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Will Google's new Chrome OS really fly?

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Jul. 16, 2009

Will Google's new Chrome OS integrate well with today's Linux systems? And will it help grow Linux as a bona-fide co-existing operating system? What's the general feeling among the Linux community? Will it create some 'value added' for Linux vendors?

Those are just a few of the many questions sparked by Google's formal unveiling of its Chrome OS last week, although a public release of the open source licensed operating system isn't expected until at least 2010 at the earliest.

It's now getting pretty obvious that Google's Chrome OS may be bumping heads with other existing operating systems, most notably Windows.

Also, the netbook and Internet-centric OS may overlap with Google's Android, another open source operating system designed by Google but made specifically for the mobile industry. Android may be aimed at smartphones, but it's also garnered interest as a netbook platform.

That could put it into contention with Chrome OS, which will be available for Intel x86 and AMD processors.

For the most part, open source industry insiders are optimistic, at least for now, seeing that Chrome OS as being most threatening to Microsoft Windows.

"With Linux being the true foundation of Chrome, as well as the foundation of other challengers to Microsoft's desktop OS monopoly, we do see this as very good news," said Amanda McPherson, vice president of marketing and developer programs at the Linux Foundation.

Microsoft is currently in the midst of preparing its own netbook-focused offering -- a low-end version of the upcoming Windows 7.

But for existing Linux vendors, Google's arrival on the OS scene may be more complex, with the backers of various distribution greeting the news with a mixture of concern, but at the same time with "cautious optimism".

It's disappointing that they've chosen to go it alone this far rather than working with the existing Linux communities, some say.

Others are more overly positive about the effect Chrome OS could have on overall Linux adoption. "Open source has proven to be a better model of development and the platform of the future," a Red Hat spokesperson said. "The momentum and interest from leading technology vendors continues to build. We look forward to seeing how this project will progress."

While it does have desktop aspirations, Red Hat isn't as actively engaged in the netbook space as are other Linux vendors -- like Novell's SUSE Linux and Canonical's Ubuntu.

Gerry Carr, platform marketing manager at Canonical, downplayed the news, saying that all Google has delivered is just a blog post stating its intent -- and as a result, it's too early to speculate on how the competitive landscape will shape up.

"I think we would rather focus on a new entrant that is bringing some kind of energy to the open source community and that is in a way validating the choice of Linux for developing new operating systems that will replace legacy Windows," Carr said.

"But by whom and how that Linux choice will be delivered is predicting the future with little data -- not something that is smart to do."

Right now, following Google with its new Chrome OS project and trying to anticipate every move it will make until next year is like flying a jetliner without any radar. Very ricky at best...

The project does have some merit, but it's still way too early to draw any kind of conclusion.

Source: Tech Blog.

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