Wednesday, November 25, 2009

The Linux fanboys- Now taking the cheersong to ChromeOS.

If you were not living in a cave or just descended from another planet, you already know about the so called ChromeOS preview that was held by Google sometime last week. And since that time, one notable theme you notice on various Linux blogs is the same old chorus you've heard for Lord knows how long- "ChromeOS is going to unseat Windows," "ChromeOS is going to make Windows obsolete," "2010 will be the year of Linux thanks to ChromeOS." I could go on and on.

Don't you think it's funny and somehow ridiculous? ChromeOS is not yet born and yet people are already predicting how it is going to unseat something as deeply rooted both in the minds and lives of people as the Window OS. All we were shown by Google were if you like prototypes (very dump of the SE giant to not have released something for users to try) and people think such a concept will usher in the mythical 'year of Linux' in 2010.

I have always been of the view that the Linux world is very much full of sentimentalists rather than 'pragmatists' and 'realists'. The cheersong is now being sung for ChromeOS, not long ago it was Ubuntu, then not long before that it was Fedora and on and on. First of all, I am not one of those who are enthused about this concept of an OS called ChromeOS. I am not interested in ceding control of my entire life in the name of portability to  another company, much less an advertising one. And I think so do most of you.

The general concept behind the ChromeOS is nothing new. In fact, in a previous post, I'd asked the rhetoric question that if the main currency of ChromeOS is how fast it will boot, then what happens if say the Lucid Lynx succeeds in also booting at that same time. What else is Google going to put into Chrome that we cannot have in any of the Linux distros out there? What is going to be so different about ChromeOS that it will cause the over 2 billion people out there to shun Windows and embrace it with wide open arms? Not to talk about the enterprise world.

If there is any serious threat or any OS that can unseat Windows (not in the next 10-20 years unless MS does something real stupid like the Vista blunder), it is Ubuntu and MacOSx. But seeing that Apple is not interested in the dollar of every Tom, Dick and Harry, that leaves Ubuntu as the only contender. The fact that Google is behind ChromeOS does not make it any more of a serious threat. If you want an example, look to the foundation of the ChromeOS, which is the Chrome browser. One year on and how is it fairing relative to IE? What happened to all those predictions about how it would be the IE killer?

I have said it time and again that the ChromeOS will only at best create its own niche market that it'd satisfy rather than upset the existing status quo. Of course in the early days of its release 'this time next year', there will be a spike in usage. What I think the Linux fanboys- most of whom have the platform to reach a very wide audience- should be doing is to point out to Google to rethink the OS design and concept again. If it is going to be only a browser that will require an internet connection even for the mundane of tasks, then I can confidently say to the fanboys- Google ChromeOS will not unseat Windows nor usher in the mythical 'year of Linux'.

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By Seraaj Muneer with 9 comments

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