You can compile Android code under Linux kernel version 3.3, released earlier this week. This is a big deal, as CNET's Stephen Shankland points out in an extensive background piece, for a schism that Linux creator and controller Linus Torvalds suggested would take several more years to mend as recently as last fall.
However, the massive chore of completely integrating the code bases is not complete. For one thing, Google's WaveLock power management tweaks - which many sources point to as a major event in the forking of Android from Linux - are not in the 3.3 kernel. So further releases will be needed before we reach the ultimate vision, as cited at SlashGear, of simply bolting hardware-specific drivers into your Linux Apps to quickly whip up a marketable Android app.
Still, it's a pretty cool vision.
Exactly why Android customizations became a "fork" is hard to pinpoint, but these things tend to boil down to one of two reasons: a large company writes a very complex change specific to its needs (like WaveLock), or the big company simply doesn't invest the backflow energy needed to keep its customizations and the kernel synched.
At any rate, Torvalds made the call in 2009 to pull Android drivers, including some key power management devices, from the Linux kernel. Google then made the announcement that "Android is Not Linux," although everyone pretty much knows that's always been the case. And now developers are very close to being able to treat the two environments as a single platform.
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Ken Hardin is a freelance writer and business analyst with more than two decades in technology media and product development. Before founding his own consultancy, Clarity Answers LLC, Ken was a member of the start-up team and an executive with TechRepublic.com and ITBusinessEdge.com.