Android has been baked into the newly released Linux 3.3 kernel, ending years of controversy over how blending the open-source software should be carried out, and making it more straightforward for developers to create cross-platform apps. Although Android and mainline Linux have always shared plenty of code, the underlying kernels have been separate; this new release means manufacturers will be able to simply throw their hardware-specific drivers into a Linux-based gadget and have a functional Android device.
"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" the Linux 3.3 release notes state. "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. This will make things easier for everybody, including the Android mod community, or Linux distros that want to support Android programs."
The decision is being dressed as an attempt to avoid significant Android forking, though Google's Android developers themselves have continued to tweak the smartphone and tablet OS in the meantime. That means there's the possibility of new, contrary functionality again separating the two strands in the future.
Nonetheless, the upshot is the possibility of cheaper Android devices with a broader potential developer audience to release apps. Other changes to Linux 3.3 include support for faster RAID drive array recovery, with reduced restriping times to populate a new HDD, increased ethernet bonding support, and changes in security.
[via Al Sutton]