Friday, November 22, 2013

Google Chrome Management

It turns out I might be doing some work for Manaiakalani again. Just for a couple of weeks. Which has me thinking about something again...

Google Chrome Browser..... one of the best things about it is the fact that it has amazingly simple configuration. Default options and the like aren't hidden in a zip file (unlike Firefox... the other thing... do you really need quite so many links to Mozilla by default?). Oh and the format of those options is fairly simple. For example, if you want to turn on the bookmarks bar, it's really simple. Try doing the same in Firefox...

Given that the education sector is so enamoured by the configuration options of Chromeboooks but ChromeOS really is the browser (if you go through the source code for the browser you find bits that are specifically for ChromeOS) then all of that configuration can be achieved with the browser.

There's only a couple of things you have to do to make this a reality.
  • Make a launcher for Chrome Browser that looks for a new version of the defaults/policies etc. and downloads it (probably from the cloud solution proposed in the next point) to the local machine, merges configuration options and then launches Chrome Browser.
  • An interface for producing and managing those configuration files. Probably Internet based. This shouldn't be that hard. Each I.T. manager could log in and manage multiple sets of configurations (a student owned device requires a completely different attitude in managing than a classroom device). This would also have configuration files for getting the right download location and the like.
The shortcomings?
  • Changes would only take effect after Chrome had been restarted.
  • There would need to be a community around this to maintain launchers for other platforms.
So this is all very possible given the simple configuration storage. You'd even be able to add applications to Chrome really easily. Of course, this sort of thing takes loads of time. I think the launcher would take me about a week whereas the web based interface.... quite a bit longer.

The question is, would it be used? Could it made to be free and make a little bit of money by having small amounts of advertising?

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