Ah, Google. Never before has a company brought about such crazed and polarized opinions. Depending on who you speak with, they're funneling your information to NSA, they're controlling where you find content, they're the reason why small businesses have thrived (or not), they house Bigfoot, Elvis, and Jim Morrison…
Google has also, much to the chagrin of many in the open source community, single-handedly helped Linux to become one of the most popular platforms on the planet.
Redact, retract, rewrite.
Oh no, good ladies and gentlemen; I uphold my original statement and shall reprise with my blade.
Let's follow some logic, Spock.
- Google is responsible for Android and Chrome OS
- Android is becoming one of the most widespread platforms on the planet
- Chromebooks are the best selling laptops on Amazon
- Both Android and Chrome OS are based on Linux
What Google has done for Linux, over the past few years, no other company has managed to pull off. By releasing two major platforms, both getting the most out of a Linux kernel, Google has put Linux in more hands than Canonical, Red Hat, SuSE, and any other company to have attempted to bring to life the Linux platform.
It's taken a mobile platform and a completely new take on the "desktop OS" to pull it off. Not the server, not the standard desktop... nothing like anything the open source community would have expected.
Chrome OS is a particularly interesting facet to the gem that is Linux. This relatively new platform, based on Linux and created by Google, is gaining ground faster than any operating system ever has, thanks to dirt-cheap hardware and an amazingly simple interface. But it's much more than that. Everyone has always assumed that Linux is one of the more secure operating systems on the planet. But what about Chrome OS? Recently, the Google-hosted Pwn2own competition shed light on three vulnerabilities within Chrome OS. All three were nearly impossible to find, but there they were.
However, Google immediately patched them. This was after shelling out over $150,000 to the winners of the competition. How brilliant is that? Use a well-known competition to help patch your platform, and pay the hackers for their efforts. Within short period, Chrome OS had its only discoverable vulnerabilities fixed. What other platform can lay claim to that?
Google is doing everything right for getting Linux into the hands of the masses — something that has been a dreadful enigma for countless companies and developers before them. But Google isn't just getting it out there, it's doing it the right way — giving the people what they want and doing so in a way that isn't going to leave them open to attacks, viruses, malware, downtime, and much more. One company is redefining the Linux platform and security in general.
Yes, people have been hesitant to hop onto the Chromebook bandwagon, but that general opinion is quickly changing. Chromebooks are handily outselling MacBooks and Windows 8 ultrabooks. And Android? During 2013, Android accounted for 81% of smartphones sold worldwide.
That is serious market share — and that, my friends, is Linux.
No matter your opinion of the Google juggernaut, you cannot deny what they've managed to pull off with the help of Linux. Are they perfect? Not at all. Sure, they've injected a host of proprietary software and not released code under the GPL; and to the purist, that is a serious strike against all things open. But for those more concerned with ol' war cry of World Domination? Well, it looks like it's happening... thanks to our good friends at Google.
What do you think? Will Google be that which propels Linux to the top? And should they be? If not, then who? Sound off in the comments.
Jack Wallen is an award-winning writer for TechRepublic and Linux.com. He’s an avid promoter of open source and the voice of The Android Expert. For more news about Jack Wallen, visit his website getjackd.net.