There's a bit of chatter on the nerdier side of the internet today about a mysterious repository of code hosted at Google's Git called Fuchsia. Fuchsia is a new operating system being developed by folks like Travis Geiselbrecht (BeOS, iOS, and webOS) and Brian Swetland (Android, BeOS, and HiptopOS) as well as current Google software engineers like Petr Hosek. The limited information provided at thew code repository doesn't tell us much.

Pink + Purple == Fuchsia (a new Operating System)

So we went digging.

Some Google-Fu and IRC lurking (#fuchsia on Freenode for folks who are still into IRC) give us a little more information. It looks like Fuchsia is an operating system that uses the LK kernel, with a component called Magenta that extends its capabilities. LK was designed for embedded devices with limited hardware. Magenta "targets modern phones and modern personal computers with fast processors, non-trivial amounts of RAM with arbitrary peripherals doing open-ended computation." Other interesting bits include a new graphics rendering project called escher, which appears to use OpenGL or Vulkan APIs to support advanced graphics like diffusion, real-time volumetric soft shadows, and other lighting effects, and the Flutter framework for the user interface.

If you're a code nerd on any level, take a few minutes and look through what's been uploaded to the Git. It's buildable on Linux or OS X, and there's even an emulated version if you want to play with it. There is just enough there to get interesting.

Based on what we have now, any 'conclusions' are pure speculation

But anything else is just speculation at this point. I've already seen headlines about how Fuchsia is going to replace Android and Chrome with a new unified unicorn. Based on what we have now, that's not even close to correct. Google isn't going to abandon the current Android and Chrome ecosystem, and it will take a lot more that what we have now for any of that content to run in Fuchsia. I never say never, but the idea of a unified operating system to rule them all from Google doesn't seem to be the goal here.

The developers say that things will eventually be public, documented, and announced, but not right now. In the meantime, we all get to guess what Fuchsia is going to be and what it's going to do.

My guess is that it will have something to do with robotics, automation, and AR/VR. Ideally, you would want a real-time operating system here so you can have a reasonable expectation of latency and how consistent it will be and the graphics engine needs to have its own low-latency pipe. There are some examples and project files included in the escher code for iOS as well. We know that Google loves VR and they are always working on the next thing, and we might be seeing it as it develops.

Or this might just be a bunch of guys doing the things they love because they can.

What I can say is that Fuchsia isn't poised to replace anything you have now. As it develops, we'll be able to get a better feel for their end goal with Fuchsia.