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Google Cr-48: Inside the Chrome OS 'unstable isotope'

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Yup

Netbook and laptop pricing does overlap quite a bit, where it becomes a question of "do I want to carry the extra weight?".

If "cloudbook" and netbook pricing overlap I can't see what would prompt me (or anyone else) to get the less capable device.

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Dirt-cheap and instant-on

...and no accumulation of cruft over time. What's not to like?

Okay, it's not going to replace the "proper" workstation for most of the people on here, but I can think of several people who'd find this perfect. Not all of them teenagers.

But, especially for teens who insist on downloading crap and trashing their machines with viruses and suchlike, this is great!

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Huh

" and no accumulation of cruft over time. What's not to like?"

You can say the same thing about castration, but that has never been a selling point to me.

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One problem

How are everyday users going to save every file that they ever open, download, or create onto their desktop?

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Oh man, I hear that

I had a user at work complaining that she couldn't find her most recently created files. Thinking that might be Bad Mojo, I went and took a look. She'd made so many files on the desktop that it had completely filled, and the new files were appearing offscreen.

Nearly hooked her into the projector for a laugh...

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Nostalgia

Ah, the old days of 'My machine is really, really slow' and 'Oh, I just save it all on to the desktop.'

Desktop seems to be the default for many people - that and 'close eys and click on Save'.

Still, all Google need to do is rename the cloud target as 'Virtual Desktop' or (more likely) 'Cloud Desktop' and all will be well.

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Black Helicopters

I save to the desktop all the time...

... and I'm not stupid!

My company takes a sort of 1990s "cloud" approach to data security and won't let you save anything to the local hard drive. It all has to be saved in a network folder (with offline use).

Only problem? The network is extremely slow, and my documents have to come from a server 200 miles away. My 2 gig files...

Only solution? They haven't stopped me from building a local file structure on the desktop...

Take that, 90s cloud!

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Anonymous Coward

So long as it's only copies that's fine...

But should your PC go "phut" what happens to your files?

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Thinking differently

I believe part of the reason Google gets static is because they unapologetically use failure as a means of discovery. Nexus 1 distribution model, Wave, (Android or Chrome; pick one 'cause one's going to die) etc.

It is hard to wrap your head around this concept in when we've created a consumerist environment that prizes only instant, perfect exceeded expectations and punishes mere goodness.

This is the bounty of uber-profitability. It guarantees constant iterative progress with yummy milestones along the way.

So often failures are used as arrows; what a dis-incentive to persistence. Google's found the magic in harvesting and mining failure as the building blocks for success.

(Did this come across too obviously as a job wanted ad? Excuse me while I Google "cheating on MENSA puzzles"...)

Jim Preis

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And the fabled "20%"

Asking your staff to "waste" 20% of their time on blue-sky stuff is part of this as well. Most of that time goes nowhere; occasionally something sticks and grows into something cool.

Hands up anyone who *doesn't* waste about 20% of their work hours? Anyone?

Have you anything to show for it?

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Anonymous Coward

I'd love to have 10% for research/development

But my boss can't get his head round the fact that the work we do in our little corner is dependant on me as the only authorised person on most of the SOPs since my colleague retired.

With even 10% free thinking time, I could probably come up with a dozen avenues of improvement worth considering. But I'm narked off so I waste real business time reading the Register instead of doing the paperwork.

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WTF?

Uhhh, Cade...

"Come back in, say, another five years."

What makes you think I'll be any more interested in storing **my** data on a so-called "cloud" server than I am right now?

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Cloud issues

There are serious issues that I wonder if Google has thought of. More and more ISP's are putting bandwidth caps on connections. You also have net neutrality issues as well as peering like Comcast and Level 3. The more things that are put in the cloud, the worse bandwidth caps and peering issues will become. While Comcast has a 250GB limit, there are many that have much lower caps. Many have slow transfer speeds as well.

I wonder how many customers will like paying their ISP, then more to Google and then maybe additional bandwidth charges to their ISP.

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Badgers

@ thecakeis(not)alie

Get the price under a hundred bucks and there'll be uptake - once people have worked out how to remove the OS and install, say, Ubuntu.

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Grenade

So it *is* a "network computer"?

"...Chrome OS is close to useless if you don't have an internet connection...."

Thank you for all the effort Google. Don't let the door hit your arse on the way out........

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Boffin

Are we ready for a NOT-DOS?

What is a file system without files? more to the point are we ready for one? well maybe a six year old or my granny would be fine with that, but am I?

Do we need to know what is going on in our machines OS? do we need to access OS files? could we do anything with an OS file once we have accessed it? how long before we have an encrypted OS?

I certainly do not see an end to my documents and my pictures and my music and my other stuff.. but perhaps we really dont need to access the OS or program files anymore...

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yeah but . . .

Isn't that pretty much the default windows setting?

'Don't bother with the tech stuff - all you need is My Docs, My Pictures, My Movies etc.'

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Exactly

So is it a non-story.... and are we ready for it?

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WTF?

Why would you buy one?

I cannot understand why anyone would buy one. Hardware-wise, they have pretty much the same components as any other netbook - screen, keyboard, CPU, disk, RAM, so the cost of the machine would be similar. On a standard netbook, you run Linux/Windows and can do the "local" computing you need/want to, and use the "cloud" via Google Chrome or whatever other web browser you like.

So why would you choose to spend the same money and be restricted to doing it all on the cloud?

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Why Buy One?

Ever heard of pet rocks? Fads power a lot more of the economy then you want to believe.

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Anonymous Coward

The hardware...

...is the most interesting part of it. That screen is 16:10, it's almost impossible to find a laptop with a 16:10 display now.

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That file explorer

Looks like a standard GNOME / GTK file dialog. It's probably the case they've left some vestigial trace of something which was in webkit or enabled for debugging purposes.

Anyway ChromeOS looks like an utterly pointless exercise in its current form. If you're going to release a notebook which has no local file storage you had better damned well make it thinner, lighter and more attractive than the multitude of laptops which *do* have local file storage. I'm struggling to think of any reason I would want to use ChromeOS at all. It wouldn't even work without 3G/wifi and even then its design would render it useless for playing movies, music unless you streamed them.

Google would be so much better off to scrap the thing and make Android work in notebook form. Then people have local storage for movies, music etc and of course apps and browsers could take advantage of the cloud if they wished to.

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What's in a name?

A netbook/notebook/laptop/xpad without local file storage is just a TV with savable selections.

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Clouding the issue

Many people are uneasy about this, on the basis of their data being stored on Google's servers, thus being at the mercy of Google and their ISP/internet connection. Would it be possible/desirable/likely that Google could sell (to an organisation) a private 'cloudy server'? Then, you could 'log on' to your corporate cloud service via the corporate LAN (high speed usually guaranteed) or using VPN over the internet.

If a Chrome OS netbook can be made cheaply and designed to have few maintenance requirements, then a corporate entity should be willing to pay for a Google sourced cloudy server on their premises and under their control.

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Private cloud

That thought occured to me too - it should be reasonably easy to set up a mini 'cloud', even for a small business: one server would do, with some VPN shenanigans in the firewall.

In fact, a home operation might even be able to manage it: Google might put together a "Private Cloud" appliance, bundle a Cr-48 with it and off you go...

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Missing the Point

It's amazing how many people keep trying to fit ChomeOS into their established ideas about what a PC should be/do.

Yes it doesn't work well offline, its not supposed to, and why does it need too? We only think its a need at the moment because wireless is still in its infancy.

Why do you need to manage your files locally? Just because you do on all the other OS's doesn't mean you should need to. What are you actually achieving when your managing your files?

If there is a negative point to be made about ChromeOS, its that its not answering these questions in a clear manner. So people are just lumping it as a kinda netbook that doesn't work as well.

Personally when I had my netbook, I could have used ChromeOS instead.

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Not quite

"So people are just lumping it as a kinda netbook that doesn't work as well."

No, I think that the wories about this O/S is one of trust. Do you trust some mega-corp to have your best interest at heart? Not without some rigorous SLAs thrown in. With the Wikileaks/Amazon example so fresh what if Google decide that your face doesn't fit?

Sadly I think that there will be some take-up of this device but then as RMS has said there is a mug born every minute. We have to make sure that we still have the choice to store our data where we choose in five years time.

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Exactly

And who needs to visit a doctor really? Just read about your symptoms on the almighty internet and you'll know where to go from there. No need to sit in a waiting room or an emergency room, just trust others to take care of you. Yeah right!

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Grenade

Stick it...

MY data stays on MY machine. If I need access from anywhere to a huge number of files it will be from a private server that I control.

Google can swivel. I don't use them for search and I sure as hell don't trust them with my data.

Speaking s a forum admin in my spare time, its a shame Google dont invest as much time and energy in getting the eastern bloc spammers out of Gmail and all of its variants.

Grenade - its all I would upload to these data scraping parasites.

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Nothing Like It

Personal responsibility that is; the idea that you can best take care of you. Gotta love all the lab rats willing to put themselves at risk to test a system though.

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Not convinced

Is this a joke from Google?

Firtly if i want to share something with my partner or just generally bring my laptop along when i visit him then i can.

If everything is on the net then i'll have less battery and no way to access anything without unplugging his computer and taking his connection.

Although on the pro side, i think Google may have beaten a lot of viruses and Trojans with the all on the web idea.

That or we'll see more keyloggers and rootkits?

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virus, etc

Which might be the point of this OS -- it has better security than Windows. On that point alone, think of the saved time, money and aggravation. On the flip side, think of all those who would be put out of work supporting the OS, which Google seems to have a strange take on. Under this concept, the unemployment in the US would worsen, and it's not like there are other jobs for those displaced, what with globalization.

In that sense, this *idea*, if perhaps not the implementation, is disruptive, which is good (overall). I see it as another step towards the commoditization of the OS. Nothing wrong with that.

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Some People Just Won't Get It

'Cloud computing' seems to be very divisive. There are arguments both for and against keeping data on the cloud, valid debate on where that cloud should be and who controls it. I don't like the Google model which seems to seek to 'own all data' but can't object to the principle.

As I see it, it's no different to back in the 8086 PC days of diskless PC's plus a floppy disk with COMMAND.COM and BROWSER.EXE on. A lot fancier now but not much different.

Some people seem unwilling to shift their mindset from it not being a full-PC to just an access device. Chrome OS is likely not for them, but plenty of others will understand it. I've got a Bush IBX internet STB which is just a browser which connects to a TV; Cr-48 with Chrome OS is only a newer, more capable version in a different package.

The debate on 'cloud computing' is certainly valid, but to dismiss it, and ChromeOS, as a fail is really just, 'it's not for me, so it shouldn't be for anyone'.

If 'Google Cloud' doesn't appeal, then how about; 'personal cloud' in a cupboard under the stairs and a hacked ChromeOS to access it ? Does that feel better ? Consider the possibilities and opportunities, don't just dismiss.

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More information needed

For example, can it stream from my PnP server? If it can, then this would be a great tablet OS for sitting next to me on the sofa. Doesn't need 3G as always inside the house, doesn'[t need local storage - all comes from cloud or local server. I have a desktop for all real work. I just need a device for internet access and media consumption.

If however, you have to steam from Google servers, and are unable to look locally, then its a no-go. Android or Ubuntu would be the choice then.

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FAIL

Doesn't sound terribly new

All seems a lot like Jolicloud (http://www.jolicloud.com/)

Only less useful.

This sort of computing will catch on massively eventually, but they need to make it easier for people to do the things they want - work with THEIR own media and files. Until there is an easy and reliable way to transfer/access these files on a dumb-internet terminal such as this then they are going to struggle. That means no loss of capability regardless of where you are in the country/world and much greater flexibility in terms of network usage limits.

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Too many drawbacks

I kinda like the idea of all this remote computing, but having no connection makes the device nothing more than a brick.

I like our iPad, but it needs a connection to shine. It really does. You can still use a few applications offline (which you won't on the CR48) but when friends want to see it in action, you need that connection. No connection and the device is really quite flat. We still love it and use it without a connection but that's because it can fulfill some of our needs offline.

But the CR48 needs a full time connection, so traveling with it rules it out, commuting with it rules it out, it's not going to double as an iPod type device easily if its streaming, and so forth. Anywhere with a poor signal (eg most of the UK and the majority of the US), and it's not going to work well.

It'll work well in your office, at home, and at MacDonald's.

I dislike Google most of the time, but I like the CR48, but I wouldn't invest in one. "I'm ooot" as they say.

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Why I need to get at files

I'm a bigtime gmail user.

Now maybe gmail on Chrome is different, but assumign it isn't here's something I often want to do

Reply to email #1, (quoting most of it) using an attachment I just received in email #2.

If I'm not going to save the attachment to my hard disk first, I have to do a silly amount of cut and pasting to make this happen entirely within gmail.

I would like to be able to store attachments in my "cloud storage" and attach them from there to outgoing emails at will. I must say I expected Chrome was going to include a nice "explorer" like drag and drop file manager for my chunk of cloud storage that would enable me to manage my cloud files nicely but I haven't seen it described in any review yet.

What would make Chrome very nice for me is if I could

- use gears

- write an offline mail and attach a file that is in my cloud file storage, by picking it from a locally cached list even though the file itself might not be fully accessible to me offline.

Then when I next went online the email would be attached to the email and sent.

My feeling is that the gmail teams and the apps teams don't yet work together in a close enough fashion for this.

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Boffin

err...

Can I enter "file:///" in the browser's locator line ? Does it have a locator line ? Perhaps even "smb://" ?

I know, technical solution to a political problem.

Personally, I have an Apache in the basement at home. Use it as a media server and remote disk.

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Linux

I know this isn't going to unpopular..

And perhaps I trust Google too much but I've been trying for ages to get Chromium on my EEE PC as it's the perfect combination - a small, light, ACPI-compliant netbook with a very lightweight OS running the Chrome browser. The CR-48 is a better version of that.

I currently have this EEE PC running Ubuntu Netbook. All I ever run is Chrome on it to access GMail and random web sites so why wouldn't I want to remove any cruft slowing it down in the form of Ubuntu?

I've got a fairly powerful desktop to edit videos, compile stuff, keep my local version of photos etc. so why wouldn't I be desperate to get as much as I can backed up in the cloud? I know I'm giving Google access to knowing anything they want about me, but I'm not really that interesting, and Google haven't exactly been shown to be misusing this data have they? (have they?)

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Chromium OS

"but I've been trying for ages to get Chromium on my EEE PC"

This 17 year old makes daily builds of ChromiumOS. It works on my EeePC900 and WiFi "just works". It is still a bit rough around the edges as you need to refresh the home page and app page a couple of times when you first boot as it loads them before it establishes the WiFi connection. Very much a work in progress. I have not tried my 3G connection as I have a mobile hotspot. You login with your gmail name and password.

http://chromeos.hexxeh.net/

Good to experiment with, but it is not yet ready to be used seriously.

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WTF?

Phone that works out of the "cloud"?

"...so it ONLY works from the cloud is just stupid. I wouldn't put up with a phone like that let alone a netbook."

So, your phone works when it's away from "the cloud" eh? That being near to a cell tower.

What does it work for? Angry Birds?

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What does it work for? Angry Birds?

Yes.

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One small issue with googles idea

While it sounds all nice and and all, there is one small hole i wish to make in their dream idea. What happens if the router drops dead or the connection to the internet get cut off..... no access to files or anything.

Why dont they have a box that has wifi connection and allow the user to view their stuff and develop the OS for the tablets in stead that would be a far more interesting idea.

I guess in the future when we do have 1000 mbits download/upload speeds and the likes then i think it would be interesting.

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Useless without an unlimited data plan

It's little wonder there's a rumour about that ChromeOS is going to be abandoned as Android's popularity explodes. We're talking about a device that's useless without a fixed data connection everywhere you take it, or, if you don't have one of those, a generous data plan. 100MB a month (or even a day) is unrealistic if a large proportion of your data and app session persistence info goes over the network. Both things are necessary if you want an experience where you can just log in on another box and resume where you left off.

And this is where the 'cloudbook' concept falls down - unlimited, always-on, mobile data connections are horribly expensive or simply don't exist in 99% of the world. And there's nothing to differentiate these devices from netbooks, which have all the advantages of being self-contained devices instead of dumb terminals.

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Happy

ChromeOS

Isn't that the Klingon home world?

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Anonymous Coward

No, you're mistaken...

ChromeOS was the mythological figure who hacked off Uranus's balls with a sickle and threw them in the sea.

Thereafter he remained in charge until usurped by his own offspring and cast into the abyss.

Draw your own parallels if you can find any.

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Why?

You have to ask yourselves, what is the reason for this? They are not a charity. They are not philanthropists. They are not doing this out of the goodness of their hearts. They are doing it because there is *clearly* a lot of money in it.

If they have their way.

They are not doing this to make money from selling the hardware. That's for sure. Google are an advertising company. I can only conclude that by hosting your data on the cloud, they will:

1) Mine your saved information to build a profile on you so that they can serve you targeted advertising.

2) Mine your saved information to build a profile on you so that they can sell your profile to somebody else, who can then serve you targeted advertising.

One day, you will click on a link in your favourites, and Google will say "We're directing you to <web site> right now, but while you are waiting, here's a video from Motorsport Magazine and a voucher giving you a 10% discount on a years subscription." They can do this, because of 1 and 2 above.

Then, later on, much later on, you will find an email in your GMail, which you never read, since your main method of communication is Facebook/Yahoo Mail/Whatever which will say something along the lines of "Hey! We've updated our T&Cs with a teeny weeny change. No big deal, check it out when you can". You will of course ignore this email.

However, the T&Cs will say "Hello. All your files are belong to us. If you don't agree, delete them within 14 days. Love from Google. Do no evil."

So, all those photo's of your kids when they were babies will belong to google, to use elsewhere on the web, or sell to advertising agencies. That blog you are writing? Google's. That book manuscript you were writing? Google's, and they've already cached it anyway and it's fully searchable online, so thats your book sales gone.

Basically, it's the privacy equivalent of Facebook, cubed.

You will be touching up a photo 'in the cloud' when Google Chrome will say: "Hey there! Based on your location, we've uploaded your photo to a local photographic agency who will provide you with a top quality, framed print for only £49.99! Mention Google for a 10% discount!"

No thanks.

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+1 for truth.

And there's some very naive downvoters.

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phones, pads, tablets and ???

Phones, pads, tablets and just about any mobile type device is going to be useless without a connection. So what?

It would appear the Chrome OS may provide multiple devices that could be useful on a daily basis without having to port them all around the place. Borrow one at Starbucks? That should work fine. Borrow one at a motel? Sure, why not? Have one at work and at home but not be required to port it back and forth everyday. Even corporations could have a few spare ones laying around that could be borrowed by visitors.

There are a lot of advantages to not having your personal data on the machine you carry around. Like not having to carry it at all.

The mindset may need changing. But, many companies may find that it is much easier to do that for the employees. Give them all a device that gives them remote access to their data but not be subject to being ripped off in transit. No local personal data means a lot fewer headaches.

Would I want one? Not as my main machine. No way. But, if I knew I had access elsewhere and did not have to port around all my stuff and risk losing it in transit, I could be very interested.

How many employees carry their laptop to and from work on a daily basis? How much fun is that? How many have arranged for means to avoid that port?

A light client can be quite useful on a daily basis. One that you do not have to worry about. One that you could lend to a friend? Safely? One that you could borrow from a friend?

Mobile devices just are not the same as a big fat and fast desktop system. And they never will be.

Do you really carry your favorite movies back and forth to work every day?

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Google's "Do No Evil" Perfect Name

Given that Chromium can be poisonous and chronic exposure can cause eye injury.

Precautions

Hexavalent chromium (chromium VI) compounds can be toxic if orally ingested or inhaled. The lethal dose of poisonous chromium (VI) compounds is about one half teaspoon of material. Most chromium (VI) compounds are irritating to eyes, skin and mucous membranes. Chronic exposure to chromium (VI) compounds can cause permanent eye injury, unless properly treated. Chromium(VI) is an established human carcinogen. An investigation into hexavalent chromium release into drinking water formed the plot of the motion picture Erin Brockovich.

World Health Organization recommended maximum allowable concentration in drinking water for chromium (VI) is 0.05 milligrams per liter. Hexavalent chromium is also one of the substances whose use is restricted by the European Restriction of Hazardous Substances Directive.

As chromium compounds were used in dyes and paints and the tanning of leather, these compounds are often found in soil and groundwater at abandoned industrial sites, now needing environmental cleanup and remediation per the treatment of brownfield land. Primer paint containing hexavalent chromium is still widely used for aerospace and automobile refinishing applications.

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