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The Fuchsia is now. Google's operating system lands on real-world consumer devices, starting with 2018's Nest Hub

Homegrown code spotted in the wild

Google’s Fuchsia operating system has started winging its way to real-life devices, with owners of the company’s 2018 Nest Hub the first to get the upgrade.

As first reported by 9to5Google, the OS upgrade replaces the previous Linux-based Cast OS but doesn’t change the underlying experience. As we learned in 2018, Google built its smart display software using its Flutter framework. Flutter allows developers to create native apps that happily run across multiple platforms without the need for any OS-specific tweaks.

In practice, this meant Google could switch out Nest Hub’s operating system without having to maintain two codebases or rewrite its smart display software from scratch. It also meant that users may not even know they’re guinea pigs for the company’s OS ambitions.

Google started the development of Fuchsia in 2016, intending to build a platform that can run contentedly across multiple environments.

The Chocolate Factory has proposed it as a potential solution for embedded systems where hardware capabilities are limited (such as IoT devices and car infotainment systems), as well as for more potent smartphones and PCs.

At the heart of Fuchsia is a new kernel dubbed Zircon, which is described as a “messaging-passing kernel.” It bears a resemblance to microkernels, although Google has been reluctant to pigeonhole it as such (here's a cached version of that previous page, which describes Zircon as a microkernel. The live document no longer does so).

Google’s decision to deploy Fuchsia in the wild illustrates growing confidence in the platform – although it remains far removed from being a viable alternative to Android or Chrome OS.

Per the roadmap on Fuchsia's wiki (which has been pulled since the publication of this article), the company aims to flesh out support for drivers this year, while also overhauling its graphical rendering capabilities. The project also noted it aims to rewrite its net stack, moving it from the Go language to Rust. ®

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