The love/hate relationship the cloud has with Linux

The love/hate relationship the cloud has with Linux


Jack Wallen has a bone to pick with cloud services run by Google, Microsoft and Apple.


Image: GettyImages/da-kuk

The cloud is run by Linux and open-source. There is no debating that claim at this point. It’s fact. And not only does Linux power all of those cloud services we deploy and use, but the hold it has over that particular tech sector is also only going to get stronger as we march into the future. I predict that, over the next five years, the cloud and Linux will become synonymous to the point everyone (from CEOs to end-users) will finally get just how important and powerful the platform is.

So it’s safe to say, there would be no cloud without Linux.

There would also be no cloud-native development, Kubernetes, Docker, virtual machines or containers in general.

With that in mind, it should stand to reason that the relationship between Linux and the cloud would be all love.

It’s not.

And that’s a shame.

Let me explain myself.

SEE: AWS Lambda, a serverless computing framework: A cheat sheet (free PDF) (TechRepublic)

I depend on the cloud. Every day I work with Google Docs, syncing and sharing files that are critical to what I do. On my System76 Thelio desktop (running Pop!_OS) I have an Rclone script that downloads one particular folder from Google Drive to an external drive (to serve as a backup). I have another Rclone script that uploads files from a particular directory on my local machine to Google Drive. It’s a solution that has worked flawlessly for me for about two years. Find out how I did this in “How to use rclone to automatically back up Google Drive to your local storage.”

Why did I have to go that rather convoluted route?

The answer borders on tragic, but explains the premise of this article.

I used to use Insync to keep Google Drive and my desktop in sync with one another. Then, one fateful day, Insync completely wiped away the Google Drive folder that I keep all of my book files (20 years of work and nearly 50 novels). To make matters worse, it saw the directory had been deleted on Google Drive, so it wiped it on the local drive as well. 

I had no backup.

Fortunately, Google was able to restore everything. Needless to say, after that, Insync was placed on my no-fly-list of software. 

I’ve tried other solutions, each of which was a rousing failure (until I cobbled together the Rclone scripts).

This issue has led me to wonder: How is it that an operating system the cloud absolutely depends on, constantly gets the cold shoulder from certain companies that wouldn’t exist if it weren’t for Linux?

The primary company I’m talking about is Google.

Where would Google be without Linux?

  • It wouldn’t have Android.
  • It wouldn’t have ChromeOS.
  • It wouldn’t have the cloud.

What’s left for Google? A search engine? Oh, it probably wouldn’t have that either. And yet … and yet … the company continues to rebuff every request to create an official Google Drive sync client for Linux.

The same thing holds true with Microsoft’s OneDrive. No client. Apple’s iCloud? Yeah … as if that’s ever going to happen. Guess what? Both Microsoft and Apple lean heavily on open-source technology to make things happen, but neither have any plans to support Linux for its cloud solutions.

All the while Dropbox has a fantastic Linux desktop client. And other, smaller companies offer Linux desktop clients for syncing to their cloud platforms.

But the big slap in the face comes from Google. And it never ceases to amaze me how a company, who wouldn’t be the juggernaut it is without Linux, continues refusing support for the operating system that helped make it so unstoppable.

You can bet, on a daily basis, Linux users search for an official Google Drive client, and every time they fail. Eventually, many of them wind up doing what I did and head back to the terminal to craft scripts they know they can rely on. 

It shouldn’t have to be that way. An operating system that runs the cloud should also benefit from the cloud. Linux should be the first operating system Google supports because Linux is the one operating system that fully supports Google. 

Linux has a love/love relationship with the cloud. In return, that relationship is love/hate. This needs to change. If companies like Google, Microsoft and Apple are going to continue absolutely depending on open-source, they should, in turn, toss the Linux community a bone now and then so those users can easily sync their desktops to cloud solutions … without having to cobble together bash scripts to make it work.

Come on, Google.

Do better, Microsoft.

Seriously, Apple?

It’s time those companies did the right thing and develop desktop clients for Linux.

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