Over the past year, Google has been working on a wholly new operating system named Fuchsia. Back in May, we got our first look at the current UI for Fuchsia OS, while we also know a bit about the underlying system. In a curious move, Google yesterday renamed the “Magenta” kernel to “Zircon.”
One reason Fuchsia is different from Android or Chrome OS is that it’s not based on Linux. Rather, the OS uses a new kernel designed to scale from Internet-of-Things devices to phones to desktop computers. This theoretically means that Fuchsia could one day be Google’s unified operating system for all its devices.
This kernel was originally named “Magenta,” but was renamed to “Zircon” yesterday (via Twitter). In git, Google whimsically calls the change the “Great Renaming.”
Zircon is the core platform that powers the Fuchsia OS. Zircon is composed of a microkernel (source in kernel/…) as well as a small set of userspace services, drivers, and libraries (source in system/…) necessary for the system to boot, talk to hardware, load userspace processes and run them, etc. Fuchsia builds a much larger OS on top of this foundation.
Changing the name of the “core platform that powers the Fuchsia OS” to a hard, gemstone is rather appropriate and symbolic. Given that Fuchsia is also a color, the Zircon name might help clear up the confusion between the OS and its underlying parts.