Expanding Fuchsia’s Open Source Model

Google Opens Its Fuchsia OS for Public Contributors

Currently Google has two popular operating systems — Android and Chrome OS. Yet it has taken up the development of a third one – Fuchsia OS. We have heard about it for the first time four years ago when it was reported to be based on the Zircon microkernel.

At the same time it was stated that the OS is small, but is made for a wide scope of platforms, including mobile devices, IoT and industrial sites. There is no clear practical implementation yet, but Google has unlocked its OS to third-party developers. The company now not only lets you go through the actual OS code, but also allows you to actively contribute to its building. Any professional can join the project, read the documentation, check the bug tracker, subscribe to mailing lists, etc.

This seems like a great chance to participate, but there is only one issue with it: it is still widely unclear what this operating system is being build for. And Google is quiet reluctant to advertise the goals of this OS. The only information that the corporation disclosed is that the project is long-term, and the operating system is general-purpose and will be available as the Open Source model.

They have made the Fuchsia OS roadmap available to everyone, so that anyone can get some understanding of the project aim.

Who Owns the Code?

One might assume that Google decided to become a completely independent company, since Fuchsia is not based on the Linux kernel. This means that the company can potentially do anything with its own operating system. Thus, Google will be able to exercise ownership and adjust Fuchsia for any devices.

Going back to the development process, yes, anyone can join it. Yet the code will entirely be the property of the company, which makes its license similar to BSD. Therefore, Fuchsia is 100% Google’s own project and no one else’s, even if it is technically accessible to anyone in the world.

It may also be the case that one of the developers will be able to realize what the company is developing the OS for by going through the whole code. It is officially planned to make it available for devices such as Acer Switch Alpha 12, Intel ® NUC and Google Pixelbook.

As an alternative, there is another development option for Fuchsia – the dahliaOS project. It is scripted on the basis of the Dart language and is distributed under the Apache 2.0 license. The developers have two versions of the OS almost ready for systems with UEFI (158 MB) and virtual machines.

Moreover, since Fuchsia is built on the basis of the Zircon microkernel, which was mentioned above, it would make it available for platforms such as the Raspberry Pi 4, MSM8917, and a small number of other devices.

At the same time, the developers are going to use their own custom shell Pangolin, which is written in the Dart language using the Flutter framework enabling support for the mosaic window layout mode. The basis for this shell is parts of the Capybara code, including a window management system written from scratch. All these can already be tested, but only in the form of a web version that is compatible with Chrome.


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