Is Google Working on Another Operating System?

Carl Weinschenk

It is difficult to keep secrets for long in the computer world. Developers and the media that follow them are brilliant and most of those involved love to puzzle things out.

So it is no surprise that just a small posting led to conjecture that Google apparently is planning a third major operating system (OS) to go alongside Chrome OS and Android.

Android Police is being given credit for uncovering news of the OS, which at least for now is named Fuchsia. The site found it on the GitHub page, the story says. (GitHub is a site dedicated to Git, a system that controls software development.) Further examination revealed much more about the OS, but the basics are clear. Google products have long been powered by the Linux kernel. However, the story says, this is not ideal for increasingly common embedded systems that power purpose-built devices such as dashboard GPSs. This may be the target of Fuchsia. The idea that Fuchsia is aimed at the embedded market is based on the fact that it uses the Magenta kernel, which can be efficiently used in these applications.

Obviously, little is clear. There is no shortage of ideas on the part of Android Police and others, however, as the Android Police story says:

So, why? Why is Google quietly developing a brand new OS and kernel, with support for smartphones and PCs, possibly built with Material Design in mind? The most obvious guess, and the most exciting, is that Google hopes to one day replace Chrome OS and Android with Fuchsia. But perhaps Google will treat Fuchsia like Samsung treats Tizen OS; a lightweight OS used on hardware not suited for full-blown Android. Google’s collection of embedded hardware, such as the OnHub router and Google Home, is growing. Perhaps Fuchsia is only being developed for devices like these?

Another possibility is that Chrome and Android will continue to be discrete OSs but will move closer under the hood. This possibility is raised by Nick Mediati at Computerworld. He suggests that both would use some form of Fuchsia or the Magenta kernel but retain their own brands, interfaces and features.

The two developers named at the GitHub page are Christopher Anderson and Brian Swetland. The latter was quoted as saying that Fuchsia is booting reasonably well on some laptops and PCs. The important inference suggested by the comment is that Fuchsia is potentially aimed at more than just embedded systems.

At this point, Fuchsia is a topic of conversation among developers. It may represent a side project for Google, or perhaps a serious initiative that will be put aside. There is also the possibility that the project will grow to significantly affect the broad world of Google’s operating systems.

Carl Weinschenk covers telecom for IT Business Edge. He writes about wireless technology, disaster recovery/business continuity, cellular services, the Internet of Things, machine-to-machine communications and other emerging technologies and platforms. He also covers net neutrality and related regulatory issues. Weinschenk has written about the phone companies, cable operators and related companies for decades and is senior editor of Broadband Technology Report. He can be reached at cweinsch@optonline.net and via twitter at @DailyMusicBrk.

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Add Comment      Leave a comment on this blog post
Aug 17, 2016 2:06 AM Scott Scott  says:
In the old days, if you weren't running MSDOS or Windows on a PC, you had nothing to fear from hacking or malware, because you had no other computers to compromise. Now everything from routers to cars to phones to security cams are getting hacked, with hackable refrigerators on the horizon. Android and Windows are still the only operating systems which seem sure to have been compromised tens of millions of times, but it's inevitable that they will have company before long. Will it come in the form of a malicious patch to wirelessly updating car OSes? I really hope not, but you never know. If they can write in a high level of security from scratch, it will fill a definite need, regardless of its intended use. As the situation stands right now, I like having an old car with no accessible computer on board. I like not having any Internet of Things hardware. I use computers, tablets and phones, but never use the smaller gizmos for anything important, like connecting them to my *real* email address, or going to financial sites with them. And if the NSA wants to be in my computer, they are. Any kind of secure OS would be great. Reply

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