Google recently began work on a new operating system called Fuchsia that isn’t based on the Linux kernel. However, it’s unclear how it will be used. Google’s Fuchsia is seen among techies as a replacement for Android, and a revisit of the operating system has shown that it’s coming along quickly.A decade ago Google was just a search engine and advertiser, but now it’s the driving force behind the largest computing platform in the world: Android. Even the slow-to-start Chrome OS has been picking up steam in recent years, dominating the budget laptop market. Both these products are based in part on Linux, but Google is working on something completely new, and you can take a peek at it on Github. It’s an operating system called Fuchsia, which could run on just about anything.
Google, never the one to compete in a market with a single product, is apparently hard at work on a third operating system after Android and Chrome OS. This one is an open source, real-time OS called “Fuchsia.” The OS first popped up in August 2016, but back then it was just a command line. Now the mysterious project has a crazy new UI we can look at, so let’s dive in.
Unlike Android and Chrome OS, Fuchsia is not based on Linux—it uses a new, Google-developed microkernel called “Magenta.” With Fuchsia, Google would not only be dumping the Linux kernel, but also the GPL: the OS is licensed under a mix of BSD 3 clause, MIT, and Apache 2.0. Dumping Linux might come as a bit of a shock, but the Android ecosystem seems to have no desire to keep up with upstream Linux releases. Even the Google Pixel is still stuck on Linux Kernel 3.18, which was first released at the end of 2014.
|Image Credit: iStockphoto|
Ron Amadeo reports for Ars Technica:With any new project at Google, it’s hard to know what the scale of the project will be. Is this a “20 percent” project that will be forgotten about in a year or something more important? Luckily, we have a direct statement from a Fuchsia developer on the matter. In the public Fuchsia IRC channel, Fuchsia developer Travis Geiselbrecht told the chat room the OS “isn’t a toy thing, it’s not a 20% project, it’s not a dumping ground of a dead thing that we don’t care about anymore.”Android was conceived in the days before the iPhone. It started as an OS for cameras, and then became a BlackBerry clone, before being quickly retooled after the iPhone unveiling. With Android, Google is still chained to decisions it made years ago, before it knew anything about managing a mobile OS that ships on billions of smartphones.Fuchsia really seems like a project that asks “how would we design Android today, if we could start over?” It’s a brand-new, Google-developed kernel running a brand-new, Google-developed SDK that uses a brand-new, Google-developed programming language and it’s all geared to run Google’s Material Design interface as quickly as possible. Google gets to dump Linux and the GPL, it can dump Java and the problems it caused with Oracle, and Google can basically insulate itself from all of Android’s upstream projects and bring all the development in-house. Doing such a thing on the scale of Android today would be a massive project.The hardest part might not even be developing the OS, but coming up with some kind of transition plan from Android, which has grown to be the world’s most popular operating system. The “cross platform” feature of the Flutter SDK sounds important for a transition plan. If Google could get developers to start writing apps in Flutter, it would be creating an app ecosystem that ran on iOS, Android, and, eventually, Fuchsia. Google has also shown that it is able and willing the make the Android Runtime work on non-Android platforms with Chrome OS, so if Google does choose to go through with a transition plan, perhaps it could port and entire Android stack over to Fuchsia as a stop-gap app solution