Google's Android code will assume its rightful place in the Linux kernel -- in good time, the company's top open source guru says.
The Android code was stripped out of the last kernel release, version 2.6.33, after Google reportedly failed to provide necessary changes and subsystem code required by kernel.org.
This led some to claim Google had forked Linux, a charge that was debated in a long thread among developers.
Google's top open source program manager Chris DiBona said he doesn't think the Android phone operating system code is any more a fork of Linux than Red Hat Enterprise Linux.
Nevertheless, Google will be providing more code upstream to Linus Torvalds' kernel.org going forward, he said.
"I would be comfortable saying that we'll likely merge into the mainline in the next couple of years," DiBona said in an e-mail response to this ZDNet blogger's questions about the controversy. Android is "no more [a fork] than Red Hat Enterprise Linux or any other distribution vendor. All kernels are in some way a fork for some amount of time, the trick is keeping that delta small. We're trying to do a better job of keeping a small delta."
Controversy erupted after the decision to remove Android code from the latest Linux kernel.
DiBona, for his part, maintains that the Android code is a lot different than traditional Linux code and more time is needed before the mobile system is integrated into the kernel.
"For the work we do on our non-mobile systems (our production kernels and the rest) we stay pretty close to the mainline nowadays, but android is not the same as some server sitting on the internet, and thinking Linux on mobile is the same thing as Linux on the server or on the desktop is why, until android came along, Linux on mobile phones was nearly totally unsuccessful," DiBona wrote in a thread defending Google's position on Linux 2.6.33. "Also, 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."
So when will the Android code make it into the Linux kernel?
In his online debate, DiBona said he expects to see it done by the time Linux 2.8 hits the streets. But in his email to this blogger, he was wary of framing it that way.
"2.8 is a concept that not all kernel developers embrace, so it may never occur," DiBona wrote. "I would be comfortable saying that we'll likely merge into the mainline in the next couple of years."
"A better question might be '"Will we continue to work from the mainline for android?" and the answer is an unqualified, "Yes."