Linked by Thom Holwerda on Mon 19th Aug 2013 17:27 UTC
Linux Steve Cheney:

There's more to the platform wars than mobile - Android is starting to take off in non-mobile markets in a massive way - Internet of Things, Television (Chromecast), etc. To date Linux has been the dominant OS but Android is now taking some embedded designs which would have run Linux. The effective decoupling of Android from carriers for non-mobile markets + the richness of tools and the existing developer ecosystem will likely cement Android as the definitive open source OS of the next decade. This will have pluses for Google but also unintended consequences.

A common misconception among people who don't really understand what Linux is - one that I'm seeing pop up more and more now that people are trying to paint Android in a negative light - i.e., as competition to not just iOS, but also the noble and open source Linux.

Repeat after me: Android is just as much 'Linux' as Ubuntu, Debian, Red Hat, or anything else that uses the Linux kernel. Technically, a better term would be 'Linux distribution', since Linux in and of itself is just a kernel. Wikipedia defines 'Linux distribution' quite well:

A Linux distribution (often called distro for short) is a member of the family of Unix-like operating systems built on top of the Linux kernel. Such distributions are operating systems including a large collection of software applications such as word processors, spreadsheets, media players, and database applications. These operating systems consist of the Linux kernel and, usually, a set of libraries and utilities from the GNU Project, with graphics support from the X Window System. Distributions optimized for size may not contain X and tend to use more compact alternatives to the GNU utilities, such as BusyBox, uClibc, or dietlibc.

Android is a Linux distribution, and is an addition to the Linux ecosystem - not a challenger. Painting it as such is just a sign of ignorance.

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lucas_maximus
Member since:
2009-08-18

While Android uses Linux for its kernel pretty all the software that is commonly downloaded for it is built using the Java or Native APIs which are very android specific.

For all intents and purposes it doesn't matter what kernel sits underneath, the Android API it could be the OpenBSD or FreeBSD kernel for all that it matters.

That is what people mean when they say it isn't Linux.

It isn't wrong to say it isn't Linux as most people normally think of it, and it isn't wrong to say that it is Linux.

It depends on your personal view what makes an operating system, the kernel or the APIs and the user land.

Ubuntu is trying to make it own os that happens to use Linux as a Kernel as well.

Edited 2013-08-19 18:27 UTC

Reply Score: 6

silviucc Member since:
2009-12-05

Those people are dumb.

Just look at the replies above. They get a definition and still go on about "but it's not Linux" just because they don't get the default userland tools and utilities that come with a traditional desktop oriented distribution of the linux kernel.

Bolded for those that still can't seem to grasp it.

Reply Parent Score: 12

UltraZelda64 Member since:
2006-12-05

Those people are dumb.

Just look at the replies above. They get a definition and still go on about "but it's not Linux" just because they don't get the default userland tools and utilities that come with a traditional desktop oriented distribution of the linux kernel.

Bolded for those that still can't seem to grasp it.

I still can't seem to grasp it. Could you please use italics too? And maybe underline it? Thanks!

Reply Parent Score: 3

Carewolf Member since:
2005-09-08

And there is the small problem that the Android kernel is not the Linux kernel but a fork, and that most device drivers are not even open source (embedded chips produced in China, they don't care much about the GPL)

Reply Parent Score: 4

silviucc Member since:
2009-12-05

So my install of Ubuntu is not Linux because I use the nvidia binary blob eh and because the Ubuntu kernel also carries some other patches that are not included in the mainline kernel ?

Who knew?!

Reply Parent Score: 7

aligatro Member since:
2010-01-28

Didn't android linux kernel merge into linux kernel mainline?

Reply Parent Score: 5

Kivada Member since:
2010-07-07

Exactly, Saying Android is Linux is like saying that Wine tuns Linux into Windows, MacOS X is BSD or calling yourself a Bacteria/Human because something like 90% of the cells that make up your body are bacteria, viruses, fungi and other microbial life or "life like" cells.

Android is the bastard stepchild of Linux that was brought into this world with multiple uncorrectable birth defects as attempting to fix them would kill it.

Bring on the Jolla and Ubuntu mobile devices already, so we can retire Android in favor of something that really is Linux.

Reply Parent Score: 2

WereCatf Member since:
2006-02-15

Exactly, Saying Android is Linux is like saying that Wine tuns Linux into Windows


That doesn't even make sense. Your OS doesn't suddenly start using Microsoft's NT-kernel when you fire up Wine.

Reply Parent Score: 6

Valhalla Member since:
2006-01-24


For all intents and purposes it doesn't matter what kernel sits underneath, the Android API it could be the OpenBSD or FreeBSD kernel for all that it matters.

Of course it matters, kernels aren't 'created equal', they have feature, architectural, performance and licencing differences.

The Linux kernel has gained it's vast popularity due to it's features and performance, and if these categories are those you are most interested in, Linux is often the choice.

There are of course many other types of needs out there, for example if you want to make proprietary enhancements to the kernel, Linux is not a viable option.

Ubuntu is trying to make it own os that happens to use Linux as a Kernel as well.

They have made what is typically known as a Linux distro, which is a Linux kernel distributed with a userland component combination that ends up being a operating system, very often desktop oriented.

They are diverging from the 'usual' Linux distro component configurations by developing their own Ubuntu specific components (unity, mir, upstart) but it's still very much a 'Linux distro' as not only does it use Linux the kernel (a prerequisite), but also has most of the same base components as other 'Linux distros' do.

These Ubuntu specific components such as mir and upstart are also written directly for Linux, so Ubuntu is very much Linux based .

And yes, Android is a Linux based operating system, which simply means that Linux is the kernel component, other components may (and do when you look at the wide spectrum of Linux use) differ wildly.

Reply Parent Score: 4

lucas_maximus Member since:
2009-08-18

Of course it matters, kernels aren't 'created equal', they have feature, architectural, performance and licencing differences.

The Linux kernel has gained it's vast popularity due to it's features and performance, and if these categories are those you are most interested in, Linux is often the choice.

There are of course many other types of needs out there, for example if you want to make proprietary enhancements to the kernel, Linux is not a viable option.


You missed the point. There could literally be anything underneath (if it was technically capable) and it wouldn't matter, because the interface you use is Android's interface, the applications are built using the Android APIs.

Similar Windows 9x -> 2000/XP the interface was still largely the same, the APIs were still largely the same.

Edited 2013-08-20 15:00 UTC

Reply Parent Score: 3