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Will ChromeOS make Google more loved or hated in open source world?

Google's plans to launch an open source operating system is not only a potential game changer for Microsoft but also likely a big blow for Ubuntu and other Linux hopefuls on the desktop.But its success depends somewhat on support by the open source community.
Written by Paula Rooney, Contributor on

Google's plans to launch an open source operating system is not only a potential game changer for Microsoft but also likely a big blow for Ubuntu and other Linux hopefuls on the desktop.

But its success depends somewhat on support by the open source community. Google promises to open source its code later this year and will "soon" begin working with the open source community.

Provided those promises are kept,  the Chrome OS, an open source, web focused and lightweight OS,  will spread like wildfire on netbooks and laptops.  A clean interface? A fast bootup?  The dream has come true.

For more than a decade I have written about Linux's prospects on the desktop and quoted many who predicted Microsoft's massacre at the hands of the open source operating system. Today, Linux holds less than two percent market share and few would make the same prediction today without looking silly.

For many in the open source camp, Ubuntu is (or was) the game changer that would have Microsoft at least scurrying to protect its virtual ownership of the desktop. Michael Dell virtually endorsed it.

Ubuntu has enjoyed some success on the desktop, particularly on the netbook, but I think it's fair to say that it hasn't turned out to be the commercial success that once seemed possible.

Google's Chrome OS -- like its counterpart browser -- may be the real shot heard 'round the world. Google says it will be available to consumers in the second half of 2010 but I'll bet it makes its debut on netbooks within a year's time.

Why talk about it now?

"Because we're already talking to partners about the project, and we'll soon be working with the open source community, we wanted to share our vision now so everyone understands what we are trying to achieve," Google wrote on its introductory blog yesterday.

"Speed, simplicity and security are the key aspects of Google Chrome OS. We're designing the OS to be fast and lightweight, to start up and get you onto the web in a few seconds. The user interface is minimal to stay out of your way, and most of the user experience takes place on the web. And as we did for the Google Chrome browser, we are going back to the basics and completely redesigning the underlying security architecture of the OS so that users don't have to deal with viruses, malware and security updates. It should just work."

Dreamy. This should be exciting stuff for open source backers (and for the rest of the world) but few in the community are celebrating. Google's commercial strength and market power have always undermined its efforts to get support in the open source sector. For many, Google is simply the next gen Microsoft pretending the carry the open source banner but not really abiding by the core principles of the movement.

In its first year on the market, for instance, the open source Chrome browser has amassed only less than two percent market share while Firefox, the original open source browser, rocks at almost 23 percent share. It's still too early to judge which one will reign but most in the open source community would prefer Mozilla's success.

It's just the vibe I get. Am I wrong?

Google has its open source backers and several prominent people in the open source world are employed by Google.  Perhaps its seemingly inevitable success is probable whether or not it the general open source community cares. What's your take?

Is Google more loved or hated today by the open source community? Why? Dies it matter?

And what impact will the introduction of the Chrome OS have on Google's reputation in the open source community? Please weigh in.

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