Google pushing software to low-cost Linux PCs

Google is collaborating with Linux developers to load its software on Linux distributions for low-cost PCs.

With an eye for larger adoption of Linux, Google is actively working with open-source developers to integrate its applications in the OS, a Linux developer said on Tuesday.

By working with developers, Google may be trying to push more of its applications in netbooks, low-cost laptops designed to run basic applications for Web surfing and e-mail, said David Liu, Good OS Founder and President, at the Linuxworld conference in San Francisco.

Google's software offerings includes Web-based applications like Google Docs and Spreadsheets and Google Gadgets, mini-applications that sit on desktops to perform small desktop functions. Although in their infancy, shipments for netbooks are expected to explode in the next few years.

Google and Good collaborated to pre-load Google's Gadget mini-applications on GOS Gadgets 3, Good's upcoming Linux distribution, Liu said. The mini-applications allow users to play games and check system applications like battery power and the strength of a wireless network signal.

The OS is built for Netbooks and Google's applications make sense, Liu said. Google's Gadget applications use little power, and Web-hosted applications could be better for laptops with limited resources, Liu said. The OS also links to around 100,000 Gadgets on Google's Web site.

Microsoft and Apple also include the mini-applications in their Windows Vista and Mac OS X operating systems, respectively.

Although Google's Gadgets applications are available to everyone, Google developers in Beijing helped Good integrate the applications in GOS, Liu said. The collaboration was not an official announcement, but the companies worked together to ensure the applications worked properly.

Google tries not to be visibly present itself in an open-source collaboration with software vendors, Liu said. Google is also actively involved in other projects like Wine, an emulation software that allows Windows applications like Microsoft Office to run natively on Linux, Liu said. Wine is bundled in GOS to run Windows applications.

"They are fueling the fire, whether it is software or not," Liu said.

IDC has said that netbook shipments will reach around 9 million by 2012. The poster-child of netbooks, Asustek's Eee PC, sold 350,000 units in its first quarter since launch in October last year. However, Jerry Shen, CEO of Asustek, went on to say that demand for Windows-based netbooks would be higher than Linux-based Netbooks.

GOS Gadgets 3 prepackages other Google applications like Picasa and links to Web-based applications like Gmail. It will be available for free in September and the company is in talks with PC manufacturers to pre-load the OS on low-cost laptops.

Google did not immediately respond to request for comment.

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Agam Shah

IDG News Service
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