back to article Hey dudes, we need to start living together in Harmony: Huawei puffs up new distributed OS

Huawei has pulled the sheets off HarmonyOS – a microkernel-based operating system initially aimed at smart TVs, wearables and in-vehicle devices. Chinese media, meanwhile, claims that Huawei plans on stuffing the OS in a phone due to launch later this year. Anonymous sources told Global Times that the phones will be priced at …

  1. joeW Silver badge

    "and it remains unclear what Trump will do next"

    I think that goes without saying at this point.

    1. Dan 55 Silver badge

      Is there any way to use his Twitter feed as a source of entropy? It would make programming a random number generator so much easier.

      1. sum_of_squares
        Thumb Up

        def secure_random_string():

        ''' Returns a cryptographically secure random string '''

        import feedparser

        d = feedparser.parse('http://www.reddit.com/r/donaldtrump/.rss')

        return d['entries'][0]['title']

    2. Chris G Silver badge

      Remains Unclear

      That goes without saying, even Trump doesn't know what he's going to do next.

  2. Brian Miller

    And of course, "no details."

    No details on availability, licensing, and of course, security. Trust us. Eh, maybe not.

    Even if Huawei made Harmony open source, it still doesn't mean that spy code wouldn't be on their products. But boy, would that shake up Google's monopoly on Android.

    1. mevets

      Re: And of course, "no details."

      Are the Wei-Boyz a sort of inverted fan-boi who have an irrational fear hatred and suspicion of everything Huawei does? I get the likes of Google,Apple,... fanning the flames, but your real enemy is likely Cisco and the NSA, not Huawei.

    2. Lusty

      Re: And of course, "no details."

      Why is it so important that spy code only comes from the USA? Oh, you've been eating up the propaganda that China is evil? Fair enough.

      1. veti Silver badge

        Re: And of course, "no details."

        China is doing plenty itself right now to persuade us all that it's evil. From Hong Kong to New Zealand, it's been throwing its weight around in a most undiplomatic way.

        Presumably because the US has basically given up on opposing it in the Pacific, they figure there's no reason why not.

        1. Anonymous Coward
          Anonymous Coward

          Re: And of course, "no details."

          To be fair, Hong Kong was always going to have issues changing from western culture and values to Chinese. That's the fault of the west for thinking we owned something we only rented. Different isn't necessarily wrong though, and while I certainly wouldn't want to live there, it is a part of China now with all that entails. The thing about thinking globally is that you have to accept other people's ways of life, even when they don't mesh well with your own. The USA is particularly bad at this, and thinks "Democracy" (as they refer to it) is the only way to run a country and that they need to somehow enforce it on the rest of the world.

          Right now I'm considerably more worried by the international actions of the USA than China. The UK is a close second, with both apparently itching for a big war.

          1. Anonymous Coward
            Anonymous Coward

            Re: you have to accept other people's ways of life, even when they don't mesh well with your own

            Even internally, the Chinese government doesn't do an especially good job of this.

          2. Anonymous Coward
            Anonymous Coward

            Re: And of course, "no details."

            This is quite a good point. Which has the worst odds of something bad happening to you?

            1. Staging a sit-in at the country's biggest airport in Hong Kong

            2. Staging a sit-in at the country's biggest airport in the US.

            On balance I would take Hong Kong. I might get beaten and tear gassed but much less likely to be shot - especially if a PoC.

            1. TheMeerkat

              Re: And of course, "no details."

              In China you would just disappear. Remember a bookstore owner in Hong Kong?

              1. Anonymous Coward
                Anonymous Coward

                Re: And of course, "no details."

                Dissapear like a Huawei employee on the wrong continent you mean?

    3. doublelayer Silver badge

      Re: And of course, "no details."

      Will it really break the monopoly all that much? I know Huawei's a big company and they could put a lot of money into it, but we've seen this before:

      Microsoft is a big company and put a lot of development into Windows Phone including hardware. Other manufacturers bought in and made hardware as well. We don't have Windows Phone now.

      Samsung is a big company and and put a lot of development into Tizen. The Linux foundation supported it and it was open for other companies to get on board, and several companies did. Samsung's fitness watches run on a thing sort of related to Tizen, but their phone experiment was a failure and the platform died.

      Ubuntu's various developers form a big community with a lot of money and and put a lot of development into Ubuntu Touch. Several companies claimed to be interested in building hardware, and a few did. We don't have Ubuntu Touch anymore.

      Mozilla has a lot of available resources and put a lot of development into Firefox OS. Several companies saw this as a method to get away from the Android trap and built hardware for it. Firefox OS has died and the lone surviving remnant is a cut-down version that runs on feature phones.

      So I'm not expecting miracles here.

      1. PhilipN Silver badge

        Miracles

        None required ....... China market (in case you have not heard of it)?

        1. doublelayer Silver badge

          Re: Miracles

          Huawei does not own the China market. Not at all. Plenty of other companies hold massive parts of that, Xiaomi being perhaps the most notable. Plenty of the people in the China market who own Huawei phones aren't just going to drop them and buy new ones for a thing that might support Android apps. Many of them will keep their current devices, and many more will seek out phones from other Chinese manufacturers. If the OS has problems, and it probably will, supporting Android applications in use in the China market, people in China may choose to switch to plenty of other devices. It's not a captive market; Chinese citizens have many limitations on their choices, but this is not one of them.

          1. werdsmith Silver badge

            Re: Miracles

            I don’t think anyone is suggesting Huawei own the China market. But if they make an os for China consumers and it takes off with China consumers so other China phone makers need to offer it on their products then that will be a considerable and deserved kick in the bollocks for Android.

            1. doublelayer Silver badge

              Re: Miracles

              Yes, there are people in this comment thread that are implying or stating outright that Huawei have a captive market in China, which they don't have. It's of course possible that Huawei launches their OS in China, it becomes wildly popular there, and uses this start to take the world by storm. Depending on exactly what that OS looks like, I wouldn't mind that happening. But Windows Phone, Ubuntu Touch, and Firefox OS were all available in China, all had Chinese manufacturers not that that is required, and all could have become wildly popular. Huawei has the advantages of a large number of customers for products running other software and a bunch of money, that is all. They might succeed in leveraging these advantages to good effect. But I've seen enough other people with similar advantages who totally failed to do that that I will not bet on it.

      2. Peter Gathercole Silver badge

        Re: And of course, "no details."

        Ubuntu Touch is struggling on as a community port of Ubuntu under the name UBPorts. So far, they've managed a complete new release that looks good and runs pretty well on my Nexus 5, together with moving the application repository to their own control from what Canonical abandoned.

        It will be interesting t see whether they will keep Unity as the display layer. I must throw them some money to try to keep the effort going.

        1. doublelayer Silver badge

          Re: And of course, "no details."

          That's true, but a look at their supported devices page shows that there are a few problems:

          1. They only support 13 devices, and some of those are duplicates (E.G. 3G and WiFi versions of the same tablet).

          2. The most recent device supported was released in 2015.

          3. And that one that is only four years old carries this statement of perfect performance: "Random reboots, selfies rotated by 180°".

          I'd love it if Ubuntu touch survived, but I don't think this counts.

        2. Anonymous Coward
          Anonymous Coward

          Re: And of course, "no details."

          And is Linux technically the best starting place for a mobile OS? It seems that the more recent OS efforts to emerge since Android - BBOS based on QNX, Google's Fuschia, this Harmony OS - have been microkernel OSs.

          Of course I appreciate that technical strengths alone don't determine the success of a new OS; so much depends upon user and developer adoption.

  3. Fred Goldstein

    Huawei may be on to something. Some microkernels (Mach comes to mind) don't do IPC well, and that's a huge part of their job. All networking is IPC. So an IPC-optimized microkernel with QoS-aware scheduling would be a great start for a communicating device. And what isn't?

    Of course bugs and back doors in actual products could be a different story.

    1. Warm Braw Silver badge

      Some microkernels ... don't do IPC well

      Unfortunately, to do IPC securely usually involves a lot of copying between address spaces or the constant remapping of process space - and the consequent flushing of translation buffers. You might be able to do better with custom hardware (for example, capability-based). Which raises the interesting question of whether Huawei are also thinking of producing their own processors, especially given the uncertainty over their continued access to ARM technology.

      Mind you, if its "microkernel design is inherently more secure and its use of formal verification improves security even more", you'd think they'd be applying it first to their mobile transmitter network kit given the concerns over its robustness.

      1. mevets

        do ipc.

        With modern CPU manufacturers choosing to implement so many variants of spectre, making a monolithic kernel secure involves a lot of copying between address spaces and constant remapping too; unless you are willing to burn 1/2 your cores so that some run only kernel code and others run only user code.

      2. DougS Silver badge

        Yes, a microkernel can be fast or it can be secure, it can't be both. Though even Mach is too fat to really be considered a true "microkernel" these days. It gets called that because the filesystem isn't part of it, but it is still far too large to formally verify. When Apple needed a microkernel for their Secure Element they could formally verify, they didn't use Mach, they used L4. I wouldn't consider it completely out of bounds to suggest that someday L4 might replace Mach in iOS/macOS. It would be a lot of work, but the security benefits would probably be worth it.

        1. Charles 9 Silver badge

          seL4 is not performance-oriented. All memory operations must go through the kernel: even something as simple as DMA (a common performance booster and essential for latency-sensitive stuff) breaks the formal proof.

          Remember, in a decision between performance and security, performance wins because they'd rather be on time than right (as they cab BS around a wrong answer but not around a missed deadline).

  4. I.Geller Bronze badge

    Russian OS comes soon

    1. I.Geller Bronze badge

      Why? PA Advisors v Google. You shouldn't play foul games with me. The US lost its supremacy into cyberspace.

      Google started as a result of a research project funded by the US defence department while Larry Page and Sergey Brin was at Stanford University. DARPA was thanked in a White Paper for the creation of Google. Google usually worked with the US defence department. In 2003, Google signed a 2.1million dollar contract with the national security agency Google built a search engine for the NSA that can search in 24 languages. In 2005 inQtel the CIA venture Capitalist Vehicle sold over 5000 shares of Google. Google map technology was developed for the US military under the name Keyhole Inc named after keyhole satellite used by the US military. In August, 2013, the Guardian Newspaper revealed that The National Security Agency paid millions to cover the cost of companies such as Google, Microsoft, Yahoo and Facebook involved in the Prism Surveillance programme after a court ruled that some of the agency's activities was unconstitutional.

    2. werdsmith Silver badge

      The Russians have already got their own mobile OS, called Aurora or Avrova, it’s based on Sailfish OS and has come about because of mistrust of Android and iOS.

      1. TheMeerkat

        And how many Russians actually use it? Ten?

  5. Chemist

    "reducing the response latency of apps by 25.7 per cent."

    Well that last 0.7% will make all the difference </sarcasm>.

    1. John Brown (no body) Silver badge
      Joke

      Re: "reducing the response latency of apps by 25.7 per cent."

      It's probably just the conversion from metric to American percentage scaling.

  6. J J Carter Silver badge
    Boffin

    Yeah but, no but...

    Mind the app-gap with no access to Google Play Store!

    1. DougS Silver badge

      Re: Yeah but, no but...

      Doesn't matter. The Android Huawei uses for the overwhelming majority of their phone sales is AOSP, not Google's Android, so don't have access to the Play Store anyway. The Chinese market has never used the Play Store, they have their own, so Huawei is in a FAR better position than say Samsung to drop Android and not miss the Google Play Store or Google services.

      They only use Google's Android for sales in the US/EU, which is a small part of their market.

    2. werdsmith Silver badge

      Re: Yeah but, no but...

      Chinese devs will very quickly fill that gap.

    3. AMBxx Silver badge

      Re: Yeah but, no but...

      Only app you need in China is WeChat.

  7. Sgt_Oddball Silver badge

    Stop me if you've heard this one before...

    Anyone remember Sailfish? Meego? Firefox OS.... Windows mobile? BbOS10? Symbian? That other one that palm did....

    How quickly everyone forgets...

    I give it 3 years.

    1. DrBed

      Re: Stop me if you've heard this one before...

      Anyone remember Sailfish? Meego? Firefox OS.... Windows mobile? BbOS10? Symbian? That other one that palm did....

      Salfish and Meego - same source, alive more then ever, but under Aurora OS name. It is becoming main & official mobile OS in Russia.

      https://together.jolla.com/question/199266/rostelecom-rebrands-sailfish-os-as-aurora/

      WEB OS Linux from Palm, then bought by HP is artifically destroyed of mercenary (Leo Apotheker), in a same artifical way that other mercenary (Stephen Elop) destroyed Nokia in lousy effort to stop/substitute other Linux mobile OS ( Meego, mentioned above).

      Symbian was dinosaur anyway, same as BlueBerry - that relies on (great) physical keyboard but lacks smart touchscreen reality.

      How quickly everyone forgets... I give it 3 years.

      Nothing to forget here, but: I'll rather give iPhone iOS up to 3 years (decline to under 10% next year or even this one, at global market share). - Yep, Brits adore iSolutions, but they also choose lousy clone of orange potus, no deal brexit that will happens mid-election, recession that already starts... so nothing new here, Apple do not have to be warry about at UK... as it lasts.

      1. doublelayer Silver badge

        Re: Stop me if you've heard this one before...

        Sailfish is not becoming the "main and official OS" in Russia. Certain rights were purchased to use it as the core of some secure devices used by the Russian government. There is a major difference. The main difference of note to those of us who don't live in Russia is that we're not going to get any new devices running normal sailfish as a result of this. So that doesn't mean the availability to users will improve at all in the near future.

        1. werdsmith Silver badge

          Re: Stop me if you've heard this one before...

          As a result of this, Jolla got a lot of money to keep growing.

          As a Sailfish user, I was very pleased.

    2. Charlie Clark Silver badge

      Re: Stop me if you've heard this one before...

      In China, Huawei has a captive market large enough to make a difference. And, despite the smears, it has a proven track record of improving on existing technology, which is one of the reasons, along with the price, that it became such an important provider of networking gear.

      It doesn't look like they're currently planning to replace AOSP with their own OS at the moment, but if they did, then creating some kind of joint venture to handle licensing, et al. at arms length, could encourage other manufacturers to give it a go. It's not as if some of the more onerous terms of Google's licences have made too many fans.

      1. doublelayer Silver badge

        Re: Stop me if you've heard this one before...

        I doubt that very much. As I stated in a comment above, they don't have a strong captive market as many other companies have large chunks of the Chinese market and Chinese phone sales are decreasing as they have been in the west as well (though not as dramatically).

        But to the main point: I don't think a consortium or other joint venture will convince many other manufacturers to abandon AOSP for China or Android for the rest of the world. This has happened before, but manufacturers usually ended up the worse for it. In many of the cases of attempts at a third mobile OS, other manufacturers were involved and tried to make hardware for it. When those OS projects died, manufacturers lost money on it. In addition, manufacturers would have to consider how a Huawei-provided OS would be impacted by their joining the project. Since Huawei has done all the development and would have most of the hardware, they would stand to gain quite a lot if another manufacturer started working on devices for the OS. Given current conditions in the smartphone market, I doubt if a competing manufacturer would want very much to provide Huawei with that advantage.

  8. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Global Times

    El Reg shouldn't refer to or imply Global Times as "media" or "news" and instead refer to it as "Chinese government".

    Considering the Global Times is government sponsored, I'm not sure there is such a thing as "leaks" to it here.

    1. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Re: Global Times

      and Fox 'news' as Trumps propaganda arm

      1. ma1010 Silver badge
        FAIL

        Re: Global Times

        As CNN (and some others) were Obama's propaganda arm.

        Sadly, the news outlets (at least here in the USA) have pretty much all become politicized one way or the other. I remember when most news outlets reported the facts with minimum-to-zero spin (there were always exceptions, of course). But especially since the Washington Post "invented" so-called "advocacy journalism," it's pretty much all bloody propaganda for one side or the other, with every "fact" (if any) spun and slanted to the maximum. And if you don't have any facts? Make up some and report it as if it were fact.

        1. Anonymous Coward
          Anonymous Coward

          Re: Global Times

          Having browsed through US TV channels during a visit I'd have to concur. It was really shocking what goes as "news" there nowadays, at least to one used to news in Europe.

        2. Anonymous Coward
          Anonymous Coward

          Re: Global Times

          Original a/c here. I totally agree. And at the moment, CNN and MSNBC are going overboard to smear Tulsi and Bernie, whilst pushing Harris etc.

        3. veti Silver badge

          Re: Global Times

          That's an invariable, and possibly inevitable, consequence of unlimited space for news. 24 hour, websites constantly updated etc.

          Because the truth is, nobody can produce enough actual news to fill that time and space. And so they add "analysis" (read: opinion), which is way easier to produce, because otherwise the audience might change channels.

          Compounded by copyright law, of course - which basically says that facts are free but opinions are valuable.

        4. FozzyBear Silver badge

          Re: Global Times

          Remember the good ol' days when journalism had a certain level of integrity, honesty & apolitical-ness.

          1. werdsmith Silver badge

            Re: Global Times

            Remember the good ol' days when journalism had a certain level of integrity, honesty & apolitical-ness.

            No. The tabloids and gutter rags like the Mail and Guardian have always been scum since I can remember.

      2. Anonymous Coward
        Anonymous Coward

        Re: Global Times

        And the BBC is Tory propaganda.

        Oh and their love affair with Fart-rage

        1. CrazyOldCatMan Silver badge

          Re: Global Times

          And the BBC is Tory propaganda

          Strangely enough, the Tories would claim that the Beeb is biased towards Labour..

          1. Big_Boomer Bronze badge

            Re: Global Times

            Which to me is the best thing that can be said for the BBC. Both sides accuse it of being biased towards the other side. I can't think of a better description of the word "Impartial" myself. :-) They did seem to promote everything Apple for quite some time, but even that seems to have faded now.

  9. I.Geller Bronze badge

    The new kind of OS will appear shortly - AI OS. Most, eventually all, programs will be replaced by structured (into synonymous clusters) texts. I was ready to create it...

    1. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Do it then!

      1. IGotOut

        He won't. Spouts a lot of crap about AI, think he bought into AI and Blockchain big style and now has to pretend it can solve everything, everywhere at anythime.

  10. Julz Bronze badge
    Coat

    Another One

    Exactly how many write once run everywhere OS's do you need? Logic would suggest one but I'm obviously missing something.

    Mines the one with all the company patents in it's pocket...

    1. stiine Bronze badge
      Facepalm

      Re: Another One

      Easy. Everyone writes their own...

    2. werdsmith Silver badge

      Re: Another One

      Imagine a world with only Android, and it’s desktop equivalent Windows.

      I wouldn’t even bother.

  11. VikiAi Silver badge
    Happy

    My enemy's OS is my friend?

    So... if I use the OS of an "enemy nation" then my own corrupt over-reaching ass-hat government will have a more difficult time spying on me as all my private data will be replicated over the border, rather than in easy reach of their data-mining programs on local systems?

  12. jgarbo

    Sun Tzu

    "When faced with a superior enemy, befriend his allies with gifts and treaties. When he discovers he's alone, he will surrender or retreat."

    1. CrazyOldCatMan Silver badge

      Re: Sun Tzu

      he will surrender or retreat

      Like a lot of Sun Tzu that quote is a broad-brush approach that doesn't work in every circumstance..

  13. hoola Bronze badge

    "Based on Android"

    Surely no that covers anything that is designed to operate on a touch screen.

    You have a screen with stupid icons to poke at and it does something, there can only be a finite number of ways you can develop that. You can make it proprietary by stopping generic things from running (iOS). Underneath the kernel is most likely to be Linux based unless they have started from nothing and I just cannot believe anyone would do that.

  14. RLWatkins

    Bafflegab

    It's odd how much of what Huawei is saying here is a series of non-sequiturs, e.g. that micro kernel OSs support "write once run anywhere" or that they are inherently more secure than others. These are orthogonal attributes, i.e. the one has nothing to do with the other.

    Moreover, it's odd how Google's one response reported in the article is also nonsense.

    Looks like we've wandered into Rod Serling's "middle ground between science and superstition". Why not? Hell is getting crowded.

  15. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    China wants control

    ...of what the USA thought they already had.

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