Google searches toward open source?

The search engine giant denies it has plans to release its own version of open-source Ubuntu, which it currently uses internally.

A Google spokesperson has dismissed rumors that it will distribute its own version of Ubuntu Linux.

"The 'Goobuntu' you may have heard of is just a modified version of Ubuntu. Technically, there's likely to be a 'Goobian' and a 'Goohat' too."
-- Ubuntu President Mark Shuttleworth

Word about Goobuntu, Google's supposed version of Linux based on Ubuntu, surfaced in February when a Web site claimed the search company is testing its operating system (OS) on Dell computers. This followed a recent announcement that Dell and Google are working together to test existing Google software.

However, Google spokesperson Sonya Boralv rebuffed any suggestion that the company is planning to offer its own version of Ubuntu Linux, which Google is currently using internally.

Boralv told ZDNet Asia: "We are testing the distribution of various technologies with Dell. These include Google Desktop Search, Google Toolbar and a Google-powered Dell start page."

A Dell Asia spokesperson confirmed the Google software tests, but denied a Wall Street Journal report which claimed the deal with Google was worth US$1 billion. The report, citing unnamed sources, also said that as many as 100 million new Dell PCs will be preloaded with Google software.

Ubuntu President Mark Shuttleworth said on his blog that there is "absolutely no truth to the rumor that Google plans to distribute a derivative of Ubuntu as a Google OS."

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"As exciting as that may be for Linux, it wouldn't make sense for Google," he said. "And so far they've been pretty sensible about their projects."

Shuttleworth noted that Google uses several Linux distributions internally, and he reckoned the company may also have their own versions of Red Hat, SuSE, Debian and Gentoo.

"Don't read too much into [Google's] use of Ubuntu--it's just part of the picture, and nothing to get overly excited about," he said. "The 'Goobuntu' you may have heard of is just a modified version of Ubuntu. Technically, there's likely to be a 'Goobian' and a 'Goohat' too."

Michael Clark, vice president of the Linux Users Group Singapore, said it is hard to see Google distributing open-source software (OSS).

"I don’t think they can succeed with OSS because of their closed culture. They use a lot of OSS, but they don't contribute to the open-source community," he said.