What to Know About Goobuntu

This variation of Ubuntu was once available to Google employees

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Goobuntu (aka Google OS, Google Ubuntu) is a variation of the Ubuntu distribution of the Linux operating system that was, at one point, available for Google employees to use on Google company devices. It's not unusual for developers to use Linux, so the Goobuntu version just added a few security tweaks and policy enforcement features specific to Google employees.

There have been rumors that Google would distribute its own version of Ubuntu Linux, but those rumors have been denied by Mark Shuttleworth, founder of the Ubuntu project, and there has been no indication that this will change. He also indicated that since Linux is so commonly used by developers, Google had likely re-skinned other versions of Linux, so there could be a "Goobian" or "Goohat" out there, as well.

Gobuntu was a previous official "flavor" of Ubuntu that aimed to include only completely free and modifiable content as a strict interpretation of the GNU distribution license. This version of Ubuntu had nothing to do with Google, although the name is similar. Gobuntu is no longer supported. 

What Is Ubuntu?

There are many versions of Linux. Linux comes in "distributions," which are bundles of the software, configuration tools, user interface elements, and desktop environments that are distributed with the Linux kernel and installed as Linux. Because Linux is open-source, anyone can (and many people do) create their own distribution. 

The Ubuntu distribution was created as a shiny, user-friendly version of Linux that could be bundled onto hardware and sold to users who typically wouldn't be Linux fans. Ubuntu has further pushed the boundaries and tried to create a common user experience between different devices, so your laptop could potentially run the same operating system as your phone and as your thermostat. 

It's easy to see why Google might be interested in a user-friendly OS that could run on multiple platforms, but it's unlikely Google will ever go with Ubuntu because Google has already invested in separate Linux-based operating systems for desktops, phones, and other consumer electronic devices. 

Android and Chrome OS

In fact, Google has developed two Linux-based operating systems: Android and Chrome OS. Neither of these operating systems really feels like Ubuntu, as they're both designed to do very different things. 

Android is a phone and tablet operating system that has very little to do with Linux on the surface, but it actually uses the Linux kernel.

Chrome OS is an operating system for netbooks that also uses the Linux kernel. It does not resemble Ubuntu Linux. Unlike traditional operating systems, Chrome OS is basically a Web browser with a case and keyboard. Chrome is built around the idea of a thin client that uses cloud-based Web apps while Ubuntu is a full operating system that runs both downloaded programs and Web browsers.