Fuchsia (operating system)

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Fuchsia
The logo of the Fuchsia operating system, an illustration of a mobius strip, which is intended to be shaped after a lowercase letter "f".
Screenshot of Google Fuchsia (July 2017).png
The Fuchsia GUI
DeveloperGoogle
Written inC, C++, Dart, Go, Rust, Python[1]
OS familyCapability-based
Working stateCurrent
Source modelOpen source
Initial releaseMay 25, 2021; 11 months ago (2021-05-25)
Repositoryfuchsia.googlesource.com
Available inEnglish
PlatformsARM64, x86-64
Kernel typeCapability-based kernel
Influenced byAndroid
Default
user interface
Ermine
LicenseBSD, MIT, Apache License 2.0
Official websitefuchsia.dev

Fuchsia is an open-source capability-based operating system developed by Google. In contrast to Google's Linux based operating systems such as Chrome OS and Android, Fuchsia is based on a unique kernel named Zircon. It publicly debuted as a self-hosted git repository in August 2016 without any official corporate announcement. After years of development, its official product launch was on the first-generation Google Nest Hub, replacing its original Linux-based Cast OS.

History[edit]

In August 2016, media outlets reported on a mysterious source code repository published on GitHub, revealing that Google was developing a new operating system named Fuchsia. No official announcement was made, but inspection of the code suggested its capability to run on various devices, including "dash infotainment" systems for cars, embedded devices like traffic lights, digital watches, smartphones, tablets, and PCs. Its architecture differs entirely from the Linux-based Android and Chrome OS due in part to its unique Zircon kernel, formerly named Magenta.[2][3][4][5][6][7]

In May 2017, Ars Technica wrote about Fuchsia's new user interface, an upgrade from its command-line interface at its first reveal in August. A developer wrote that Fuchsia "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". Though users could test Fuchsia, nothing "works", because "it's all a bunch of placeholder interfaces that don't do anything". They found multiple similarities between Fuchsia's interface and Android, including a Recent Apps screen, a Settings menu, and a split-screen view for viewing multiple apps at once.[8][9] Multiple media outlets wrote about the project's seemingly close ties to Android, with some speculating that Fuchsia might be an effort to "re-do"[10] or replace Android[11][12][13] in a way that fixes its problems.[8]

In January 2018, Google published a guide on how to run Fuchsia on Pixelbooks.[14][15] This was implemented successfully by Ars Technica, where experts were impressed with the progress, noting that things were then working, and were especially pleased by the hardware support and multiple mouse pointers.[16]

A Fuchsia device was added to the Android ecosystem in January 2019 via the Android Open Source Project (AOSP).[17][18] Google talked about Fuchsia at Google I/O 2019.[19] Hiroshi Lockheimer, Senior Vice President of Chrome and Android, described it as one of Google’s experiments around new operating system concepts.[citation needed]

On July 1, 2019, Google announced the official website of the development project with source code and documentation.[9] Roughly a year and a half later, on December 8, 2020, Google announced that it was "expanding Fuchsia's open-source model"[20] including making mailing lists public, introducing a governance model, publishing a roadmap, and using a public issue tracker.

In May 2021, Google employees confirmed that it had deployed Fuchsia in the consumer market for the first time, within a software update to the first-generation Google Home Hub that replaces its existing Chromecast-based software. The update contains no user-facing changes to the device's software or user interface.[21][22] After the initial wave of updates to preview devices, the update was rolled out to all Nest Hub devices in August 2021.[23]

Overview[edit]

Fuchsia is named for the color fuchsia, which is a combination of pink (also the codename of Apple's advanced Pink operating system of the 1990s) and purple (also the codename of the first-generation iPhone).[24][25] Its user interface and apps are written in Flutter, a software development kit allowing cross-platform development abilities for Fuchsia, Android and iOS. Flutter produces apps from Dart, offering apps with high performance graphics that run at 120 frames per second. Escher is the Vulkan-based graphics rendering engine, with specific support for "volumetric soft shadows", an element that Ars Technica wrote, "seems custom-built to run Google's shadow-heavy 'Material Design' interface guidelines".

The Flutter cross-platform software development kit allows users to install parts of Fuchsia on Android devices.

A special version of Android Runtime for Fuchsia is planned to run from a FAR file, the equivalent of the Android APK.[26]

Kernel[edit]

Fuchsia is based on a new message passing kernel, named Zircon after the mineral zircon. Its codebase was derived from that of Little Kernel (LK) for embedded devices, aimed for low resource uses for a wide variety of devices.[27] LK was developed by Travis Geiselbrecht, who had also co-authored the NewOS kernel used by Haiku. That is the free software reimplementation of BeOS, which had been designed in the 1990s by Erich Ringewald,[28] the original lead designer of Pink at Apple in 1988.[29]: 96–98 [30]

Zircon is written mostly in C++, with some parts in assembly language. It is composed of a kernel with a small set of user services, drivers, and libraries which are all necessary for the system to boot, communicate with the hardware, and load the user processes.[31] Its present features include handling threads, virtual memory, processes intercommunication, and waiting for changes in the state of objects.[32]

It is heavily inspired by Unix kernels but differs greatly. For example, it does not support Unix-like signals but incorporates event-driven programming and the observer pattern. Most system calls do not block the main thread. Resources are represented as objects rather than files, unlike traditional Unix systems.

References[edit]

  1. ^ "Language usage in Fuchsia". Fuchsia.
  2. ^ McGrath, Roland (September 12, 2017). "[zx] Magenta -> Zircon". zircon - Git at Google. Archived from the original on July 11, 2018. Retrieved September 19, 2017.
  3. ^ Etherington, Darrell (August 15, 2016). "Google's mysterious new Fuchsia operating system could run on almost anything". TechCrunch. AOL. Retrieved October 5, 2016.
  4. ^ Fingas, Jon (August 13, 2016). "Google's Fuchsia operating system runs on virtually anything". Engadget. AOL. Retrieved October 5, 2016.
  5. ^ Szász, Attila (November 8, 2017). Dive into Magenta: fuzzing Google’s new kernel. Hacktivity – via YouTube.
  6. ^ "Google's Fuchsia OS Magenta Becomes Zircon - Phoronix". Retrieved May 20, 2018.
  7. ^ Vaughan-Nichols, Steven J. "Google Fuchsia is not Linux: So, what is it and who will use it?". ZDNet. Retrieved August 18, 2018.
  8. ^ a b Amadeo, Ron (May 8, 2017). "Google's "Fuchsia" smartphone OS dumps Linux, has a wild new UI". Ars Technica. Condé Nast. Retrieved May 9, 2017.
  9. ^ a b Altavilla, Dave (June 30, 2019). "Google's Mysterious Fuchsia OS Developer Site Debuts With New Fascinating Details". Forbes. Retrieved August 29, 2019.
  10. ^ Fingas, Jon (May 8, 2017). "Google's mysterious Fuchsia OS looks like an Android re-do". Engadget. AOL. Retrieved May 9, 2017.
  11. ^ Gartenberg, Chaim (May 8, 2017). "Google's mysterious new Fuchsia OS has a UI now". The Verge. Vox Media. Retrieved May 9, 2017.
  12. ^ Davenport, Corbin (May 8, 2017). "Google's "Fuchsia" operating system is taking shape with a new design". Android Police. Retrieved May 9, 2017.
  13. ^ "First Look at all new Fuchsia OS from Google". IB Computing. IB Computing. January 18, 2018. Retrieved January 18, 2018.
  14. ^ "Yes, Google Is Running Fuchsia On The Pixelbook: Calm Down". Chrome Unboxed - The Latest Chrome OS News. January 1, 2018. Retrieved January 3, 2018.
  15. ^ Install Fuchsia on Pixelbook, retrieved December 9, 2020
  16. ^ Amadeo, Ron (January 8, 2018). "Google's Fuchsia OS on the Pixelbook: It works! It actually works!". Ars Technica. Condé Nast. Retrieved January 22, 2018. Right now, Google's built-from-scratch kernel and operating system will actually boot on the Pixelbook, and some things even work. The touchscreen, trackpad, and keyboard work and so do the USB ports. You can even plug in a mouse and get a second mouse cursor.
  17. ^ "Add initial fuchsia target". January 22, 2019.
  18. ^ Bradshaw, Kyle (January 3, 2019). "Google's Fuchsia OS confirmed to have Android app support via Android Runtime". 9to5Google. Retrieved January 4, 2019.
  19. ^ Li, Abner (May 9, 2019). "Fuchsia is Google's investment in trying new OS concepts".
  20. ^ "Expanding Fuchsia's open-source model". Google Open Source Blog. Retrieved May 26, 2021.
  21. ^ Amadeo, Ron (May 25, 2021). "Google launches its third major operating system, Fuchsia". Ars Technica. Retrieved May 25, 2021.
  22. ^ Bradshaw, Kyle (May 25, 2021). "Google is releasing Fuchsia OS, starting w/ 1st-gen Nest Hub". 9to5Google. Retrieved May 25, 2021.
  23. ^ Byford, Sam (August 18, 2021). "Google's Fuchsia OS is rolling out to every first-gen Nest Hub". The Verge. Retrieved August 18, 2021.
  24. ^ "Fuchsia". GitHub.
  25. ^ Matte, Daniel (April 10, 2017). "Open-Source Clues to Google's Mysterious Fuchsia OS". IEEE Spectrum. Institute of Electrical and Electronics Engineers (IEEE). Retrieved March 4, 2019.
  26. ^ "Google's Fuchsia OS confirmed to have Android app support via Android Runtime". 9to5Google. January 3, 2019. Retrieved March 27, 2019.
  27. ^ Sims, Gary (August 17, 2016). "What we learned from running Fuchsia, the mysterious new OS from Google". Android Authority. Retrieved May 9, 2017.
  28. ^ "Be Newsletter". Be Newsletter. Vol. 3, no. 8. March 25, 1998. Retrieved February 1, 2019.
  29. ^ Carlton, Jim (1999) [1997]. Apple: The Inside Story of Intrigue, Egomania and Business Blunders (hardback) (2nd ed.). London: Random House Business Books. ISBN 978-0099270737. OCLC 925000937.
  30. ^ Hormby, Tom (April 27, 2014). "Pink: Apple's First Stab at a Modern Operating System". Low End Mac. Retrieved February 1, 2019.
  31. ^ "An Early Look at Zircon, Google Fuchsia New Microkernel". April 15, 2018. Retrieved May 20, 2018. Written in C++, Zircon is composed of a microkernel plus a set of userspace services, drivers, and libraries that are required to handle system boot, process launch, and other typical kernel tasks. Zircon syscalls are generally non-blocking, with the exception of wait_one, wait_many, port_wait and sleep.
  32. ^ "Overview". Fuchsia. Retrieved June 18, 2020.

External links[edit]