Google Chrome OS And Ubuntu?
This past week has been very big for Google and Ubuntu users. Google has announced that they will be working with Canonical in the Chrome OS development. Chris Kenyon, VP of OEM Services stated, "In the interest of transparency, we should declare that Canonical is contributing engineering to Google under contract." For those who are not familiar with Linux, Ubuntu is a distribution of Linux that I am very passionate about. Ubuntu is very user friendly and in the past few years, have dominated market share in the Linux desktop.
Google is the most recent "big" company that is showing great interest in Linux. The last big company supporting Linux was IBM when they ran their "Prodigy" advertisement campaigns. This was back in 2003 but since then, Windows and Mac OS have been dominating the desktop shares. Rarely have we heard of Linux in the media. Backing the current desktop Linux king, Canonical worked very hard to spread Linux through word of mouth online. Ever bridging partnerships with computer makers, Dell started giving the option to release their computers with Ubuntu instead of Windows.
What's Going On Here?
From Chris Kenyon's post, it looks like Google is outsourcing development to Canonical. How much are they paying Canonical is unknown. Google Chrome OS was looking to be a competition to Windows, Mac OS, and other Linux distributions but it seems like Google doesn't want to compete against the top dog dominating the desktop Linux right now. If you can't beat them, buy them out right? Many of us can only speculate and Google's deep pockets affirms their influence in whatever they choose to venture in.
Chris is right in expecting some questions. I have some questions and to be honest, I am not very happy hearing this news. Chris states that, "Ubuntu will continue to be a general purpose OS..." which is almost insulting to the OS. So what does that make Chrome OS? A specialized OS?
IBM's Prodigy Commercial
When Ubuntu was launched, it was all about community and freedom. Free software has always been a major part of many Linux distros. With the launch of 9.10, they introduced a new application manager that might be expanded to include paid apps. This sounds similar to Android's Marketplace. For those that do not know, Android is an OS for mobile phones that is based on Linux. What's going on with Linux? Are paid apps going to take over free apps?
We all know Google has money and money is power. People that have power, desire more power. There is no doubt in my mind Chrome OS is going to be monetized somehow. Either by taking over the desktop share and then charging money or doing it up front. What has me confused is why Canonical would choose to work with Google knowing this? I have a T-Mobile Mytouch 3G running Google's Android OS. There are lots of free apps but some have ads. Where there are ads, someone is trying to make money. Are the philosophies from Google aligned with Canonical? Or is Canonical's philosophy on Ubuntu changing?
Cloud Computing And Chrome OS
Google Chrome OS will require you to be connected to the internet all the time. Instead of saving files onto your computer, you will save files on the internet. That way, you can retrieve this file if you are not at your home desktop. For instance, I save a graphic I made on GIMP to a Chrome OS cloud. I go to my friend's house and I want to open the file. I can access it through my account and not have to carry around a USB stick. This sounds great right? Yes, I'll admit. Cloud computing sounds like a cool idea. However, I value my privacy and this raises questions as to how information is collected. Are we going to just trust Google not to read, use, and access our information?
What really made me curious is the fact that Canonical is starting to implement Cloud Computing on Ubuntu. Watch out for cloud computing. This will be a hot trend in 2010. I predict Google implementing cloud computing incrementally. First you will have the option to save online. Then there will be huge incentives advertised as to why it is better to save your files online. I'm all for file sharing but I'd rather do my file sharing on torrents and private networks, not on a google server.
IBM thought Linux was ready. Now Google thinks so too.
Year of The Linux Desktop?
There is an ongoing joke in the technology community about Linux. With every new release and update, many Linux fans (including myself), say, "This will be the year of the Linux desktop!" We are hopefully declaring a dramatic rise in market share. While the Linux desktop gets better and better, this takeover never happens which is sad and somewhat humorous at the same time. Linux still holds less than 5% of the desktop market share currently dominated by Windows. Mac users follow second place.
When Google announced they were releasing an OS based on Linux, more people started to take Linux more seriously. With Google teaming up with the biggest distributor of the Linux desktop, this joke could very well end. Google has a lot of money and power. The year of the Linux desktop will happen when Google wants it to happen. Whether this OS will be embraced by hardcore Linux users is not clear. I am reserving my feeling until more information is released. Linux users may very well have the last laugh, but at what cost still remains to be seen.
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