Omaha aka Google Update

15 April, 2009 § Leave a comment

I just set up my environment and built Omaha, the open-source codename for Google Update. Google Update is used within Google Chrome and Google Earth.

Omaha’s functionality allows us to automatically update software without interrupting or distracting the user, which makes for a better user experience. Omaha checks for updates in the background, when it won’t interfere with the user, even if an application isn’t running. Doing so means that we avoid using a computer’s resources when it first starts, avoiding a common bottleneck in computer performance experience. Omaha does not perform updates when an application launches, because we understand people want to use the software when starting it up, not perform maintenance tasks first.

This is very cool technology. It would be nice if I opened up Firefox and instead of it telling me to run through a installer when there is a new version, I was just running the latest. Currently, the server that this software talks to can only be a Google server. I’m interested to see if there is a way to have it talk to third-party servers, or get your application registered with Google’s server.

An interesting use-case to want it to talk to a third-party server would be for enterprise software that has a client-server relationship. Let’s say you install a server on your network and users download a client from that server to use the software. Currently, there is a lot of work for that administrator when it comes time to update the server as they would have to update all the client machines (whether that means updating an image file or physically walking to all the machines).

How nice would it be for that administrator to update their one server and then have all the clients automatically updated! This would have to talk to the local server on the network, since it is up to the admin to update their server when they see the most stable time.

Any other ideas/uses?

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