Goobuntu – What I Think of the Google OS

The rumors are flying about a Google Linux Desktop. My take? It ain't gonna happen. Not a general-OS type release… not any time soon. Now, it's no secret that many engineers inside Google use Linux (BTW, they use Linux on a couple servers too). Last time I was at the Googleplex is was a Red Hat derivative (Gred Hat or something similar) and now it's Ubuntu based. So why don't I think Google will release this as a general purpose desktop OS? Simple – it isn't ready for that. If they released this as a PC, then every random $9 game from Walmart, AOL and all kinds of other things that don't work would be expected to. Is this a knock against Linux? No! For what it's meant to do, it works phenomenally. I've used it as my sole desktop for years, and I can't imagine going back to Windows. But, I also figured out that I needed a kernel recompile because my iPod wouldn't work, so I'm not a good case for a basic consumer study on this. Wine would basically have to work as well as Rosetta for this to work out – the lack of iTunes alone would enrage millions of people. What I do think could happen here is a very nice and very function appliance. One based on Linux. One also based on the web. You see, that hits a completely different market segment… one that may have never even owned a computer. The expectation that anything and everything needs to be compatible goes away. It's cheap, it's fast, it's slick and it's reliable. It's immune to spyware, you don't have to worry about viruses and things just work. For $100-200 you get a device that allows you to browse the web (they employ Firefox developers), chat both online and via VOIP (they employ the main Gaim developer and have GoogleTalk), check your email (you may have heard of this Gmail thing) and perform a myriad of other online tasks. It may even have basic office functionality, be it via standard OOo or more likely some OOo web derivative. That would be step one. That would lay the seed. That would build a base of loyal GoOs fans. As Linux gets more and more ready for desktop prime time, Google can plan its general release. Hardware manufacturers would now have a reason they had to support Linux. The power of Google branding should be readily apparent now. One interesting thing here is, this should worry Novell (and to a lesser extent Red Hat) at least as much as it worries Microsoft. The desktop market is a big piece of the potential OS pie. A move by Google could all but lock other Linux-based options out. The fact that it could potentially be a non-RPM distro makes it all the more interesting…
–jeremy
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