Linux on the Desktop at Google

Yes, Google has a linux distribution it uses for desktops.
Yes, it’s called Gubuntu (a prize for anyone who can guess which other distribution it might be based on 🙂

For those of you in SoCal, Vince Busam, a current Google systems engineer will be giving a talk on Google’s use of Linux on the desktop as the USC LUG on Feb 23rd 2006. Details here.

No, there are no plans that I know of to release Gubuntu to the public 🙂

Efficiency in bureaucracy

In order to file my 2005 US federal tax return electronically, I needed my Adujsted Gross Income from 2004. “Hmm, I don’t have that,” I think to myself.

Not a problem! Call the IRS at 1-800-826-1040, access your personal tax account, enter your social security number, press 1, press 0, and the nice lady on the other side will give you the number you need.

She will, of course, ask you about 10 questions to confirm you are who you say you are, and this is a Good Thing(tm). After waiting on hold for about 3 minutes, she’ll return with your information. I wonder if she had to run down to the filling room to get my records..

That notwithstanding,  I’ve only once before seen a government agency offer such efficiency. It was quite pleasant all in all.

Paperwork for the unborn

I’m stepping away from Google for a couple of months of paternity leave. Today was my last day at work until the end of March.

It’s interesting how much bureaucracy such a simple action puts into motion!

Forms to be filled for HR, signed by 3 people. The state and the medical benefits companies must both be called for workers comp (this step took TWO trips to HR and FOUR phone calls to complete). No more! make it stop!

Yahoo admins conceed that Google is the better search engine

In a surprising statement, two Yahoo! executives admitted that they have lost the search battle to Google.

There are a number of rumours as to why Yahoo! might announce something like this.
Their earnings statement released last week fell far short of analysts’ hopes, that their stop dropped 12%. It still has not recovered.
Maybe they’re going for the sympathy vote, or perhaps they’re hoping that honesty will win them favour with their stockholders.
Personally, I think they’ve given up on being the best search engine, in order to focus their efforts on other markets. Their recent purchases of Flickr, and might be an indication of that. If so, this setback may only be designed to give Yahoo! time to regroup.

Cry babies

I released today, that there are some really whiny bastards out there. You know the kind I’m talking about, the kind that complain for the sake of complaining.

Take for example, this page at
In 2005, Linksys modified the hardware of their popular WRT54G line of broadband routers. The new hardware was cheaper, and faster, but had one flaw: The old hardware could be flashed with third party linux firmware, the new hardware could not.
This caused somewhat of an uproar in many communities. People LIKED the old WRT54G’s. They didn’t care that they were invalidating their warranties, they just wanted awesome routers that cost $70 not $700. And so sales dropped. And dropped. And dropped. Linksys saw this, and quickly re-released the previous generation router as a new WRT54GL. The L we assume, is for Linux. So far so good.

Enter the whiny bastards. “The WRT54GL is a rip off!” “It’s just the old router repackaged and costs more!” “Boycott Linksys!”.

Yeah. Whatever. People, grow the fuck up. Linksys is doing you a HUGE favour. They don’t hav to sell the WRT54GL at all. So they marked the price up $10. OH NO! TEN WHOLE DOLLARS! What’s your problem? Are you going to miss out on your sucky sucky for this week?

If the WRT54GL’s price went up to $100, I would still buy it. Why? Because it is STILL the best linux router on the market. Sure, CPU and space is limited, but it works so well, and it’s packaged up in a nice, pretty case. Frankly, you just can’t beat it.
$150? I might still consider it. Just so that I can hack it to do whatever I feel like. But that’s just cool.

Linksys: Thank you.

Powerbooks, and what happens when they stop working

It sucks, that’s what happens. It really bloody well sucks.

So here I am, 3am, reading an advisory to upgrade iTunes and Quicktime due to known vulnerabilities. I start the software update… it runs, and runs, and runs. Eventually it asks if I’d like to reboot.

I say yes, it says “Nu uh”.

Anyone want to buy a rather expensive titanium brick?

A hunting a will go…

There have been many reports over the last few months on Google’s search for a new executive chef. Our previous chef, Charlie Ayers (former chef to The Greatful Dead), left last year.

The San Jose Mercury News published an article by one of the remaining contenders,
Steve Petusevsky. It’s a good read, and goes into a little details about how much the food teams here care about the quality of their product. All fruits, vegetables, herbs and spices are fresh, as are all of the various meats and seafoods cooked daily.

Tikka Masala for lunch today I think.

New friends from old places

It seems I’m finding more people at companies I used to work for now, than before I left.

Just last night I stumbled upon the blog of icmp, who works at EarthLink. I wish I’d known her back then, she seems like quite a nice person from her blog.

Groups of people at Google who have worked at the same companies prior often huddle together to discuss stories from days gone by.

I think it is high time I started my own band of EarthLink refugees at Google. The number is growing!

Bundles of joy

There’s been a lot of discussion over the last few days, focused of course on last Friday’s CES announcements.

My personal take on the matter is that the Google Pack will be quite useful to a great many people. The ability to have the computer keep itself up-to-date is long overdue. Microsoft’s Automatic Updates for Windows take a good stab at this, as does Apple’s Software Update for OS X. Now is the time for the same procedures to be available to applications. This requires tools:

  • Either one tool per software developer
  • Or one tool from the OS developer for applications on their platform
  • Or one third party tool which could be cross platform[1], and integrate with cross platform applications to keep them updated

I prefer the last option and it grants more power to the end user. They can switch operating systems and still have familiar applications and methods of keeping them updated.

[1] I don’t know if Google is planning anything like this, so please don’t read anything in to it 🙂

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