After a while without an entry, I was thinking I would write about a few things Linux that have been happening lately.
Google Chrome OS - Google knows how to make lots of noise with everything they put out there, and I am pretty sure it's got a lot a lot to do with their success story. Not to say that their products are not good, I think they mostly won over people because they were great, but noise is always good.
As far as I am concerned, I think Google is still trying to figure out what to do with Chrome OS. The presentation they put together some days ago was a bit of a strange thing. Usually, when Google presents something new, most people, professionals or not, tend to be amazed at that new great application or feature. Gmail, Google Maps, Waves... Lots of examples out there. However, the story was different this time around. The reaction was a bit mixed as nobody really understands a product that very much feels like a step backwards.
Indeed, Google Chrome does not offer anything that Android doesn't. If anything, it offers less. In fact, it's been so badly stripped out of functionality that it could be considered a browser with a few shortcuts around. Google will claim that you don't need anything else, as all you need is out there in the cloud, but I feel that concept is still not mature enough. Not having storing capability, not having any customization available or strong hardware dependencies are some of its biggest drawbacks now, the most obvious one being its extremely limited functionality as a standalone device.
In fact, spending a few hundred euros on a device that is useless unless connected is not something that most of us would like to do. However, I also believe that this model is very intrusive and really concerning from privacy standpoint. If you want to store any sensitive personal information, you have no choice but to do so on a remote machine owned by a corporation. Of course there are privacy agreements, but which company stands by them? Should we really move to a computing model that allows a third party to track each and every move we make in our PCs? I personally don't buy the idea.
Anyways, lots of doubts around this OS. Let's wait and see what Google makes out of it.
Linux based Smartphones: November was a great month when it comes to Linux powered Smartphones. The motorola Droid and the Nokia N900 are probably the biggest announcements, but several other Android phones from different brands were announced. I think Android is very well positioned to take over this market, as it has made a very smart move by building an open OS that is available for many makers. Soon, the amount of people using Android phones will overtake that of iPhones, and it will quickly become the "standard" way we use such devices. I think other OS will keep niche markets, though.
In terms of the N900 and the Droid, I have read several reviews and they both seem to be closely matched. It seems the N900 has a better camera and keyboard, while the Droid seems to be more mature from a functionality standpoint. I have seen many reports from members of Maemo.org forums complaining that things are not smooth enough on the N900. This is specially bad considering its really high price tag and the fact that Maemo5 is actually considered somewhat of a middle step before Maemo6, which should be the unleashing of all its capabilities. A wrong start could easily build a bad name to this OS, and discourage people from giving Maemo6 a go. I think Nokia must be very careful now and respond quickly to any issues if the want to have any chances at competing against the iPhone and even the Droid.
In any case, it is good that Linux is becoming a standard for this type of devices. The amount of development around them will surely have a knock on effect on all kinds of elements Linux, from Server to desktop. In fact, Linux is becoming very popular on the Netbook market, reportedly holding 25% of the share of preinstalled devices, with Ubuntu leading the way.
So the end of 2009 seems to be bringing great news all around. My tests with Mandriva 2010, Fedora 12 and Ubuntu 9.10 have all been very positive, and I believe they are all great releases in their own right. So go get any of those Linux flavours and never look back! Choice is now better than ever!