Come and git it: Android 4 source now open for all

Come and git it: Android 4 source now open for all

Summary: Source code for Android 4 (Ice Cream Sandwich) is now available for developers to examine and manufacturers to build into their new devices.

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TOPICS: Android, Google
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After dropping the ball with Android 3, Google has let Android 4 come out to play. In the android-building forum, Jean-Baptiste M. "JBQ" Queru wrote:

Hi! We just released a bit of code we thought this group might be interested in. Over at our Android Open-Source Project git servers, the source code for Android version 4.0 (Ice Cream Sandwich) is now available...

This is actually the source code for version 4.0.1 of Android, which is the specific version that will ship on the Galaxy Nexus, the first Android 4.0 device. In the source tree, you will find a device build target named "full_maguro" that you can use to build a system image for Galaxy Nexus. Build configurations for other devices will come later.

This release includes the full history of the Android source code tree, which naturally includes all the source code for the Honeycomb releases. However, since Honeycomb was a little incomplete, we want everyone to focus on Ice Cream Sandwich. So, we haven't created any tags that correspond to the Honeycomb releases (even though the changes are present in the history.)

JBQ, on behalf of the AOSP team.

Originally, Android source was hosted on kernel.org, the same site that hosts Linux source code. After those servers were hacked in September, however, Android code was moved to Google hosted servers. Unfortunately the tools to browse the code and review contributed code are not there yet. What is there is a "git" repository.

Read: Top 10 features in Android 4.0 (Ice Cream Sandwich)

Full instructions for downloading the source are available at the AOSP download page. Developers can check out the 'ics-release' branch with the command "repo init -u https://android.googlesource.com/platform/manifest -b android-4.0.1_r1".

For non-developers, this release means that the floodgates are open for cheap Android 4-based tablets and phones, and for custom ROMs based on the latest version of Android. Google didn't release Android 3 (Honeycomb) to open source claiming it wasn't ready, so Android 2.3.3 was the last version that had source. That version (Gingerbread) was not optimized for tablets, but that didn't stop manufacturers like Amazon, B&N, Viewsonic, and Archos from using it on tablets.

Now, both tablets and phones can share a unified code base and graphical improvements such as the new Roboto font and hardware accelerated user interface.

See also:

Topics: Android, Google

Ed Burnette

About Ed Burnette

Ed Burnette is a software industry veteran with more than 25 years of experience as a programmer, author, and speaker. He has written numerous technical articles and books, most recently "Hello, Android: Introducing Google's Mobile Development Platform" from the Pragmatic Programmers.

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18 comments
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  • Fried ice cream

    Great news for Amazon. This is sure to save them a lot of money. Now they can fork this instead of some ratty old handset OS.
    Robert Hahn
    • Re: Fried ice cream

      @Robert Hahn Actually they did pretty well with the ratty old handset OS, see my next article.
      Ed Burnette
  • RE: Come and git it: Android 4 source now open for all

    Did Google ever release the source for Honeycomb?

    At any rate, the fact that they've released the source for ICS before the first ICS device is even out shows that the reason they didn't release the source for Honeycomb is tha they knew HC was a dead end almost from the start.
    dsf3g
    • RE: Come and git it: Android 4 source now open for all

      @dsf3g Honeycomb source is a part of the ICS source release albeit untagged.
      businessandpolitics
    • RE: Come and git it: Android 4 source now open for all

      @dsf3g HC was not finished and Google didn't want to support it. I'm surprised they partnered with as many manufacturers as they did (Archos, really?). Now HC will quickly become a fading memory.
      Ed Burnette
  • We won't be seeing any open source advocates posting for a while

    They are all pouring over this source code trying to find vulnerabilities to close and tweaking it for their own devices. This is the big advantage of open source code, right?

    Right. My bet is that not a single open source advocate on ZDNet will ever look at a single line of ICS code.
    toddybottom
    • RE: Come and git it: Android 4 source now open for all

      @toddybottom I'll take that bet. How much do you want to lose?
      businessandpolitics
    • RE: Come and git it: Android 4 source now open for all

      @toddybottom
      So to be a true open source advocate on ZDNET you have to look at the code, why?
      daikon
    • My bet is that not a single open source advocate on ZDNet will ever look at

      @toddybottom You have already lost. How much do I win?
      ldo17
    • Re: We won't be seeing any open source advocates posting for a while

      @toddybottom Do I count? I look at the Android code all the time.
      Ed Burnette
  • git er done

    nt
    Dietrich T. Schmitz *Your
    • RE: Come and git it: Android 4 source now open for all

      @Dietrich T. Schmitz * Your Linux Advocate It'll be interesting to see if Ice Cream Sandwich will run on my Samsung Fascinate... Gingerbread 2.3.7 is running just fine (cyanogenmod 7 rocks). I hope this means that all Android devices will start to see more regular updates for ALL Android based devices like the iOS devices do - even if I'm still gonna play with custom ROMS for my Fascinate and Nook Color.
      athynz
      • RE: Come and git it: Android 4 source now open for all

        @Pete "athynz" Athens Cyanogen is already working on a new release based on ICS.
        Ed Burnette
  • Source Code Is Invaluable

    The old Jargon File has the entry "Use The Source, Luke". With Android, that sort of thing often turns out to be essential. For example, I could find no actual information on how to implement save/restore instance state in a custom widget--not in the API docs, or in Google's sample code. So I ended up having to look at the source code for the android.view.View class to figure it out. My writeup is here:

    http://android-dls.com/wiki/index.php?title=Save/restore_instance_state
    ldo17
    • You advertise this as being a good thing?

      @ldo17
      "I could find no actual information on how to implement save/restore instance state in a custom widget"

      This is a good thing? No wonder people enjoy programming for Windows.
      toddybottom
      • Re: You advertise this as being a good thing?

        @toddybottom Better than this:

        http://www.amazon.com/Undocumented-Windows-Programmers-Microsoft-Programming/dp/0201608340
        ldo17
      • RE: Come and git it: Android 4 source now open for all

        @toddybottom Incomplete doc is not a good thing, but having the source available makes it less bad.
        Ed Burnette
      • Re: Incomplete doc is not a good thing, but having the source available

        @Ed Burnette [b]No[/b] platform is ever completely documented. With proprietary platforms, gaps in the docs leave you stuck. With Free Software ones, you have the option of looking at the source code.
        ldo17