Feb 6th, 2010

linux-online-incUhohs! It appears that the Google Android Code has been deleted from the Linux Kernel. The change is explained in depth at Kroah.com but the folks at RegHardware sum it up nicely:

“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.

Kroah has a ton of great things to say about Google and Android. The removal of Android from the Linux Kernel isn’t the end of the world, but more an admittance that Android is paving its own path. If Google doesn’t alter directions now to account for this, it’ll probably be too late to turn back.

What does Google have to gain?

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. 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.

It seems like, according to Kroah, we would get more secure builds with less bugs and quicker OTA fixes/patches if Google were to follow the necessary Linux procedures. Kroah is reluctantly hopeful… and I’m less optimistic. I definitely recommend reading the full article for those interested.

I’m no Linux expert but I’m sure we have plenty of readers who understand this on a much deeper level. So chime in – how does this affect us and what’s your opinion?