Google Inc’s open source program manager, Chris DiBona, has dismissed suggestions that the company is about to release its own Linux distribution based on the Ubuntu project, and questioned the likelihood of the company entering the Linux business at all.
Reports began circulating late on Tuesday that the Mountain View, California-based search giant was preparing Goobuntu, a desktop Linux distribution with which it would be taking on the desktop might of Microsoft Corp. DiBona nipped in the bud the resulting rampant speculation via a posting to Slashdot in which he confirmed the existing of Goobuntu but maintained that it is not intended for public consumption.
Goobuntu is our internal desktop distribution. It’s awesome, but we’re not going to be releasing it. Unless you work here it wouldn’t work anyway, he wrote, before questioning the wisdom of anyone who thought Google entering the Linux distribution business would be a wise move for the company. Also, know that Google getting into the Red Hat business would be kind of dumb, and it would distract from our moon teleporter and cold fusion projects, he wrote. Despite the levity of the second half of that statement, DiBonas’s comment with regards to Red Hat Inc is revealing.
While other predicted Google projects, such as hosted office productivity tools and hosted enterprise email, could make use of existing Google resources, the Linux distribution business is primarily services-led and relies on building a community of expert users and developers.
Google might have the resources and brand to build such a community, but would it want to? Perhaps not as much as industry watchers want it to. Goobuntu is the latest in a series of enterprise-related Google rumors that have come to nothing.
An apparent plan to host the OpenOffice.org open source productivity suite turned out in October 2005 to be an agreement with Sun Microsystems Inc for the latter to distribute Google Toolbar as an optional add-on when people download the Java Runtime Environment.
Meanwhile, January’s rumors of Google PC, a low-cost computer running a Google-flavored Linux variant, turned out to be Google Pack, a software bundle including Google’s own Talk, Screensaver, Desktop, Toolbar and Picasa, as well Adobe Reader 7, Ad-Aware SE Personal, GalleryPlayer, Firefox, Norton AntiVirus 2005, RealPlayer, and Trillian, but still no OpenOffice.
Despite dismissing the Goobuntu rumor, DiBona added a note of praise for Ubuntu, the non-commercial Debian-based Linux distribution sponsored by Canonical Ltd. If you haven’t tried Ubuntu, you should, I have the regular one running on my laptop and it really is fantastic, he wrote.