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Google Chrome OS. Or, how KDE and GNOME managed to shoot each other dead

Nov 25, 2009, 10:33 (10 Talkback[s])
(Other stories by Tony Mobily)

"So, let's go back a little bit — not much: just a year or so. You are Google and you want to provide the operating system for the next generation of users, the ones who didn't start with Excel and Word, but with Facebook and Flickr. The obvious choice is GNU/Linux for the kernel — Google knows it well, helps improving it, and obviously likes it. Then, the next question: what desktop environment would you feed those new users? KDE? GNOME? Both? What about programs looking different? What about the broken audio system? (Pulseaudio anybody?)

"The question was a tough one. The answer was simple and painful: neither of them. Painful, because I am intimately sure (although I can't prove it) that if GNU/Linux had one set of desktop libraries, one desktop environment, one set of standard for playing audio and so on, we would have those libraries in Google Chrome OS. Google would have released a set of tools to bundle software in Chrome OS — something without the absurd current problems of software installation in GNU/Linux.

"However, two different "everything" in the GNU/Linux desktop world meant that the break from the past, in Google Chrome OS, had to be more definite and definitely more radical. Google Chrome OS, at least initially, will not allow third party software bundles. Eventually, I am 95% sure they will have to give in — at that point, they will have to deal with the KDE/GNOME split and the result will be business as usual: messy."

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