Google’s Desktop Operating System

Google has issued official communication that it is set to shift its internal Linux desktop. The company is set to shift from its current Ubuntu-based Goobuntu to the DebianTesting-based gLinux, a fresh Linux distro. This announcement was made quietly by Margarita Manterola, an engineer at Google during a lightning talk. Manterola made it clear that Google would be soon shift to gLinux, which is a Debian Testing-based rolling release.

Move is Unsurprising

The intended move is not as surprising as it seems. First of all Ubuntu is also based on Debian and secondly, Google has been a strong supporter of Debian for long. In the year 2017, Debian recognized Google for enabling it to hold its annual conference as well as directly support the progress of Free Software and Debian. Debian Testing emerged as the beta for the subsequent steady account of Derbian. This therefore means that gLinux is based on Debian 10 “Buster” testing operating system. Google has been taking every Debian Testing package, rebuild it, test it and then file and fix the bugs present in each of them. Once all these are resolved, Google incorporates it into the gLinux release candidate. On August 16, 2017 GLinux became beta. However, users should not try and search for this fresh Linux distro as it is unavailable. GLinux, just like its predecessor Goobuntu has vbeen developed strictly for in-house use by Google.

Other Google’s Desktop Operating System

Linux is not the sole desktop operating system used by Google across its laptops and workstations that are approximately a quarter million. The company also uses Windows, macOS and Chrome OS, which is Linux-based. Google is not using the mysterious Fuchsia OS that is in production. Google relies on the Puper DevOps tool to manage its desktop OS and the Standalone (Masterless) Puppet Mode in particular.

The IT staff at Google favor using the Puppet’s Standalone for two main reasons. One it does not require a huge infrastructure of Puppet design servers. As an alternative, the desktops usually draw the cryptographically confirmed arrangement files from a web host and then confirm the data from a local place and apply the configurations. Google’s non use of a server-client model enables it to assign to the BeyondCorp access model, which eliminates the need to use internal networks for commercial right to use.


BeyondCorp makes up the company’s enterprise security model, which is known for using no trust networks at all. It shifts the access controls from the network perimeter to single users and devices. This makes it possible for Google’s employees to work remotely without the need for a conventional virtual private network (VPN).

GLinux and Goobuntu

For both Goobuntu and now the new gLinux, Google utilizes PXE for netbooting the average Linux desktop installer image. The fresh Linux messages are usually built automatically in the form of solid tar-format documentation. They are then placed on a HTTPS server together with Debian pre-seed files, which automate the installation’s host setup portion. The whole installation process is mostly integrated with host update and Puppet infrastructure to make sure that each desktop is configured just as it was originally intended. This fact helps Google reinstall the gLinux from its network within 30 minutes.

Google has not yet revealed the exact desktop environment that gLinux will be using. However, some quarters believe that it will be GNOME, which will be backed by Wayland display server. Google did not also clearly state when the impending changeover to gLinux will be completed. Close sources claim that the shift may happen before the summer.

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