More News Arrives on Fuchsia, Google's Mystery Open Source OS

by Ostatic Staff - Aug. 17, 2016

Everyone loves a mystery and if you're a mystery fan you have to be paying attention to Google's mysterious new open source operating system, which is dubbed "fuchsia," alluding to what you get when you mix purple with pink. While you'll read many reports saying that nothing has been said about fuchsia officially, Google engineers actually have popped up in various online forums descrbing the new OS.

Meanwhile, The Verge, among other sites, has made a few logical deductions about fuchsia: "So what is Fuchsia for? There have been a number of suggestions. Some people think it could be used to 'unify' Chrome OS and Android into a single operating system...Looking into Fuchsia's code points gives us a few clues. For example, the OS is built on Magenta, a "medium-sized microkernel" that is itself based on a project called LittleKernel, which is designed to be used in embedded systems (computers that have a specialized function and often don't need an actual operating system, like the software in a digital watch). Similarly, both of the developers listed on Fuchsia's GitHub page — Christopher Anderson and Brian Swetland — are experts in embedded systems." Here are a few more details that are arriving since we last covered fuchsia.

We know from GitHub postings that fuchsia is based on Magenta. Here are some direct quotes:  "Magenta is a new kernel that powers the Fuchsia OS. Magenta
is composed of a microkernel as well as a small set of userspace services,
drivers, and libraries necessary for the system to boot, talk to hardware,
load userspace processes and run them, etc. Fuchsia builds a much larger
OS on top of this foundation."

Fuchsia, has a code repository online, and is on GitHub. Android Police is convinced that fuchsia may be aimed at the Internet of Things, and that may be one of the best guesses. The site reports:

"Just like with Linux and Android, the Magenta kernel powers the larger Fuchsia operating system. Magenta is being designed as a competitor to commercial embedded OSes, such as FreeRTOS or ThreadX.

However, Magenta is designed to scale much better, enabling Magenta to work on embedded devices, smartphones, and desktop computers. For this to happen, Magenta improves upon its LittleKernel base by adding first class user-mode support (a necessity for user accounts) and a capability-based security model (which would enable something like Android 6.0’s permissions to work).

But that’s just the kernel; what about the rest of the OS? It looks like Google is using Flutter for the user interface, as well as Dart as the primary programming language. The icing on the cake is Escher, a renderer that supports light diffusion, soft shadows, and other visual effects, with OpenGL or Vulkan under the hood."

 It would make sense that Google might try to front-run the full scale arrival of the Internet of Things with a new, portable and lightweight operating system that can work like an embedded system OS on a variety of Net-connected devices. After all, the early creation of Android, which has Linux roots, enabled Google to be agile as the mobile device revolution took shape. Surely, the company learned from that experience.

Let's not forget that Google is in the embedded hardware business, too, with the OnHub router and Google Home. Hardware calls for software, and fuchsia may be aimed at home-centric devices.

For now, we'll have to wait for word from Google on what this is all about, but given the company's barnstorming open source success with Android, it makes sense that it might already be considering a new OS for an ermerging tech category like iOT.