Fuchsia
The logo of the Fuchsia operating system is an illustration of a mobius strip, which is intended to be shaped after a lowercase letter "f".
The Fuchsia GUI
DeveloperGoogle
Written inRust, C++, C, Dart, Go, Python, assembly language[1][2]
OS familyCapability-based[3]
Working stateCurrent
Source modelOpen source
Initial releaseMay 25, 2021; 2 years ago (2021-05-25)
Repositoryfuchsia.googlesource.com
Available inEnglish
PlatformsARM64, x86-64
Kernel typeMicrokernel
Influenced byPink, Android, Unix kernel (but not Unix-like), iOS
Default
user interface
Ermine
LicenseBSD, MIT, Apache License 2.0
Official websitefuchsia.dev
Articles in the series
Taligent

Fuchsia is an open-source capability-based operating system developed by Google. In contrast to Google's Linux-based operating systems such as ChromeOS and Android, Fuchsia is based on a custom 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 in 2021 on the first-generation Google Nest Hub, replacing its original Linux-based Cast OS.

Etymology

Fuchsia is named for the color fuchsia, which is a combination of pink and purple.[4][5] The name is a reference to two operating systems projects within Apple which influenced team members of the Fuchsia project: Taligent (codenamed "Pink") and iOS (codenamed "Purple").[6] The color-based naming scheme derives from the colors of index cards which Apple employees used to organize their ideas.[7]

The name of the color fuchsia is derived from the Fuchsia plant genus, which is derived from the name of botanist Leonhart Fuchs.

History

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 ChromeOS due in part to its unique Zircon kernel, formerly named Magenta.[8][9][10][11][12][13]

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.[14][15] 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"[16] or replace Android[17][18][19] in a way that fixes its problems.[14]

In January 2018, Google published a guide on how to run Fuchsia on Pixelbooks.[20][21] 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.[22]

A Fuchsia device was added to the Android ecosystem in January 2019 via the Android Open Source Project (AOSP).[23][24] Google talked about Fuchsia at Google I/O 2019.[25] Hiroshi Lockheimer, Senior Vice President of Chrome and Android, described it as one of Google's experiments around new operating system concepts.[26]

On July 1, 2019, Google announced the official website of the development project with source code and documentation.[15] Roughly a year and a half later, on December 8, 2020, Google announced that it was "expanding Fuchsia's open-source model"[27] 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 Fuchsia had been deployed in the consumer market for the first time, within a software update to the first-generation Google Nest Hub that replaces its existing Chromecast-based software. The update contains no user-facing changes to the device's software or user interface.[28][29] After the initial wave of updates to preview devices, the update was rolled out to all Nest Hub devices in August 2021.[30] Around February 21, 2022, the Chrome browser was fully working on Fuchsia.[31]

In January 2023, Google announced layoffs across the company with 16% of Fuchsia employees being impacted.[32] In May 2023, Google began rolling out a Fuchsia-based update to the second-generation Google Nest Hub.[33]

Overview

Most of Fuchsia is written in Rust.[34]

UI and mobile apps

Fuchsia's 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. 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".[35] 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.[36]

Kernel

LK was born out of @tkgeisel getting sick of writing the same mini-OS for bootloaders or test firmware again and again so he took some time off between jobs and did an open source version of the concept. It now lives in billions of bootloaders and other crazy places.

— Brian Swetland, one of the early Android OS engineers.[37]

Fuchsia is based on a new object-capability kernel, named Zircon after the mineral. Its codebase was derived from that of Little Kernel (LK) for embedded devices, aimed for low-resource uses on a wide variety of devices.[38] LK was developed by Travis Geiselbrecht, who had also co-authored the NewOS kernel used by Haiku, a free software reimplementation of BeOS.

Zircon is written mostly in C++, with some parts in C and assembly language.[2] 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.[39] Its present features include handling threads, virtual memory, inter-process communication, and waiting for changes in the state of objects.[40]

It is heavily inspired by Unix kernels[citation needed] 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 in which everything is a file.

References

  1. ^ "Google Fuchsia OS: The next big thing on the internet – Next-Gen OS". Fuchsia.
  2. ^ a b "C++ in Zircon". Fuchsia. Retrieved February 7, 2023.
  3. ^ "Language usage in Fuchsia". Noober Info. June 15, 2021. Archived from the original on August 24, 2022. Retrieved August 24, 2022.
  4. ^ "Fuchsia". GitHub.
  5. ^ 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.
  6. ^ McKillop, Christopher [@chrismckillop] (May 25, 2021). "Pink was an OS project started by Apple in 1988 (became Tailgent). Purple was the codename of the original iPhone OS. [...]" (Tweet). Archived from the original on April 8, 2022. Retrieved August 16, 2023 – via Twitter.
  7. ^ Hormby, Tom (April 27, 2014). "Pink: Apple's First Stab at a Modern Operating System". Low End Mac. Archived from the original on March 21, 2023. Retrieved August 16, 2023.
  8. ^ McGrath, Roland (September 12, 2017). "[zx] Magenta -> Zircon". zircon - Git at Google. Archived from the original on July 11, 2018. Retrieved September 19, 2017.
  9. ^ Etherington, Darrell (August 15, 2016). "Google's mysterious new Fuchsia operating system could run on almost anything". TechCrunch. AOL. Retrieved October 5, 2016.
  10. ^ Fingas, Jon (August 13, 2016). "Google's Fuchsia operating system runs on virtually anything". Engadget. AOL. Retrieved October 5, 2016.
  11. ^ Szász, Attila; Hosszú, Gergő (November 8, 2017). Dive into Magenta: fuzzing Google's new kernel. Hacktivity. Archived from the original on November 22, 2022 – via YouTube.
  12. ^ Larabel, Michael (September 13, 2017). "Google's Fuchsia OS Magenta Becomes Zircon". Phoronix. Retrieved May 20, 2018.
  13. ^ Vaughan-Nichols, Steven J. "Google Fuchsia is not Linux: So, what is it and who will use it?". ZDNet. Retrieved August 18, 2018.
  14. ^ 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.
  15. ^ a b Altavilla, Dave (June 30, 2019). "Google's Mysterious Fuchsia OS Developer Site Debuts With New Fascinating Details". Forbes. Retrieved August 29, 2019.
  16. ^ Fingas, Jon (May 8, 2017). "Google's mysterious Fuchsia OS looks like an Android re-do". Engadget. AOL. Retrieved May 9, 2017.
  17. ^ Gartenberg, Chaim (May 8, 2017). "Google's mysterious new Fuchsia OS has a UI now". The Verge. Vox Media. Retrieved May 9, 2017.
  18. ^ Davenport, Corbin (May 8, 2017). "Google's "Fuchsia" operating system is taking shape with a new design". Android Police. Retrieved May 9, 2017.
  19. ^ "First Look at all new Fuchsia OS from Google". IB Computing. IB Computing. January 18, 2018. Retrieved January 18, 2018.
  20. ^ "Yes, Google Is Running Fuchsia On The Pixelbook: Calm Down". Chrome Unboxed - The Latest Chrome OS News. January 1, 2018. Retrieved January 3, 2018.
  21. ^ Install Fuchsia on Pixelbook, retrieved December 9, 2020
  22. ^ 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.
  23. ^ "Add initial fuchsia target". January 22, 2019.
  24. ^ Bradshaw, Kyle (January 3, 2019). "Google's Fuchsia OS confirmed to have Android app support via Android Runtime". 9to5Google. Retrieved January 4, 2019.
  25. ^ Li, Abner (May 9, 2019). "Fuchsia is Google's investment in trying new OS concepts".
  26. ^ Fireside Chat with Hiroshi Lockheimer, Google Sr. VP, Platforms and Ecosystems (Google I/O'19) 28 minutes in, retrieved January 6, 2023
  27. ^ "Expanding Fuchsia's open-source model". Google Open Source Blog. Retrieved May 26, 2021.
  28. ^ Amadeo, Ron (May 25, 2021). "Google launches its third major operating system, Fuchsia". Ars Technica. Retrieved May 25, 2021.
  29. ^ Bradshaw, Kyle (May 25, 2021). "Google is releasing Fuchsia OS, starting w/ 1st-gen Nest Hub". 9to5Google. Retrieved May 25, 2021.
  30. ^ Byford, Sam (August 18, 2021). "Google's Fuchsia OS is rolling out to every first-gen Nest Hub". The Verge. Retrieved August 18, 2021.
  31. ^ Bradshaw, Kyle (March 4, 2022). "Here's the full Google Chrome browser running on Fuchsia [Gallery]". 9to5Google. Retrieved July 16, 2023.
  32. ^ Amadeo, Ron (January 23, 2023). "Google's Fuchsia OS was one of the hardest hit by last week's layoffs". Ars Technica. Retrieved January 23, 2023.
  33. ^ Bradshaw, Kyle (May 2, 2023). "Nest Hub 2nd Gen updates to Google's Fuchsia operating system". 9to5Google. Retrieved May 3, 2023.
  34. ^ Zhang, HanDong (Alex) (January 31, 2023). "2022 Review | The adoption of Rust in Business". Rust Magazine. Retrieved February 7, 2023.
  35. ^ Amadeo, Ron (May 8, 2017). "Google's "Fuchsia" smartphone OS dumps Linux, has a wild new UI". Ars Technica. Condé Nast. Retrieved August 31, 2022.
  36. ^ "Google's Fuchsia OS confirmed to have Android app support via Android Runtime". 9to5Google. January 3, 2019. Retrieved March 27, 2019.
  37. ^ @dnaltews (May 10, 2022). "LK was born out of @tkgeisel getting sick of writing the same mini-OS for bootloaders" (Tweet). Archived from the original on January 27, 2023 – via Twitter.
  38. ^ Sims, Gary (August 17, 2016). "What we learned from running Fuchsia, the mysterious new OS from Google". Android Authority. Retrieved May 9, 2017.
  39. ^ "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.
  40. ^ "Overview". Fuchsia. Retrieved June 18, 2020.