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Google to develop new OS?

Rumors that Google plans to encroach on the desktop turf of Microsoft flittered around the Internet on Tuesday.

Apparently, the chatter sprang from a Jan. 20 Financial Times story, which reported that Google was working on switching its in-house computers over to the Linux operating system. According to the story, Google is developing its own version of Ubuntu, the software suite developed by tech entrepreneur Mark Shuttleworth.

That in of itself is no big deal. Scores of companies have swapped Microsoft for Linux.

And there was nothing in the FT story that indicated Google planned to sell its Linux system, known internally as Goobuntu, to the public. Nonetheless, a story in The Register on Tuesday hinted that Google could do just that.

"It's possible Google plans to distribute it to the general public, as a free alternative to Windows," wrote Register writer Ben King.

Google representatives were not available for comment, but the company has in the past denied such rumors.

Speculation that Google was eyeing the desktop space has circulated for months. The search company recently released a package of desktop tools, including Google Talk, Google Desktop, Mozilla Firefox, and Trillian instant messenger.

Shuttleworth originally created Ubuntu, which is an offshoot of Debian, . Shuttleworth, in the last 10 years, also founded security firm Thawte Consulting, sold it to VeriSign for $575 million and rode a Russian rocket into space.