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02.17.14

Chromebooks Run GNU/Linux But Don’t Offer Freedom

Posted in GNU/Linux, Google at 7:20 am by Dr. Roy Schestowitz

Summary: Now that GNU/Linux is sold/installed on many PCs (laptops in particular) we need to remember what Chrom* is all about

GNU/LINUX is doing just fine on the desktop. There are new stories that show its quiet expansion [1] and there is additional help from Chromebooks [2], which also essentially run GNU/Linux out of the box. A lot of people run GNU/Linux distributions other than Chrome OS on their Chromebooks and some distro developers optimise their distros for Chromebooks [3,4]. Google goes further than this by trying to facilitate Windows running (virtualised) on Chromebooks [5-8] while expanding the reach of Chrome “apps” [9] and the fitness of the browser [10] which runs very well on GNU/Linux, even with Wayland [11].

One must remember that Chrome and Chrome OS are proprietary, unlike their FOSS siblings (*ium), and they are very privacy-infringing (much more so than Ubuntu). Chromecast takes this even further by introducing additional limitations (APIs and SDK [12-16], no source code, and probably DRM).

Google is basically taking GNU/Linux mainstream with Chrome OS and Android, but Google shouldn’t be confused with respect for freedom. A lot of the apps are proprietary, the base system has a certain duality on freedom, and even Windows is now being facilitated. Chromebooks are not about freedom, but it’s easy to convert them into freedom-respecting machines.

Related/contextual items from the news:

  1. High School Rolls Out 1,700 Linux Laptops

    Penn Manor High School this semester gave a Linux laptop to each of its more than 1,700 students, grades 9-12. Student help desk apprentices helped with laptop configuration and testing, distribution and orientation.

  2. Six Clicks: 2014′s top Linux desktops

    For years, we’ve talked about the Linux desktop becoming important. Now, it finally is. But thanks to Chromebooks and Android PCs, it’s not the Linux desktop we expected. Instead of desktop distributions from smaller groups such as Arch or Mint, or companies such as Canonical, we’re seeing Chrome OS and Android, thanks to Google and top vendors such as Asus, Dell, HP, and Lenovo — who are robbing market share from the moribund Windows PC industry.

  3. Acer C720 Review – Perfect Little PC

    By default the C720 comes with Chrome OS preinstalled – if you are happy with that skip onto the next section.

  4. Improvements to Bodhi’s Chromebook Support

    Just a quick update to let folks know about a few updates our special installers for Bodhi Linux on Chromebook hardware.

  5. Google taps VMware to bring Windows access to Chromebooks
  6. VMware, Google, team to target corporate Chrome OS adopters

    Google teaming up with VMware therefore makes Chrome OS more attractive because it means those organisations that already have VMware VDI infrastructure now have an easier way to pipe those legacy apps into a shiny new Chromebook, or just into Chrome. Or the myriad other devices Horizon View can target.

  7. VMware and Google Partner to Bring Windows Desktops to Chromebooks
  8. VMware, Google Partner for DaaS Chromebooks

    Google exec says solution is a ‘fantastic opportunity’ for VMware partners

  9. Google Means to Take Chrome Apps to Every Major Platform
  10. Google’s revamped JavaScript engine cures Chrome’s stutters

    Google has begun testing a new version of its V8 JavaScript engine for the Chrome browser that improves application performance by executing and compiling JavaScript code at the same time.

  11. Chromium Browser Is Running Great On Wayland

    For several months now Intel developers have been working on a new Ozone-Wayland project that allows Google’s Chrome/Chromium browsers and other applications to work on Wayland. Google’s Ozone component provides the windowing system / input abstraction layer that is where this implementation for Wayland is being plugged into. After much investment, the Chromium browser is now starting to run great with Wayland.

  12. Google Opens Chromecast to App Developers with New SDK, APIs
  13. Google releases Chromecast SDK
  14. Google waves its Chromecast dongle in front of developers

    Google has released the final version of the Google Cast Software Development Kit (SDK), paving the way for broader support for its $35 Chromecast media-streaming dongle.

  15. Google Ships Cast SDK For Chromecast
  16. Ready to cast: Chromecast now open to developers with the Google Cast SDK

    Back in July we announced the developer preview of the Google Cast Software Development Kit (SDK), the underlying Chromecast technology that enables multi-screen experiences across mobile devices (phones, tablet, laptops) and large-screen displays. Starting today, the Google Cast SDK is available for developing and publishing Google Cast-ready apps.

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