Android is the most popular consumer operating system (OS) in the world, powering billions of smartphones, tablets, smart TVs, and other gadgets around the world. Although there are many other popular operating systems in use, none of them have such widespread influence as Android. The success story of the operating system is a long and tortuous story, but today we are reviewing the true origin story.
Although Google (correctly) attributes the development of Android to itself, the early building blocks of the operating system are due to the equally ubiquitous but less well-known Linux operating system. Today, Linux distributions cover Debian, Fedora, Ubuntu and many other distributions, providing support for PCs, servers and Raspberry Pi around the world.
related: Linux on Chromebook — Here’s how to install Linux applications
All these operating system variants, including Android, can be traced back to today, 30 years ago, on August 25, 1991, the creator of Linux Linus TorvaldsOnly 21 years old, revealed for the first time that he is developing a new operating system. A project for building the Linux kernel of the Android operating system will be provided later, and you may be reading this article.
Hi everyone, use minix there —
I am making a (free) operating system for 386(486) AT clone (just a hobby, not as big and professional as gnu). This has been brewing since April, and preparations have begun. I hope to have any feedback on what people like/dislike in minix because my operating system is somewhat similar to it.
Linus Torvalds — August 25, 1991 on the newsgroup comp.os.minix
From Linux to Android
The first public Linux source code was released on September 17, 1991, but the modern journey of Android did not begin until October 2003. Suitable for modern computing environment. Importantly, the Linux code base is open source, which helps it receive contributions from developers from all over the world, and derive countless operating system branches for use from desktops to supercomputers and ultimately smartphones.
The development journey of the operating system as we know it today is a gradual process-the XFree86 graphical interface came out in 1994, and support for multi-processors appeared with Linux 2.0 in 1996. KDE launched its first advanced desktop graphical user interface for the operating system in 1998, and in 2001, Linux 2.4 finally supported USB devices. All these developments are clearly essential for desktops, servers, and mobile devices. The earliest Android version is based on Linux 2.6 released in 2003. As of this writing, your Android smartphone is almost certainly running a Linux kernel based on version 4 or higher.
The earliest Android version is based on Linux 2.6.
Android Inc. was founded in 2003, but only after the company was acquired by Google in 2005 did it decide to use Linux as the basis of the smartphone operating system. Subsequently, the Open Mobile Alliance was established. Under the leadership of Google, this 34-member group determined the open standards for mobile devices and finally released Android 1.0 on November 5, 2007. It feels very much in line with the spirit of Linux’s open source origins.
You can also take a look: The history of Android-the evolution of the world’s largest mobile operating system
Of course, Android has no obvious similarities with other popular Linux distributions (such as Debian or Ubuntu). Android has its own UI for mobile devices, APK application file types, a Java virtual machine for running applications, a customized power manager, and countless other incompatible tools built into the operating system that are not compatible with other distributions. This is all the extra work Google has done to optimize Android for mobile devices and other devices over the past 20 years. Even so, Android still shares a core component and history with other distributions: the Linux kernel.
Why use Android on Linux?
Robert Triggs/Android Authority
What does the word “kernel” mean? Well, it is an important building block that forms part of the operating system, but it does not contain everything. It is possible that the user interface or bundled software that constitutes a larger operating system is not part of the kernel. In contrast, the Linux kernel manages hardware resources, such as CPU, memory, or Bluetooth. You can read more about this in the article below.
read more: Is Android Linux? Or is it more than just an in-depth release?
This difference from “PC Linux” is reflected in the deletion of Android code from the kernel in 2010 (Linux 2.6.33), making the two different. Instead, Google forked the open source Linux kernel, injecting it with the functions needed to support Android-specific APIs, from UI to power management, networking, and security. The two reunited in 2012, and modern Android phones take advantage of the long-term stability (LTS) branch of the mainline kernel. In 2017, Google helped the Linux community extend LTS support from two years to six years to ensure a longer update cycle.
But if Android is so different from other Linux variants today, why should the operating system be built on top of it in the first place? Well, there are several good reasons.
Android still belongs to the Linux family-it’s just a distant relative.
Building the kernel from scratch is very time consuming. Linux was and will continue to be open source and provides many of the core functions needed to build devices ranging from supercomputers to mobile gadgets. Linux 2.6, on which early Android was based, includes a driver layer that enables product vendors to abstract and optimize unique hardware, powerful network stacks and toolkits, and process management for allocating application resources, among other functions. Why spend money and time to reinvent the wheel?
Importantly, many of the early advantages of Linux are still relevant to Android smartphones today. For example, the hardware abstraction layer (HAL) allows manufacturers to innovate in hardware and helps Google speed up operating system updates. At the same time, the permission-based security model of Linux is the core of Android’s huge application permission system. Even after 30 years, the Linux kernel has proven to be very flexible and powerful.
It’s hard to believe that the origins of the billions of Android devices in use today can be traced back to Linus Torvalds’ humble UseNet newsgroup post 30 years ago. Your smartphone may not be recognized from earlier operating systems, but Android is still the core of Linux. It has just formed its own very unique branch on the growing Linux evolutionary tree.