Ground Zero ROMs mourns the loss of one of its own
It was the year Motorola upended the Android world with the introduction of the first Moto X and Moto G, and it was the year that XDA Recognized Developer Martin Coulon (martinusbe) joined the Ground Zero ROMs team and began to establish a legacy that will last long after his recent passing due to cancer. Martin is remembered not only as a truly talented developer and maintainer but also as a kind and down-to-earth person who never hesitated to take the time to help others.
His introduction to Ground Zero ROMs came in 2013 when he helped XDA Recognized Contributor Char_G (currently the publicist for GZR) test a build of GZR’s Validus ROM for the first-generation Moto G (Falcon). From there he caught the attention of XDA Senior Member and founder of Ground Zero ROMs John Brewer (TheRingMaster_GzR), who brought him aboard the team as a maintainer but quickly recognized his talent and promoted him to a lead developer. It was John’s Validus build that Martin had helped Char with testing. He was a strong advocate for keeping code neat and clean, observing proper formatting and spacing, which is extremely important especially for team projects like most custom ROMs. He also insisted on a clean commit history and maintaining proper authorship. In the years following, he became instrumental in bringing GZR’s popular custom ROMs to OnePlus and OPPO devices and became a mentor to many other developers on the GZR team. In John’s words,
“The man made OPPO dev[elopment] what it is. They sent him devices because he knew what to do. Plus he made CAF devices possible on an AOSP system without a separate CAF manifest.”
Despite his ties to OPPO and OnePlus, he remained humble, never bragging about the devices he was sent but rather patiently lending a helping hand to anyone who asked. I can personally say that his help wasn’t limited to other developers. When I was having some problems getting “OK Google” to work on my OnePlus 5T back in late 2017, he took the time to help me through it, and he again helped me track down why the Amazon Appstore kept crashing (I was running Validus at the time).
Martin’s mentoring chops weren’t limited to coding, maintaining, or troubleshooting. Another member of the team known in Telegram as “Scoobyjenkins” mentioned that Martin had encouraged him to grow in graphic design skills, including making icons, wallpapers, and boot animations for the various ROMs developed by the team.
Martin was the one who started the popular GZR ROM Tipsy, naming each version after a popular Belgian beer in alphabetical order. Additionally, he helped John start GZOSP, which was envisioned as an alternative codebase to LineageOS for building custom ROMs. Incidentally, GZOSP was the subject of my very first article here, so Martin’s work was instrumental even to my own contributions to XDA.
Even in his later years, as he valiantly fought against the progression of his cancer, he refused to bend or break. He once told his GZR family the following:
“I’m like Churchill, never surrender.”
While he was a valued member of the Ground Zero ROMs family, he was also widely known in the larger Android development community and was highly respected by developers, as demonstrated by a touching tweet from the Dirty Unicorns team that was retweeted by the AquariOS and CarbonROM teams:
Perhaps the most stirring tribute I’ve seen yet to Martin’s legacy comes from an XDA Senior Member who is more commonly known to the Ground Zero ROMs family in their Telegram chats as “CR45H 0V3RR1D3”:
“I’m not even really sure where to start. Trying to grapple with the fact that I will never speak to my brother (from another mother) again, has left me in tears since he said goodbye. To be affected so greatly by the loss of someone I have never even gotten the fortune of meeting in real life, should give everyone an idea of how incredible of a human being you really were. Even though we met through the Android community, you allowed so many people into your personal life, that it would be an injustice to think of you in any other fashion than family. The immense amount of knowledge that you held, balanced by your incredible humility, makes you a true one of a kind person and one that this world will never see the likes of again. It was a true honor to be your tester for so many years, along with your friend. You fought this disease head on, on your terms, and without fear, never once asking for anyone’s sympathy. You stayed strong, with your head held high, right to the end. I can only hope to emulate a fraction of the courage that you have displayed these past couple years, in any facet of my life. Sadly, I fear this is where many of us will falter and just one more example of one of the many qualities of your life that drew so many into orbit around you. Thank you for everything that you have taught me over the years, from an Android standpoint, but also from a life’s experiences viewpoint as well. I love you, brother. May you rest well til[l] our energies meet again.”