Google open source guru says Android code will be in Linux kernel in time

Google open source guru says Android code will be in Linux kernel in time

Summary: 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.

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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."

Topics: Linux, Android, Google, Mobile OS, Operating Systems, Security, Servers, Software

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24 comments
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  • And I thought Linux was supposed to be spyware free. (NT)

    NT
    itpro_z
    • Do you mean, itpro_z, that it

      doesn't report back to [b]Microsoft[/b] ? Don't worry, Echelon makes certain that the USA's NSA knows everything there is to know about your internet and telephone traffic, no matter what OS you happen to use....

      Henri
      mhenriday
      • What does MS have to do with this?

        I read the story twice (Thought maybe I missed them mentioned in the blog) and still couldn't find any reference to MS in it.

        Oh I see, a "misdirect". Mention something negative about Android...
        John Zern
      • Who mentioned Microsoft?

        This article is about Google and Linux. What does that have to do with Microsoft?

        Regarding the NSA, or the KGB, or any other government spy agencies for that matter, I have no control over that. I DO have control over allowing Google to spy on me. I just say no to anything Google.
        itpro_z
        • Who mentioned spyware?

          The article is about when Android will be merged back to Linux. Where does it say anything about spyware in either of them?
          AzuMao
      • RE: Google open source guru says Android code will be in Linux kernel in time

        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.<a href="http://ipadbagblog.com/"><font color="LightGrey"> k</font></a>
        zakkiromi
      • RE: Google open source guru says Android code will be in Linux kernel in time

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        Juliety
    • Re: Spyware

      What a dumb statement ! Spyware in an open source operating system kernel that undergoes the scrutiny of all those kernel developers and is put in public for anyone to view ?
      mKind
      • What a naive statement

        Google's entire livelihood is spying on their users and selling the data that they collect. Every piece of software that they put out serves that purpose, Chrome and Android included.
        itpro_z
        • can you point to the offending code?

          anything related web usage will be "spy fodder" but the kernel will not be. it will get thrown out if included that sort of code.
          deaf_e_kate
          • I hope that you are right

            Google is growing so large that they sometimes appear to be taking over the world. Linux needs to stay independent.
            itpro_z
        • Could you back this up, please?

          Link to someone reputable making the same claim? Or tell me the line number and file so I can look for myself? Or how to observe the spying (e.g. using Wireshark)?

          Or is it just FUD?
          AzuMao
      • RE: Google open source guru says Android code will be in Linux kernel in time

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  • They will never merge now

    "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" "I would be comfortable saying that we'll likely merge into the mainline in the next couple of years".

    A polite way to say that they will never merge.
    atari_z
    • It's kinda stupid of them ...

      ... since they now have to maintain a separate
      branch instead. This causes problems with
      companies running Andriod since they also can't
      contribute upstream to the main tree.
      MisterMiester
  • RE: Google open source guru says Android code will be in Linux kernel in time

    Why would you put application software in the kernel?
    JeremyBoden
  • RE: Google open source guru says Android code will be in Linux kernel in time

    "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."

    As if! The linux kernel uses Git which is all about forking! Git was created for the kernel development! The issue people are complaining about is when a company forks but then doesn't attempt to contribute back to the project they fork from in the first place. Open source is about give and take, not take and take.
    gerrywastaken
    • By "take and take", do you mean like how Microsoft copypasted BSD's TCP/IP?

      [b] [/b]
      AzuMao
  • Remember Android is still open source

    There have been a few comments here indicating that by forking Android out of Linux, Google is trying to hide spyware in Android, keep outsiders from adding to the project, etc.

    Android is still open source, even if it is not part of the main Linux development tree. You can download it, inspect it, compile it, and (I think) submit changes to Google. Check out http://source.android.com/

    There's another issue of whether or not Google is obeying the GPL if it keeps a separate development tree from Linux without ever merging it back. That's a whole other can of worms, however, that won't affect end users for some time.
    zackers
    • They market Android as Linux

      They market Android as Linux, and it's less and less Linux now.

      Another problem is that only the core OS is GPL. All google apps on Android, drivers, etc... are proprietary software.

      Google even sent a cease and desist letter to a developer who provided a modified ROM included with basic google apps which makes the phone usable.

      It looks to me as if they took something free and available (Linux), and returned only the minimum to the community. This does not look fair to me.
      atari_z