Google Investigating M1-Like OS Translation for Fuchsia

Posted on February 14, 2021 by Paul Thurrott in Android, Chrome OS, Google, Mobile with 4 Comments

A new Google proposal would see its upcoming Fuchsia platform “natively” run Android and Linux apps using a translation layer called Starnix. This new architecture appears to resemble how new M1-based Macs can run Intel-based apps using Rosetta 2.

“As we expand the universe of software we wish to run on Fuchsia, we are encountering software that we wish to run on Fuchsia that we do not have the ability to recompile, the proposal reads. “For example, Android applications contain native code modules that have been compiled for Linux. To run this software on Fuchsia, we need to be able to run binaries without modifying them.”

While Fuchsia remains largely a mystery, we know that Google is positioning this platform as an open-source replacement for both Android and Chrome OS. It will run both Android and Linux apps, like Chrome OS does today, and to date, the plan has been for those platforms to run in virtual machines (VMs), similarly to how Chrome OS works.

But this proposal changes the strategy to a “bring your own runtime” approach. So instead of running Linux and Android applications in VMs, Fuchsia could use Starnix to translate those apps into native binaries that Fuchsia can understand natively. This sounds a lot like Rosetta 2, the M1-based Mac component that translates Intel-based Mac apps so that they can run normally.

Further speculating, it would seem that the real goal here is for developers to create native Fuchsia apps, but that Starnix—like Rosetta 2 on M1-based Macs—can be used during a transition period.

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