Google is working on a new operating system named Fuchsia

Here's a puzzle: Google appears to have started work on a completely new operating system, but no one knows quite what it's for. The project's name is Fuchsia, and it currently exists as a growing pile of code on the search giant's code depository and on GitHub, too. The fledgling OS has a number of interesting features, but so far Google has yet to comment on its intended function. All we really know is that this looks like a fresh start for Google, as the operating system does not use the Linux kernel — a core of basic code that underpins both Android and Chrome OS.

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 (a plan that was first rumored last year, with the new OS said to be scheduled for a 2017 release), while others say it could be used to power hardware like Google's OnHub router or third-party Internet of Things devices.

Looking into Fuchsia's code 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. Swetland is a senior software engineer at Google and Anderson has previously worked on the company's Android TV and Nexus Q projects.

However, the Magenta kernel can do a lot more than just power a router. Google's own documentation says the software "targets modern phones and modern personal computers" that use "fast processors" and "non-trivial amounts of RAM." It notes that Magenta supports a number of advanced features, including user modes and a "capability-based security model." Further evidence that Fuchsia is intended for more than just Wi-Fi-connected gadgets include the fact that Google already has its own IoT platform (the Android-based Brillo), and the fact that the new OS includes support for graphics rendering. Some users of Hacker News have even suggested that Fuchsia could be use for augmented reality interfaces. (Google itself has yet to respond to requests for comment.)

This is just speculation for now, and the only real description we have of Fuchsia is what it says at the top of the GitHub page: "Pink + Purple == Fuchsia (a new Operating System)." The question of why the project would be revealed in this way is also confusing, although when pressed on the subject during an IRC chat, Swetland reportedly said: "The decision was made to build it open source, so might as well start there from the beginning."

Well, we've certainly got the beginning of Fuchsia, but where it goes next isn't clear. From what we can see, it's currently being tested on all sorts of systems. Swetland says it's "booting reasonably well" on small-form factor Intel PCs (NUCs) as well as an Acer Switch Alpha 12 laptop ("although driver support is still a work in progress"), while another Google developer involved in the project, Travis Geiselbrecht, says they'll soon have support for the Raspberry Pi 3. At this rate, it looks like Fuchsia will be popping up all over the place.


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Comments

Google: Meh. We have 5 messaging apps, why not 5 operating systems as well?

Oh so original/edgy.

First off we don’t know what the plan is for this. It could be that in the long run Google plans on replacing Android and Chrome OS by this… I think it’s an exciting thing.

Except that android/Linux is prevalent just not for pure real-time oses

The need for real time OSes is rather limited, and there are many already available.

Come on, don’t be a Google fanboy. This is hilarious.

Even Google fanboys have made that joke.

I know, I am one and it’s definitely a joke from frustration. I should have said don’t be such a google fanboy.

If it’s just for that purpose, I doubt they’d ditch Linux. Both ChromeOS and Android are Linux-based. Frankly, the easiest way would be to reimplement ChromeOS’s window management as an Android app, rather than using X11.

That’s what Google is doing for next year but this project is entirely different. When Android and Chrome OS get stale, both platforms will be replaced by this new and more modern operating system but it’s going to take at least 4 years for this new OS to come out.

You’re mixing things up. They just started allowing to run android apps with chromeOS display server, which I think is not x11. Making the opposite seems weird

Hillarious.

^^This post beat me to it.

This ‘pink+purple’, what does it mean? is it android + chrome os? Or something else?

When you combine the colors pink and purple you get fuchsia.

Pink = Magenta?

They want an OS that scales from real-time capability (for embedded systems and other uses cases) to a complex multiprocess architecture (such as Linux and other Unix oses).

Linux doesn’t scale "down" cleanly to real-time. Because of particular requirements it was not made for that. So that they want a common ground for all devices even if the kernel of smartphone is a superset of the kernel they use for smaller devices.

So you would have a light and a full blown version of the OS, hence the two names

Hey mschauk, The Verge should hire you lol
You’re breaking news stories before them.

Long play to correct where they’ve gone wrong with Android. Better to start afresh with something based on the future of computing than try to merge messy projects together. I see it more as a potential reaction to what MS have done with Windows although with the relative success of their other OSes there’s not going to be under any pressure to deliver anything final for quite a long time yet.

Do everything until something sticks!

(plus also a fresh way to start avoid any licensing fees or patent suits in the process!)

That’s not what they’re doing, outside of messaging anyway. We have no idea what this is even for.

Because Android and ChromeOS haven’t stuck.

Just because you wrote the code yourself doesn’t mean it doesn’t infringe any patents (and therefore require licensing fees).

Another domiant OS tried to rewrite itself from the ground up after 20 years and it failed miserably. It’s now trying to spin it’s unified platform (that is pretty much non existant on two of the three platforms it tried to unify) as a new development standard, but it is not that successful.

Why do we think that a company that can’t manage to send updates to its users and is not that much in control of the OS it sells to its OEMs better at doing it?

Why do we think that a company that can’t can manage to send updates to its users and is not that much in control of the OS it sells to its OEMs better at doing it?

ChromeOS.

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