Does Google have a new operating system in the works?

A mysterious – and thus far, unverified – page on code-sharing website GitHub has fuelled speculation that Menlo Park, Calif.-based Google Inc. might be working on a new operating system designed to power just about any device you can think of.

Presently nicknamed “Fuschia” (because “Pink + Purple == Fuchsia (a new Operating System),” according to its GitHub page), the open-source project has yet to be confirmed by Google, though according to their GitHub profiles developers Christopher Anderson, Brian Swetland, and Travis Geiselbrecht all work there.

“The decision was made to build it open source, so might as well start there from the beginning,” Swetland wrote in an IRC chatlog shared on Hacker News. “Things will eventually be public, documented and announced, just not yet.”

Unlike Google’s existing operating systems, which have been powered by Linux hardware, Fuschia is based on the Magenta kernel, which has been designed for the type of small systems typically used in embedded applications, but with enough scaling capabilities to potentially power laptop or desktop computers.

Consequently, the tech blog Android Police has speculated that Fuschia could represent a plan by Google to develop an OS that is equally adept at powering computing, mobile, and IoT devices alike.

“The Linux kernel is not ideal for every situation,” author Corbin Davenport wrote on Android Police. “Especially in the case of embedded devices like car dashboards or GPS units, full-blown desktop kernels like Linux impact performance and cause other issues.”

“There’s a massive ecosystem of operating systems designed for embedded hardware, and Google may be working on their own,” he wrote.

Digging into the project’s documentation, Davenport also reported that Google is using its open-source, cross-platform, mobile app development software Flutter to create Fuschia’s user interface, and programming it using Dart, the company’s own scalable, open-source application programming language.

Also being added to the mix is Escher, a renderer that supports light diffusion, soft shadows, and other visual effects, and it’s known the platform will support both 32-bit and 64-bit ARM CPUs, 64-bit PCs, and will be released soon for the Raspberry Pi 3.

Both Davenport and Business Insider author Rob Price speculate that Google could use Fuschia to unite and replace its existing mobile and desktop systems, Android and Chrome OS.

Meanwhile, PC World’s Nick Mediati speculates that Google could use Fuchsia instead of Linux to underpin its operating systems’ next-generation versions, with Magenta essentially replacing Linux.

“Under such a scenario, Fuchsia wouldn’t be a replacement for Android and Chrome OS in of itself,” Price writes. “Instead, the two OSes would live own with their own branding, their own interfaces, and their own features tailored to whatever device they’re designed for.”

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Eric Emin Wood
Eric Emin Wood
Former IT World Canada associate editor turned consultant with public relations firm Porter Novelli. When not writing for the tech industry enjoys photography, movies, travelling, the Oxford comma, and will talk your ear off about animation if you give him an opening.

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