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The story behind Google’s in-house desktop Linux


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The best-known Google operating system is Chrome OS, but inside Google itself, the company also uses its own Linux desktop distro — gLinux.

 

If you look around Google's Mountain View, CA offices, you'll see Windows machines, Chromebooks, Macs — and gLinux desktops. G what, you ask? Well, in addition to  relying on Linux for its servers, Google has its very own Linux desktop distribution.

 

You can't get it — darn it! — but for more than a decade, Google has been baking and eating its own homemade Linux desktop distribution. The first version was Goobuntu. (As you'd guess from the name, it was based on Ubuntu.)

 

In 2018, Google moved its in-house Linux desktop from the Goobuntu to a new Linux distro, the Debian-based gLinux. Why? Because, as Google explained, Ubuntu's Long Term Support (LTS) two-year release "meant that we had to upgrade every machine in our fleet of over 100,000 devices before the end-of-life date of the OS."

 

That was a pain. Add in the time-consuming need to fully customize engineers' PCs, and Google decided that it cost too much. Besides, the "effort to upgrade our Goobuntu fleet usually took the better part of a year. With a two-year support window, there was only one year left until we had to go through the same process all over again for the next LTS. This entire process was a huge stress factor for our team, as we got hundreds of bugs with requests for help for corner cases."

 

So, when Google had enough of that, it moved to Debian Linux (though not just vanilla Debian). The company created a rolling Debian distribution: GLinux Rolling Debian Testing (Rodete).  The idea is that users and developers are best served by giving them the latest updates and patches as they're created and deemed ready for production. Such distros include Arch Linux, Debian Testing, and openSUSE Tumbleweed......

 

 

https://www.computerworld.com/article/3668548/the-story-behind-google-s-in-house-desktop-linux.html

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abarbarian
17 hours ago, securitybreach said:

That was a pain. Add in the time-consuming need to fully customize engineers' PCs, and Google decided that it cost too much. Besides, the "effort to upgrade our Goobuntu fleet usually took the better part of a year. With a two-year support window, there was only one year left until we had to go through the same process all over again for the next LTS. This entire process was a huge stress factor for our team, as we got hundreds of bugs with requests for help for corner cases."

 

Goobuntu, Windows and all short life distros have that same handicap. You would think that the money men running large companies would have spotted the huge cost in running them by now and swapped to more cost effective os's.

A rolling release os may not be suitable for every case but a five year lifetime for an os would be much cheaper and less stressful for almost all companies.

If they have 100,000 pc's and a tech works for 8 hour a day and managed to upgrade one pc an hour it would take 12,500 days to upgrade all the pc's. Even if the tech managed two pc's an hour it would still take 6,250 days. 😲

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securitybreach

Well at work, we replace all assets around the 2.5 year mark. 3 years is the normal warranty time for machines used by enterprises. You could have security patches and such for the time frame and just replace the machines with a newer OS version each time. It's basically what we do at work anyway. Every 4-5 months, we get a new image to put on machines that get staged (OS installed and setup for deployment). Oh and we have over 100k assets globally.

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Hedon James
4 hours ago, abarbarian said:

 

Goobuntu, Windows and all short life distros have that same handicap. You would think that the money men running large companies would have spotted the huge cost in running them by now and swapped to more cost effective os's.

A rolling release os may not be suitable for every case but a five year lifetime for an os would be much cheaper and less stressful for almost all companies.

If they have 100,000 pc's and a tech works for 8 hour a day and managed to upgrade one pc an hour it would take 12,500 days to upgrade all the pc's. Even if the tech managed two pc's an hour it would still take 6,250 days. 😲

I think you just described the use-case scenario for RHEL and SUSE?!

 

Debian also has a 5-year support window, but their "when it's ready" release cycle typically approximates a 2-2.5 year window.  And Debian must be upgraded in incremental versions, so you can't really bump to the "latest" version after 5 years.  THAT is the sweet spot, IMO.  Maybe not for all users, but for me.  While not perfect, Debian comes the closest...

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11 hours ago, securitybreach said:

Well at work, we replace all assets around the 2.5 year mark. 3 years is the normal warranty time for machines used by enterprises. You could have security patches and such for the time frame and just replace the machines with a newer OS version each time. It's basically what we do at work anyway. Every 4-5 months, we get a new image to put on machines that get staged (OS installed and setup for deployment). Oh and we have over 100k assets globally.

Where I work our cycle is about 10 years. No, not kidding. Today I replaced a pc that had DDR3. 

 

 

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securitybreach
20 hours ago, crp said:

Where I work our cycle is about 10 years. No, not kidding. Today I replaced a pc that had DDR3. 

 

 

 

Wow. I could see that for a small business but this is a global enterprise corporation. Most large corporations use the 3-5 year cycle, most on a 3 year one.

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abarbarian
On 8/1/2022 at 1:53 AM, crp said:

Today I replaced a pc that had DDR3. 

 

Wow you replaced a pretty new pc !!!!!

 

I still have a pc that has DDR2 running. Now that is old 😜

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8 hours ago, abarbarian said:

 

Wow you replaced a pretty new pc !!!!!

 

I still have a pc that has DDR2 running. Now that is old 😜

Not our oldest pc.

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