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?

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  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.
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