Android is a disrupting build on top of the kernel

Story: Is Android really a Linux distribution? Total Replies: 4
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Aug 21, 2013
5:52 AM EDT
We are used to GNU/Linux based on glibc. Android/Linux based on bionic is another competitor in the arena. It's main drawback is that you can't develop in your prefered language. Google wants you to develop it's way only. So it does not confer as much freedom as GNU/Linux. It's yet very helpful from a user perspective on mobile phones. I would not call it a Linux distribution though.

Aug 21, 2013
2:21 PM EDT
It's built on top of a Linux kernel. That makes it a Linux distribution. You can download the source code, add a different compiler for your favorite language, and redistribute any way you want. What Google wants from developers is only relevant to their Play Store, not to the distribution. Mobile phone companies buy a product from Google and lock it down their way, which is not open. That doesn't prevent you or anyone else from creating your own mobile phone platform which uses your own version of Android with the features you want. That sure sound like both Open Source and a Linux distribution to me.

Aug 22, 2013
9:05 AM EDT
I agree with nmset about referring to Android as a Linux distribution. It's at best very misleading to call Android a Linux distribution.

It really depends on what you think "Linux distribution" means. If you think that the word "Linux" in "Linux distribution" is referring to the kernel, then of course any software containing the kernel could be considered a Linux distribution, but you could use that argument to claim that kernel releases themselves were Linux distributions.

If you think that the word "Linux" in "Linux distribution" is a reference to the operating system popularly known as "Linux" and called "GNU/Linux" at times, then Android doesn't really fit the bill. Of course you can create a chroot environment in Android and run GNU/Linux on top of the same kernel, but that's more like creating a hybrid operating system than showing that Android and Linux are the same operating system.

Of course that doesn't mean anything negative about Android. I think of Cyanogenmod, Paranoid Android, and AOKP as Android distributions, in a similar vein to Linux distributions. There are, of course, proprietary Android distributions that come on devices, and that can't really be true of Linux to the same extent. My experience with Cyanogenmod vs. distributions that have come on my devices would seem to indicate that the fully open source distributions of Android are generally superior to the proprietary ones. Technically, this even carries through to Nexus devices, since the Android distribution released on them is also technically open source (though Google doesn't seem to take any outside patches) and that seems to be the best functioning of the preloaded versions of Android that I have seen.

Aug 22, 2013
11:24 AM EDT
Well, it boils down to a game of words. As a distribution, it is addressed to OEMs. As whatever, Android fits Google's interests only (this is not stoning Google). I can only wish OEMs consider Ubuntu for mobile devices seriously.

Aug 23, 2013
6:20 PM EDT
The good news is, most people don't associate Android with Linux, as they mostly don't know what Linux is.

Given how often Androi crashes, how full of bloatware it is and how hard to find free good quality programs without adds, I consider this a good thing.

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