Google (NASDAQ: GOOG) Chromebooks are generating more and more buzz. Acer, Lenovo and Samsung already offer the low-cost, cloud-centric notebooks. And Hewlett-Packard could join the Chromebook party soon. So why might Chrome OS devices succeed where Linux netbooks ultimately failed? Here's The VAR Guy's spin on the situation.

Google CEO Larry Page recently praised the Chromebook's progress. Over the past two weeks, The VAR Guy has been testing Samsung's Chromebook. Simple. Reliable. Intuitive. Our resident blogger will publish a full review soon.

But in the meantime, he sees some clear reasons why Chromebooks will find a niche even while a distant cousin -- Linux Netbooks -- ultimately failed in the U.S. retail market. The scorecard...

1. Standardized Operating System:
  • Chromebooks: All Chromebooks run Google's Chrome OS. It's a standard, thin operating system that you don't even really see. Google remotely maintains and manages the operating system. There's no ugly patching, anti-virus, etc.
  • Linux Netbooks: They ran a range of operating systems. Many vendors chose Ubuntu, but even there the core operating system version varied from PC maker to PC maker. So the user experience varied in a huge way when moving from one netbook to the next. Who could you trust for a great system? The Linux industry never really decided on a standard...
2. Standard Productivity Software:
  • Chromebooks: If you run Google Apps, Google Drive or Google Docs, etc., you're a natural for Chromebooks. Boot up a Chromebook for the first time (in 10 seconds), type in your Google gmail ID, and you're up and running instantly -- with immediate access to all your Docs.
  • Linux Netbooks: OpenOffice was a common bundle. But which version? Oh and which email client should you select? How about scheduling and calendaring? Again, there wasn't a single standard.
3. Security and Patch Management:
  • Chromebooks: It's all managed by Google. That might be a bad thing, especially if you worry about one vendor having too much control over your systems and information. But ultimately, The VAR Guy thinks Google's approach is a positive. Consumers are tired of patch management, and they certainly don't want bloated, confusing security software dominating their PCs.
  • Linux Netbooks: You think Windows Patch Management is difficult? Show the average consumer the Linux desktop, and they will have no idea how to keep all the different software components updated.
4. Distribution:
  • Chromebooks: All you need to do is visit Google.com/Chromebooks and you can begin to research potential purchases. They're also available on Best Buy store shelves, at Amazon.com and more.
  • Linux Netbooks: Online portals to buy Linux netbooks always seem to be coming and going. For instance, Dell.com/ubuntu, has been hit and miss for the past five years. If you can't find Linux netbooks you can't buy them.
 5. Brands:
  • Chromebooks: Acer, HP, Lenovo and Samsung are four of the biggest names in PCs, notebooks and mobile technologies.
  • Linux Netbooks: Dell dabbled in them. HP briefly dabbled in them. Most of the major PC makers continue to offer Linux notebooks (running Red Hat, Suse, Ubuntu, etc.). But the consumer Linux push has largely stopped in the U.S. Oh, unless you count Chrome OS and Android devices...

Bottom Line

Add it all up and it seems like Chromebooks could gain a lasting niche within consumers' homes. And some businesses are already embracing them while working with Google partners like Cloud Sherpas.

But be careful: The Chromebook hype is getting loud. Acer says its Chromebooks are outselling its Windows 8 devices. Some folks are somehow concluding that means Chromebooks and Chrome OS are more popular than Window 8.

The VAR Guy serious doubts such logic. But... our resident blogger things Chromebooks are here to stay.