Linus Torvalds likes the Google Chrome OS Linux desktop

Linus Torvalds likes the Google Chrome OS Linux desktop

Summary: Torvalds, still annoyed at the direction that GNOME 3 has taken, has some nice things to say about Google's new Chrome Aura Linux desktop interface.


Google s Linux-based Chrome OS Aura interface has a new friend: Linus Torvaslds.

Google's Linux-based Chrome OS Aura interface has a new friend: Linus Torvalds.

Linus Torvalds, Linux's primary creator, hasn't been happy with the direction his formerly favorite Linux desktop interface, GNOME, has gone. In fact, Torvalds downright hates GNOME 3.x. He'll get no argument from me. I hate GNOME 3.x too. Recently though, Torvalds has start toying with Google's new Chrome operating system's Aura interface and, guess what, he kind of likes it.

Torvalds wrote, "And I haven't really played around with it all that much, but as a desktop it really doesn't look that bad. I could name worse desktops (cough cough)." That would be GNOME 3.x of course.

Torvalds continued, "It allows such radical notions as having easy mouse configurability for things like how to launch applications. Things gnome removed because those kinds of things were "too confusing", and in the process made useless. And an auto-hide application dock at the bottom. Revolutionary, I know."

Say hello to Google's new, old Chrome OS (gallery)

He added, "It also seems to improve on the experience even in the non-laptop mode. Making the calendar start as a "window" instead of as a browser tab also means that when you use it in the single-use mode that we traditionally did, the app takes up the whole screen, without the browser buttons etc."

"So the new Aura approach seems to work both as a traditional window manager and as a more limited "apps take up the whole screen". Maybe this whole 'browser as an app' thing can really work," Torvalds concluded.

In short, he found, as I have when I tested Chrome OS Aura, that Google has taken its hybrid Linux desktop/cloud-based and given it a really useful retro desktop look. Personally, I'll take this kind of desktop, or the Linux distribution's Mint new take on the GNOME 2 interface, Cinnamon over such new and improved desktop interfaces as GNOME 3.x or Windows 8 Metro any day of the week.

The current generation of Chromebooks though, which is where most people including Torvalds use Chrome OS, are another matter. Torvalds wrote, "The whole point of a laptop for me is that you can take it on the road and do your work. And that, to me, means "compile stuff and use git". And no, "use ssh [Secure Shell] in a browser to compile on some other machine" does not count. The laptop is the only thing I have with me. So for it to count as a real laptop, I need to be able to do real work locally too. I like having lots of connected options, but they can't be the only options."

Of course you don't need a Chromebook to run Chrome OS. You can run it on any PC. It's just that it's not packaged that way. In fact, I run Chrome OS in virtual machines all the time. Personally, though, my Samsung Series 5 Chromebook has become my grab and go laptop.

On the other hand, I just use Web applications like Gmail, Google Docs, and Google Voice on it. I don't try to use git, never-mind compile anything on it! For those uses, it would be great if, as it appears might be the case, the next generation of Chromebooks will be built on Intel's Ivy Bridge chips.

In the meantime though, as Torvalds said in a comment, "I was pleasantly surprised by the new interface - it seems to be going very much in the right direction. Give it a few years (and better hardware), and I can really see it happening. As it is, it's clearly useful for some people, judging by the comments here. It's not there for me now. But the new interface is better even just for the limited use I put the thing to."

Related Stories:

Google's new Chrome OS: Back to the future

New Chromebooks to get a much-needed Ivy Bridge speed boost?

Google wants you to buy a Chromebook: Should you? (Review)

How to install Google's Chrome OS

Five Reasons why Google's Linux Chromebook could be a Windows killer

Topics: Apps, Browser, Google, Hardware, Linux, Mobility, Open Source, Operating Systems, Software

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  • Linus Torvalds likes the Google Chrome OS Linux desktop

    Lets see, the linux creator likes linux. Where was the story in this again?
    Loverock Davidson-
    • Linux is more than just a desktop

      The report was he likes the ChromeOS desktop and hates GNOME3 (also a UNIX/Linux desktop). I've never tried ChromeOS (I use XFCE myself), but I very much understand his feelings about GNOME3.
      John L. Ries
      • Steven hates Gnome3, not Linus

        Steven made the "Hate" statement, not Linus. He just thinks it's going the wrong direction. Steven on the other hand has a talent for over stating his points.
    • Finish your homework.

      Loverock, Dad said you couldn't be in the internet till your homework was done!
      Hardrock Davidson
  • Linus Torvalds likes the Google Chrome OS Linux desktop

    Linus has shown that freedom of choice can be a great thing.
    • Agreed. It's not like there's ever been other OS's avaliable.

      thoughout history.
      William Farrel
      • No. There wasnt freedom until linux came along

        What bothers these people is that others have freely chosen Windows and to a lesser extent Mac, over linux.

        At any time, a windows user could have easily downloaded and installed linux..but nobody does that...and yet it's all M$'s fault!
    • ,

      He's also shown that if your choice isnt like his, he will call you names, insult you and even tell you to kill yourself... you know like most online trolls. Except when he does it, were supposed to laugh and find it funny like when youre grandfather farts at the dinner table.
  • Linus Torvalds likes the Google Chrome OS Linux desktop

    Who cares ?
    • Thanks...

      Exactly what I was thinking.
      • Apparently, you do

        Why else did you read the article?
        John L. Ries
  • Linus may like the desktop environment on Chrome OS

    However, this is not a ringing endorsement for using a Chromebook to develop software.

    I'm sure that Google is heading in the direction of supporting software development on their servers using the Chromebook. Just think of all that code they can mine (and reuse for free).

    Hey, Oracle! Have we got a deal for you. :)
    Rabid Howler Monkey
    • Software Development

      I don't think an original use case for Chrome OS was to develop software on it. That said, Bespin and Heroku seem to coming along nicely.
  • Chrome OS is BS

    Chrome OS in its current form has no practical use.
    • Funny...

      ...I use it "practically" every day.
  • Wonder how

    Wonder how he feels about the other 99 or so Versions of Linux?
    • 99?

      There is only one version of Linux (Currently 3.3.4 I think).
  • The comments also show that

    While Linus is extremely influential, even he cannot drive the desktop in a direction that he wants. I suspect he just doesn't care that much either. He's got his hands full with other responsibilities in the Linux world, the desktop interface is secondary to him. He'll use whatever suits his needs.

    If he doesn't like it, but fills the need, he'll probably use it anyway. Just the way it is.
  • Linux doesn't intelligently tap the user base for design

    It's amazing to me that no distributions offer desktop variations created by the talented members of their user base. Nearly every popular distribution has a forum featuring screenshots of amazingly beautiful and functional desktops created by users. Distributions should offer a couple of variations of the best of those and make them easily downloadable.

    Yes, I KNOW that users can go to the forums and get ideas and do it themselves but Linux would pull in more new users and generate more interest if they offered something more attractive than standard Gnome 3 and Unity which I think are pretty unattractive and annoying to use.
    • You can always write your own desktop

      No one entity owns the Linux system (though Linus Torvalds is the lead developer of the kernel); rather, people contribute to it as they see fit. This is both it's biggest strength and its biggest weakness. And unlike in the Windows and Mac worlds, if you don't like your distro's default desktop, you can always replace it with a different one.
      John L. Ries