Will Google replace Android with Fuchsia?

Also in today's open source roundup: Is it wrong to run Microsoft software in Linux? And DistroWatch reviews Zenwalk Linux 8.0

android nougat
Credit: Google

Will Google replace Android with Fuchsia?

Android is one of the most widely used operating systems in the world. But never let it be said that Google is content to rest on past achievements. The company has been hard at work on a new operating system call Fuchsia, and some are wondering if it will eventually replace Android.

Corbin Davenport reports for Android Police:

Enter “Fuchsia.” Google’s own description for it on the project’s GitHub page is simply, “Pink + Purple == Fuchsia (a new Operating System)”. Not very revealing, is it? When you begin to dig deeper into Fuchsia’s documentation, everything starts to make a little more sense.

First, there’s the Magenta kernel based on the ‘LittleKernel’ project. Just like with Linux and Android, the Magenta kernel powers the larger Fuchsia operating system. Magenta is being designed as a competitor to commercial embedded OSes, such as FreeRTOS or ThreadX.

It looks like Google is using Flutter for the user interface, as well as Dart as the primary programming language. The icing on the cake is Escher, a renderer that supports light diffusion, soft shadows, and other visual effects, with OpenGL or Vulkan under the hood. Shadows and subtle color reflections are a key component of Material Design, so it seems Flutter and Escher could be designed for the Material Design UI in mind.

So, why? Why is Google quietly developing a brand new OS and kernel, with support for smartphones and PCs, possibly built with Material Design in mind? The most obvious guess, and the most exciting, is that Google hopes to one day replace Chrome OS and Android with Fuchsia. But perhaps Google will treat Fuchsia like Samsung treats Tizen OS; a lightweight OS used on hardware not suited for full-blown Android. Google’s collection of embedded hardware, such as the OnHub router and Google Home, is growing. Perhaps Fuchsia is only being developed for devices like these?

More at Android Police

The news about Fuchsia caught the attention of folks on the Linux subreddit and they shared their thoughts:

Whazor: “I have read on hacker news that is is mainly focussed on VR (that needs low latency). With a comment suggesting that it could be a real time OS, which would in my opinion be a logical choice not to use Linux.”

TehSViN: “Meeeeeh, seing how they treated the linux kernel when they created android i doubt this will be any good.”

Reallukenukem: “Afaik, they didn’t create Android, they purchased the company that did.”

Hvsmacker: “Using Linux kernel has the benefit of being really versatile in terms of supported hardware. With their custom kernel, how are they planning to support a variety of hardware platforms? They’ll have to go along the Apple’s way, where the system is tied to a narrow spectrum of their own solutions.”

Cloudfreak: “They couldn’t get the market share without android. Now they have it and can go Apple’s way. Google phone is in progress, I’ve heard.”

Hvsmacker: “But they didn’t get the market share themselves. It was Samsung, LG, HTC, and numerous other companies who all built various stuff, I presume, specifically exploiting the fact that android ran on a wide range of hardware.”

Pythagoreametronome: “It would be nice if there was a third Operating System that could really compete with Microsoft (besides Apple and Linux) in the desktop space. If anyone can do it, google probably has the deepest pockets and best chance to be successful. I know: nobody really cares about desktops anymore. Even so, I am looking forward to it.”

Gustl: “Almost any android phone uses drivers customized for a particular chipset written by the phone manufacturer. That’s why many android phones are stuck on older android versions, because the custom drivers are not updated by the manufacturer.

The situation will likely be similar for the new fuchsia OS. All google needs to do is convince the manufacturers that writing drivers for fuchsia is similar to writing drivers for android-linux-kernels.”

Mccplusplus: “No problem. It will be released with a FOSS license, we can steal their code :)”

More at Reddit

Is it wrong to run Microsoft software in Linux?

Microsoft has always had an…er…challenging relationship with the Linux community. In recent years the company has made an effort to become more Linux-friendly, but there is still quite a bit of mistrust of Microsoft by many in the Linux community.

One writer at CIO has wondered if it’s socially acceptable to run Microsoft products in Linux.

Swapnil Bhartiya reports for CIO:

Whenever I write about Microsoft’s change in attitude toward Linux, I get pushback from a segment of the Linux user community. That makes me wonder if it’s really ‘okay’ to use Microsoft products on Linux. If not, why?

In my view, Linux is just a piece of technology that has championed the open source development model. It’s neither an ideology nor a philosophy, unlike free software. Linux is a platform like macOS and Windows. The more software runs on a platform, the richer it will be. I believe that by discouraging or denouncing Microsoft products on Linux, we will weaken Linux as a platform.

I use primarily open source products because I find them to be technically superior to their non-free counterparts. Let me give you an example of what I use on my MacBook. There is a huge set of apps that can be used on macOS, but I use Chrome/Firefox for web browsing; Thunderbird for email; LibreOffice as my office suite; VLC and Tomahawk as media players; Transmission as torrent client; Vienna 3 as the RSS reader. All of these are open source products.

So, yes, I will encourage Microsoft and other proprietary companies to bring their products and services to Linux. I will also encourage them to open source their products. For me, the bottom line is that I would rather use a Linux machine running some Microsoft or Adobe products than use a proprietary OS to use a few non-free apps that I need.

More at CIO

DistroWatch reviews Zenwalk Linux 8.0

Slackware has much to offer Linux users, but it can also be a bit much for newbies or even just casual Linux users. Zenwalk Linux is based on Slackware and makes it more accessible for less technical users. DistroWatch has a full review of Zenwalk Linux 8.0.

Jesse Smith reports for DistroWatch:

On the positive side of things, I like that Zenwalk trims down the software installed by default. A full installation of Zenwalk requires about two-thirds of the disk space a full installation of Slackware consumes. This is reflected in Zenwalk’s focused “one-app-per-task” approach which I feel makes it easier to find things. Zenwalk requires relatively little memory (a feature it shares with Slackware) and, with PulseAudio’s plugin removed, consumes very few CPU cycles. One more feature I like about this distribution is the fact Zenwalk includes LibreOffice, a feature I missed when running pure Slackware.

On the other hand, I ran into a number of problems with Zenwalk. The dependency problems which annoyed me while running Slackware were present in Zenwalk too. To even get a working text editor I needed to have development libraries installed. To make matters worse, the user needs a text editor to enable the package manager to install development libraries. It’s one of those circular problems that require the user to think outside the box (or re-install with all software packages selected).

Other issues I had were more personal. For example, I don’t like window transparency or small fonts. These are easy to fix, but it got me off on the wrong foot with Zenwalk. I do want to acknowledge that while my first two days with Zenwalk were mostly spent fixing things, hunting down dependencies and tweaking the desktop to suit my tastes, things got quickly better. By the end of the week I was enjoying Zenwalk’s performance, its light nature and its clean menus. I may have had more issues with Zenwalk than Slackware in the first day or so, but by the end of the week I was enjoying using Zenwalk more for my desktop computing.

In the end, I feel as though Zenwalk is a more focused flavour of Slackware. The Slackware distribution is multi-purpose, at least as suited for servers as desktops. Slackware runs on more processor architectures, has a live edition and can dump a lot of software on our hard disk. Zenwalk is more desktop focused, with fewer packages and perhaps a nicer selection of applications. The two are quite similar, but Slackware has a broader focus while Zenwalk is geared to desktop users who value performance.

More at DistroWatch

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