Feeds

Google's Android code deleted from Linux kernel

'Go fork yourself!'

Beginner's guide to SSL certificates

After removing Google's Android driver code from the Linux kernel, Novell Fellow and Linux developer Greg Kroah-Hartman has argued that the mobile OS is incompatible with the project's main tree.

Kroah-Hartman deleted the Android drivers on December 11 - Android code is no more as of version 2.6.33 of the kernel release - and yesterday, with a post to his personal blog, he explained the move in detail.

"No one cared about the code, so it was removed," writes Kroah-Hartman. "As I've stated before, code in the staging tree needs to be worked on to be merged to the main kernel tree, or it will be deleted."

But the larger problem, he continues, is that Android uses a new lock type, new hooks for its "sometimes bizarre" security model, and a revamped framebuffer driver infrastructure. All this, he says, prevents "a large chunk" of Android drivers and platform code from merging into the main kernel tree.

Google, he ultimately argues, has forked its mobile OS.

Google did not immediately respond to our request for comment. But in a pair of posts to LWN.net, Mountain View open source guru Chris DiBona says that Android isn't in the main tree because the main tree doesn't want it.

"I think if the Android kernel were important enough to the mainline, then this wouldn't be a problem. The reality is that the mainline doesn't want the code, so a fork is a normal response to this," DiBona writes.

"This whole thing stinks of people not liking Forking. Forking is important and not a bad thing at all. From my perspective, forking is why the Linux kernel is as good as it is."

From where Kroah-Hartman is sitting, Google has built a platform that's incompatible with the Linux kernel. "Any drivers written for Android hardware platforms can not get merged into the main kernel tree because they have dependencies on code that only lives in Google's kernel tree, causing it to fail to build in the kernel.org tree," he writes.

"[Google is] effectively creating a kernel branch that a number of different vendors are now relying on."

And, he continues, this fork is "much worse" than the typical fork. "Because Google doesn't have their code merged into the mainline, these companies creating drivers and platform code are locked out from ever contributing it back to the kernel community," he says.

"The kernel community has for years been telling these companies to get their code merged, so that they can take advantage of the security fixes, and handle the rapid API churn automatically. And these companies have listened, as is shown by the larger number of companies contributing to the kernel every release.

"But now they are stuck. Companies with Android-specific platform and drivers can not contribute upstream, which causes these companies a much larger maintenance and development cycle."

According to Kroah-Hartman, Google "shows no sign of working to get their code upstream anymore," and he says that the company's cooperation is essential. "A number of [necessary] changes will affect the kernel/userspace boundry, so some changes to the Android userspace logic would also need to be changed if these kernel changes are made, preventing anyone except a Google employee from making the changes," he says.

DiBona bears this out. But he believes the fork is nothing but a good thing. "If you don't like how we architected android, don't complain that the code isn't being mainlined," he says. "You can't have your cake and eat it too. We get it: you don't like how we put together the kernel for android. We're okay with that. Other companies coming to you for help is fine, too, you can choose who you help. Others might see that as an opportunity, but whatever." ®

Choosing a cloud hosting partner with confidence

More from The Register

next story
Be real, Apple: In-app goodie grab games AREN'T FREE – EU
Cupertino stands down after Euro legal threats
Download alert: Nearly ALL top 100 Android, iOS paid apps hacked
Attack of the Clones? Yeah, but much, much scarier – report
You stupid BRICK! PCs running Avast AV can't handle Windows fixes
Fix issued, fingers pointed, forums in flames
Microsoft: Your Linux Docker containers are now OURS to command
New tool lets admins wrangle Linux apps from Windows
Facebook, working on Facebook at Work, works on Facebook. At Work
You don't want your cat or drunk pics at the office
Soz, web devs: Google snatches its Wallet off the table
Killing off web service in 3 months... but app-happy bonkers are fine
First in line to order a Nexus 6? AT&T has a BRICK for you
Black Screen of Death plagues early Google-mobe batch
prev story

Whitepapers

Why and how to choose the right cloud vendor
The benefits of cloud-based storage in your processes. Eliminate onsite, disk-based backup and archiving in favor of cloud-based data protection.
Forging a new future with identity relationship management
Learn about ForgeRock's next generation IRM platform and how it is designed to empower CEOS's and enterprises to engage with consumers.
10 threats to successful enterprise endpoint backup
10 threats to a successful backup including issues with BYOD, slow backups and ineffective security.
Reg Reader Research: SaaS based Email and Office Productivity Tools
Read this Reg reader report which provides advice and guidance for SMBs towards the use of SaaS based email and Office productivity tools.
Protecting users from Firesheep and other Sidejacking attacks with SSL
Discussing the vulnerabilities inherent in Wi-Fi networks, and how using TLS/SSL for your entire site will assure security.