back to article Google's Android code deleted from Linux kernel

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 …

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Dead Vulture

What's the story here?

Some code that wasn't being maintained is no longer part of the main branch. Neither party is particularly upset at the other and they each concede the legitimacy of the other side's position. There was no legally or morally binding agreement between them before, and they've managed to disengage from each other's affairs without any observable fall-out.

How in the name of the spaghetti monster is this a story?

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I'm confused

The story is that Google added Android stuff to Linux and published it... but the guardians of the Linux trunk route (to the future) are excluding the Android material from the trunk? So you can get Android source code(?) or get Linux source code, and play with either, but if you're playing with Android then your work too is excluded from Linux - unless you also write a Linux version of it?

And what did they need to write separately anyway (they thought)? Telephony?

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Future of Linux

Linux already has one a-hole - Linus, and one a-hole is enough for one OSS project.

Please get this a-hole wannabe out of the Linux development team. He serves no purpose other than making troubles for Linux as a whole !

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WTF?

Re: Future of Linux

Linus is not an a-hole. He's a bastard (as in BOFH) and you can ask him yourself if you don't believe me. Linus' function is to oversee the kernel code repository and be a single point decision maker in the event of disputes. If Linus wasn't a bastard with power the LKML would be full of arguments and nothing would ever get committed.

This is one the strengths of Linux: Without an overall "benevolent dictator" it would be rule by committee, which we all know is a recipe for disaster. So, I'll go so far as to say Linus' function is essential for the smooth running of the kernel development process. Linus occasionally delegates power to other sub-bastards for the same reason. Yours is not to reason why, yours is just to enjoy the results. If you think you can do better, why, just fork it!

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Anonymous Coward

Takes one...

Calling Linus an a-hole can only be the plaint of someone too young to have known a time when none of this stuff was around. (Unless a-hole is short for architect holistic e-man.) It's like calling the inventor of sliced bread an arsehole because some people slice it so thin it falls to pieces in your hand while others slice it so fat your face disappears when you try to bite it. Linus is essentially why a global community of hackers - sorry, I mean peer-reviewed software developers - started up when it did. He found a simple way to get kernels talking to each other and he used it to invite anybody to join in. The best hack held the floor. It was not only not rectal, it was effective, democratic and bloody inspirational. People of a certain age never witnessed this computer transition from a house to a small fist-hold, from little texty terminal in hock to a room-full to see-hear-speak what you want to anyone you want.

And meanwhile, Mr. Dos could hardly get his port out of the garage, let alone drive it down the

street and say hello to the neighbours.

The name of the game is configuration management and control: forkityer and audit trail. The rest is commercial secrecy and attempting to own the internet. If that's what you want, don't expect the next generation to get turned on by a pile of droppings.

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Linux

No matter what google have done..

No matter what google have done (or in this case not done) comparing then to Microsoft is not valid.

- Google do actually contribute code and do GPL code

- Google (unlike MS) are not having a jihad against Linux ( http://www.groklaw.net/article.php?story=20100124111743687 )

- Google do not take a certain percentage of my tax - even time we pay takes MS gets some of that money

- Google does not support the Republican party

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Linux

Exactly!

And also it's not like:

- Google have another allegedly open source OS in the pipeline that they might want to strong-arm vendors into supporting rather than the main-line Linux kernel

- Google are fashioning said imaginary OS to coincidentally support their Mountain View Chocolate Factory ad-opoly money hoovering/printing machine.

As if!

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WTF?

@yossarianuk

"Google does not support the Republican party"?????? WTF does that have to do with this discussion you ignorant bafoon? Why do you feel you have to interject unrelated political commentary into this article?

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Stop

Forking is inevitable...

So, if I understand GKH correctly, Google/Android have made their all their code available, per the GPL, but the Keepers of the Kernel want them to change it before they're prepared to merge it into the mainline, and Google have said "no thanks, we like it the way it is". I guess this is inevitable with the one-size-fits-all approach - you can't keep everybody happy all of the time, especially with something as volatile as the Linux kernel. Who's idea was it to use a kernel which is essentially a badly-reinvented version of a timesharing system for PDP-11s on a mobile phone anyway? ;-)

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FAIL

Gawd.

Likening the current Linux kernel to V4-V7 Bell Labs. UNIX on a PDP/11 is like saying that your Ford Mondeo is a re-implemented Model T.

It's true, it has four wheels, a motor, and used a steering wheel, brakes and a gearbox, but there ain't no compatible parts!

Now I'll defend V6 or V7 as being brilliant for their time until the cows come home, but don't suggest that Linux is 'just a re-implementation'. Even if you did, SVR3.2 with TLI or BSD4.4 would be a better reference than anything that ran on a PDP/11 (think communication subsystems).

And anyway, why should Android not be multi-tasking (OK, I'm blurring the distinction between timesharing and multi-tasking), but both the timeslicing and the privilege protection is just as useful in a mobile device as it is on a multi-user computer. After all, the inability of the iPhone and iPad to multi-task is one of it's biggest criticisms, and having an ineffective security model was seen as Windows biggest problem. Multiple tabs in Chrome on ChromeOS will probably be implemented as threads which will probably need to run in parallel, anyway.

Whilst BeOS, OS9 and VxWare people may think their OS's have significant advantages over a Linux kernel, Linux is not such a bad place to start. The API's are well understood, the code is open, and you can comfortably remove the overhead you don't need (I remind people that vanilla V6 UNIX on a PDP/11 without separate I&D space HAD to fit in less that 56K of memory!).

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MS sponser the Republican party

The reason I mentioned Google not sponsoring the Republican party is because Microsoft does (financially) , therefore by paying Tax in the UK (which MS gets part of due to Police/hospitals/schools buying windows) you are helping a sponsor of the Republican party.

Of course that is the least important factor in my decision to avoid Microsoft products..

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WTF?

Hyper V...

...also bit the dust, bit more of a story that.

...love the commentards, but its about taking a stand the dead code dumping - not political warfare - all the non-maintained code has been candidated for removal for a couple of months

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Linux

What's the real issue?

I don't really see the issue; shock horror Google develop code and implement it differently than the mainline kernel.

Linux kernel developers don't like how the code works and realise that it cannot be added to mainline kernel due to hooks and none standard frame buffer.

Google possibly just take the attitude that it the mainline Linux developers won't include it whats the point in trying; I don't see how this is any different that other linux distros which choose which kernel to include and what changes to make to it.

I'm sure you could get Google's code and manually include it in a later kernel version but it's possibly a pain to do but do able.

Google are not Microsoft - Google at least contribute code back where as Microsoft just choose code with a BSD or big obligations type license (i.e. not GPL).

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A note on BSD Vs GPL

From dim memory BSD gives you the source and you report any bug fixes *but* any additions or non bug fixes are *yours* to keep. MS *like* the BSD license a lot.

GPL *requires* a 2 way street. They hand you the bug fixes (found by a worldwide developer community if you did not) and you hand back any extensions you developed. It seems Goggle have been handing back bits with references to non kernel components (whose code they have *not* supplied) and other parts that view core data structures in non standard ways.

This code is *useless* to the Linux kernel.

People have been trying remind users that Android is just a form of Linux. Clearly Google no longer want to be a part of this process. They want to be a *proprietary* OS, with a locked in developer community. IOW just *like* Windows.

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Stop

A note on what the GPL *ACTUALLY* requires

There is nothing proprietary about it. From the article:

'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.'

Nowhere does it say they are refrencing non-provided code. (if you cite a source to back that, it does change matters a bit.)

To simplify that for you: "they are doing stuff we don't like, so we won't put it in." Google provided the code, which was more then they had to do (they only HAD to provide it to people they distributed to, per The GNU General Public License ver. 2, Paragraph 3, Subparagraph a). Using GPLed code does NOT mean you have to rewrite your code to fit someone else's use case (even if it is the kernel developers). If Google want's to change the driver infrastructure for framebuffers, and the kernel devs don't like the changes, they don't have to incorperate them, but it doesn't obligate Google to do anything. They already met the requirements of the GPL.

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Think its for the best

Puting aside reactionary flaming and trolls (theres a novel thing)...

It looks like a simple protracted case of company puts bits into kernel as a supplier of that bit to bolster its open source credentials, but keeps other bits away secret but the expectation is over time they'll put it all in. Kernel devs then spend a long period saying "its about time you honoured that stuff about the extra bits", then realizing that nobody's bothering to listen or pay attention, they do the only thing they can. Chuck it out since without the other bits its just unmaintainable fluff anyway. They cant change xyz in a maintainable way in the open source parts in case it screws up pqr in the binary blob non shared source bits.

How many of us get promises from suppliers etc to fix things when we find a bug or issue, only to review a few months later to find theyve done absolutely jack thinking they can get away with it instead of spending money on fixing things. At which point the big "we'll get rid of you if you dont fix it" stick comes out to encourage them to make good on their promises.

So, in your corporate environment, how much would you tolerate a supplier taking the mick? would you mind if you asked them to fix something and they just ignored you? would you re-engineer your internal setups to eliminate their product?

If the answer is no, you deserve the bug ridden sloppy steaming pile of poo you will end up with and the suppliers will love you to bits for letting them get away with it, its all a game, the supplier wins by saving costs and not fixing, you win by either forcing them to fix or getting any reliance you have off their kit.

So why is it even a issue when the kernel devs operate on sound business principles too?

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Confused.

AFAICT,

a) the mainline doesn't want the Google code because it has been modified in such as way as to make it difficult/unnecessary to merge. Now that is simply a sensible choice.

b) Google has made changes to the Linux code to make it more suitable to their business purposes. Perfectly within their right's under GPL, and the code they have changed is still under the GPL, not closed. So, the code is available to anyone who wants it. (go on, you can download it RIGHT NOW)

c) If some people do want some Google Android code to work on the Linux mainline, they are perfectly entitled to integrate it themselves as they have access to all the source code. It will be easy in some cases, difficult in others.

So, where is the problem? Sounds like a perfect example of OSS in action. Google have take GPL code, modified it, and released the resulting source as required by the GPL. That fact that mainline doesn't want it surely has nothing to do with OSS?

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Heart

Forking is a good thing!

When the main tree is being deveoloped all the time and a tree fails then it is easy to get back on the main branch that has had support from the get go.

This will make it easy to patch android phones in the future.

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WTF?

Huh?

"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,"

Because they're totally incapable of porting? Why would the development of an Android driver preclude the development of a Linux driver? OK, so they can't produce one driver for both, but they can't product 1 driver for, say, Windows and OSX, either. Surely it's just a matter of having, say, separate header and interface files for the less that 10% of code that has to be different for the different OSes?

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"Others might see that as an opportunity, but whatever."

Others might see more value in writing code that isn't gratuitously incompatible with the existing kernel, but whatever.

Forking is fine, but when the rest of the world doesnt want to follow you should keep churlish remarks like the one in the title to yourself, Google.

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Boffin

Another fracture in Linux space

> Android uses a new lock type, new hooks for

> its "sometimes bizarre" security model, and a

> revamped framebuffer driver infrastructure.

These aren't trivial changes, and these low-level changes will probably continue going forward to further divide Android from the base Linux kernel. Android will be a 900-pound gorilla in the OSS space and will be viewed as "another version of Linux", but, in the eyes of IT managers/sysadmins/developers, this just means that Linux has AGAIN fractured from within in a major way (a new distro with its own patches and peculiarities). This splintering apart is not a source of strength for Linux, it is a weakness, it impedes the development of momentum in the marketplace and the development of critical mass. If, a few years from now, it's common to hear questions like, "What does that thing run, Android or Linux?", will that be good or bad for Linux? It certainly won't be good.

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Stop

Storm, teacup, teacup, storm

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

And since it was not Google who threw the code out of the main branch, how exactly is Google doing that?

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Buy Nokia

The Linux kernel developers explained at length the problems created by Google. Basically Google insisted on adding some proprietary hooks to the kernel, setting the stage for other such hooks by other companies. This is neither sound design, nor bug free, and it presents another security risk. The developers also explained how Nokia cooperated with the kernel team and resolved the exact same issue in a satisfactory and clean manner. As a result, Nokia still uses the standard kernel while those who use Android have forked themselves. There you have it - Nokia doesn't have BS slogans but they do play well. Goodbye Nexus, hello Nokia.

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Linux

Smells funny

Not that they are but it looks like Google is trying to pull an "embrace and destroy" like M$ by pouring money into a competing standard that is not the standard.

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Alert

If any group has the resources

Google can easily afford to fork the kernel for it's Android project others have done so with only a tenth of their corporate pot to pull from just a matter of programing. Now do they want to thats another story altogether are there any people(user/ developer/ community/corporate partner) risks involved you can denegrate the concern but it is a real concern for a public company.

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solution

Hand out a few hundred Android slates and phones to kernel geeks. They'll fall in love with it and maintain the Android code because it serves them. It's all about motivation.

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fork fork fork

I always wondered why all this 'linux' (a misnomer, i know.) stuff is in this perpetual state of 'under development'. When will it be ready and ship as a product that doesn't need messing with ? I'd love to see it one day.

...grabs 720k floppy with kernel 0.89 and second 720 k floppy with very early xwindows port ,640x480 driver , and xeyes ... ahhh memories.

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Dead Vulture

This is a title.

Hi all. I haven't been here for a while but why when I click comments does it take me to the last page of comments instead of the first??? It's really annoying as I have to read comments which are relevant to previous comments and the whole thread is f***ed. Or is it just me???

Sorry for posting this here but it's getting on my tits and since the site has been 're-done' I cannot seem to find the appropriate channel to express my... annoyance at this.

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Go

Stay strong

I hope the Linux kernel developers will stay strong and think carefully about merging any new "foreign" code, like before.

I like to believe Google is not the new "Microsoft", but then again, big companies are always so damned attractive to all the small pricks of this world, and I am not all that convinced that Google can prevent that virus.

But to the thing that happened, "rubbish" was not merged into the kernel. Fine, normal, so what is the problem.

Well, the size of the rejected proposer. So what.

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Pirate

GPL = Google Pirates Linux ?

Some years down the line and there's two "Linux" kernels, the Mainline and Google's, forked and diverged totally, sure it's all GPL but so far apart they are different beasts, probably rare if anyone has a full understanding of each.

Google, resource packed and deep-pocketed, can acquire in-house staff to port all that's new to Mainline Linux into Google Linux, but it isn't going to cut so well the other way, so eventually developers have to decide which side to take.

Shouldn't be too long before Google owns the Linux arena, and what was Mainline falls by the wayside through neglect, not having the good stuff (TM) that Google Linux has, and the 'in crowd' getting hard-ons over Google's better offerings.

And then Google starts replacing GPL code with proprietary code in a manner which doesn't breach GPL licensing,

So it's goodbye Linus and Mainline, hello Google and Google Linux ( aka New Proprietary Chrome OS ).

Come on; you didn't think Google doesn't want to dominate in every market and everything it puts it's sticky fingers into did you ?

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Go

Forks can be forked

"And then Google starts replacing GPL code with proprietary code in a manner which doesn't breach GPL licensing,"

Even if they got around the GPL, people would simply make another fork without the proprietory code. It's happened before, for instance with DivX and XviD.

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Boffin

@Peter Gathercole

My point was that Linux inherits from UNIX lots of fundamental concepts that aren't really useful in a small embedded system. You're not going to have a hundred different users logged into a smartphone at the same time, and the hardware you need to handle doesn't really fit well into the simplistic open/close/read/write/ioctl driver interface model that worked fine for disks, tapes and terminals. If you designed an OS from scratch specifically for a smartphone, I don't think you'd end up with something that looked much like UNIX or Linux at all. Multitasking is of course a great thing to have on even the simplest embedded device, but you don't need Linux to do that. As for iPhone OS, since it's based on the Darwin kernel, I'm sure it does multitasking just fine - it must be an artificial restriction that stop apps doing it.

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Read it again

Google are linking their kernel with proprietary unreleased code. Manufacturers are adding drivers and other stuff to the Android kernel which has dependencies on this unreleased code.

How is any of the work by Google and others benefiting Linux? not at all, Google is benefiting quite a lot from Linux though.

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