Thursday, June 09, 2011

At Work with Linux: Chrome 12 and Shaun the Sheep on Fedora 14

Google released Chrome 12 yesterday (it came rattling down the tubes onto Fedora 14 before it hit my Windows 7 boxen). There was the usual coverage from the usual suspects (The Inquirer and Ars Technica, with Ars, as usual, being superior). And there is, thankfully, a page demonstrating one key feature of Chrome 12, GPU accelerated 3D CSS transforms. I love Shaun, having fallen in love with Aardman Studios and Wallace and Gromit years before. I didn't discover Shaun until I watched a number of the episodes on Netflix last year. Love it all. Anyway...

The demo uses GPU acceleration, CSS, and all the other goodies under the Chrome hood. All these application captures were made on Fedora 14 using Chrome 12.0.742.91. The Dell Latitude D630 has an nVidia Quadro NVS 135M video card, and the nVidia drivers are installed providing good hardware video acceleration.


I was quite pleased when the demo executed without any drama; no crashes, no odd artifacts (as compared with the Windows version). It just ran. The upper application capture shows just one of the windows streaming video, while the lower shows the carousel of multiple simultaneous streams in a 3D effect.


I'd like to remind the Gentle Reader that the carousel effect isn't new, and was in fact implemented by SGI for Time Warner's Full Service Network main screen back in the mid-1990's. I need to pull up those videos (on VHS tapes, no less) and get them digitized for the web. I look back on that period and still marvel at the genius and the creativity brought to bear on the FSN, and in the end, how it was all so tragically wasted. Time Warner Cable had absolutely no clue what to do with the technological treasures delivered to them. As they say, cast not pearls before swine...

And as a silliness "let's see if it will run" test on my Android-based handset, I hit the demo site with the results to you see to the left. My only comment: I really didn't expect it to execute, but I would have thought that Google would have known it's own, and thus targeted the message a little more sophistication by acknowledging the fact it was from their browser running on an Android handset.

Final Opinions

I'm honestly impressed for a number of reasons, First and foremost is that, with Chrome 12, the user experience (at least with the demo) is indistinguishable between Linux and Windows. That's significant, particularly for something as sophisticated as this demonstration.

Secondly is how smoothly and stably it runs on Linux, particularly Fedora Linux. I'm not hating on Linux but I'm no fool either. Chrome has gone a considerable distance in making Linux a first-class web platform, on par with Windows and Mac OS X. It runs rings around Firefox, including the latest releases of Firefox. With the ability to run without drama my Java plugins, and now take advantage of hardware acceleration (with decent nVidia drivers), Chrome now has pride of place on all my systems, with Firefox coming in second, and everybody else (IE 8/9, Safari, Opera) coming in a distant third.

Finally, I'm pleasantly surprised at how well Fedora 14 continues to Just Work, especially with all the hoary old Java I want to load on top of it, and the fact I still prefer nVidia's graphics drivers. Yeah, as the haters might want to point out, I have to go to the shell every once in a while to make some tweaks, but this is for features that aren't exactly main stream. As a day-to-day development platform it's pretty sweet.

Now watch some update (probably to the kernel) come out and ruin this wonderful kumbaya moment. Been there, suffered the moment already, seen it documented ad nauseam on linux haters...

Time to get back to work...

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