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22 October 2008, 09:31

Google makes good on open source Android

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Google has released the source code for the Android operating system, only weeks before the first Android devices ship to customers. The publication of the code makes good on Google and the Open Handset Alliance's promises that Android would be open source, and should increase OEM and other developers' interest in the mobile operating system.

The code has been published with a supporting web site which documents how to build the the Linux-based operating system. Currently, Android can only be built on Linux or Mac OS X; Windows is not currently supported as a build platform, a situation which is ironically the complete opposite of the release of Google's Chrome browser.

"All of the work that we've poured into the mobile platform is now officially available, for free, as the Android Open Source Project" said Dave Bort, a Google software engineer who announced the release. Bort also pointed out that Google is happy to see developers use Android for more than mobile phones saying "Even if you're not planning to ship a mobile device any time soon, Android has a lot to offer. Interested in working on a speech-recognition library? Looking to do some research on virtual machines? Need an out-of-the-box embedded Linux solution? All of these pieces are available, right now, as part of the Android Open Source Project, along with graphics libraries, media codecs, and some of the best development tools I've ever worked with."

A roadmap for future development of Android has non-English language support scheduled for end of 2008 to early 2009, with an ability to work with phone SIM cards for extra functionality and better APN support also by the end of 2008. In the first quarter of 2009, the plan is to add input support for virtual keyboards, as opposed to the current physical keyboard only support.

According to the site, the source code for Android requires 2.1GB of disk space, and at least 6GB free to build the code. There is no archive file, zip or tar, for the source. Instead developers will need use Git and Repo to synchronise with Google's codebase, and Mac developers will need to set up a case sensitive file system before they download.


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