Wednesday, August 1, 2007

Is Google secretly helping M$ ?

I know it sounds bizarre, but I do have a theory to substantiate this. Don't know how to formulate it so just listing it.
  1. Google is a closed source company. Ok, to begin with, Google internally uses Linux ( all that hype about Gooobuntu ), contributes to MySQL and supports Mozilla foundation. However, how many of Google own software are open source ?? Zilch!! Zero. Its like Google loves to take advantage of open source technologies, for its own benefit, but refuses to make its own products open source. Even its Linux products, like Linux Desktop Search and Picassa, are closed source. In todays world, Google and M$ are two biggest technology companies for desktop users. As they both promote closed source, are they not helping promote the notion that closed source is not evil -- one of the biggest motivating factor for people using Linux.
  2. Most, if not all, of Google's applications are on Windows. Google has just started porting its existing applications to Linux, the first being desktop search. Picassa for Linux is just a "wine" adaptation of windows version of Picassa.
  3. Most Google web applications are written with IE in mind. All Google web applications supported IE7 within days of IE7 releasing. At the same time Google supports Mozilla foundation, still some Google applications do not work well on the Linux version of Firefox. For example; in picassa web album, the option to upload multiple images at the same time is disabled in Linux version of Firefox. Here I am talking about Firefox 2.0.0.4, which is fairly recent. Whereas, picassa web albums work great with the same version of Firefox on windows. and Lastly ...
  4. Linux is all about open source software. Lets take Ubuntu, the most famous distro. Ubuntu by default has only open source softwares, some other essentials like flash, mp3 etc form part of "restricted media", which are exceptions but necessary for normal desktop use and have no other open source alternatives. We already had good desktop search application in the form of beagle and then Google introduced its closed source desktop search. As this is a Google application, so people will trust it and use it. This way they will think that Apart from cost factor, windows still costs some money and Linux is free, what is the difference between the two when it comes for normal desktop usage. The purity of Linux is gone, many common applications on Linux are no more open source. Couple this with the fact that most hardware vendors write drivers for Windows and not necessarily for Linux.
Now we have a situation where Windows supports more hardware, has access to more free desktop applications from Google and the normal free open source applications. In some countries like china, M$ is offering windows at ~7-10$ and that is negligible when compared to the cost of entire Desktop/Laptop. On the other hand we have excellent Linux distributions like Ubuntu/PCLOS, which support less number of hardware, have the same open source applications as windows, have less applications from Google and lastly not all the applications/drivers used are open source.
The open source battle is lost.
Long Live Windows.

16 comments:

Anonymous said...

We already had good desktop search application in the form of beryl and then Google introduced its closed source desktop search.

beryl my ass, its beagle you idiot.

Abhay said...

Easy!! it was just a typo. I think I was thinking too much about Google desktop search and mistakingly type it.
Woo, never knew it could elicit such harsh response.
Anyhow, thanks for the correction, I have made changes in the article.

liquidat said...

However, how many of Google own software are open source ?? Zilch!! Zero.
Wrong, libjingle, the core part of Google talk (and the only interesting part) is released as free software. Also, Google's adaption of VLC was published as Open Source.
And many of Googles internal used improvements of software apps are released as Open Source: kernel things, MySQL patches, Firefox things, Wine patches, and so on. These are not full applications, but this is Open Source: you contribute to existing projects, and that contribution is very important. You don't have to publish an entire application by yourself to be a Open Source distributor. Sorry, but that opinion is just plain dumb.

Besides, almost all applications Google uses are bought from external sources: it is very likely that Google simply cannot publish the source code due to existing long time contracts from the term before Google bought the companies.

Most, if not all, of Google's applications are on Windows. Google has just started porting its existing applications to Linux, the first being desktop search. Picassa for Linux is just a "wine" adaptation of windows version of Picassa.
Get your facts right - Google Earth is available as a Linux app for a long time know. And using Wine to port Picasa to Linux was the only sensible thing to do fast - everything else required a re-write (since it was written in a very non-portable style afaik).

Most Google web applications are written with IE in mind. All Google web applications supported IE7 within days of IE7 releasing.
Being not ready for IE7 would have been plain stupid. And Google does not "support" Mozilla foundation, but they employ the main Firefox developers!
About the web albums stuff: did you fill in a bug report? Or asked around if others have the problem too?

The purity of Linux is gone, many common applications on Linux are no more open source.
That's simply crap - Linux has its roots in the Unix scene, and that was the first closed source, commercial operating system available.
There were always closed source programs around for Linux, there never was any kind of "purity".

Of course it is nicer to have Open Source applications, but in some cases it is not that easy, in other cases I can at least understand how other people have a different opinion.

Abhay said...

Liquidat:
Some nice facts and a some good corrections to my article. Thanks.
However, lets get some more facts -- shall we !!
1) I have mentioned in the Article that Google contributes to MYSQL, however, the number of Google Application which are open source is very rare. I am using the word rare, as there might be some more which we are unaware of.
Also libjingle is a Library, so obscure that most of us don't even know about it.
Even if we know, how many of us can make use of a Library directly, there need to be an application which uses the library and Google has conveniently not released the application as open source.

2) Google Earth is indeed a native Linux App-- Thanks for correcting me.
I feel a little differently about Picassa.
Google Earth was available for Linux with wine, but Google rewrote it as a QT app to make it a native Linux App. The same logic should apply to Picassa. Google should release a Linux native version of Picassa.

3) Being not ready for IE7 would have been plain stupid --- Good point.
This further substantiate my theory that Google gives more importance to IE than to Firefox. By the way, Google does support Mozilla Foundation. It supports and influences to an extent that there are accusation that Google is pressurizing Mozilla to spin Off Thunderbird. Please check the PCWorld Article.

4)"Linux has its roots in the Unix scene, and that was the first closed source, commercial operating system available.
There were always closed source programs around for Linux, there never was any kind of "purity". " -- Now I have read some absurd statements, but his one takes the cake.

Traditional Unix, be it SCO Unix, HP Unix, Solaris or AIX or any other are closed source OS and have proprietary Apps on it.

Linux is Unix-like. Thats it. It does not have roots in Unix.
Linux was inspired from Minix and made using GNU utilities.
The "Free Software Foundation" ( of GPL License fame) prefers to call it GNU Linux.
The Linux Kernel is under GPL and is 100% open source and pure :)
With the coming of GPL 3, the open source concept will be further strengthened.

Most Linux Commercial Apps are open source for instance Apache, MYSQL, JBOSS etc. The most common compilers ( GNU compilers) are open source. Not just that even the GUI and desktop apps are open source.
We have Xorg, GNOME, KDE, Firefox.
Name a task and we have open source apps for almost all of them. Though I admit that still some apps which are closed source, eg flash, MP3 codecs etc.
Such commonly used closed source apps are numbered and negligible as compared to the open source apps.
Google by releasing closed source apps is adding to the list of "non-pure", if you allow me to call them so.

Abhay said...

Liquidat:
I just went through your profile.
You have written some amazing articles yourself. I fail to understand, how can you write that Linux has roots in Unix.
Do you really believe that Linux is based around closed source applications ?

liquidat said...

abhay:
Even if we know, how many of us can make use of a Library directly, there need to be an application which uses the library and Google has conveniently not released the application as open source.
My major point was that Open Source contribution does not have to be in form of applications - much more of the technical important work done is in these libraries I even dare to guess. But ymmv.


Google Earth was available for Linux with wine, but Google rewrote it as a QT app to make it a native Linux App.
Hm, sure about that? I thought Google Earth was a Qt app right from the beginning. I think there was an interview where one of the developers mentioned that this was exactly the reason why it was ported so fast - they didn't rewrite it.

By the way, Google does support Mozilla Foundation.
Yes, I was out of my mind writing that one. I usually remember that partnership, so drop the sentence about that.

Linux has its roots in the Unix scene, and that was the first closed source, commercial operating system available.
There were always closed source programs around for Linux, there never was any kind of "purity". " -- Now I have read some absurd statements, but his one takes the cake.

The misunderstanding here is that roots means to you code, while it means to me ideas how to organize/design an operating system. Unix-like is probably better to avoid misunderstandings.
The Linux Kernel is under GPL and is 100% open source and pure
Well, actually the first kernel versions available were released under a proprietary licence, the GPL was used later on. scnr ;)

Most Linux Commercial Apps are open source for instance Apache, MYSQL, JBOSS etc.
This depends on the task you want to accomplish. There is hardly any open source mathematical tool out there which could battle Maple, Mathlab, Scliab (which is free but as in beer) or Mathematica.
The same is true for other specialised tools which have been around in the Unix world for years even before Linux was released the first time. Many of them are still proprietary.

Besides: yes, there are sometimes Open Source alternatives, but it is another question if they fit to the task as well as the proprietary ones. Think of specialised databases or of rendering solutions here (of course I know Blender, but I also talked to people who use these tools in real life).

Don't get me wrong: I would love to see for example a free software Mathmatica - but I don't hate the company behind the program for releasing a proprietary Linux version.
And I certainly welcome a company which makes efforts to help the FLOSS community, even if they are not perfect in every part of their efforts.

Google by releasing closed source apps is adding to the list of "non-pure", if you allow me to call them so.
Actually I have quite strong problems with the term "pure" because to me it looks like dividing the world into black and white. And I yet have to see that anything good can come out of such divisions.

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