View Poll Results: Do you agree Google should ideally take a role in Ubuntu?

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  • Yes! Just like you said, or kinda like you said at least.

    220 61.62%
  • No, what you said is a bad idea.

    58 16.25%
  • Rubbish. This is all rubish, and it will never happen anyway.

    79 22.13%
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Thread: poll: why google should team with canonical- agree? disagree? rubbish?

  1. #1
    Join Date
    Jul 2005
    Seattle, WA
    Kubuntu 5.10

    Lightbulb poll: why google should team with canonical- agree? disagree? rubbish?

    I read somewhere lately that canonical has 68 employees. It's amazing, just 68 paid employees and volunteers have turned debian and OSS into a great desktop user-friendly operating system. I can praise ubuntu forever, but i'll get to the point.

    Ubuntu still has a long way to go, and they need more developers: driver support, the growing list of bugs on launchpad that the developers can't keep up with, and the fact their simply aren't enough Ubuntu developers to do that much upstread package maintenance. And, I still can't find any computers at Fry's/CompUSA/BestBuy with Ubuntu pre-installed. Yes, is great (and i give them my praise) but let's face it, they aren't as good a deal as the laptops listed in the Sunday ads, or even the ones you can find on So when do the big guys start shipping ubuntu preinstalled? When do these issues get addressed?

    When google gets involved.

    Imagine this: 1000 developers working on Ubuntu and cheaper laptops from big name vendors with Ubuntu preinstalled than for the Windows ones (w/hardware equivalence). The extra developers now produce an even more stable/user-friendly distro, but also not only work on packaging the distro but do more upstream patching and development, working more closely with KDE/Gnome and all the package maintainers. Widespread adoption finally happens because people easily see the price/performance benefit to linux since the computers are just better deals. Of course, with wider adoption, third party software becomes more get the picture.

    Why/how does this happen?

    First the how: as I've said Google is the company. They just spent 1.6 billion on youtube-that's enough to hire 1000 developers at 100k a pop for 16 years! They can afford it. If Google teamed with Canonical, all the vendors would know that even if Mark tires of funding the project Ubuntu isn't going anywhere, so they're more likely to preinstall. Additionally, they benefit anyway since they no longer pay the Microsoft tax for every computer they sell. And Google's marketing team pressures them into as well. Driver support gets better, because Google is so successful at everything they do today that if they engage in an OS project, hardware makers know they should support it, and if they want to have their hardware installed on any of the machines selling with Ubuntu preinstalled, they need to support it. I'd guess within 1-2 years of having 1000 developers on Ubuntu they could be ready to ship prepackaged on PCs/laptops. and people would eat it up, because money talks.

    Now the WHY: what does Google get from it? First, if successful, even partially, they get something they need: an even playing field with Microsoft. As long as MS dominates the operating system, Google will have to fight an uphill battle (MS can subsidize it's web programs with it's other profits and can "bundle" services into the OS). Sure, Google does fine, even great today. But at some point MS will get it together, they'll start hammering away on web services, bundling everything under the sun to lock Outlook/Office users into their email/calendar and other online services. And the users will get stuck. So Google needs this, otherwise someday they slip and when they do MS kicks them when they're down.
    Second, Google can afford it, maybe it costs them $100 million a year for 1000 developers-their last 3 months of profit was $722 million. Heck, maybe they should do 2000 developers to make sure it works. It's important security they need to protecting themselves from the incessant bundling/integration MS will do in the future.
    Third, Google benefits because they do exactly what MS wants to: Gmail, Google Calendar, Picasa, and everything else under the sun integrates seamlessly into Ubuntu. Most people would love it, not even needing to think about how to integrate their desktop calendar with their browser-based calendar, and when not using your computer your calendar is already synced. Of course, many people will cry about this idea-it's blasphemy to the open-source community to do such a thing. But I think we all know that [most of?] Google's services are fantastic, and part of the deal can include compromises to ensure Google can't monopolize. By a deal, it would be something like requiring an unbundled/customizable version of Ubuntu would always be made available to competitors and all bundling would be optional (and I don't mean like you can uninstall IE optional because you can't)... Any default packaging would enrage many, but some or even most might be appeased by working out a deal, if they recognize the importance of Google's support. Even if many were upset, if a compromise could be worked out it would benefit everyone, Google, us and the developers. Everyone except MS that is. Finally, Microsoft will/is doing this, and people are going to actually _like_ it, not needing to worry about syncing their calendar or mail etc. Unless Canonical is going to start providing web services as well as an OS, linux users will find themselves stuck again in 10 years when desktop/web application integration is further along than it is today.

    Microsoft is at a weak-point right now, and they're vulnerable to real competition. But every day that goes by they're scheming to use their vendor lock-in to eliminate this competition. For myself, one of the biggest reasons I can even use Ubuntu 90% of the time (still have to go to windows for _insertProgramName_) is because of Google's services, Gmail and Calendar making me totally operating system independent. So if/when MS gets it together and produces equivalent web services, then integrates/bundles them with their desktop apps, we'll be back to where we started 5 years ago, when I couldn't run linux because practically everything pushed me back onto Windows.

    I'll turn this into a poll to see how many people agree with these thoughts, post your comments please I'm curious about flaws/mistakes in my logic here. Or maybe this is just rubbish, since nobody believes Google will do it (I actually think they could.)
    10/21 EDIT: brief discussion SUMMARY:
    Thanks for the feedback, below are a few quotes of the counter-arguments against the idea or statements about why it won't happen.
    TiredBird wrote:
    I have to disagree!
    As much as the next person I want to see an Ubuntu that comes pre-installed, or easily installable. I want to see things that work the way you expect them to work. But I'm not willing to give up my freedom to get that and to me, that's what a sell-out to Google or anyone like them entails.
    maniacmusician wrote:
    basically the only advantages to doing this would be google's amazing funding and their efficient coding teams. I also think that their commercial agenda and other quirks would hinder the development of ubuntu. If we stick by ourselves, we'll still get far, just not as fast. like feisty fawn for example. the ideas for it are looking great.
    deepred wrote:
    If Google were interested in the scenario you describe (i.e. teaming up with Ubuntu to take on MS) they would have developed their own distro, probably even better than Ubuntu. They've got the cash.
    There is naturally a lot more feedback, but I think these generally summarize the counter-arguments: 1) loss of freedom is not worth the gain; 2) we can do it without large corporate support so no need and 3) Google has other plans or isn't interested in the OS market and it's success is not dependent on the OS market (look at their earnings report last week!).

    My reply on the next page addresses some of, but here are a few more thoughts on these issues.
    On 1), the GPL protects us very well, minimizing this issue (although someone mentions the GPL is also why Google would not get involved at all, I'll save that for #3). I am also willing to sacrifice some freedom in order to accomplish widespread adoption of Linux. Will Google be the "next Microsoft"? No, it simply can't be if the source code for any OS they're developing is freely available.
    With respect to 2), how much desktop market share does Linux now have? Yes, Ubuntu is, IMHO, the best yet, but even the hype behind Ubuntu is slowing - Suse is not far behind it now on Distrowatch's popularity contest and Dapper didn't turn out to be a windows killer. And now it's Feisty that is going to convert the masses. I've believed it before, but as I see Microsoft's engines rev up I feel the window of opportunity we have right now could close within several years as they win back web market share and integrate their desktop software. The only way to really capitalize on the opportunity we have now is to get Ubuntu preinstalled on laptops that cost less.
    On issue 3), people's comments are quite convincing that Google wouldn't engage in an OS, or if they did, they would built it from scratch. But I'm not convinced that all this is innocuous banter, because even if it isn't Google, it could be Oracle or any other corporate pig that might be our opportunity to bring Ubuntu to the mainstream. There is also still hope for Google, and I haven't seen anything convincing me otherwise that the crux of my argument (that Google needs a non-MS OS to have a majority market share in order to compete effectively in the future against MS) is false. They simply can't assume that MS will always be mismanaged and... One additional benefit for Google of not doing it alone, is if Mark endorsed the Google-cooperation, I think many of the FOSS developers and Ubuntu-base might be happy with the deal. Of course, there would have to be a lot of details hammered out, but Google could gain the communities trust by doing it through Ubuntu. Perhaps not the strongest argument, but Google does sponsor numerous activities in the interest of keeping the publics support (Summer of Code, a largely solar powered campus etc...).

    A link here is posted on Digg, Digg it if you've found this discussion interesting!

    Thanks for the feedback!
    Last edited by jetpeach; October 22nd, 2006 at 02:05 AM.
    My Blog.

  2. #2
    Join Date
    Apr 2006
    Freeport, Illinois

    Re: poll: why google should team with canonical- agree? disagree? rubbish?

    how do you have the energy to type so much??
    Workers of the world unite! Do not go unheard!!

  3. #3
    Join Date
    Aug 2005
    Fargo, ND, USA
    Kubuntu 10.04 Lucid Lynx

    Re: poll: why google should team with canonical- agree? disagree? rubbish?

    It seems to me like the whole problem of mainstreaming Linux is extremely complex. It will not be fixed by just assloads of developers polishing it, or by just giant OEMs offering it preloaded, or a government installing it in all of its offices, or hardware vendors offering drivers. It is a gradual thing, and there is so much inertia that it will take years or decades. Something like this would certainly help, but it won't suddenly thrust Linux into the mainstream, and I don't think it would help that much. Linux will creep in, just like it is now and always has been doing.
    Help yourself: Search the community docs or try other resources.
    Quote Originally Posted by Henry Spencer
    Those who do not understand Unix are condemned to reinvent it, poorly.
    Let science use your computer when you aren't: Folding@Home.

  4. #4
    Join Date
    Jun 2006
    CT - MA - NY, U.S.

    Re: poll: why google should team with canonical- agree? disagree? rubbish?

    it's a good idea; but that's all it is, sorry. Google definitely does have the funding abilities, but they wouldn't be interested financially. Firstly, they would be sharing the project with canonical...I don't think they'd like that. They could try and buy canonical, but I doubt mark would sell it away. And Canonical comprises of much more than just Ubuntu, though that is their most major product.

    Also, google would be too keen to use Ubuntu as an advertising channel, which would probably not turn out very well. We need a parent company with the full and pure intentions of pushing the philosophy of freedom and open source.

    What google COULD do is pay off hardware companies to create an opportunity for linux to succeed (through the creation of drivers), but that's pretty out there. More likely to happen in a dream.

    Don't get me wrong, I love Google; they're great. I just don't really think they're the right people for this. If they would ever agree to become sponsors of ubuntu, in a situation where Canonical still holds the cards, great. But I don't think they'd be open to that idea.

  5. #5
    Join Date
    Mar 2006
    Toronto, Canada
    Kubuntu Jaunty Jackalope (testing)

    Re: poll: why google should team with canonical- agree? disagree? rubbish?

    I agree with jpkotta, Linux becoming mainstream is more complex issue, then just throwing more developers or having Google sponsor Canonical.

    And saying the Microsoft is in a bad spot is... well.. funny... We are talking about one of the most robust, dynamic and powerful software companies in the world. Take one look at all the different markets where they are doing very well. It has a unique position of the only company that delivers solution products and platforms to both the mass market and the corporate markets. Without getting into a huge, complex discussion; lets leave Microsoft's demise out of the picture for now.

    I think the "problem" with Linux is more about adoption by users then anything else. Linux was always a grassroots movement and that is were its greatest strength is. The biggest issues right now are:
    - user friendliness
    - PDA/smartphone integration
    - iPod + iTunes
    - games
    - ignorance

    The best way to help Canonical (and the Linux in general) is get involved with an open source project and convincing/helping folks to try out Ubuntu.

  6. #6
    Join Date
    Jul 2006
    Deep South Texas

    Re: poll: why google should team with canonical- agree? disagree? rubbish?

    I think your concept is right but I have problems with Google:

    (1) I used Gmail for a while, but then abandoned it because Google didn't seem to have any interest in fixing things that were important to me;

    (2) I've used Picasa on XP and on Ubuntu and my problem on both systems was the same - Google installed things they didn't ask me about, they made it difficult to find those things they had installed and then made it nearly impossible to uninstall them - in fact, I think some parts of it are still on both systems; and

    (3) Ditto to their map service. It doesn't seem to work unless you open several doors to them.

    In short, my problem in general with Google is the same problem I have with Microsoft and most of the Windoze vendors - they presume I don't know anything about computing and they take over my computer in their misguided attempt to make it easy for me. Then they don't tell me what they've done, it appears they try to hide things from me and they make it very difficult to get rid of them if I decide I don't want them.

    What makes Ubuntu and its derivatives so special to me is that for the first time in years I feel I am back in control again. I don't want to give up my control to Google. No, please keep them out of my life.

  7. #7
    Join Date
    Jul 2005
    UC Irvine
    Ubuntu 9.04 Jaunty Jackalope

    Re: poll: why google should team with canonical- agree? disagree? rubbish?

    I would love to see Ubuntu get support from somebody as big as Google.

  8. #8
    Join Date
    May 2005

    Re: poll: why google should team with canonical- agree? disagree? rubbish?

    Well, in a way google does team with ubuntu... through summer of code. I guess you want them to allocate more resources to it?

  9. #9
    Join Date
    Nov 2004

    Re: poll: why google should team with canonical- agree? disagree? rubbish?

    If Google was going to support a Linux distribution I'd rather it be an American made distro. Not a foreign one.

  10. #10
    Join Date
    Apr 2006
    Surrounded by idiots!
    Kubuntu 4.10

    Exclamation Re: poll: why google should team with canonical- agree? disagree? rubbish?

    I agree with TiredBird, I don't want an American corporation stealing my personal information and installing whatever spyware they want.

    If I wanted that I would have stuck with Microsoft Windows.

    One of the big draws of Ubuntu (for me) is that it is NOT an American made distribution which means no US government spying and no built in - "you're not allowed to install -insert app/codec here- because it is illegal in the US or owned by XX corporation and you must pay royalties" rubbish.

    It's called freedom, let's not give it away.

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