Will Android Fork Rejoin Linux Mainline?

VANCOUVER. Among the hot button items that erupted at LinuxCon 2010 last year was a debate over Android in the Linux kernel. Now at LinuxCon 2011, none other than Linus Torvalds, the founder of Linux addressed the issue of where Android and Linux stand.

"There is still alot of merging to be done," Torvalds said. "I don't think it will happen right away it will take a few years."

Android diverges from Linux in a number of areas including power management.

"There is some core infrastructure that Android has done differently than the way we did it," Linux kernel developer Greg Kroah-Hartman said. "The community has provided different solutions than the Google solution with timers and power management."

Kroah-Hartman noted that the kernel developers' argument to Android developers is that it's cheaper for them to work with the kernel community than not too.

While the word fork has sometimes been used to refer to Android, it's not a term or a concept that bothers Torvalds.

"Personally, I'm not afraid of forks," Torvalds said. "The GPL has been very important and it's fundamental to why I think that Linux works."

The GPL is the license under which the Linux kernel is made available. It has the concept of copyleft where code is shared and contributed back.

"Even when forks happen there are points of pain where two groups have different issues and that's not necessarily a bad thing," Torvalds said. "Sometimes it just takes a while for people to join back, but the joining will happen because it's just too much effort not too."

Torvalds added that there is no fundamental advantage of a fork, it's just a difference of opinion.

"It's too expensive to maintain forks in the long term, so one or the other side will end up coming back," Torvalds said. "So I'm no worried, the timing issue is just open."

Sean Michael Kerner is a senior editor at InternetNews.com, the news service of Internet.com, the network for technology professionals.

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