Google brings Android closer to the Linux kernel

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Google has shared more details on how it aims to bring the Android core much closer to the main line Linux kernel with the imminent release of Android 12.

The news came thanks to a presentation at the Linux Plumbers Conference by Google software engineer Todd Kjos.

Commenting on the evolution, Ars Technica shares that typically the main Linux kernel goes through three main forks before being shipped to end users on an Android device.

Fragmentation is not only a big sink of time, which typically means Android devices ship Linux kernels that are at least a few years old, but also complicates the process of delivering security updates and bug fixes. .

Reduction forks

In order to appreciate Google’s new initiative, Ars explains that traditionally, all players in the Android ecosystem forge Linux kernels like an assembly.

First of all, Google, which divides the main core into “Android common” by adding modifications specific to Android. This is then forked by System-On-Chip (SoC) vendors such as Qualcomm and Samsung, to create SoC-specific cores. Finally, a device-specific fork on the SoC kernel is created and shipped with a device.

Sharing the change in approach, Kjos said that “the big effort is to extract all the hardware-specific code from the generic kernel and into vendor modules.”

An important part of this effort, shared by Kjos, is the development of a stable interface between vendor specific modules and the generic kernel.

This new interface, known as the Kernel Module Interface (KMI), will ensure that the “main difference” between the Android Generic Kernel Image (GKI) and the Linux mainline is just brackets for all. supplier-specific modules.

While Google reportedly intends to ship the GKI with the next version of Android 12, Kjos called the entire initiative a “multi-year project” as he established a timeline for the next few years of work on the core.

Going through Ars Technica


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