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Google's Chrome now works on Linux, crudely

The search company's programmers have a bare-bones version of Chrome working on Linux--enough to use JavaScript and Gmail.

Google is tight-lipped about the Linux version of its Chrome browser, but the company's programmers have proved a bit more forthcoming with a brief announcement that they have a crude version of Chrome working on Linux.

"Dude, Gmail works in the test shell on Linux!" said programmer Dan Kegel in a note to the Chromium developers mailing list on Tuesday. It's pretty crude, though: the "enter" key doesn't work, for example.

Chromium is the name of the open-source project behind Chrome. But what's a "test shell"?

Aaron Boodman, who works on Chrome and Gears and spotlighted the Linux accomplishment, had this explanation in his blog post about the Linux Chrome milestone: "The test shell is a very simple browser that the Chromium development team uses for testing our integration with WebKit," the engine that decodes HTML to render a Web page in the browser. "It is the first step of porting Chromium to a new platform."

In other words, Chrome for Linux is in a pretty raw state.

"The team is still a long ways from even getting the Web to render correctly, let alone building the real browser UI (user interface). But it's exciting to see things falling a little more into place each day," Boodman said.

Kegel also indicated in a later e-mail that V8, the engine that runs JavaScript programs on Web pages, is functioning, because he was able to run a JavaScript benchmark test called SunSpider.

"I just did a shootout between test shell and Firefox on Linux by pasting the SunSpider public URL in each. Happily, it ran to completion on both," Kegel said.