back to article Linux police offer deviant Android return from exile

Linux kernel maintainers have offered Google three ways of returning Android into their good graces. Google's options for re-admission to the kernel are: put the stubs of Android's wait locks into the main kernel, introduce Android's wait locks as PMQOS constraints, or adopt a patch written by a Linux kernel maintainer that …


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  1. Tom 7 Silver badge

    Arse about face

    I think the problem here is the phone is trying to be superuser rather than just another peripheral - as it should be. Just because humans cant resist the dropping everything for a phone call doesn't mean the cpu should.

    1. Mike Arnautov

      I respectfully disagree.

      In the end if, if a phone CPU does not share its owner's attitude to missing a phone call, the phone will fail as a product. This is an issue which will have to be resolved somehow if Linux is to be a serious player in this market. I do not know the technical rights or wrongs of it, but it is good to see that at least some people involved see the sense in coming to some agreement. Let's hope that little spat is soon to become history.

      1. Quirkafleeg


        Software (or firmware), shirley.

      2. Anonymous Coward

        Fantastic :-)

        "Share it's owners attitude to missing a phone call" - What a deliciously pertinent turn of phrase :-)

        Even more amusing (though in a different way) than the suggestion that the phone aspect of a phone is secondary.

        I just love the insular FOSS mentality :-D

      3. Ian McNee

        The phone is *NOT* a peripheral in this case

        Mike is quite right here, the dilemma is that the phone is the primary device that Android is there to make work, just as a regular Linux distro makes a PC work.

        Imagine if your DVR skipped the last five minutes of a film it was recording because the Linux distro it was running decided that it was more important to download and install some software updates - you wouldn't be pleased.

        I know this is not a direct analogy but there has to be a "socially acceptable" way forward, as quoted in the article, to bring Android back into the mainstream. Yes, Linux does need Android, but Android also needs Linux and the OSS community, in fact it wouldn't exist without them.

        1. Chemist

          But if I turn off my phone..

          I can't really be bothered if it misses a call

        2. JEDIDIAH

          Clueless lecturing proles

          > Imagine if your DVR skipped the last five minutes of a film it was recording because

          > the Linux distro it was running decided that it was more important to download and

          > install some software updates - you wouldn't be pleased.

          I would be far more worried that the system was offline during a recording because the OS allows the software to "run amok" and "run the show".

          And yes I have have been using Linux based PVRs of one form or another for more than 10 years.

          Of course this whole discussion is going on at a level of the system not adequately captured by your "example".

        3. Tom 7 Silver badge

          The phone *IS" a peripheral in this case

          we're talkin Linux kernel.

          I don't think Linux needs Android at all. But that doesn't mean we cant all gain by some sensible co-operation.

          We're not talking about DVR skipping due to updates - its a much lower level than that.

          A Linux kernel is more than capable of performing all that is required to work as the best phone you've ever seen. Either the Android developers didn't take time to understand the kernel properly before getting in too deep or there was always an ulterior motive to the way development went.

      4. JEDIDIAH

        Old School Bell Labs Engineering

        Actually, AT&T (you know, those people that originally wrote Unix) made their reputation based off the idea that phone hardware should be selfish. It should first and foremost ensure it's own survival and then to treat the service of end user requests as entirely secondary.

        This approach worked out very well actually.

        "Pandering" isn't always the best approach.

        1. BlueGreen

          "...then to treat the service of end user requests as entirely secondary."

          just like all OSes from any era, right from the very start.

  2. WonkoTheSane

    Kernel version

    According to the latest release candidate is 2.6.35-rc5. is the current _stable_ kernel.

  3. Anonymous Coward


    Seems Linux needs Android more than Android needs Linux.

    I think Google should give them the finger and then ride off into the distance after the arrogant way the Kernel maintainers initially couldn't care less about Android and then did an about turn when it started taking over the world...

    1. Anonymous Coward

      Generic fanboi response

      Replace the words Google with Apple and Android with OS X, and you've got another generic fanboi article that will attract downvotes like flies to crap.

      Is there some sort of list of article templates you fanbios use or something, and you just stick in your platform of choice then cut-and-paste into whatever forum you're drooling in?

      Oh, and the best bit has to be the bit where you don't see the irony/hypocracy of calling the KD's "arrogant" while proposing Google rides off into the sunset. Classic stuff. Kudos.

  4. The Other Steve

    fork it

    see title

    oh, and Tom 7, get a fucking clue, a phone is not a peripheral, in fact go and look that word up.

    1. Code Monkey

      It is a fork

      In fact Linus has said "nice fork" or words to that effect.

  5. Anonymous Coward

    I'm not sure what the story is here . . .

    Isn't this just two groups trying to work out the best solution for both of them? Am I missing something?

    1. Christopher Rogers
      Thumb Up

      I agree

      But i hope it is resolved soon - this could be the very thing that gives Linux the push it needs to become a serious player.

      1. alex dekker 1

        OK, what am *I* missing?

        "serious player"? What part of shipping on tens [if not hundreds] of models of handsets, to millions of customers, doesn't qualify as making a mobile OS a "serious player"?

    2. copsewood

      taking the time needed to get it right

      The Linux kernel maintainers will work with the Android developers on this one until the Android patches are in a state which makes the combination long-term maintainable. This means that the extra functionality implemented in Android can't be allowed to degrade anything needed by other kernel users and works in a manner which others wanting the same or similar extra functionality can use and work with.

      Until then Google will have the extra cost of having to maintain their fork, compared to the smaller cost of maintaining the code which does what they want as an integral part of mainstream Linux. That is how significant improvement generally occurs in libre software, and it is why people who share the same set of requirements will more often collaborate on a mainstream version of something if they can, in preference to having the extra expense of maintaining everything in more than one place.

      Occasionally a fork has to happen if the mainstream direction loses credibility within the developers, as happened with the successful transition from X11 to . But for this to happen requires a leader with the clout to bring the developers along to the new model, and as far as Linux is concerned, no-one is challenging Linus' leadership AFAIK.

      Whether the Android patches are accepted as part of a particular kernel version isn't as important as getting the changes right before they goes in.

  6. GreyCells

    Would love to see...

    Would love to see this mantra in a proprietary stack: "No you can't ship that to our customers, because it's crapware. Make it better, then we'll ship it."

    Nah, that'll never fly.

  7. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Google/Android starting to behave like Apple/Microsoft


    I regret that Google/Android is in danger of becoming arrogant, too powerful, thinking they run the universe (errr... they kinda do..) and starting to behave the way other actual/defacto/well-I-think-I-am all-powerful monopolies...

    'twill take a bit of time to shake out. I do hope Android comes back into the Linux fold (I use both) but suspect Google will go the way of (almost) all large merkin corporates...


    1. Tom 38 Silver badge

      Apple actually contribute a lot to open source

      Just not to that pissing show called linux.





      and more

      and when they do contribute, it is freely and openly, with a real open source license.

      Google don't contribute, they occasionally code drop from the secret development process. Thanks, but no thanks.

      1. fskmh


        LLVM started as a uni research project. Apple hired one of the leads and proceeded to use LLVM in their own dev tools. Where did Webkit come from BTW?

        In this respect Google and Apple are no different, so don't kid yourself or try to kid us.

      2. windywoo

        Apple's contributions are difficult to measure.

        They tend to take a project already in existence, add some ideas of their own and then claim all the credit. Or more usually, their fans give them all the credit. Apple's support may make a project more popular, but it can hardly be doubted that what they gain from Open Source is far more than they give back. Without Open Source they would have spent far longer developing OSX. Without Open Source they wouldn't have any server platform. Without Open Source they wouldn't have a browser. Please don't try that old chestnut that Webkit is the best browser engine just because of it's Sunspider benchmarks. Each of the engines has it's own strengths, and webkit is certainly a good one, but fanbois would have us believe that other browsers are barely capable of rendering a webpage in comparison.

        It's hard to find any actual developers from the projects that Apple are involved in making comments. I did see someone on the FreeBSD project thank them for the Mach kernel, but the Webkit project was fraught with dispute, as was the Darwin project.

  8. David Lucke

    @ alex dekker 1

    Android is a "serious player", with the zillions of handsets sold, etc. But Android isn't Linux, because of this whole dispute. If they resolve this dispute and reintegrate it, then it will be Linux again, but if not then it will be something that was built *from* Linux, but isn't anymore. Granted, right now they're practically identical, but if they don't get reintegrated, then they are likely to diverge further over time, eventually becoming very different things indeed.

    1. Anonymous Coward
      Jobs Horns

      ..becoming very different things indeed.

      Would that be as different as, say, a supercomputer cluster is to a handheld communications device? It may well be time for the one true kernel to split in order to better service the increasingly disparate demands of the embedded systems/small device market and the large desktop/server/supercomputer segment. If it doesn't voluntarily do so, it may well fragment into a lot more than just two, with the 'official' Linux ending up a bit player on the sidelines. I can't see the current 'Jack of all trades, master of none' going much further.

      Evil Jobs? Nowt to do with this post, I just don't like the git.

  9. An_Old_Dog Bronze badge

    square peg+round hole: quit hammering!

    Why are people trying to hammer a square peg (Android) into a round hole (the generalized desktop/server kernel)?!

    A real-time operating system, and an OS which needs primarily to drive a phone, are naturally going to have different requirements than a general desktop/server OS.

    So, quit trying to create a gargantuan thing which serves everybody's needs, _poorly_.


  10. Anonymous Coward

    "Wait locks"?

    If memory serves, you mean "wake locks", not "wait locks". They're also known as "suspend locks". Whatever they're called, their purpose is to stop the machine being suspended while the lock is held and have been somewhat controversial.

    The idea is quite useful in a phone where there's a fairly aggressive suspend mechanism to save power, but one which you don't want kicking in at an inopportune moment -- like selecting stuff from the screen which would make perceived performance suck.

  11. Julian 1

    Horses for courses.

    A phone is a phone. A friendly fork seems to be the best solution with a view to a potential merge in the future but, please, no fudges. Google must also take care not to become another Apple/Microsoft, as mentioned by AC (12.19pm) above.

  12. OffBeatMammal

    sour grapes?

    are the Linux posse getting all upset because Android is now in more end-users hands than other flavours of their OS and they seem themselves losing control now real money is involved.... or is this just Google being a little bit evil again?

  13. Michael Fremlins

    Do Google really care?

    They are selling lots of phones. I have one. It works, and I don't care what locks or anything else it is using.

    1. Ian McNee

      The (non-)ubiquitous Nexus One

      Actually Google sold very few phones - that's why they killed it. Just about the only company selling fewer phones was Microsoft with their unloved KIN.


      What you mean is that lots of Android phones are being sold (which in itself generates zero revenue for Google). As these are smart phones they are likely to add a few web-clicks to sites that generate ad revenue for Google.

      What Google is probably aiming at in the long-term is a variety of Android-based devices that are dependent upon Google's search, e-mail, cloud, etc. displacing regular PCs and laptops - thus generating a lot more revenue for Google.


  14. Anonymous Coward

    the owner is human

    it has been said already but I'll say it again. If I press the power-off button, I the phone owner/user is in control and I want the phone to shutdown. I dont want it doing something else instead. The phone is not HAL from 2001: A Space Odyssey.

    It makes no difference kernel maintainers or Google getting on their soap boxes.

    My TV does not stay on when I press the power-off button when a news flash or one of those valuable adverts is broadcast and so my portable devices (including my Android based HTC Desire) should go off pronto. Have people forgotten that you switch your phone off for a damn good reason and not just for fun?

    Off is off.

    1. Rippy

      The owner is human and believes he's in charge

      > Off is off.

      Really? like your desktop system, where pressing the "Off" button is a servile petition to the god-like operating system to stand down and take a rest if it's not too inconvenient, shutting down the hardware in the process? That becomes slightly more urgent if you hold it down for ten seconds?

      And your TV, if it's new enough to use integrated circuits, only goes into "standby", not off. Off is when you pull the power cord.


  15. Chris Thomas Alpha

    a problem made more complex by backwards reasoning

    I am not exactly sure what to say.

    1) You are turning the phone off

    2) you get a phone call

    3) android expects to cancel the "shutdown" and allow answering the call

    The problem is solved very simply.

    1) I requested the phone to turn off

    2) the first thing the phone does, is disable the user interface component responsible for showing me there is a phone call

    3) the phone is receiving a call, but is shutting down, so marks the call as "missed"

    4) the phone shuts down

    5) I am ignorant of the missed call until I restart my phone.

    BINGO! Why is everything in life so frigging complicated.

    if I'm shutting off my phone, tough luck buddy, you're missed call will just get logged and when I turn my phone back on, I'll see the missed call. It's a very simple problem, I can't see why it takes geniuses with PHD's to argue about it.

  16. Anonymous Coward

    Same old

    The Linux kernel community has a long history of Not Invented Here syndrome. Just like the whole Xen/KVM thing.

    Because Google wrote the code, it will never be integrated as-is to the mainline kernel, period. The only way to get it integrated would be to make the code subpar, which would please the kernel devs.

    The song & dance from the kernel devs is getting old.

    Personally I think Google should just port Android to NetBSD and tell the Linux kernel devs to stick their ultimatum where the sun doesn't shine.

    Anon to avoid the fanbois.

  17. Cyfaill

    The scale of Linux (Kernel) is enormous

    It will be resolved. Google is a part of the greater Linux world, it is just having a hard time keeping pace.

    The Kernel of Linux is the largest, fastest moving software project, in the history of computers.

    That pace is awesome. Most people not involved are simply unaware of the scale of it. Technically speaking... it is history in the making.

    speaking at/with Google:

    It is the kernel... Google needs to keep up, forking is not an option, they know that if they do, it will not be long before they are just left behind.

    Run Google / Android, run fast.

  18. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    race conditions are hell

    From the article description, it doesn't seem to be about "good" or "evil". Google can concentrate on the Android and develop nifty solutions to phone-specific problems, Linux kernel has to work on an incredible variety of hardware combinations.

    If the change is new locking in the kernel that works similarly to other locking in the kernel, and potential new race conditions, I understand why kernel developers don't want it.

    If the change is new locking that works differently from old locking mechanisms and is handled separately from old locking, I'm happy current kernel doesn't have it.

    Introducing race conditions is easy, finding them and getting rid of them is seriously difficult. I can see the best kernel developers bogged down for months just tracking down odd, transient problems in common hardware combinations, and then removing problems that only come up with rarer hardware every now and then for a few years...

  19. Sureo

    sour grapes...

    Google saved themselves a s**tload of work (and money) by using a freely available top-notch operating system instead of having to code it all themselves. A little gratitude isn't too much to expect in return.

  20. Henry Wertz 1 Gold badge

    No arrogance at all

    "I think Google should give them the finger and then ride off into the distance after the arrogant way the Kernel maintainers initially couldn't care less about Android and then did an about turn when it started taking over the world..."

    Well, to be honest, there's plenty of embedded devices that just permanently run their own custom Linux kernel -- even 2.2 or 2.4 versions -- and it's fine. But that's not what Google wants, they would like to contribute back so they can have a (nearly, if not fully) stock kernel.

    And you GREATLY **GREATLY** misunderstand the situation if you claim the kernel maintainers were arrogant. They were not. Google impleneted a video driver using *it's own* video stack, rather than the existing framebuffer system either as-is or patches. They implemented *their own* security model, rather than using (or even patching then using) the very flexible security system in place, honestly I think ACLs (access control lists) could have done everything google is doing with a custom security model. Google made *their own* types of locks, when there were already at least 4 or 5 types of locks already in the kernel, several of which would appear to directly do what Google needed already. This was all perfectly reasonable to get a kernel up and running, and I don't blame Google at all for doing it this way. However, this kind of thing CAN'T be allowed into the mainline kernel, or by now every internal bit of the kernel would have a dozen different implementations used by various bits and drivers.. I mean, hell, there were *4* wireless stacks at one point!

  21. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    How have others done this?

    Presumably Nokia / Intel have the same sort of problems with Maemo/Moblin/Meego. How have they got round the problem? Meego is part of the Linux foundation so presumably they are doing thing in an open way, can't Android use the same approach?

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