It seems like Google is working hard to update and upstream the Linux kernel that sits at the heart of every Android phone. The company was a big participant in this year’s Linux Plumbers Conference, a yearly meeting of the top Linux developers, and Google spent a lot of time talking about getting Android to work with a generic Linux kernel instead of the highly customized version it uses now. It even showed an Android phone running a mainline Linux kernel.
Android is the most popular Linux distribution by far, so a move to a more generic Linux kernel benefits the ecosystem as a whole.
This would be great for me. Running mainline linux without modification would be totally awesome. However I’m hesitant here because the proprietary driver problem has always been a huge impediment with ARM/android.
I’m glad that google’s explicitly talking about the elephant in the room: the lack of a stable linux ABI. On the one hand the lack of driver ABIs in linux is what’s responsible for keeping users dependent on manufacturers for kernel updates. On the other hand, the linux development community has been adamant that linux cannot or should not support stable ABI like windows does believing that explicit support for proprietary drivers goes against the linux philosophy and would only encourage more proprietary drivers.
I really don’t know that google has what it takes to pressure mainline linux to support a stable API, but if that happened we might finally see android devices disconnected from specific kernels and the possibility to upgrade the kernel independently from the manufacturers. This has long been a gripe of mine with android.