No More Ubuntu! Debian is the New Choice For Google’s In-house Linux Distribution

Brief: For years Google used Goobuntu, an in-house, Ubuntu-based operating system. Goobuntu is now being replaced by gLinux, which is based on Debian Testing.

If you have read Ubuntu facts, you probably already know that Google uses a Linux distribution called Goobuntu as the development platform. It is a custom Linux distribution based on…(easy to guess)… Ubuntu.

Goobuntu is basically a “light skin over standard Ubuntu“. It is based on the LTS releases of Ubuntu. If you think that Google contributes to the testing or development of Ubuntu, you are wrong. Google is simply a paying customer for Canonical’s Ubuntu Advantage Program. Canonical is the parent company behind Ubuntu.

Meet gLinux: Google’s new Linux distribution based on Debian Buster

After more than five years with Ubuntu, Google is replacing Goobuntu with gLinux, a Linux distribution based on Debian Testing release.

As MuyLinux reports, gLinux is being built from the source code of the packages and Google introduces its own changes to it. The changes will also be contributed to the upstream.

This ‘news’ is not really new. It was announced in Debconf’17 in August last year. Somehow the story did not get the attention it deserves.

You can watch the presentation in Debconf video here. The gLinux presentation starts around 12:00.

Moving from Ubuntu 14.04 LTS to Debian 10 Buster

Once Google opted Ubuntu LTS for stability. Now it is moving to Debian testing branch for timely testing the packages. But it is not clear why Google decided to switch to Debian from Ubuntu.

How does Google plan to move to Debian Testing? The current Debian Testing release is upcoming Debian 10 Buster. Google has developed an internal tool to migrate the existing systems from Ubuntu 14.04 LTS to Debian 10 Buster. Project leader Margarita claimed in the Debconf talk that tool was tested to be working fine.

Google also plans to send the changes to Debian Upstream and hence contributing to its development.

Development plan for gLinux

Ubuntu loses a big customer!

Back in 2012, Canonical had clarified that Google is not their largest business desktop customer. However, it is safe to say that Google was a big customer for them. As Google prepares to switch to Debian, this will surely result in revenue loss for Canonical.

What do you think?

Do keep in mind that Google doesn’t restrict its developers from using any operating system. However, use of Linux is encouraged.

If you are thinking that you can get your hands on either of Goobuntu or gLinux, you’ll have to get a job at Google. It is an internal project of Google and is not accessible to the general public.

Overall, it is a good news for Debian, especially if they get changes to upstream. Cannot say the same for Ubuntu though. I have contacted Canonical for a comment but have got no response so far.

Update: Canonical responded that they “don’t share details of relationships with individual customers” and hence they cannot provide details about revenue and any other such details.

What are your views on Google ditching Ubuntu for Debian?