Getting to the Root
Meanwhile, some members of the group began discussing various hacks to the Android, including how to gain root of the system and to add things to it that were not intended by the Google developers, such as the Debian Linux system. The Android phone was not designed to install Debian or use custom firmware, but various members of the development community have devised ways to do both. By getting root of the system, developers can update bootloads and install custom firmware. However, to get root, developers need to be running Android OS RC29 or lower, which is available in some circle, some said. The reasons for getting root and running custom firmware are many, such as to put in bug fixes, change the splash screen, install Debian or applications such as BusyBox, add useful kernel modules, or to put in multitouch or phone tethering hacks, among other things."Google says they will always maintain a private branch" to do such things as support new, unannounced hardware, drivers and such, he said. Gupta said the primary development platforms are Ubuntu Linux, both 32- and 64 bit -- though 32 bit is preferred -- and the MacOS X environment. He also suggested that developers consider the Android Developer Phone 1 or ADP1, which can be run with not only T-Mobile service but with others. Gupta also suggested that developers consider the x86 branch of the Android code, which will enable Android to run on netbooks. Meanwhile, in other phone news, Neowin reported that at the Mobile World Congress, Google demonstrated offline Gmail capability for the iPhone. Also, Miguel de Icaza, vice president of developer relations at Novell and founder of the open source Mono project, blogged about Mono running on the Android G1 phone.
For his part, in a presentation to NYLUG members, Gupta said he believes Google chose Linux as the platform upon which to base Android because there is a critical mass of developers in the Linux community. Gupta highlighted several features of the Android platform that stand out to him and noted that the Android "Cupcake" development branch of the platform brings in new features and bug fixes. Google maintains a public and private branch of the Android code.