Google Chrome OS isn’t Linux?

Add one more to the tech journalism hall of shame.

From PC World‘s “Google’s Chrome OS May Fail Even as It Changes Computing Forever”:

First, Google will compete with another operating system, Linux, that has tried fruitlessly to replace Windows on consumer PCs. The Linux camp will give it another go with a Linux variant called Moblin that has the backing of Intel and is headed for netbooks soon. (No specific partners or dates have been announced.) Dell says it prefers Moblin to Chrome OS.

Hey, Tom Spring—Google Chrome OS is Linux, just as much as Intel’s Moblin is, just as much as Ubuntu is. Linux is a short-hand many people use to designate any operating system that uses the GNU/Linux kernel… and Google Chrome OS uses the Linux kernel!

Maybe this mistake is a good thing.

If even tech “journalists” think Google Chrome OS isn’t Linux, then maybe people will give Chrome a chance because of the Google brand and not be afraid that Linux is only for geeks. After all, no one ever said you had to be a geek to use TiVo.

If Chrome OS is successful, Linux’s “year of the desktop” may not even be recognized as such, because most people (not even supposed journalists) won’t even realize Chrome is Linux. Of course, I don’t buy that Google is directly competing with Microsoft. Yes, Chrome OS is an operating system. Yes, if it’s successful, it will take some marketshare away from Windows. But cloud computing can be only so successful in the near future. Not everyone has broadband internet. Not everyone wants confidential documents on someone else’s servers. Not everyone wants to migrate away from her current platform. Not all applications have “cloud” counterparts.

If Google is successful in taking over the netbook market, it’ll be a huge blow to Microsoft, but people will still be using their Windows desktops and Windows laptops for heavy gaming, for niche business applications, for graphic design (if they aren’t using Macs).

Windows does not need to be totally overthrown, though. Any gain in marketshare for Linux will mean more hardware support for Linux users, which means ultimately more freedom and choice for even those Linux users who use non–Chrome OS distros.


  1. Minor nitpick: the “GNU/Linux kernel” is actually just the Linux kernel. Whatever one’s position is on Linux vs. GNU/Linux, the latter can only refer to a complete distro with the GNU utils. But the kernel is Linux.

  2. I for the most part agree. As a web developer I probably feel more comfortable then most. Heck not going to lie I feel safer having all my emails stored on Gmails servers then on my own desktop. I and most other people for that matter are horrible at backing up their HD. Plus with the awesomeness that raid/remote data centers located around the globe provide I feel rather secure storing my information on someone else’s server. But heck if I was a business with very important files, I would most likely want them kept in house. I don’t believe the standard desktop, with the standard O/S will ever disappear. Professions and business alike need a highly productive environment that is impossible to beat with a standard desktop/standard OS combination.

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