Despite Naysayers, Android Is Definitely Linux-based

by Ostatic Staff - Sep. 08, 2010

Recently, we’ve written about how Linux doesn’t need the traditional desktop to continue to spur innovation, and cited Google Android as primary evidence that it doesn’t. Android is, after all, Linux-based, as is Google’s Chrome OS, right? Well, those who claim that Android is not Linux-based are grabbing more and more microphones, and even claiming that the hyper-successful mobile OS flies in the face of the Linux kernel.

Steven Vaughan-Nichols notes:

“People became aware of the Android and Linux split when Ryan Paul reported that ‘Google engineer Patrick Brady stated unambiguously that Android is not Linux.’

If you look into Brady’s claims though, it seems that he is splitting hairs. The Android and Linux split? What? The Froyo version of Android runs on top of the 2.6.32 Linux Kernel, and Vaughan Nichols, notes that Dalvik, Android’s Java-based interface and user space makes extensive use of the Linux kernel for threading and memory management.

Android and Chrome OS are directly based on Linux and wouldn’t exist without previous Linux development. The team at Canonical helped develop Chrome OS, under contract, and I doubt whether Google would have proceeded with that operating system without being able to assure hardware compatibility and other important things through long-standing previous software development.

To argue that Android isn’t Linux-based just because Google has taken it in its own direction is to argue that people shouldn’t build on top of the Linux kernel and implement their own ideas. Why shouldn’t they? How does doing so defy the spirit of Linux or open source in any way? It just goes to show that it's widely misunderstood that the many flavors Linux arrives in constitutes a strength of the platform, not a weakness.