Tuesday, 16 August 2016

Is Fuchsia the new orange?

Google's new operating system Fuchsia (https://fuchsia.googlesource.com/fuchsia/) has been widely reported in the last few days. But how much fun would it be to stand round the water cooler and impress everyone with your hands-on experience in using it? Whilst you could compile it yourself you'd probably be disappointed with the result. That's because a new operating system is a bit like an egg. It's somewhat fragile and doesn't appear to do much. Like an egg a lot has happened before it was laid that wasn't particularly visible. Also a lot will happen that will not be particularly visible for most people before it hatches and the full operating system will emerge along with criticizers, sceptics, fans and zealots.

So how to give it a try, the easy way? If you are running Ubuntu (and I've tested this on 14.04 and 16.04) on x86-64 architecture (e.g. an Intel Compute Stick) then download this file, make it executable (enter 'chmod 700 linuxium-install-fuchsia.sh') and run it (enter 'sudo ./linuxium-install-fuchsia.sh') to install a version of Fuchsia that runs in a machine emulator (QEMU) and uses a prebuilt Magenta kernel and my vanilla build of the Fuchsia userspace.

It doesn't take up much space (less than 150 MB) and everything is installed under '/usr/local' and consists of a kernel image file, userspace image file, a couple of scripts to run the emulator and the license file.

Depending on the the processor speed, once you type 'fuchsia' to start the emulator you'll have to wait up to 30 seconds for the MXCONSOLE to load. Once loaded you will get a '> ' prompt (just press return a couple of times to confirm this).

You can then enter commands such as 'ls', 'fortune' or 'cowsay' although the options are somewhat limited at this stage.

Once finished enter 'ctrl-a x' to exit MXCONSOLE and terminate the emulation. If at any time you find yourself stuck with no response then simply run another terminal and enter 'ps -ef | grep qemu' to find the process ID (pid) for the emulator and kill it by entering 'sudo kill -HUP <pid>'.

Acknowledgements:  Google Inc.

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