Will Google dump Android for Fuchsia?

Google’s new operating system doesn’t use the Linux kernel. Instead the company has created its own microkernel called . Google has given the world its first look at Fuchsia, and many people are wondering if the company will eventually replace Android with Fuchsia.

Ron Amadeo reports for Ars Technica:

With any new project at Google, it’s hard to know what the scale of the project will be. Is this a “20 percent” project that will be forgotten about in a year or something more important? Luckily, we have a direct statement from a Fuchsia developer on the matter. In the public Fuchsia IRC channel, Fuchsia developer Travis Geiselbrecht told the chat room the OS “isn’t a toy thing, it’s not a 20% project, it’s not a dumping ground of a dead thing that we don’t care about anymore.”

Android was conceived in the days before the iPhone. It started as an OS for cameras, and then became a BlackBerry clone, before being quickly retooled after the iPhone unveiling. With Android, Google is still chained to decisions it made years ago, before it knew anything about managing a mobile OS that ships on billions of smartphones.

Fuchsia really seems like a project that asks “how would we design Android today, if we could start over?” It’s a brand-new, Google-developed kernel running a brand-new, Google-developed SDK that uses a brand-new, Google-developed programming language and it’s all geared to run Google’s Material Design interface as quickly as possible. Google gets to dump Linux and the GPL, it can dump Java and the problems it caused with Oracle, and Google can basically insulate itself from all of Android’s upstream projects and bring all the development in-house. Doing such a thing on the scale of Android today would be a massive project.

The hardest part might not even be developing the OS, but coming up with some kind of transition plan from Android, which has grown to be the world’s most popular operating system. The “cross platform” feature of the Flutter SDK sounds important for a transition plan. If Google could get developers to start writing apps in Flutter, it would be creating an app ecosystem that ran on iOS, Android, and, eventually, Fuchsia. Google has also shown that it is able and willing the make the Android Runtime work on non-Android platforms with Chrome OS, so if Google does choose to go through with a transition plan, perhaps it could port and entire Android stack over to Fuchsia as a stop-gap app solution.

Are Technica readers chimed in with their thoughts about Fuchsia and Android:

Shudder: “All I can say is go for it. It will either be better than Android and that’s a good thing, or it will be worse and we keep using Android, which will be as fine as it ever is.

Who knows, we could benefit from an OS specifically designed to be used on a phone rather than even the most optimized one that has its roots on a server.”

Rabish12: “I wonder how much of this effort is because of the Android developers’ frustration with the Linux kernel development community. I’ve seen a few back and forths where both sides had some less than kind words for each other, along with a whole lot of finger pointing over Android’s dated version of the kernel, so I’m wondering if this might be Google’s attempt to build something around a kernel that they can control and develop without being beholden to someone else’s standards.”

Skavi: “I’ve been obsessed with this project since it was initially reported on around half an year ago. I can’t wait to have the smoothness, updates, and efficiency of iOS with all the good stuff from Android.”

Joklers: “I think I’d rather have the Android developers actually get up to standard instead of Google developing a whole other operating system just to handle terrible development practices and closed source drivers.”

MatthewFrederick: “Every software engineer’s dream: a whole new mobile OS that’s built from scratch, ensuring it’s as perfect as can be, free of legacy cruft and compromises.

Every app developer’s nightmare: not a single line of code you’ve previously written can be used in apps for this new OS.

If the intention actually is to supplant Android one day, the biggest uphill climb will surely be adoption. Seems nearly impossible at this point, to me.”

Mrnomomnoms: “I wouldn’t be surprised if in the future you end up see the Android framework sitting on top of Fuchsia because at the end of the day the biggest obstacle to getting out updates on time with OEM’s is the fact that with each new release of the Linux kernel the driver API and ABI breaks which means an extensive re-testing especially when low level parts of the operating system have been tinkered with. Regarding OEM’s, I’m sure they’re not overly enamoured going through all the BS involved with re-checking their drivers against a moving target with each new Android release with OEM’s just giving up sometimes result in customers left high and dry.

If the net result of Fuchsia is an operating system with a stable driver API and ABI plus a move to LLVM then I could imagine the life of OEM’s made a lot easier if it means that their hardware support won’t be trying to hit a moving a target as the Linux kernel moves forward.”

Ajedi32: “It was really hard to tell what the purpose of Fuchsia was back when they first released it on GitHub, but it’s always been fun to speculate. I guess at this point it seems fairly safe to say that they really are building an Android competitor; pretty cool.”

Lunarworks: “At the risk of enraging Linux fans, I’ve always viewed Linux as a bit of a clunker. Yes, it can be stripped down to run lightweight, and can be used for virtually any situation, with countless features welded on, but it still has its roots as a hobbyist’s OS with all the big decisions made by neckbeards and their various quirky ideologies. It’s free, and it does the job. That’s how it got so big, like Android itself.

If Google can create something from scratch with the hardware of the 2010s in mind, it might be very refreshing.

Let’s hope it doesn’t become their “Copland”.”

Canonical prepares for an IPO cash grab

Canonical has made some significant changes to Ubuntu recently, and it turns out that the company was smoothing the way to an IPO. Profitability is the big new priority at Canonical and the company is pulling no punches in its effort to get ready to rake in the cash from investors.

System76’s plan for GNOME

is one of the most popular vendors of Linux-based computers. When Canonical announced that Ubuntu was dropping Unity for GNOME, it forced System76 to prepare itself for the switch.

System76 recently shared its plan for GNOME on the company blog:

Home sweet GNOME. It’s been a while but we’re excited to be back. We’ve been playing with our new toy the last few weeks. Our Slack channels were fiery fast but the geek debates have subsided. We’ve now gathered our thoughts and laid out our plan.

We like consistency. We like it in everything from quality across products to packaging to our web and print design. Our new Pop theme was born from the desire to provide customers with a consistent experience all the way through to the OS. Pop is bright, beautiful, and very System76. We’re preparing Pop to ship on our computers with Ubuntu 17.10 this October. We want your bugs and feedback. See the bottom of the post for install instructions.

Our first priorities are reaching and surpassing the current customer experience by 17.10. That includes bug fixes, adding Ubiquity features, removing GNOME Initial Setup, blessed PPA’s and the Pop theme complete from boot to the desktop. If we get further, we’ll go further. For 18.04 we’ll push towards our world class first use and mobile integration vision.

We’d been floating a while waiting for Unity 8. We worked on bugs in Unity 7 but we were hesitant to invest heavily. Now we have a target. We have a community. We have a platform. Let’s make an incredible Linux desktop.

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