Googlers must ask to use Windows because “Windows is harder because it has ‘special’ security problems so it requires high-level permission before someone can use it.” In addition, “Windows tools tend to be heavy and inflexible.”
San Diego, CA: Most Linux people know that Google uses Linux on its desktops as well as its servers. Some know that Ubuntu Linux is Google’s desktop of choice and that it’s called Goobuntu. But almost no one outside of Google knew exactly what was in it or what roles Ubuntu Linux plays on Google’s campus, until now.
August 29th , Thomas Bushnell, the tech lead of the group that manages and distributes Linux to Google’s corporate desktops unveiled Goobuntu from behind Google’s curtain at LinuxCon, the Linux Foundation’s annual North American technical conference.
Bushnell explained that “Goobuntu is simply a light skin over standard Ubuntu.” In particular, Google uses the latest long term support (LTS) of Ubuntu. That means that if you download a copy of the latest version of Ubuntu, 12.04.1, you will, for most practical purposes, be running Goobuntu.
Google uses the LTS versions because the two-years between releases is much more workable than the every six-month cycle of ordinary Ubuntu releases. Besides, Google also tries to update and replace its hardware every two-years so that syncs nicely as well.
Why Ubuntu, rather than say Macs or Windows? Well you can run those too. Bushnell said, “Googlers [Google employees] are invited to use the tools that work for them.. If Gmail doesn’t want work for them, they can use pine [an early Unix shell character-based e-mail client] that’s fine. People aren’t required to use Ubuntu.” But, Goobuntu use is encouraged and “All our development tools are for Ubuntu.”
Put it all together: the need for top-of-the-line security, high-end PC performance, and the flexibility to meet the desktop needs of both genius developers and newly-hired sales representatives, and it’s no wonder that Google uses Ubuntu for its desktop operating system of choice. To quote, Bushnell,
“You’d be a fool to use anything but Linux.”