- Apr 7, 2011
Native Client--NaCl for short--got its start as a part of Chrome as a way to run software modules downloaded over the Net safely and quickly. With the move, though, the tables will turn, and Chrome will itself become a NaCl module.
"We want to move more and more of Chrome to Native Client," Linus Upson, vice president of engineering for the Chrome team, said in an interview at the Google I/O show here. "Over time we want to move the entire browser in Native Client."
The move is a bold bet on a project that hasn't yet even been enabled by default in Chrome, much less tested widely in the real world. But if it works, Google will get a new level of security for Chrome--and for its new browser-based operating system, Chrome OS.
Inevitably, programmers introduce bugs into their products. But if Chrome is running as Native Client, those bugs aren't as big of a security problem: "It becomes extremely difficult for a bad guy to compromise your computer," Upson said.
Google is starting small, not with the whole browser, Upson said. The first part of Chrome to run within a Native Client framework is the PDF reader, Upson said. And that move is coming soon.
"It'll happen this year," Upson said.
Native Client innards