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Google Pushes Desktop Into Linux Territory

By Chris Maxcer
Jun 28, 2007 1:22 PM PT

In addition to its versions for Windows and Mac, Google has launched a Linux version of Google Desktop. The application lets users search both the Web and their own PC hard drive for Gmail, Web history, music, photos and other files.

Google Pushes Desktop Into Linux Territory

"Since some Linux users are program developers, Google Desktop was designed with the ability to search source codes and information contained in .pdf, .ps, .man and .info documents," noted Mendel Chuang, Google product marketing manager.

Once a user installs Google Desktop, it begins indexing the files that are already on the PC. Once complete, a Google Desktop search will yield similar results to a Google Web search -- a file name followed by brief snippets with search terms highlighted.

No Gadgets Yet

Google Desktop for Linux is a beta right now, and it doesn't yet include the Gadget and Sidebar features available for Windows users. Gadgets are small applications that anyone can build or download from Google. Examples include music players, clocks, calendars, RSS feeds, weather reports, translators, to-do lists, horoscopes and other useful or time-killing apps. The Sidebar organizes the Gadgets in a vertical control panel on the desktop.

Developed out of Google's Beijing office, Google Desktop for Linux is available in English, French, Italian, German, Spanish, Portuguese, Dutch, Chinese, Japanese and Korean.

Google Desktop for Linux will run on Debian 4.0, Fedora Core 6, Ubuntu 6.10, Suse 10.1 and Red Flag 5, but it also requires an x86 processor.

The Bigger Picture

"The main thing to keep an eye on here is figuring out if Google is pulling together all of its properties, applications, and other assets into a some sort of grand plan," Michael Coté, a RedMonk analyst, told LinuxInsider.

"Google Apps has rapidly shown that there's more coordination going on at Google than people had perceived in the past. Tighter integration between Google Apps, access to a user's desktop, and offline access facilitated by Google Gears has the makings of, for one thing, offering an Office competitor that wins on simple and cheap vs. feature-full and expensive," he explained.

"But, the question is always if Google cares about pursuing that vision and revenue-gamble, which their public comments always seem to flippantly dismiss," Coté added.

Of course, Google says its mission is "to organize the world's information and make it universally accessible and useful," which gives it plenty of leeway. For now, Linux users get to Google their hard drives along with everyone else.


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