back to article ‘Andromeda’ will be Google’s Windows NT

If you were to design a client operating system with the goal of being used by two billion people, what would it look like? We might soon find out what Alphabet’s looks like. Today’s announcement’s from Alphabet’s Google is expected to reveal "Andromeda", the merged Android/Chrome OS. Executives have been hyping today’s event …

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What's the incentive for vendors to use this?

If they don't let vendors modify the software at all, then there is no way for OEMs to differentiate their Android2 phones. Physical appearance alone isn't enough, since most phones look pretty similar these days.

If Google tries to lock things down too much, OEMs might not choose to follow.

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Re: Dropping Linux and the GPL completely?

"Avoiding GPL projects as much as they could. If vendors couldn't modify the source and had to stick to a hardware platform standard, then we could update freely. If vendors had to open their modifications to the source, it could all be upstreamed and reworked and we could update freely."

That's not really Google's problem to blame. There's no standardized method of presenting hardware in most ARM setups that we know about. It's all set up just so and presented to the system via boot images and memory maps. It's like going back to the days of the PC ISA bus, jumpers, and hand-inputting ports and so on. Mind you, for an embedded device like a smartphone, this is actually a good way to go since unlike in a PC the hardware can't be adjusted in its working life. However, this creates wiggle room for highly-competitive component manufacturers who protect their products even more than Google does. Since they produce actual physical hardware, they can and do employ patents, NDAs, and trade secrets to "black box" their products. Thus all their drivers are submitted to device manufacturers as binary blobs. GPL is no help against a patent.

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Re: What's the incentive for vendors to use this?

That's why Android introduced Overlays. The idea is that the custom stuff can be shoved off to Userland and away form the sensitive stuff. No reason Andromeda couldn't do the same. What Google wants and needs (for legal protection) is the ability to keep the nuts and bolts of the system under their control the way Apple does.

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Re: What's the incentive for vendors to use this?

>If Google tries to lock things down too much, OEMs might not choose to follow.

So what? If an HTC get too big for their boots, there will be a Huawei or OnePlus (or a Bloggs MK1 with Qualcomm SoC, Sony camera and LG display... same difference) to fill their place. [please update my references according to how far through 2016/17 we are].

Speaking as a fan of the Sony Xperia Z (Compact) range, there is little that Android OEMs can do to differentiate themselves.

My friend is still using his iPhone 4S - and beyond replacing its battery himself, has cheerfully taken no interest in mobile phones since he bought it. He's vaguely 'normal'. I'm not, so I'll use my cheap (and seemingly indestructibly plastic) Huawei until I get a Project Mango Lenovo (Y'know, the one with the 3D depth mapping )

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Re: What's the incentive for vendors to use this?

Well the risk for Google is that if a couple big vendors decide not to follow Google into Android2 land, and fork Android1 and develop their own layers, then suddenly Google goes from 80% of the market to 40%. That would deal a massive blow to their advertising business as those people would end up using Bing or DuckGoGo for search, and other non-Google services.

I think Google thinks they are so indispensable for those services that no one would dare leave them, but I don't think the average person would even notice if you replaced Google with Bing for their searches. For the type of searches the average person does they are the same. Here Maps is a good alternative to Google's, and so forth. Google isn't indispensable, they just think they are.

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Anonymous Coward

Re: What's the incentive for vendors to use this?

"I think Google thinks they are so indispensable for those services that no one would dare leave them, but I don't think the average person would even notice if you replaced Google with Bing for their searches. For the type of searches the average person does they are the same. Here Maps is a good alternative to Google's, and so forth. Google isn't indispensable, they just think they are."

Oh? How about putting them all under one search? How would Bing talk to Here, for example to link a search to a map? Or what about all the metadata Google can aggregate such as traffic data? Last I recall, here's traffic data isn't nearly as robust since they lack scope.

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Re: What's the incentive for vendors to use this?

If Samsung started using them they'd get that scope pretty quickly.

Another possibility would be HERE Maps collaborating with Apple to combine their traffic data. Between the two (especially if Samsung went from Google to HERE) suddenly Google would be the one lacking scope.

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Re: What's the incentive for vendors to use this?

How when Google has access too all those computers and other devices? Google has more reach than Apple and here doesn't have a huge network of users monitoring traffic the way Waze and the like do. Plus Google through Android can directly analyze mobile data traffic to get information. Who else can do that?

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So it'll be yet anothe attempt of OOP people to design an operating system

So far the results were fairly mixed. Windows, probably the most famous system based on OOP principles, has changed so often into so many directions, you can hardly see the original idea of objects (Windows and GUI elements) passing around messages (events).

BeOS seems to have been rather decent, but thanks to it being closed source and rather incompatible, it didn't actually have a chance.

My guess, and I actually hope that people will proof me wrong, is that it'll be just a mess like Android. A system far to complex to be maintained without the help of Google. A system that offers so little useful functionality under a coat of shiny stuff. A system that sees locking out the user as a security feature. Much of this won't be because of the system design itself, but because of the people such a design will attract.

However there is one really good thing that could come out of this. It could attract the systemd/freedesktop people away from Linux.

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Completely wrong

You couldn't be more wrong. Microsoft's unifying OSes were the Windows 9X family, not the NT line. Actually, it was the old, DOS-based world and the Windows NT world that they tried to bridge and unify, because those two were completely separate prior to them appearing.

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Re: Completely wrong

And all the insecurity and bugs of both.

Windows still hasn't recovered.

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Google’s NT You mean BSODs? Actually, no

As an aside, the original NT was solid from 1993 to 1996, NT3.1, NT3.5 & NT3.51

MS broke it by starting to "migrate" Win9x features such as "video / print drivers in Kernel" and Autorun :)

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Re: Google’s NT You mean BSODs? Actually, no

I don't think they had a choice. Microkernels tend to have one nasty little fault with them: lackluster performance (usually because of lots of context switching between the kernel and userland). Especially with stuff like graphics (and in other fields, high-speed low-latency networking), maximum performance tends to require getting close to the metal, and microkernels are built to prevent this for security reasons (seL4, for example, is only formally verified if you don't use DMA, which happens to be one of those ways to speed up hardware access when throughput is necessary). Since Microsoft had to sell to the end-user who was waking up to 3D graphics offerings from 3dfx, ATi, and newcomer nVidia, something had to give. QNX never had to really deal with this because high-performance graphics weren't on the top of the priority list where it's used. But 3D games ARE a noteworthy section of Android's app assortment. So this does raise the issue. How can Google balance the competing needs of high performance and high security?

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Re: Google’s NT You mean BSODs? Actually, no

You keep saying that but the context switch time is a function of the hardware and X86 of any type is appallingly slow at doing this.

NT 3 as designed by Dave Cutler depended on the context switching speed that a VAX processor could provide. This was heavily assisted in the VAX with a dedicated block and register to speed the switch up.

The 4 modes of the VAX, kernel. executive, supervisor, user, these were all used.

The X86 family have this as well but only kernel and user are used because the context switch speed is stupidly slow.

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Re: Google’s NT You mean BSODs? Actually, no

Last I checked, ARM (the dominant tech in the mobile world) isn't that much better. Plus another thing with context switching is when data has to be transferred between contexts (such as raw data from a network driver being processed into userland). It seems noteworthy that no microkernel OS AFAIK has been successfully deployed in areas such as 3D gaming and low-latency networking where high throughput is required, and consumers WILL demand high performance.

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RFOS

Will Andromeda be a rant-free operating system (RFOS)?

Please say it is so!

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Anonymous Coward

>I'd like to think this bringing together ChromeOS and Android means going more GNU and free, but this being Google I doubt it.

However much Google do to maintain Andromeda, manufacturers have consistently shown they just want to fire and forget - leaving Google ostensibly at the helm of an OS with billions of unsecure devices - and n100 millions of vulnerable users. Google need to be in control - less permissive licensing is an easy route to blocking irresponsible manufacturers.

Users don't care about Free/GNU but they're (ever so) slowly beginning to get the concept of 'secure'.

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Was it just me or

did Google not do Andromeda/ChromeOS at the meeting/showcase?

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Now for Slurp

If Andromeda handles all devices reasonably well this could pose a serious problem for Slurp. W10 has a total fiasco and has alienated many users.

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'congratulations on the announcement of their new Java/Linux phone platform'

Does this now mean it has now been acknowledged that there was no foul pay with Google using the java API?

I guess the link to the article 'Oracle ultimately prevails in the litigation on appeal' means no, despite the subsequent article by Shaun Nichols 'Oracle loses (again) in battle to get Google Java case retried (again)'

"But Google doesn’t need Java any more, and the more distance it puts between itself and its Java-based legacy"

I doubt we will see Google drop Java anytime soon.

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Anonymous Coward

One OS to rule them all ...

... and in the Darkness Bind them

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Anonymous Coward

Bye Bye Microsoft

Out-Eviled by a more modern Beast.

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Viz comic

I'm not proud of this, but the pic at the top of the piece immediately suggested itself as a candidate for publication in a particular sub-feature within the Viz Letterbocks page... I shan't sully this mighty organ with it's name, but YKWIM.

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Facepalm

Fred Brooks second system

I've been at this game for years and read The Mythical Man Month when it was first published (I still have the book) - in all these years I have to say that it's still a very effective judgement on how far we have not progressed with project management.

It will all end in tears.

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End of Android?

So this is Android now on the long tail?

I won't bother installing Android Studio then... :-/

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