Back In May, we talked about the managability of having five separate devices from five separate manufacturers all conglomerating within the AOSP source tree. This will lead to some obvious problems with maintainability of AOSP which has traditionally supported only one device and has been back-ported to older variants. The solution is already in the works and already in the works, and it has kernel developers excited.
Why are kernel developers excited about this jump from 3.0 to 3.4, you might ask? The “generic” tweaks most kernel developers apply such as governors, filesystem, and task schedulers can be easily incorporated into several devices from a single source tree. The 3.4 kernel merges Android code into Mainline Linux code. When Android runs a Mainline Linux Kernel, upgrades to a kernel such as 3.4 to 3.5 become a breeze because the required code is already a part of Linux.
XDA Recognized Developer francofransisco, known for his kernel work on several devices including the Nexus line, was among the first to notice the quiet and obscure work being conducted in the new Android tree. He had the following to say:
Seeing the community effort to bring the mainline kernel to be compatible with Android, specifically from kernel.org and Google/AOSP this 3.4 branch from Android github makes total sense to be shipping with the new Nexus. Why else would they be wasting time patching this thing up when they could be improving their flagship device? Seeing a jump to 3.4 from 3.0 also means the merge between Android Kernel and mainline Kernel should be near completion. For Kernel developers thats a dream come true. For OEM’s thats also lot less work to be done which means faster OS updates, less time writing drivers and hacking, and more happy users.
Basically, if it were a car, having a 3.4 kernel would be a lifetime warranty on the powertrain. This new Android kernel branch represents a broad new world of ease for kernel developers allowing them to focus more on tweaking and much less on actually making the kernel work properly for each device.
There are several development threads currently in progress to get the 3.4 kernel operational on various devices. Check them out and contribute knowledge (not questions) below: