[Sussex] A question of Android

David Morris dave at code-fish.co.uk
Mon Mar 31 21:34:52 UTC 2014

On 23/02/14 11:55, Steve "Dobbo" Dobson wrote:
> Hi Gavin
> On 23/02/14 00:52, Gavin Stevens wrote:
>> I've been doing a lot of thinking about the future of the monthly SLUG
>> moots. In particular I've been looking at the modern landscape of where
>> Linux is being widely used. I see that Linux is used on the Chromebook
>> laptops & otherwise it seems to have a relatively small but stable user
>> base on other laptops & desktop PCs. The area that is often overlooked
>> is Android. As I have mentioned before at the moots, Android is a Linux
>> distribution in all but name. It isn't included as a mainstream because
>> it is customised, using a much modified kernel & Google have chosen to
>> keep it separate at this time. That said, it still uses the same kernel
>> version numbers as the standard kernel that you would see on your PC.
>> Also, a quick look at the directory structure on an Android smartphone
>> gives the game away completely.
> Not sure how you would tell the difference from a highly customised *BSD
> kernel.
>> It seems to be next to impossible at present to install Android
>> directly onto your smartphone without it being offered as an update by
>> the 'phone manufacturer. I am looking forward, however, to getting my
>> hands on "Ubuntu Touch" (Linux for smartphone) when it is a bit more
>> developed (It is available now for developers - I don't want to risk
>> "bricking" my spare 'phone!)
> I don't agree.  The Android Play Store has a number of apps for doing
> just this.  It does require you to "root" your phone or tablet, which
> can be a little more involved if you don't have a Windows box but I've
> rooted both my Nexus devices (4 & 7) and my Transformer without any real
> issue.
> None of them is rooted now.  As I now develop for Android I want stock
> machines.  But if you're interested in installing installing a third
> party ROM then check out:
> https://play.google.com/store/apps/details?id=com.koushikdutta.rommanager
> I haven't use this app, but I have used the recovery appy from
> ClockworkMod and it worked perfectly.
>> Can I ask all members to think about how/if we can incorporate Android
>> into the moots and/or the list? It seems to me that this could be a
>> very good & relevant way to bring the Linux "message" to more people -
>> all those people out there with "Linux in their pocket" - and they
>> don't even know it... How many of them would install Linux on their PC
>> or laptop if they understood more about the little device they carry
>> around with them all the time?
> I have to admit that I'm not sure Android should be included in a LUG.
> I develop for Android, and I don't think of it as a Linux device, it's
> an Android device.  Google could replace the Linux OS with a BSD derived
> one (or even Windows Mobile) and, so long as the Android Java API
> remained the same I wouldn't notice the difference.
> One day I might get into programming the device at a lower level.  There
> is a Native Developers Kit, but if I go there I will then have to worry
> about hardware things - like what kind of processor has it got.  That's
> a world of pain I wish to avoid where I can.
If you do go down this route, then look into Qt for Android 
[http://qt-project.org/doc/qt-5/android-support.html].  Its quite nice 
and simplifies a lot of the things you need to do.  Couple of issues 
with OpenGL widgets atm but should be fixed in 5.3.
> There us some fun hacking that you can do with your Android device.  If
> you want to get your phone or tablet to talk to more hardware then check
> out the Android IOIO board.  Your device will need to support OTG I
> believe, but that is a world of fun that I am likely to get involved in.
> But is that kind of hacking that should be the remit of a LUG?  I'm not
> going to say that it shouldn't, but I do question it's relevance as
> being a big part of it.  For me a LUG is about "using" Linux, what the
> commands are, is nvi better than emacs (vim is an abortion), how to do
> stuff and the like.  It isn't about using devices that have Linux
> embedded within them.
> If Linux is embedded in a device and you are a user of that device can
> you really say that you're using Linux?  If they were to embed Linux in
> a washing machine would you want owners of said washing machines to join
> the LUG?
> Embedded Linux is very popular[1], it has a huge chuck of the market
> share, just under half of those developing embedded systems are
> developing for Linux.  But developing for Linux was a small part of
> SLUG's activity when I went regularly.  Has that really changed?
> Embedding Linux could be included in a LUGs activities, but there is a
> lot of cross over there with the Maker and electronic hacking
> communities, and which one is likely to services a "user's" needs?
> Just my thoughts on this Sunday morning.
> Steve
> [1]
> http://e.ubmelectronics.com/2013EmbeddedStudy/index.html

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