I’ve had the good fortune of having a Chromebook Pixel to work on for the last few months. And, despite what my preconceived notions told me, I’ve actually quite enjoyed working and living in ChromeOS on a day-to-day basis.
But, I’m a nerd. And nerds need to tinker, which means that I needed to try every possible method of running “traditional” (i.e. “not ChromeOS”) Linux distributions on this laptop as humanly possible. Here are the three methods currently available and my experiences with them.
First and foremost: Installing Linux directly on a Chromebook and wiping out ChromeOS.
Google has had enough of its long-running legal battle with Oracle over whether application programming interfaces (API)s can be copyrighted. The search giant has asked the Supreme Court of the United States (SCOTUS) to bypass further battles in lower courts and address the API copyright issue once and for all. SCOTUS, in return, is soliciting the Obama administration for its view of the case before moving forward.
The litigation surrounding Android continued this year, with significant developments in the patent litigation between Apple Computer, Inc. (Apple) and Samsung Electronics, Inc. (Samsung) and the copyright litigation over the Java APIs between Oracle Corporation (Oracle) and Google, Inc. (Google). Apple and Samsung have agreed to end patent disputes in nine countries, but they will continue the litigation in the US. As I stated last year, the Rockstar Consortium was a wild card in this dispute. However, the Rockstar Consortium settled its litigation with Google this year and sold off its patents, so it will no longer be a risk to the Android ecosystem.
The copyright litigation regarding the copyrightability of the Java APIs was brought back to life by the Court of Appeals for the Federal Circuit (CAFC) decision which overturned the District Court decision. The District Court had found that Google was not liable for copyright infringement for its admitted copying of the Java APIs: the court found that the Java APIs were either not copyrightable or their use by Google was protected by various defenses to copyright. The CAFC overturned both the decision and the analysis and remanded the case to the District Court for a review of the fair use defense raised by Google. Subsequently, Google filed an appeal to the Supreme Court. The impact of a finding that Google was liable for copyright infringement in this case would have a dramatic effect on Android and, depending on the reasoning, would have a ripple effect across the interpretation of the scope of the “copyleft” terms of the GPL family of licenses which use APIs.
Why has Lollipop only achieved less than a tenth of the Kitkat distribution? As with every version of Android, Google does not have a direct relationship with the customers’ OS. Any new version of the OS has to be passed to the manufacturers, who then tailor it to each handset and the individual SKU’s of that handset, which are then passed to networks for testing and certification, and then the system to push the over-the-air update to subscribers can begin.
Google was the biggest supporter of open-source organizations by our count, appearing on the sponsor lists of eight of the 36 groups we analyzed. Four companies – Canonical, SUSE, HP and VMware – supported five groups each, and seven others supported four. (Nokia, Oracle, Cisco, IBM, Dell, Intel and NEC.) For its part, Red Hat supports three groups – the Linux Foundation, Creative Commons and the Open Virtualization Alliance.
The Google Chrome browser sits now at version 40.0.2214.69 and that might look like a weird number, but Google is showing no sign that it intends to modify the versioning policy. It's been quite a while since the previous update for the browser was released and it looks like things are back on track.
First was 2010’s Google TV software, which lost millions for hardware makers such as Logitech; second in 2013 was Chromecast, a memory stick-sized device to plug into your TV; it has sold “millions”, though Google won’t specify how many.
Now in 2015 there’s Android TV. Will it take off? The trouble with “connected TVs” is that though almost every TV now sold can go online, few owners take advantage of it.
The two main reasons for switching over to Clang as the default Linux compiler for Chrome came down to many Chromium developers already were using Clang on Linux and they wanted to use modern C++ features in Chromium. Google found it easier on Linux systems to switch to Clang for tapping newer C++ features rather than upgrading GCC on their systems from GCC 4.6 to GCC 4.8~4.9.
For now though Google is still using GCC for the compiler on Chrome for Android and Chrome OS. Google developers are also working to make using Clang more viable on Windows. Switching to Clang as the default compiler on Windows will be the biggest challenge for competing with Microsoft Visual Studio's generated binary size and performance.
Google has adopted for use in its cloud a streamlined version of the Canonical Ubuntu Linux distribution tweaked to run Docker and other containers.
Ubuntu Core was designed to provide only the essential components for running Linux workloads in the cloud. An early preview edition of it, which Canonical calls "Snappy," was released last week. The new edition jettisoned many of the libraries and programs usually found in general use Linux distributions that were unnecessary for cloud use.
Stats published earlier today by analytics company NetApplications suggests that Google's operating system, Chrome OS, might have a bumper month thanks possibly to Christmas sales.
Data compiled for the month of December 2014 shows that Windows 7, Windows 8 and Windows 8.1 suffered significant dips while Windows XP and OSes classified as "Other" have increased significantly.
An obscure court case in India appears to have dented hopes of the mobile industry weaning itself off Google dependency - and has raised questions about the goals of Cyanogen and its backer, a Silicon Valley VC firm with close ties to Google.
In the cosy world of Menlo Park VC firms, Andreessen Horowitz (or "A16Z") is as close to Google as anyone. Together, they teamed up to create the "Glass Collective", while its head, Netscape founder Andreessen, appear to go to battle in Google's wars against media companies, as Michael Wolff reminded us this week.