Mobility

Could Google's new mystery OS 'Fuchsia' replace Chrome and Android?

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.

googlefuchsia.jpg
Image: iStockphoto/jessicahyde

Pink + Purple == Fuchsia (a new Operating System)

So far, the above text is almost all the information available on Google's new Fuchsia OS project, which was recently posted on Google Git and GitHub. But Google hasn't said anything further about the project's intended purpose.

The biggest aspect of Fuchsia is the fact that it isn't based on the Linux kernel, which is a foundational piece of both Android and Chrome OS. This fact could point to Google developing a new ecosystem for certain devices, or it could mean the company is gearing up to move away from Android and Chrome in the future.

Instead of the Linux kernel, Fuchsia is built on the Magenta kernel, which Android Police pointed out is based on the LittleKernel (LK) project. According to the LK GitHub page, it is described as: "An SMP-aware kernel designed for small systems." Although, according to Google, there are three core differences between Magenta and LK:

  1. Magenta has first class user-mode support. LK does not.
  2. Magenta is an object-handle system. LK does not have either concept.
  3. Magenta has a capability-based security model. In LK, all code is trusted.

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According to Google documentation: "Magenta targets modern phones and modern personal computers with fast processors, non-trivial amounts of ram with arbitrary peripherals doing open ended computation."

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Of course, the simplicity of the project, and its support of 32-bit and 64-bit ARM processors could point to an IoT, or embedded device play, as many have posited. However, Fuchsia also supports 64-bit PCs, and seems to be focused on scaling more efficiently across more types of devices. It could even have Raspberry Pi 3 support in the future.

This all, in turn, raises the question of just what is Google doing with this new Fuchsia OS? An OS that could span IoT and embedded devices, but also work well with PCs and smartphones seems logical, but it also seems very similar to what Google tried to accomplish with Brillo and Weave a little while back, which was derived from Android. But, there do seem to be some marked differences between Fuchsia and the Brillo/Weave/Android project.

Another possibility is that Fuchsia could be the replacement for both Android and Chrome OS, instead of the company merging the two, as has been rumored for years. Although that also seems like a conflicting idea, due to the fact that Google just made a bunch of Android apps available on Chrome.

The only thing certain about Fuchsia right now is that nothing is certain. This could just be an experiment that gets shuttered next week, but it also could be something big.

Update: A Google spokesperson said that the company wasn't sharing any details on Fuchsia at this time. However, they did say "this is a new open source project that is NOT at all related to Android or Chrome OS (which you may have seen the rumors). As you know, we have many revolving open source projects at Google."

What do you think?

What do you think Google will do with Fuchsia? Tell us in the comments or on Twitter.

The 3 big takeaways for TechRepublic readers

  1. Google recently began working on a new OS named Fuchsia, that is not based on the Linux kernel like Chrome OS and Android are.
  2. Fuchsia is based on the Magenta kernel, and seems to show signs of being used in IoT and embedded devices, but also scalable across some smartphones and PCs.
  3. Fuchsia could end up replacing Android and Chrome, or complement them as an additional OS, or it could just be an experiment that gets shut down before it sees the light of day.

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About Conner Forrest

Conner Forrest is a Senior Editor for TechRepublic. He covers enterprise technology and is interested in the convergence of tech and culture.

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