What do we know about Fuchsia, Google's third operating system

What do we know about Fuchsia, Google's third operating system

What do we know about Fuchsia

After a long wait, the new operating system debuts, designed for various applications, from smartphones to home automation

(Photo: Google) The big day of Fuchsia has suddenly arrived, that is, the little-known third operating system from Google which officially debuts after a gestation of over five years. We start softly on the first generation of Nest Hub smart displays, but the prospects are very broad and ambitious. What to expect from Google Fuchsia?

The first appearance of Fuchsia dates back to the summer of 2016, when a piece of code on the GitHub portal reveals the project of a completely new operating system, which can work on devices of different nature , from home automation and the internet of things to smartphones or smartwatches, from infotainment to systems inside cars, up to new generation smart and connected traffic lights.

Unlike the other two home operating systems, that is Android and ChromeOs which are based on kernel (ie the core, the most intrinsic and fundamental part) Linux, Fuchsia is based on a so-called microkernel called first Magenta and then Zircon which allows you to manage without problems a large variety of devices, from the less powerful ones to the more powerful ones. The same philosophy behind another ambitious operating system ready to debut on a large scale like Huawei's HarmonyOs.

Fuchsia OS therefore makes its debut on the Nest Hub smart displays because it is precisely from the less muscular gadgets that it will make its bones, also focusing on the Google Cast keys and on Google TV as well as on wearables such as smartband and smartwatch before of the big leap on consumer devices, such as smartphones or tablets. In practice, users who have received the new operating system on their Nest Hub smart display will not notice big differences, because graphically the interface will remain the same, since it is always written with the Flutter framework.

You don't ship a new operating system every day, but today is that day.

- Petr Hosek (@petrh) May 25, 2021

The speech it will change with the move to smartphones, for example. There is the possibility of expressing the potential of the new operating system in a more extensive and broader way, which also makes security its strong point. Compatibility with the very large number of Android applications is more than likely. Finally, the modular nature of Fucshia allows it to adapt to the host device by adding, from time to time, the blocks necessary for the required functions, optimizing the source code. However, it will still take many years before we can appreciate a mature and widespread version of Fuchsia, which will be released and improved gradually and without haste.

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Google Fuchsia OS finally rolls out

a screen shot of a computer: (Image: CNET) © Provided by ZDNet (Image: CNET)

Since 2016, one of the biggest mysteries in tech circles was 'What the heck was Google Fuchsia operating system?' A Linux replacement? A Google-specific Linux distribution? The end of Android? We eventually learned Fuchsia wasn't Linux, but it might be a Linux replacement in some situations. At long last, we finally know. It's, at least in its first version, an Internet of Things (IoT) operating system.

According to 9to5Google, 'Fuchsia, is now running on real Made by Google devices, namely, the first-generation Nest Hub.' The Nest Hub is a combination smart display and a voice-controlled smart speaker. The version getting the operating system update, however, is the 2018 model. The newer 2021 Nest Hub went on the market in April 2021. First-generation Google Nest Hubs are still available.

We know this story is accurate because Petr Hosek, technical lead of the Google Fuchsia OS toolchain team, announced on Twitter that, 'You don't ship a new operating system every day, but today is that day.' Hosek followed up by pointing to the 9to5Google story. 

Google Nest owners may not notice a whit of difference. While Google has started updating the first-generation Nest Hub, the update won't change any of its functionality. If all works well, ordinary users will never notice that it's running Fuchsia OS instead of its original Linux-based operating system. Google can do this because its smart display experience is built with Flutter, its universal framework for building user interfaces.

a screen shot of a computer: (Image: CNET) © ZDNet

(Image: CNET)

For developers, Google opened the doors to third-party Fuchsia OS developers in December 2020. The Fuchsia OS code itself is open-source under the Apache 2 license. You can develop and work on the operating system in Linux. Fuschsia OS is written in C++, Rust, and Dart with some older code written in C. 


Underneath it all is the Zircon operating system kernel. It's written primarily in C++. This microkernel also includes a small set of userspace services, drivers, and libraries. These are used to boot the system, talk to hardware, load userspace processes and run them, and not much more. The kernel manages several different Object types. Those that are directly accessible via system calls are C++ classes. 

Fuchsia is a modular, object-based operating system. This implies you'll be able to use it on both low-powered, minimal-resource devices all the way to PCs. You'll simply add the object modules you'll need for each device.

So, where does Fuchsia OS go from here? We still don't know. But, at the very least, we know it's going to play a major role in Google's IoT plans.

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