25 May 2021
We have been hearing about Google’s Fuchsia for a long time now. There are not too many frequent talks on the same, but we do get to hear about it every year. The proper idea of the Fuchsia OS might not be clear as Google and its executive haven’t been really vocal about it. Probably, the only thing to be mindful of for now is that the Fuchsia OS does exist even if you have perceived it is not. Now, the name of the OS has once again popped up, thanks to Google itself.
Google today announced that it is expanding the Fuchsia open-source community and opening it up to contributions from the public.
“Starting today, we are expanding Fuchsia‘s open-source model to make it easier for the public to engage with the project. We have created new public mailing lists for project discussions, added a governance model to clarify how strategic decisions are made and opened up the issue tracker for public contributors to see what’s being worked on. As an open-source effort, we welcome high-quality, well-tested contributions from all. There is now a process to become a member to submit patches or a committer with full write access.”
As Techcrunch points out, companies start opening up their open-source to outside contributors once they feel they have reached an important milestone with a stable foundation that others can come and build on.
In addition to this, Google has also published a technical roadmap that will offer better insights for project direction and priorities. Some of the highlights of this roadmap include “a driver framework for updating the kernel independently of the drivers, improving file systems for performance, and expanding the input pipeline for accessibility.”
We first heard about Google developing a new operating system called Fuchsia from scratch back in 2016. So, it’s been four years already that Google is working on it. In today’s announcement as well, Google pointed out that Fuchsia is still evolving rapidly. It is not ready for general product development or as a development target. Referring to the developers, Google states, “you can clone, compile, and contribute to it.”
Fuchsia is an open-source project that first came to notice to the public when a mysterious codebase post spotted on GitHub in August 2016. Fuchsia is based on a new microkernel called Zircon (formerly called Magenta), completely separate from the Linux kernels that are the foundation of Android and Chrome OS.
Google made no announcement back then but the inspection of the code found on the publically available repository suggested the OS was being developed so as to run on universal devices, from phones, tablets, PCs, to infotainment systems found in the cars and embedded devices like traffic lights and digital watches. It was then deduced that Fuchsia is being developed with smart connected features in mind and it is not just specific to a type of device. So, it is built to work across a wide range of devices.
Later in May 2017, a post from Ars Technic revealed Fuchsia’s new user interface, an upgrade from its command-line interface at its first reveal in August. In the same month, VP of Android engineering, Davide Burke gave a cryptic note –
Fuchsia is an early-stage experimental project. We, you know, we actually have lots of cool early projects at Google. I think what’s interesting here is it is open-source, so people can see it and comment on it. Like lots of early-stage projects, it’s gonna probably pivot and morph.
In January 2018, Google published documentation that guides on how to run Fuchsia on Pixelbooks.
Later at the I/O developer’s conference in 2019, Google quietly acknowledged Fuchsia.
Fuchsia is regarded as a replacement for Android but keep in mind that Google hasn’t announced anything related to it. We are still far from reality and we can’t tell if Fuchsia is an Android re-do or is it coming like a replacement to Android.