In contrast to that minimal experience, Google was seemingly working to bring the full might of Chrome to Fuchsia. To observers, this was yet another signal that Google intended for Fuchsia to grow beyond the smart home and serve as a full desktop operating system. After all, what good is a laptop or desktop without a web browser? Fans of the Fuchsia project have anticipated its eventual expansion to desktop since Fuchsia was first shown to run on Google’s Pixelbook hardware. However, in the intervening time – a period that also saw significant layoffs in the Fuchsia division – it seems that Google has since shifted Fuchsia in a different direction. The clearest evidence of that move comes from a Chromium code change (and related bug tracker post) published last month declaring that the “Chrome browser on fuchsia won’t be maintained.” ↫ Kyle Bradshaw at 9To5Google Up until a few years ago, every indication was that Google had big plans for Fuchsia, from “workstation” builds to porting Chrome to developers using Fuchsia for Google Meet calls, and lots of other improvements, changes, and additions that pointed squarely at Fuchsia being prepped for use on more than just the Nest Hub devices. We’re about a year later now, and everything has changed. The workstation builds have been discontinued, the Fuchsia team was hit harder by the Google layoffs than other teams, and now the Chrome port has been deprecated. All signs now point to Fuchsia being effectively a dead end beyond its use on Hub devices. At least Google had the decency to kill this before it released it.
According to Google’s official support page listing the current firmware versions of its speakers and smart displays, version 14.20230831.4.72 is now available to those enrolled in the Preview Program (which can be accessed via the Google Home app). These updates are often released in stages, meaning it may be a few weeks before your Nest Hub gets the latest build. On the project’s website, Google offers a more in-depth look at what has changed in Fuchsia version 14 (as well as version 13, which the Nest Hubs skipped). Most of the changes will only be relevant to Fuchsia developers, but there are a handful of user-facing improvements. Google is providing some very detailed release notes for each version of Fuchsia, which are quite interesting to peruse. The recent layoffs at Google hit the Fuchsia team hard, likely reducing its future prospects as Google’s unified consumer-facing operating system, but that clearly doesn’t mean it’s entirely dead in the water.
9to5Google reports: Last year, we reported that Google’s Fuchsia team had renewed its efforts to support smart speakers. Long story short, the team had experimented with a single speaker, ditched that effort, then “restored” it later on. More importantly, the Fuchsia team was found to be working on multiple speakers, the most notable of which was an as-yet-unreleased speaker equipped with UWB. In a newly posted code change, the Fuchsia team formally marked all of its speaker hardware as “unsupported” and altogether removed the related code. Among the hardware now unsupported by Fuchsia, you’ll find the underlying SoCs for the Nest Mini, Nest Audio, Nest Wifi point, a potentially upcoming Nest speaker, and some Android Things-based smart speakers. The Fuchsia team hasn’t shared a reason why its smart speaker efforts were discontinued. One issue that potentially played a role is that the Amlogic A113L chip used in “Clover” – an unknown device that we suspect may be the Pixel Tablet dock – does not meet Fuchsia’s strict CPU requirements. Amlogic’s engineers attempted to work around this issue, seemingly to no avail. It also doesn’t help Google fired about 20% of the 400 people working on Fuchsia. Since its discovery about six years ago, Fuchsia has been on an upward trajectory, but the massive layoffs and now the end of the smart speakers project, one has to wonder what the future of Fuchsia is going to be. Everything seemed to point at Fuchsia one day taking hold in Android and Chrome OS, but that seems farther away now than ever.
Ahead of these layoffs, Fuchsia appeared to be on an upward trajectory within Google. After years of being a skunkworks project, the company’s from-scratch operating system has grown to be used in the Nest Hub series and is poised to be used in an upcoming device. There are even indications of Google ramping up Fuchsia development internally in recent months. Considering Google’s overall workforce is set to be reduced by around 6%, the Fuchsia team appears to have been targeted more directly by the layoffs than other divisions. It’s not yet clear what this may mean for the project going forward. It doesn’t seem like a good idea to heavily cut the workforce of a team building a brand new operating system from scratch that you’ve only just started putting in consumers’ hands, but what do I know?
Google is working on upgrading its Nest Audio smart speaker to run on the company’s own Fuchsia operating system. For the last few years, Google has been steadily working on switching its Nest Hub smart displays from running on “Cast OS” to the company’s in-house OS, Fuchsia. The original Nest Hub was the first to make the jump in 2021, and the Nest Hub Max made a similar move earlier this year. In all likelihood, the Nest Hub 2nd Gen should get its Fuchsia update soon too. The slow, deliberate, and calculated rollout of Fuchsia continues.
This week, the Fuchsia team shared a new proposal titled “ADB on Fuchsia” that shares the team’s intention to support ADB for controlling devices and the reasoning behind wanting to do so. At present, the core “fx” and “ffx” tools used to control Fuchsia devices are only compatible with Linux and macOS computers. And while there’s an effort to get ffx running on Windows, that’s not projected to be completed until the end of 2022. Sadly, ADB for Fuchsia won’t work for consumer Fuchsia devices, such as the Nest Hubs, since Goolgle states that it will only be available during early development phases of Fuchsia devices.
Work on this Fuchsia project within Android — dubbed “device/google/fuchsia” — stalled in February 2021, with no public indication of how things were progressing. This week, all of the code for “device/google/fuchsia” was removed from Android, formally signaling the end of this particular avenue. In its place, we have a lone “TODO” message, suggesting that Google may be building up something new in its place. The developer responsible for the change primarily works on Fuchsia’s “Starnix” project. First shared in early 2021 as a proposal, Starnix is designed to make it possible for Fuchsia to “natively” run apps and libraries that were built for Linux or Android. To do this, Starnix would act to translate the low-level kernel instructions from what Linux expects to what Fuchsia’s Zircon kernel expects. Fuchsia is still very much in flux, and stuff like this further illustrates that while I firmly believe it’s the future of Google’s consumer operating system efforts, it’s still got a long way to go.
Roughly a year after launching on the original Nest Hub, Google is making the Fuchsia operating system available for the Nest Hub Max. For over five years now, Google has been quietly toiling away on Fuchsia, an operating system intended to replace and/or compete with Linux. While many Google fans were hoping that Fuchsia’s launch would be a splashy one, like that of Android in 2008, the real launch was nearly as quiet as the development itself. The slow, steady march to replace every operating system on consumer Google devices with Fuchsia continues.
Alexander Popov, Linux kernel developer and security researcher, takes a very detailed look at Fuchsia and its kernel. Fuchsia is a general-purpose open-source operating system created by Google. It is based on the Zircon microkernel written in C++ and is currently under active development. The developers say that Fuchsia is designed with a focus on security, updatability, and performance. As a Linux kernel hacker, I decided to take a look at Fuchsia OS and assess it from the attacker’s point of view. This article describes my experiments. This is a long, detailed account of his findings, much of which goes over my head – but probably not over the heads of many of you.
Workstation (workstation) is an open source reference design for Fuchsia. Workstation is not a consumer-oriented product. Workstation is a tool for developers and enthusiasts to explore Fuchsia and experiment with evolving concepts and features. Workstation is one of the many “product configurations” Fuchsia can be set up with, and it targets both the Fuchsia emulator as well as an Intel NUC – so real hardware. This configuration’s goal is to be “a basis for a general purpose development environment, good for working on UI, media and many other high-level features. This is also the best environment for enthusiasts to play with and explore.” They’re emphasizing this is not some ploy to desktop dominance, but there’s no denying that with every step Fuchsia takes – from shipping it on Google Home devices to porting and running Chrome – they’re getting it ready for more than just some IoT project.
This document is a high level overview of the Fuchsia Interface Definition Language (FIDL), which is the language used to describe interprocess communication (IPC) protocols used by programs running on Fuchsia. This overview introduces the concepts behind FIDL — developers familiar with these concepts already can start writing code by following the tutorials, or dive deeper by reading the language or bindings references. Some light reading going into the weekend. Knowing how Fuchsia works might become quite important for developers over the coming years.
There are many interesting things to discuss about Fuchsia. In this article, you will get a taste of how Fuchsia OS works through a deep dive into some of its core features. We’ll also run the Fuchsia emulator on our systems and try running some example components on it. A great resource if you’re considering getting started with Fuchsia.