Shuttleworth expressed further admiration for Google's commitment to a computing future based entirely on the Web.
"I think Chrome OS is sort of fascinating at many levels," he said. "Regardless of its ultimate level of adoption, the fact that it's such a clear statement of intent to make the Web the platform, and only the Web the platform, it will catalyze a lot of interesting thinking. From our perspective it becomes important to do the Web fantastically well and having Chrome and Firefox on Linux both be great is important." (See also: "Hackers get Ubuntu Linux booting alongside Google's Chrome OS")
Even if Chrome were to replace Firefox as the default browser, users who prefer Firefox could simply download it themselves, just as Chrome users must today. But switching Ubuntu's default to Chrome would be a major endorsement for a browser that has rapidly gained market share since its release in 2008.
While Canonical has impressed many by making Linux desktops usable for a wider range of non-technical people, the company is nowhere near the size of Google or, for that matter, Apple, Microsoft and Facebook.
All four of those companies are increasingly asking consumers to trust them with their personal data.
"It is a little scary," Shuttleworth said. "I think it is the question of our times, to be honest. All of the lines are being blurred between client platforms and the cloud."
When asked which company he'd trust the most as a holder of vast amounts of data, Shuttleworth put his chips with Google. Shuttleworth thinks the "do no evil" mantra Google was founded with is something most of its employees take seriously.
"I would still credit them with that very strong 'do no evil' mantra," he said. "I suspect the average Googler wants to feel good about that stuff more so than the average person at any of the other companies you mentioned [Apple, Microsoft and Facebook]. In the long run, that's what counts. I think that mantra was part of the key founding vision and it's probably important to most of the people who work there, and I don't think that's true of any of the others. Still, I expect they're all likely to screw up at one point or another."
The company's ethics will be important because "Google quite clearly is in a very powerful position with regard to data," Shuttleworth said. "They have supreme competence in handling lots of data."