollars from you running a local app and disconnecting from the network. They *do* get advertising dollars for every online app you regularly use because that's the only way for you to get anything done.

I spend most of my work day with a couple browsers, a couple Putty sessions, Outlook, Excel, and a few other apps open. Imagine how many page impressions that would generate if every single one of those apps was based in "the cloud" and had a little section where Google could insert ads?

Still wondering why this is being touted by Google as the most innovative and revolutionary feature ever in OS design?

Re:Can't install an ap? That'll slow adoption (5, Insightful)

Eil (82413) | more than 3 years ago | (#34517202)

The whole point of Chrome OS is to shift the application from running natively on the hardware to running in the cloud. You're thinking of the web browser as the application, Google is thinking of GMail as the application.

Re:Can't install an ap? That'll slow adoption (1)

Americano (920576) | more than 3 years ago | (#34517438)

And user eyeballs is the product. Google can't serve you ads if you're not online.

Trifecta (3, Funny)

fahrbot-bot (874524) | more than 3 years ago | (#34516858)

Once users are banned from installing applications, or modifying the system security, usability, and more are improved.

Keep them from installing the OS and the box will be very secure, though usability may suffer a bit. I've always thought that security wonks are only really happy with a system while it's powered off or still in the box.

Re:Trifecta (1)

Monkeedude1212 (1560403) | more than 3 years ago | (#34516906)

Even that might be too much. Remove the system all together and everything will be secure.

Ha! You can't hack a computer I don't have!

Oh no you didn't!! (1)

alta (1263) | more than 3 years ago | (#34516900)

Seriously did they say that? I can see steve over there with a big See, I TOLD you so, pointing at everyone else....

Damn, this makes Microsoft look OPEN, doesn't it??

Oh, the irony.

Re:Oh no you didn't!! (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#34517000)

"Open for business"*, that is!

* yes that's a cheap STD-laden whore reference.

So it is a perfect PC (1)

leon.gandalf (752828) | more than 3 years ago | (#34516910)

for that person that you are constantly fixing their pc for. You know because they installed this free app that poped up in their face and now nothing works.

Does this sill allow a sandbox? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#34516914)

If the apps can't be trusted, what would be wrong with running them inside a sandbox.

The browser is the sandbox, you can still run your fancy web apps there.

Re:Does this sill allow a sandbox? (1)

natehoy (1608657) | more than 3 years ago | (#34517194)

What apps? ChromeOS is Google Chrome plus just enough operating-system-y bits stickytaped on to talk to some hardware, as I understand it.

Since the OS is basically a browser, the *whole OS* is the sandbox on this model.

It makes sense for the business market (5, Insightful)

lpaul55 (137990) | more than 3 years ago | (#34516920)

Companies don't trust their employees and Chrome is a sandbox within a sandbox. This is a good thing in the corporate world where centralized control is valuable.

Chrome is a very thin client that really works.

Re:It makes sense for the business market (1)

KublaiKhan (522918) | more than 3 years ago | (#34516968)

Exactly. With user data living entirely in the cloud, that eliminates the tiresome "backup and restore" idiocy that happens with every OS upgrade; with no user access to the OS, it eliminates userspace errors leading to OS errors.

Now, for home users who know WTF they're doing, that'll be annoying...but if the commercial versions of the thin clients include the 'jailbreak' switch, then I won't complain too much.

The only really -bad- thing I can see about this--other than security worries, but that's a whole other very long discussion in itself--is that it'll put some IT techs out of business.

This is what Google means by OPEN (1)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#34516930)

Explain to me again why Apple is so evil, please.

Google is the worst when it comes to Customer Service too. You'll get a laptop that has issue conencting to the net and you'll also only have technical support via the net.

Re:This is what Google means by OPEN (-1)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#34517002)

A dozen AIDS-ridden cocks raping your face.

Re:This is what Google means by OPEN (5, Insightful)

fuzzyfuzzyfungus (1223518) | more than 3 years ago | (#34517068)

The difference(at least according to design docs, we'll see what happens on release when we come to that) is that ChromeOS devices give one the (advanced; but non-hack) option to tell the command and control system to shove it. Their shipping image, and the one you get if you restore, is built on a no trust model; but if you wish to put a different one on there(including a modified build of the open portions of ChromeOS) that is your call.

With Apple, by contrast, their portables are their OS or nothing, barring hacks that depend on mistakes they did not intend to make, and do tend to correct over time. What you see is what you are stuck with.

Chrome is now 2,415 times smarter... (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#34516936)

... than when Google wrote it.

End of line.

Google wants to out-evil Apple?! (0)

dyfet (154716) | more than 3 years ago | (#34516938)

Wow!

I am not sure there is anything else that could be said...

Re:Google wants to out-evil Apple?! (2, Informative)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#34516976)

ChromeOS is not a PC or tablet. It's designed to use "cloud" applications only.

Your password is and will always be (1)

Crudely_Indecent (739699) | more than 3 years ago | (#34516988)

1234

The same as your luggage.

Re:Your password is and will always be (2)

idontgno (624372) | more than 3 years ago | (#34517074)

Hah! Shows how much you know! My luggage combination is nothing like that!

[click][click][click][click]
[rattle]
[rattle rattle]

WTF? Did Chrome just change my luggage combo?

Re:Your password is and will always be (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#34517460)

Your "light humor" may have been chuckled at in 1991 by people in an AOL chatroom. Now? Not so much.

Big Brother Does No Evil (2, Interesting)

bfree (113420) | more than 3 years ago | (#34516996)

If you could install an app, or adjust the system as a user, then maybe you wouldn't provide as much data to Google. Google do not make money from computers or operating systems, they make it from the information they extract from you.

If "the system" isn't the part users can modify (2)

m50d (797211) | more than 3 years ago | (#34517014)

Then it's not the part they care about. A malicious application installed by a naïve user will always be able to send emails (because the user will demand the ability to do that), and therefore send spam. And it'll still be able to delete the user's files.

Comma splice much? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#34517026)

Once users are banned from installing applications COMMA or modifying the system security COMMA usability COMMA and more are improved COMMA the Googlers claim.

I had to read that sentence five times to sort it out; Once straight through, again for each coma, and finally pieced back together again.

Firmware (1)

Nethead (1563) | more than 3 years ago | (#34517030)

All I know is that my Commodore 64 never got owned. Well, at least not until I got an EPROM burner.

Just a hop and a skip away from... (4, Interesting)

nlawalker (804108) | more than 3 years ago | (#34517082)

Now we're just a hop and a skip away from "Once users are banned from browsing non-Google-approved websites or attempting to use non-Google services, security, usability and more are improved."

For those that always say "but you can modify it!" or "well you don't have to use it" (the latter of which is true even for Apple's iEcosphere), that doesn't address the problem. The problem is that a whole lot of people will see the convenience and the stability and they won't modify it and they will use it, making the whole concept of walled gardens and lockin more popular among consumers who want ease (as opposed to choice) and companies who want to make money. Large groups of people will forget that they ever had a choice to begin with. I'm not trying to evoke 1984 here or say that we're all going to be slaves to Google, but in the world of consumer technology right now, the leading idea that is getting the most users and making the most money is "step into the [Apple/Microsoft/Google/Facebook] world and bask in the luxury of having everything work together and not having to make choices."

Just like the old adage about privacy and security, is it worth trading choice for convenience?

Re:Just a hop and a skip away from... (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#34517372)

Based on the latest TSA polls, yes...

Re:Just a hop and a skip away from... (2)

Kijori (897770) | more than 3 years ago | (#34517412)

Just like the old adage about privacy and security, is it worth trading choice for convenience?

Sounds like that's a question that people can only answer for themselves - and a lot of them are answering "yes" by buying locked-down devices and aren't regretting it.
I think the reason for this might be that the choice that you see isn't apparent or useful to most people. Only for a very small portion of users are the limitations that an iPhone imposes limitations at all - using myself as an example, I used to work as a programmer and still have an interest in technology, but moving to an iPhone wouldn't hamper me one bit because I have no interest in exercising any of the choices that it takes away from me.

If the machines are cheap enough... (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#34517088)

If the machines are cheap enough then the solution is to wipe Google OS and install Linux... Problem solved!!! All the apps you need with none of the OOgling...

Whats the issue? (1)

itsdapead (734413) | more than 3 years ago | (#34517102)

I thought the whole point of Chrome OS was that it was a client for running cloud-based webapps? Given that, it makes sense to lock down the machine - unless they're saying that it won't even run non-google Web apps?

Trust? (2)

getNewNickName (980625) | more than 3 years ago | (#34517142)

Sorry, but I don't trust having all my apps run from the web. Just the other day I was on a tight deadline trying to print a document from Docs when it crapped out on me refusing to print. It was late at night, so it's understandable if they needed to do some server maintenance. Or possibly it wasn't even Google's fault because there may have been issues with my ISP, but either way I was helpless to do anything. I would prefer to having things run locally and automatically sync to the cloud when possible.

Google misses the point entirely... (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#34517180)

As an end user I don't give a flying rats ass about the operating system. I only care about *MY* data. I don't care if the OS is compromised or gets deleted as I can just re-install it or install a different OS I like better.

When my data is compromised it makes me sad. Protecting the OS from privledged execution does not automatically protect the end users data because it requires no such elevated privledge to access my data. The OS vendors are acting like news casters who think it is newsworthy to report on stories they have a personal interest in but noone else really cares about.

Super-duper secure!! (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#34517196)

Turn it off, disconnect all cables (especially power and internet) and hide it in the attic.

Uhm, think again (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#34517216)

You guys didn't pick up on this....the "users can't be trusted" part is a direct jab at Windows and their crappy control system. Chrome OS is based on Linux, which only lets those in the administrator group install programs/modify the system et all. It's a much safer system...just look up 'unix security'.

You can't trust Google. (1)

blair1q (305137) | more than 3 years ago | (#34517226)

I use the charts in the Google Apps spreadsheet app.

Recently, they "upgraded" the chart software.

Under the upgraded software, the charts now look like total shit.

The documentation is vague and shallow. The options panes are missing or disable important features that might help me produce charts that don't look like shit. The only way to downgrade to charts that work is to revert to older versions of the document and not to accept the upgrade when making changes in the future.

Google has lost the plot. The last thing I want at this point is to give them control of application compatibility of my data.

Are you kidding me? This is great! (1)

MarkvW (1037596) | more than 3 years ago | (#34517246)

I'd urge this on my mom and dad in an INSTANT. I'd never use it, but it would be great for them.

Close to a good security model (3, Insightful)

ka9dgx (72702) | more than 3 years ago | (#34517250)

One should never trust an application, I'm in agreement on that.

The user owns the machine, they should be trusted to decide what is done with it. If you think I'm wrong... let me explain...

The reason we don't want to trust users is because they have a demonstrated history of bad choices, which result in a lot of work for the geeks who have to clean up the mess. We have a better track record, so we ass u me that it must be because we are smarter than they are. This is only true to a limited extent.

The reason the user makes bad choices is because are given the wrong choice to make. Instead of asking what extent of permission a program should be granted, the user is given an all or nothing choice. It's not possible for them to "try out" a program without risking everything. This is just plain nuts.

Capability based security offers a way to express the wishes of the user in a manner which NEVER trusts an application... but rather places the responsibility for limiting system changes in the operating system, where it belongs.

It is only when we finally get out of or smug self congratulatory slumber that it's possible consider that the typical user is not an idiot prone to randomly pressing OK.

We need to offer sane choices, and a sane security model... Capability Based Security is the only way to go.

Google... unfortunately, isn't any wiser and misses the boat here, but by a slightly smaller margin.

Re:Close to a good security model (1)

lpaul55 (137990) | more than 3 years ago | (#34517382)

Chrome is very attractive in an environment where the user *doesn't* own the machine - the employer owns it and needs to control what the machine can do. There are many business situations where this is obviously the case. Chrome works like a firewall here.

PEBKAC (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#34517280)

It's the return of the professional sys admin, just sufficiently distributed for economical home use. Suddenly a lot of geeks won't need to be handling IT for friends and family. For an awful lot of people it's a good deal.

It's an extension of GMail, where an awful lot of complicated technical, privacy, and security configurations are completely and well taken care of by Google. They've finally managed to take it all the way to the end-user hardware.

Me and the /. choir have our own issues with this, but that's not the same as saying this won't be popular, or will necessarily work badly.

Car's don't trust their drivers... (1)

drtsystems (775462) | more than 3 years ago | (#34517282)

Honestly this is smart... well as long as the power user still *CAN* change things if they want (i.e. using the jailbreak switch).

Obligatory (probably poor) car analogy:
To fill up gas you don't open the hood and take apart the engine. Sure you can get under the hood and if your a mechanic you should be able to mess around as much as you want. But its better for the user (driver) to not have to worry about anything besides the interface (steering wheel and gas and brake).

Its silly that users who have no idea how the system works should be expected to decide what applications to trust. The default should be zero trust of the user and that shouldn't need to be changed for 90%+ of users out there. And thats what Chrome does.

Security model (2)

HumanEmulator (1062440) | more than 3 years ago | (#34517316)

This is a great security model. In fact, in order to keep my home safe I won't allow any devices in that are controlled by an outside third party either.

I agree with Google (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#34517318)

And I think Ubuntu should be modified accordingly. There's no reason, however, why apps shouldn't be native and machine based, when data access is as expensive as it is. It's just a matter of restricting installed software to the software center, denying root to everything else, and making applications request special permissions like "create and modify files in Documents". Android does it.

Enough with Apps (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#34517354)

We (meaning the Open Source community) need to come up with a viable alternative to the Trusted Computing/ "App" model on mobile platforms quickly. This means something portable which doesn't absolutely suck. Fortunately, the bar isn't too high right now -- the quality of most apps is around the sophistication of your average 1991 shareware program. Your work PC notwithstanding, mobile seems to be the future of most computing right now -- and that seems to be shaping into a closed, trusted-computing fragmented nightmare.

The typical "if you don't like mobile devices don't use them" attitude is a bit like saying "if you don't like the TSA, don't travel". Any suggestions?

No security is perfect. (2)

VortexCortex (1117377) | more than 3 years ago | (#34517358)

"Once users are banned from installing applications, or modifying the system security, usability, and more are improved, the Googlers claim."

No security is perfect, there WILL eventually be a remote execution exploit, and the users will be banned from installing applications, or modifying the system in order to fix it. I hope it comes with a USB drive I can boot from to wipe the system clean...

However, there WILL also eventually be a remote execution exploit that enables the users to install applications, or modify the system security to provide additional usability, and more functionality than the Googlers intended.

ChromeOS is just begging to be sprung free of the Google jail.

Hint: When the "Attackers" are the folks who purchased the device, their physical access to the device will render all "defenses" useless.

Also: DO NOT WANT, will simply use any other unrestricted laptop or tablet PC available.

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