Android rolled into Linux kernel 3.3

The latest version of the Linux kernel was just released on Sunday, and there’s a little bonus which we think is worth considering. It seems that many changes from Android made their way into version 3.3 of the Linux kernel.

This may not sound like much, but it’s a great example of the power of open source. Since device specific changes based on the Linux kernel must be released under the same license, hardware manufactures are compelled to release their sources. But normally this would only help you if you have the expertise to slog through their code and find the parts that you need for whatever purpose you have in mind. But with these changes being rolled into the main kernel you should be able to run your own distributions on Android devices relatively easy; hardware support is already in there. Of course there’s still a lot of expertise that goes into cross-compiling an OS.

This may have the potential to open up old Android hardware as a development platform. Think of how Chumby hardware has been used in robotics projects. Now what if your old Bluetooth and WiFi enable cellphone had a stock kernel that was as easy and open to use in your own projects?

[Thanks Adam]

Comments

  1. test34 says:

    nice

  2. Roberto says:

    As long as those Android devices did not depend on a closed source driver or firmware to run an essential peripheral, then this is awesome[TM]

    • Anonymous says:

      As far as I know, Google’s AOSP code is all open-source, and the proprietary drivers are added by the OEMs (HTC, Samsung, Foxonn, nVidia, etc) for their devices and chipsets.

  3. Killian says:

    This must tie in with ubuntu being distributed on android phones in future :)

    http://www.wired.com/gadgetlab/2012/02/ubuntu-for-android-turns-your-phone-into-a-desktop-computer/

  4. Wolfton says:

    This makes even 35 year old me say, “OMG OMG OMG.”

    I can’t wait to see what the guys on XDA and Cyanogenmod have to say about this.

  5. joe says:

    That looks nothing like a penguin skeleton.

    http://www.google.com/search?q=penguin+skeleton

  6. torcue says:

    Funny, I was just talking the other day about Linux, the other person said that unfortunately it’d never become a fully realized viable system. I argued that soon there will be a full, ACCEPTED Linux system sold, but that it’ll be android. Probably a laptop.
    Do we suppose it’ll be a Motorola?

    • Dax says:

      I’ve already seen a bunch of Android laptops in supermarkets.

      The only problem is, that “apps” aren’t really full fledged software. At best they’re trimmed versions of actual software suites, though most of the time they’re just simple widgets.

      For a cellphone or a PDA/Tablet, that’s fine, but for a laptop it just doesn’t cut it. If it’s a real PC, then I want to run software that a real PC runs and not some dumbed down “software-lite”.

    • Daid says:

      Linux never a fully viable system? How about all the routers running linux? All the webservers running linux?

      Or how about traffic-lights running linux? Because we sell those here. Combined with other products we put a few thousand linux systems on the streets every year. So, yeah, linux will never be a viable system.

    • Leif says:

      Viable for what? It’s been the main OS on my home computer for about 11 years now.

  7. lurker says:

    Linux was widely accepted quite some time ago – lest ye forget, OSX is essentially a commercialized version of freebsd . . . Google only got the quick upperhand due to their complete immersion into the entire structure of modern telecommunications. . . never been a particular fan of android apart from the concept, but this could be an interesting development – open source has been gaining steam the past few years. . .

    • Dax says:

      OSX isn’t based on FreeBSD, it’s based on NeXTSTEP.

      They included some BSD code in it, but the kernel itself is based on Mach, which was made as a replacement for BSD.

      • MrX says:

        Even Microsoft Windows has BSD code in the network stack.

      • cHRIS says:

        @Dax – OSX is Unix based – first sentence of OSX article in wikipedia:

        “…is a series of Unix-based operating systems and graphical user interfaces developed, marketed, and sold by Apple Inc.”

        and NextSTEP uses “a Unix-like operating system based on the Mach kernel, plus source code from BSD”

        OSX is merely a Unix and Mach Kernel working together in tandem – OSX is a hybrid.

    • Dax says:

      Here’s my favorite bit:

      “But since Android doesn’t need to have wake-lock support (it just keeps your battery from draining in record time) our phones and tablets can now be considered officially supported by the Linux community.”

      NO YOU IDIOTS. This is the reason why trying to check if your hardware is compatible with Linux is futile. Everything is “supported”, which just means that nothing actually works.

    • Leif says:

      And..? What do FreeBSD or NextStep have to do with Linux? Besides, OSX is Unix with most of what makes Unix great stripped out. It’s just a kernel with a proprietary GUI shell over top of it.

  8. qwerty says:

    What Linux would greatly benefit from is a way to be installed *natively* on cheap Android tablets. This will give a huge improvement both in performance by ditching the Java slug and in openness by removing closed hardware drivers.

  9. Alex Rossie says:

    Well, I still wouldn’t run a vanilla linux kernel on an android device and expect much.

    This certainly simplies things for android device developers who know have a easy way to sync their kernels with latest linux kernels.

  10. cantido says:

    >>Android made their way into version 3.3
    >>of the Linux kernel.

    You forgot to mention that they were part of the mainline kernel before being booted out.

    >>This may not sound like much,
    >>but it’s a great example of the
    >>power of open source.

    If you can write code that isn’t totally broken and format it so even the most anal people on the LKML accept it you can get it into the mainline kernel.

    >>Since device specific changes based on
    >>the Linux kernel must be released under
    >>the same license, hardware manufactures are >>compelled to release their sources.

    No, they write a shim like nvidia does so that they can have their closed source parts in userland away from GPL infection. This hasn’t changed since the Android stuff is *back* in the mainline source.

  11. adam says:

    Woohoo!!!

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