I'm not suggesting that Google chooses one of the community provided desktop environments, rather that they use other aspects of the Linux desktop instead. I want to see functionality like CUPS printing, SANE scanning, and no limitations on the abilities of the USB port.
Restricting how one uses the computer is why projects like Zonbu (among others) have failed. So stop limiting the end-user! Instead, just allow the kernel to support what it does and let the users be free from restriction by utilizing other Linux desktop functionality.
A case for Google's walled garden
Brushing aside my frustration with Google's restrictions on peripherals, native applications, among other annoyingly controlling aspects, the Chromebook could still be a hit with the public.
We must remember that to the young social media crowd, life is already "in the cloud." The idea of not relying on localized applications; everything feeling like the Chrome Web browser, and so on, isn't all that alien of an idea. The concept may make me cringe, but Google has likely done enough research to believe they're on to something positive.
The Chromebook benefits are attractive to those willing to trade their freedom for security. Data encryption, verified booting and sandboxing can sound comforting to the non-technical type. Even better is that the Chromebook provides the end-user with a handy recovery feature. This alone provides peace of mind.
With security, a controlled environment, and familiar Web applications that many people are already using, I can see why casual users might be inclined to give the Chromebook serious consideration.
The enemy of my enemy is my friend
I've read many reports stating that the Chromebook will be a netbook only success, as such a walled garden-like experience would never work on larger desktop PCs.
Perhaps this is true, considering that users have lower expectations from netbooks than with desktop computers. At the same time, Chrome OS's approach to security could influence other Linux projects in the future, as concepts filter down from the Chromium project.
Understanding what is being developed by Google in this way means that perhaps Chromebooks and the Chrome OS project isn't all bad. If they're able to find ways to make Linux on the desktop a friendly user experience using their own applications, so be it. The best part is that we have another desktop operating system competing for the portable market on netbooks besides Windows.
So where does this leave the Linux desktop then? Will Google and the Chromebook put the Linux platform into second place, as the Chromebook is sure to hog the headlines over everyone else?
I suppose it's possible that the press will clamor to Google's latest offering. Yet at the same time, I see the audience the Chromebook is targeting as being completely different from that of Linux desktop. Speaking for myself, however, I will not be joining those who have decided that the Chromebook is the next big thing. It simply lacks too many things that I value in lieu of having an overly controlled environment.