Google’s Fuchsia Developer Website Quietly Goes Live

Posted on June 30, 2019 by Paul Thurrott in Android, Chrome OS, Dev, Mobile with 16 Comments

Though the firm rarely comments on it publicly, Google is known to be plotting an Android and Chrome OS replacement codenamed Fuchsia. And this weekend, the search giant inched closer to publicly acknowledging those plans when its Fuchsia developer website quietly opened for business.

Fuchsia is an “open source operating system,” the website notes. “Fuchsia is not Linux,” a part of the site dedicated to system documentation furthers. “[It is] a modular, capability-based operating system.”

Fuchsia is widely believed to be a Windows NT-style do-over for Google, a way to separate itself fully from technologies like Linux and Java that it did not create. Among the details available now on its developer website is that Fucshia is powered by a microkernel called Zircon that is written mostly in C++. Google separated Fuchsia’s file system support from the kernel, which will make it easy to modernize and replace file systems as needed. And the graphics composition engine appears to be designed specifically for Flutter, the UI framework that originally targeted both Android and iOS (and is now evolving to support Windows, Mac, and Chrome OS).

There are probably a few other tidbits in there, but the Fuchsia developer site is, at the moment, a bit on the sparse side, and there are lots of content areas that haven’t yet been built out. Including, most importantly, some official statement on what Fuchsia means to Google and its current platforms and what its plans are for the future.

I’m curious to see how this develops and when/who Google will come clean about what it’s really doing here.

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Comments (16)

16 responses to “Google’s Fuchsia Developer Website Quietly Goes Live”

  1. Avatar

    MikeGalos

    I can't think of an OS that does have its file system in the kernel. What am I missing in Paul's treating that as something special?

    As for the rest, it'll be interesting to see how "not Linux" it is. If it's a real, modern operating system not based on the Unix model or the Windows NT model it'll be the first one since the 1993 release of Windows NT but seeing that careful wording it sure sounds like it's yet another clone of Unix' base design since actually writing a full personal computer operating system is hard (as IBM and Apple found out when they both tried and failed repeatedly).

    • Avatar

      Steven Lendowski

      In reply to MikeGalos:


      Well, this time i most certainly agree with you Mike.

      IMHO it is a ploy for Google to move away from open source in the long term.

      Google got tremendous goodwill of young developers for their FOSS Android roots. But Google would not be Google if it only would not try to get 100% control.

      Still they will try to get the benefits of Open Source, while avoiding to truly adhere to the FOSS spirit.

      Now that they have the market power to do so. At least outside of US, where Android is dominant and Apple only an also ran.


    • Avatar

      longhorn

      In reply to MikeGalos:
      I can't think of an OS that does have its file system in the kernel. What am I missing in Paul's treating that as something special?


      I think file systems native to Linux such as Ext4, Xfs and Btrfs come as part of the kernel and run in kernel space. Other file systems like NTFS work well with Linux, but communicate with the kernel in a different way. Due to the Linux GPL license ZFS can't be included with the Linux kernel but can be used with Linux by running it in user space through FUSE.


      "FUSE is an interface that allows a filesystem to be implemented by a process that runs in userspace.

      The FUSE implementation is likely the only way to (currently) use ZFS on Linux in a manner that is fully compliant with both the CDDL and the GPL.

      The FUSE port is relatively slow compared to a kernel ZFS implementation."


      So it has more to do with how the file system communicates with the kernel than location.


    • Avatar

      Oreo

      In reply to MikeGalos:

      Up until iOS 13/macOS Catalina/etc. most of Apple's file system drivers run in kernel space, too. The exception are the file system drivers that work on top of a FUSE port to the Mac. Apple is planning to move more and more kernel extensions out of kernel space. From my own experience, kernel extensions can be quite problematic. (A few years back Cisco was surprised every year with Apple's OS updates, and it took months until their VPN kernel extension would work on the latest OS.)


      And Google's motivation is the same as Apple's: it makes the OS more robust against exploits.

  2. Avatar

    dcdevito

    I think Google is trying to accomplish two things simultaneously - keep this project under wraps while trying to build a developer community. At some point this has to come out publicly - I think developers will adopt it more than they are given credit for. Given the struggles Android developers have (and web developers for Chrome OS), I think it would make sense to just come out and tell everyone what your plans are. Developers all know about this anyway, it's only a matter of time. Also, Fuchsia appears to support virtualization, so the common sense thing to do would be to have devs easily (or automatically) port their apps to the new platform. And the fact that a phone and a laptop are already reference devices tells me that this will be an all-encompassing operating system for Google. I am excited about this, and these days nothing in tech excites me.



  3. Avatar

    harrymyhre

    The file system should be separated. In that way, fuscia could run on systems with radically different file systems (if so desired). Because the code would always be writing thru a layer. Great idea. Will be interesting to see how it plays out.

  4. Avatar

    bluvg

    FINL


    Fuchsia is not Linux

  5. Avatar

    skane2600

    They need to provide a development environment that isn't "eclipse-esk" and isn't implemented in Java. That's baggage they don't need.

    • Avatar

      bill_russell

      In reply to skane2600:

      My favorite general IDE/editor is Qt Creator and you don't need to even care about developing in Qt.

      You want to see something that is truly lightweight, fast and cross platform but not trying to be over bloated with every language and tool under the sun.

      However Java based or not, Jetbrain's IDE are really excellent and are no more heavyweight than any other ones, including Visual Studio based ones. Paul likes to take shots at Android Studio but I don't know where that comes from - maybe after a quick try of the preview version years ago.

      • Avatar

        skane2600

        In reply to Bill_Russell:

        In my experience all the Java-based IDEs are slow and unreliable. Android studio still has a labyrinth install process and the standard install doesn't even successfully build their most primitive examples (I haven't tried it for a while, perhaps they've fixed it). I imagine most Android developers have just "sucked it up" but Google shouldn't be leaning on developers' "manliness".

  6. Avatar

    payton

    I can't help but suspect that they will have extreme user tracking baked deeply into this new OS. While I loved my Galaxy SX phones, I gave up on Android and switched to an iPhone (flooring a number of family members in the process who thought I was an Apple hater) just to get away from Google's ubiquitous stalking. Such an OS from such a company is a non-starter for me.

    • Avatar

      nicholas_kathrein

      In reply to Payton:

      To Each Tier Own.. I like Google knowing everything as it makes their products better / customized to me. I even like targeted ads over rando ads. Live your best life. If Apple does that for you then that's great. For us who want to live on the cutting edge we don't mind. I can't wait till the new Google Assistant comes out with the Pixel 4. I'm upgrading. We either need to live in bomb shelters or we don't. Only time will tell to see if any of the worrying mattered.

      • Avatar

        payton

        In reply to Nicholas_Kathrein:

        That's the great thing about having choices. We can each find the thing that works best (or at least, that works least badly) for us. Apple definitely fits that parenthetical description for me at the moment, but for those not as concerned as I am about invasions of privacy and monetization of their info, Google remains a great option.

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