With Page as CEO, Open Source is stronger than ever at Google

With Page as CEO, Open Source is stronger than ever at Google

Summary: Google's management is changing, but its support for open source will only grow stronger.

TOPICS: Open Source, Google

When Google announced that Eric Schmidt was stepping down as CEO and Google co-founder Larry Page was moving up to the CEO chair, you could have knocked Wall St. analysts over with a feather. They didn't see this coming. They're already debating about what it will mean.

I'm no business expert, but I do a few things and I don't see much change happening here. After all, as Eric Schmidt wrote, "As Executive Chairman, I will focus wherever I can add the greatest value: externally, on the deals, partnerships, customers and broader business relationships, government outreach and technology thought leadership that are increasingly important given Google's global reach."

Isn't that where Schmidt has always shone? I think so. And, where has Page shown? Well, of course, as the search maven. Many of you know that Google's PageRank isn't named because of the connection between Web pages and how they rank in Google; no PageRank's name comes from Larry Page. In addition though, Page, along with his friend and fellow Google co-founder, Sergey Brin, have always been ardent open-source users, developers, and, dare I say it, fans.

Think that sounds a little much? I don't think so. Sure, Google's search engine runs on Linux, both the Chrome operating system is based on Linux, and more than 250,000 open-source projects live in Google Project Hosting, but a fan?

Yes, a fan. Who came up with the idea for the Google Summer of Code, a program that sponsors students to work on open-source projects? That would have been Page and Brin.

Is that some strong business case for supporting students working on all kinds of open-source projects? I can't think of any. Is it a good thing to do to support the growth of open-source developers and projects? Oh yes. Is it something an open-source fan would do? You bet it is.

Who, after hearing about Android, the Linux-based smartphone and tablet operating system for the first time decided that Google didn't want to just support it, but buy Android and keep it open? That was Page.

When I spoke with Chris DiBona, Google's open-source program manager, a few years back when Google was big but not yet Google, DiBona told me, that Page was "passionate about open source." DiBona added, that Google also supported its engineers working on "open-source and Linux," and that "many of them use part of their time to work on open-source projects."

Since then Google's open-source record speaks for itself. Google has always supported what DiBona called "underlying technologies and concentrating on lower-level functionality programs," but now it's also shipping end-user, open-source programs like the Chrome Web browser.

Will this change with Larry Page in charge? No, if anything I expect to see even more open-source software flowing from Google. I still don't expect any real changes coming from Google when it comes to Linux and open source, but I'm certain I can look forward to Google continuing to be, by some ways of looking at it, the biggest open-source company of all.

Topics: Open Source, Google

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  • Google abuses Open Source

    Larry and Sergey in charge might make Google a little less evil. But, the damage has been done. The business model needs the spyware network. Google can only survive by spying on its users. Just wait until someone sells the data, or leaks it to Wikileaks.
    • RE: With Page as CEO, Open Source is stronger than ever at Google

      @jorjitop They run their whole business on Ads. They don't sell your data to others, only use it to target ads. Many other companies do the same thing, and sell your data. Google gives alot back to the world, considering what they take.
  • Bet they don't open-source their search engine code

    That will stay proprietary. The stuff that directly makes them money they will not open-source. They will open-source disruptive technologies for sure. That usually means disruptive to MS but sometimes Apple too. That's what IBM, Sun, Oracle have done for the most part.
    • Some have open-sourced stuff that they can service.

      @DevGuy_z I should have mentioned that but generally speaking a Privately or Publicly held company is primarily interested in one thing and that's making money. Nothing wrong with that - that's a good thing. But people get all kinds of idealistic ideas. Google is not about serving up tons of free stuff. It is about bringing people into their fold so that they get search and ad $$$.
      • RE: With Page as CEO, Open Source is stronger than ever at Google

        @DevGuy_z but at the same time they are serving up tons of free stuff.
  • Mr. Vaughan-Nichols

    As long as you understand that Google has done what is best for them, not the open source community.

    You must remember that Google is now a public company, and it's creators rich beyond the wildest dreams of anyone here. One could just as equally argue that Google purchased Android not to serve the community, but themslves.

    Was Microsoft being altruistic when they offered Internet Explorer for free while other browsers where alvailable for purchase?

    Google has not proven that they are any different, or that what they do is for the community, as with their software their is usually strings attached.

    Praise them as you like, but do not be surprised that many here can see through their smoke and mirror trick.
    Tim Cook
    • RE: With Page as CEO, Open Source is stronger than ever at Google

      @Mister Spock
      What any individual or company does can be reduced to "doing it for themselves." Mother Theresa, Eunice Shriver, etc. did what they did because it made THEM feel good. It just so happened to benefit others too.

      Its best when people take care of themselves first (as long as its not at the expense of others.) Then they are in a good place in life and can start thinking of others and the greater good. When people like the castros, chavez denounce capitalism its assumed that those are getting richer and making everyone else equally poorer.

      Ironically, that's exactly what happened in those countries. Just that those guys who are supposed to be helping the poor are rich and powerful keeping everyone else poor with the silly social revolutions.

      When a rich person buys a yacht many think "oh spoiled rich greedy bastard". But that purchase helped create jobs - the proper form of income redistribution.

      Its especially important that a company takes care of itself first to create jobs.
      • RE: With Page as CEO, Open Source is stronger than ever at Google

        @willyampz come on, comparing Mother Theresa with Google is just going too far. Giving away is all about branding, its not because of nothing the term "google it" have appeared. Regardless the intentions of the founders, you have the strong press from money-people who have only one concern: earn money!
    • RE: With Page as CEO, Open Source is stronger than ever at Google

      @Mister Spock All companies do what's best for them. Always have, always will, or they go out of business. It just happens that some companies believe that open source works for their benefit. Clearly it has worked for Google, as it also has for IBM, Red Hat, and Oracle. Heck, even Microsoft has an open-source program these days.

      Now each of these companies views, supports, and uses (or abuses if you like) open source in very different ways. But all of them use open source not because it's some abstract right thing to do but because it benefits their bottom line. Altruism is, at most, a small part of the picture.

  • The lies are stronger than ever at Google

    "Meet the new boss..."
    • "same as the old boss"

      John Zern
    • who give's a SYT.... this is not the INTERNET...


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      • @Page-Cray

        I'm afraid that your meaning is QUITE obscure..... May I trouble you to be as explicit as possible about what, exactly, you mean by what you wrote?
    • RE: With Page as CEO, Open Source is stronger than ever at Google

      @iPad-awan Why are you in this thread? Just keep drinking your kool-aid
  • RE: With Page as CEO, Open Source is stronger than ever at Google

    Open source does not make a better product nor a better company. Nor will it changes the odds of success or failure for any new products. Ideas and execution make the company, not the tools.
  • RE: With Page as CEO, Open Source is stronger than ever at Google

    I think the most important thing about open source is not being presented here. Google may participate in a number of open source projects (not sure which ones) and give away the code for android and chrome but the most important stuff to enterprises is Google Docs, Calendar, and Gmail. My understanding is that you can not get a copy of that code--and--that code makes their enterprise tools proprietary. If they open source those three products then we have a true open source company with respect to end users and enterprises. Redhat does it so why not Google. Its not as if we are asking for their search engine code.
  • Hardly open source

    Google releases spyware/adware under the guise of open source. One of the reasons I don't use Chrome anymore is that every few seconds, I found Chrome was dialing out to "toolbarqueries.Google.Com"
    The one and only, Cylon Centurion
    • Sorry

      @Cylon Centurion 0005

      Make that "toolbarqueries.clients.google.com"
      The one and only, Cylon Centurion
    • RE: With Page as CEO, Open Source is stronger than ever at Google

      @Cylon Centurion 0005
      That service notifies the browser of the pagerank of the page. I guess you have the pagerank extension installed.
      • Not that I know of...


        But I will look.
        The one and only, Cylon Centurion