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Google Businesses Debian Operating Systems Linux

Google Moves To Debian For In-house Linux Desktop (zdnet.com) 142

Google has officially confirmed the company is shifting its in-house Linux desktop from the Ubuntu-based Goobuntu to a new Linux distro, the DebianTesting-based gLinux. From a report: Margarita Manterola, a Google Engineer, quietly announced Google would move from Ubuntu to Debian-testing for its desktop Linux at DebConf17 in a lightning talk. Manterola explained that Google was moving to gLinux, a rolling release based on Debian Testing. This move isn't as surprising as it first looks. Ubuntu is based on Debian. In addition, Google has long been a strong Debian supporter. In 2017, Debian credited Google for making [sic] "possible our annual conference, and directly supports the progress of Debian and Free Software." Debian Testing is the beta for the next stable version of Debian. With gLinux, that means it's based on the Debian 10 "Buster" test operating system. Google takes each Debian Testing package, rebuilds it, tests it, files and fixes bugs, and once those are resolved, integrates it into the gLinux release candidate. GLinux went into beta on Aug. 16, 2017.
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Google Moves To Debian For In-house Linux Desktop

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  • by jfdavis668 ( 1414919 ) on Friday January 19, 2018 @10:50AM (#55960033)
    Windows outhouse. The only way to support it.
  • by Anonymous Coward

    But for how long? Google appears to be readying its own home-grown OS, to replace Linux (and Android).

    https://arstechnica.com/gadgets/2018/01/googles-fuchsia-os-on-the-pixelbook-it-works-it-actually-works/

    • Re:Fuchsia (Score:5, Interesting)

      by ctilsie242 ( 4841247 ) on Friday January 19, 2018 @11:18AM (#55960285)

      The issue isn't the OS; it is the apps. Right now, app designers have five major platforms to consider: Windows, macOS, Linux, iOS, and Android. It would take a lot of work and a critical mass of users to woo them to spend the development effort to add a sixth platform. As the article said, Google has a long way to go, but Google already has written the world's most popular app platform, and it wouldn't be farfetched for them to do it again.

      The good thing is that Google always seems to be innovating, one of the few companies that actually has completely new stuff, even if it might have rough edges.

      • by DrYak ( 748999 ) on Friday January 19, 2018 @11:53AM (#55960529) Homepage

        but Google already has written the world's most popular app platform, and it wouldn't be farfetched for them to do it again.

        Then why aren't APK the current most popular way to run your word processor on your laptop ?

        Part of the reason is that Google (an Apple with their AppStore - the *other* most popular app platform) didn't as much take over an existing eco-system, as they actually managed to build an entirely new eco-system and fill a void.

        This void was due to the emergence of a new class of platform (specifically smartphone, the combination of former PDA and dumb phones in the same device).
        At that point, the former ecosystem that existed were either to old and a bit out place, or pretty much meh to begin with. (e.g.: PalmOS was a giant success on older PDA. By the time smartphone started emerging, it was a very old platform that didn't fill the needs anymore. Even Palm Inc started to ship WinCE on their smartphones.) Or where straigh killed by mis-management (Elop at Nokia).

        But despite their tremendous success on the new platform, the same ecosystem didn't manage to displace older eco-system that where still successful. No matter how much we collectively hate Windows here on /., it's still dominating the classical laptop/desktop segment, because that's what every body is used to and that what everyone has already invested into - we Linux-running people are the odd guy out.
        The segment where Windows doesn't dominate are the new different segments that emerged since (Chromebooks, Smartphones, etc) where Windows didn't have any establishement to leverage.

        I expect the same fate might be waiting Fuschia :
        - on newer emerging segment that didn't exist before and where there aren't already well established leader, it might create its place : IoT devices, wearables, etc.
        - on well established segment, the current iOS / Android will be hard to displace (Smartphone tablet). Any wannabe competitor will have to keep compatibility with them (e.g.: the various Android compatibility layer on minor smartphone OSes like Tizen, Blackberry, Sailfish OS... or failed attempt thereof: what WSL began its life as under Windows RT before being repurposed as "Bash in Windows").

        Fuschia could only succeed if it basically "a different way to run android apps on your smartphone". And then being based on an entirely different kernel, it will also need to convince hardware manufacturer who have invested large amounts of know-how in Linux kernel (mainly for Android).

        • I expect the same fate might be waiting Fuschia : - on newer emerging segment that didn't exist before and where there aren't already well established leader, it might create its place : IoT devices, wearables, etc. - on well established segment, the current iOS / Android will be hard to displace (Smartphone tablet). Any wannabe competitor will have to keep compatibility with them (e.g.: the various Android compatibility layer on minor smartphone OSes like Tizen, Blackberry, Sailfish OS... or failed attempt thereof: what WSL began its life as under Windows RT before being repurposed as "Bash in Windows").

          Fuschia could only succeed if it basically "a different way to run android apps on your smartphone". And then being based on an entirely different kernel, it will also need to convince hardware manufacturer who have invested large amounts of know-how in Linux kernel (mainly for Android).

          Fuschia can displace Android overnight if Google decide so. It is their call, their children. their control.

          • Fuschia can displace Android overnight if Google decide so. It is their call, their children. their control.

            So, if Google snap their fingers, suddenly, all the hardware manufacturer that make embed SoCs will have stable Fuschia drivers (you know, the same manufacturer where you're still stuck with a 3.10 linux kernel, despite the current version being 4.15), all the manufacturer of boards will have all the other ancillary drivers for the rest of the chips ready too, and all the android manufacturers who takes ages to swtich between current versions of android (despite all of them being the same general Android/Li

      • google could actually meld the app AP for android and its new OS so apps could run on either

    • Re: (Score:1, Interesting)

      by Anonymous Coward

      For some reason I always assumed Google had their own customised OS built on top of Debian instead of using Ubuntu OOTB. Debian offers a much more stable base which someone with the resources like Google has can easily customise for internal Engg usecases. Esp. in the last few years, Ubuntu has been having a rough time with the ups and downs, while Debain-land has been much calmer. End of the day, Ubuntu has to bring in new bells and whistles for the user community (which has backfired multiple times) as it

      • You're thinking about Google's server / desktop OS they run internally. If you believe the marketing, Fuchsia is meant to be a fusion of web app (Chrome OS) and the power of its current API's (Android.) Rust was pushed hard when Fuchsia first appeared as if that was going to be the replacement for Java and C++.

        Also that about when they started pushing PWA (Progressive Web Apps ) and dropping support for the Chrome apps as the 'light weight alternatives for light weight OS's like Fuchsia that can run on lo

      • I've never understood why some distros are based on Ubuntu, which is based on Debian, rather than directly on Debian. Why not cut out the middleman, especially when that middleman has some wierd ideas?

        • As someone who used Debian as a main distro for a while, I'll take a stab at this one - Debian is completely stable, but Debian stable itself is very behind compared to Ubuntu. Debian testing is closer, but every so often an update will sneak through and cause a fantastic dependency break which uninstalls all of X (yes I know, safe-upgrade is your friend...).

          Ordinarily being "behind" isn't a big deal, but the areas it is behind are the ones desktop users care most about:
          -Graphics drivers
          -Multimedia codecs
          -

    • by HiThere ( 15173 )

      Also, I notice that gLinux isn't listed at Distrowatch http://www.distrowatch.com/ [distrowatch.com] . It may be based on Debian testing, but it doesn't seem to be publicly available. This causes me to wonder what the differences are. They're within their rights, of course. but ...
      And, of course, perhaps it's just too new to be listed on Distrowatch.

  • Contributing fixes.. (Score:5, Interesting)

    by sqorbit ( 3387991 ) on Friday January 19, 2018 @11:13AM (#55960253)
    It states that google is "fixing bugs" in the distro before rolling it out. Is Google submitting any of this back to Debian? It'd be interesting to know the involvement in development that Google has back to Debian.
    • I hope Google does do some pull requests, so this goes into Debian, and perhaps filters to Ubuntu. Done right, their changes can have a major positive effect on the entire Linux ecosystem.

      • by Anonymous Coward

        Done right, their changes can have a major positive effect on the entire Linux ecosystem.

        yes indeed we all need to be presented with google's domain login screen, that will have a positive effect on everyone

        it's very important that all of our linux systems spend all their time attempting to connect to google's internal servers, it will for sure help us all

      • by Kjella ( 173770 )

        I hope Google does do some pull requests, so this goes into Debian, and perhaps filters to Ubuntu. Done right, their changes can have a major positive effect on the entire Linux ecosystem.

        My impression on this from the Linux kernel split, wakelocks etc. is that Google doesn't keep any of this to themselves. But they're also not going to fight upstream if upstream disagrees with what they're doing or how they're doing it. I mean the reason most people want something upstreamed is so they don't have to maintain it themselves, Google is essentially saying we're big enough to maintain this ourselves so if you don't want it.... whatever, not really our problem.

      • I hope Google does do some pull requests, so this goes into Debian, and perhaps filters to Ubuntu. Done right, their changes can have a major positive effect on the entire Linux ecosystem.

        They'd have to be crazy not to upstream their changes. Otherwise they'd end up with an endlessly growing pile of patches to integrate and test, every time an upstream package changes. That would quickly become unmanageable.

        • by HiThere ( 15173 )

          You're assuming a target. If they are targeting smart phones, most of the upstream packages don't have a big impact, and a lot of them don't have ANY impact. If they are targeting IoT devices, there's even less effect.

          It's not clear to me that they are developing a general purpose distribution. I only did a tiny bit of search for it, but I didn't find anything that mentioned it, so my guess is that this "gLinux" is for some internal use...and that could be pretty specialized.

          • by Knuckles ( 8964 )

            You're assuming a target. If they are targeting smart phones, most of the upstream packages don't have a big impact, and a lot of them don't have ANY impact. If they are targeting IoT devices, there's even less effect.

            It's not clear to me that they are developing a general purpose distribution. I only did a tiny bit of search for it, but I didn't find anything that mentioned it, so my guess is that this "gLinux" is for some internal use...and that could be pretty specialized.

            The target is their "in-house Linux desktop", it's in the first sentence of TFS

            • by HiThere ( 15173 )

              You're correct, it *does* say that. But this is Google, and for all of me their "in-house Linux desktop" might be essentially a web server page. After all, that's what most of their users see. There must be *some* reason they are holding this as "internal use only", and the easy explanation is that it's highly specialized in some way. (Otherwise, why bother.)

              • by Knuckles ( 8964 )

                You did find this? https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/... [wikipedia.org]

                • by HiThere ( 15173 )

                  No, I was looking for gLinux, but the link you gave said it adds some features and removes some features, without being very specific about either (though it did say some of the added features are to improve security). This doesn't imply to me that it's a "general purpose Linux distribution". It all depends on what's removed, which is totally unspecified.

                  Well, it actually also depends on what's available to optionally be installed, but I haven't seen *anything* about that. Presumably they have some selec

      • by xanthos ( 73578 )
        All your base (code) belongs to us!
    • by Knuckles ( 8964 )

      It states that "Google takes each Debian Testing package, rebuilds it, tests it, files and fixes bugs, and once those are resolved, integrates it into the gLinux release candidate"

    • by Knuckles ( 8964 )

      Shuttleworth said that they do, https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/... [wikipedia.org]

  • by Chrisq ( 894406 ) on Friday January 19, 2018 @11:16AM (#55960267)

    Don't bother looking for this new Linux distro. You won't be able to find it. GLinux, like Goobuntu before it, is strictly for internal Google use.

    Don't they have to publish the source under GPL? (I realise that this is different from having a downloadable pre-compiled distribution, but it is still available)

    • Re: Is this allowed (Score:2, Informative)

      by Anonymous Coward

      If they are not distributing it then no they donâ(TM)t have to make the source code available.

      • by Chrisq ( 894406 )
        OK thanks!
      • What if they internally host changed binaries, but allow their employees to take home and install those images for personal uses? How would that fit into the GPL?

        • Re: (Score:2, Funny)

          by Anonymous Coward

          Google corp images are strictly restricted to corp hardware (we have a lengthy certification process for that). However the gLinux team does contribute upstream code changes (where do you think Retpoline comes from?) and Legal routinely audits code to ensure compliance with the various licences, GPL included.
          Also, this news is 3+ months old.
          Posting AC because I don't want to be known where I work.

        • Under the GPL they are only obliged to make the source code available for the people who they distribute to (and if any of them requests the source code), if an employee takes it home and distributes these images to other people then that obligation falls on him/her and not Google.
    • Re:Is this allowed (Score:5, Informative)

      by cascadingstylesheet ( 140919 ) on Friday January 19, 2018 @11:32AM (#55960387)

      Don't bother looking for this new Linux distro. You won't be able to find it. GLinux, like Goobuntu before it, is strictly for internal Google use.

      Don't they have to publish the source under GPL? (I realise that this is different from having a downloadable pre-compiled distribution, but it is still available)

      No, they only have to distribute source if they distribute binaries. If they only use it internally they don't have to distribute source.

      • same question as above, now sans binaries: what if they allow their devs to build straight from Google's trunk and are allowed to take them home for personal use?

  • by PvtVoid ( 1252388 ) on Friday January 19, 2018 @11:33AM (#55960403)

    Having been a big Ubuntu fan (yes, including Unity) for quite a while now, I have been severely underwhelmed by the 16.04 LTS. The thing that really gives me pause (in addition to the basic instability of what is supposed to be a stable release) is the show-stopper bugs in major projects that have gone not only un-fixed, but unaddressed for nearly two years.

    Here's one (Status: confirmed / Importance: High / Assigned to: Unassigned)
    https://bugs.launchpad.net/ubu... [launchpad.net]

    Here's another one (Status: confirmed / Importance: High / Assigned to: Unassigned) :
    https://bugs.launchpad.net/ubu... [launchpad.net]

    Both of these examples are _major_ bugs in _major_ packages in the distro. And nobody has bothered to work on them, at all. This suggests to me that Ubuntu is too short on manpower to actually maintain the distro at an acceptable level.

    Canonical, WTF?

    • by Rutulian ( 171771 ) on Friday January 19, 2018 @12:21PM (#55960765)

      Sympathize, but...

      Your first link is to an issue encountered during a release upgrade. Release upgrades are tricky and nearly impossible to get perfect, especially when the software involved (in this case mysql-server) is complex and had an upstream change that affects configuration settings. There will always be edge cases that fail in these situations, and it is not necessarily worth it to try to fix every edge case as long as it doesn't corrupt data and the user is able to fix the problem manually. In this case, the upstream mysql-server change was noted in the release notes, so users upgrading should have been aware of potential problems going into it. The packaging of mysql-server-5.7 itself is not broken.

      In your second link, the problem is an issue with the OpenGL rendering support in libreoffice and is likely hardware/driver dependent. It is not something Canonical is in a position to fix.

      Also, both of these packages are in the universe repository and not officially supported by Canonical. So what you are getting from these bug reports is community support, which is why they are unassigned and don't receive much (if any) attention by a Canonical employee. I agree Debian is much better in this regard, but there is only so much a single company with a handful of employees can reasonably do.

      • [... lots of finger pointing ...]

        Then these versions of the packages shouldn't be in a stable release in the first place. They are not ancillary systems: they are core functionality, and if they have major bugs, they shouldn't in something called a "stable release".

        Fuck you very much.

        • Whoa, emotional much?

          I wasn't finger pointing, just trying to explain your observation (marked as unassigned bugs), and I think it is reasonable. If you don't agree, please explain why instead of attacking with expletives.

          The packages are stable. As I tried to explain, and you apparently missed, the problem with mysql-server is due to an upstream change. The software and packaging are not broken. The bug report refers to a problem during a major release upgrade. It was known possible issue that a user might

      • Also, as a followup, the mysql bug also happens on fresh installs (it just isn't included in that particular bug report):

        https://serverfault.com/questi... [serverfault.com]

        There is no excuse for this.

        • So take your money and find a better supplier.

          There's no excuse for continuing to complain about how poorly a product is being maintained, and not doing anything about it.

        • This is not the same problem. His configuration file is fine. Not sure what the problem is in this case, but plenty of people install mysql-server 5.7 on fresh 16.04 without encountering it. So suffice it to say it is probably something weird to do with his particular circumstances, maybe the slightly odd Microsoft Azure configuration. Weird stuff happens in VMs sometimes, especially on cloud services.

          FWIW, I don't agree with the sibling poster. I think companies, like Canonical, are best served by supporti

          • This is not the same problem. His configuration file is fine. Not sure what the problem is in this case, but plenty of people install mysql-server 5.7 on fresh 16.04 without encountering it. So suffice it to say it is probably something weird to do with his particular circumstances, maybe the slightly odd Microsoft Azure configuration. Weird stuff happens in VMs sometimes, especially on cloud services.

            Nope. Happened to me on a bog-standard from-scratch 16.04 install onto an empty drive. BTW, if you poke around on this one, you'll see that this, and apparently related install problems, are pretty widespread. And, apparently miraculously, the install works just fine on 17.10, which uses a different version of mysql-server. As it did in 14.04.

            I'm not sure about you, but if I were Canonical, and suddenly a whole bunch of people were discovering that the install script for a very widely used database server

            • The only widespread problem with mysql-server that I can find is the aforementioned upgrade problem. Nobody seems to be having problems with fresh installs, as I would expect.

              I happen to be running 16.04 right now, so just to satisfy my curiosity...

              $ sudo apt-get install mysql-server
              Reading package lists... Done
              Building dependency tree
              Reading state information... Done
              The following additional packages will be installed:
              mysql-server-5.7 mysql-server-core-5.7
              Suggested packages:
              mai

    • Ubunto Mobile; Unity switched for Gnome; that MIR thing nobody uses (even themselves)... Canonical has been trying so hard to reinvent the wheel, but it's like they're always 6 months behind... Like how they are always behind Debian and Gnome for releases...

      They need to either get ideas out the oven that are very fresh, or focus on their main monetization. Maybe only stray for endeavors that can leverage that monetization. They have a thing or two to learn from the likes of Redhat or even Google (if you ne

  • by Anonymous Coward

    when I read Margarita Manterola at first i was thinking it was an Ubuntu release name

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