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FOSDEM: Icing the robot

Feb 27, 2011, 03:03 (1 Talkback[s])
(Other stories by Jonathan Corbet)

"Anybody who looks at an Android system knows that, while Android is certainly based on the Linux kernel, it is not a traditional Linux system by any stretch. But Android is free software; might it be possible to create a more "normal" Android while preserving the aspects that make Android interesting? Developers Mario Torre and David Fu think so; they also plan to soon have the code to back it up. Their well-attended FOSDEM talk covered why they would want to do such a thing and how they plan to get there.

"Mario and David are annoyed that Android does not run on a normal Linux system, on any other operating system, or on any architecture except ARM (though they did note the in-progress x86 port). They like their Android applications and want to be able to run them on ordinary systems. To get there, they have developed a plan of decoupling the various parts of an Android system so that they can be replaced. Then they will implement whatever pieces are needed using ordinary Java and the openJDK; that includes implementing a Dalvik virtual machine (VM) in Java and/or running Dalvik as a standalone application. The result will be IcedRobot - an Android implementation built with ordinary Java and which can run on standard operating systems.

"Why would one get into a project like this? As Mario put it: they like Google TV and want to run it on a desktop system. It might be nice to dispense with GNOME shell or Unity altogether and run in a pure Android environment. Or, on a traditional desktop, one could run interesting Android applications as "desklets."

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