Linux 3.3 merged with Android

March 20, 2012 Off By Ramakanth

Linux 3.3 kernel has been released, and one of the key release note items is that the Android changes have been merged in. That’s good news because it means it’s easier for OEMs to take the stock kernel, add their drivers, and have a working Android system.

Android operating system has always been based on the Linux kernel and you may think both Linux & Android are tightly integrated, but the fact is Android was more like a fork of the Linux kernel, where Google OS took the kernel and customized it for mobile use.

Now this was ended with the newly released version 3.3 of the Linux kernel, which merged the changes and tweaks of Android into the main Linux source tree.


For a long time, code from the Android project has not been merged back to the Linux repositories due to disagreement between developers from both projects. Fortunately, after several years the differences are being ironed out. Various Android subsystems and features have already been merged, and more will follow in the future.

Linux 3.3 release features as the most important change the merge of kernel code from the Android project. But there is more, it also includes support for a new architecture (TI C6X), much improved balancing and the ability to restripe between different RAID profiles in Btrfs, and several network improvements: a virtual switch implementation (Open vSwitch) designed for virtualization scenarios, a faster and more scalable alternative to the “bonding” driver, a configurable limit to the transmission queue of the network devices to fight bufferbloat, a network priority control group and per-cgroup TCP buffer limits. There are also many small features and new drivers and fixes are also available.

For most end users, this means very little, but for Linux development community, it means a lot, the Ubuntu team has already announced plans to transform your smart phone into a proper computer when it’s placed in a docking station, and with the release of Linux 3.3, this just got easier for OEMs to do as well.

Although we didn’t see any major change immediately, but it means that over the coming months and years, it will be easier for Linux developers to support Android programs and vice-versa.

The first change users can notice is, you can compile the Android code in Linux 3.3 and it will boot. This release will make building kernels for custom ROMs easier, allowing developers to use the source of kernel version 3.3 and later almost unmodified on devices. In theory, it should now also be possible to boot Android with the 3.3 kernel on any device, provided you have the correct drivers.