Dan Morrill, Google’s Android compatibility chief, posted a statement on the Android Building mailing list yesterday with details about source code availability. In the information that he disclosed in the message, he tangentially indicated that Google plans to publish the Ice Cream Sandwich (ICS) source code after it is available on devices.
The kernel.org infrastructure, which hosts the upstream Linux kernel, has historically been the home of the Android Open Source Project (AOSP). Morill’s e-mail was primarily written to address the implications of Google’s recent decision to relocate the Android source code, which is being moved to Google’s own infrastructure.
As we reported last month, the kernel.org servers were compromised by an attacker. The Linux Foundation temporarily disabled all of the infrastructure in order to conduct a thorough security audit. Google similarly took the AOSP offline after the breach was detected. There is no evidence that any of the source code hosted on kernel.org was tampered with during the attack.
The outage was expected to be short in duration, but it lengthened when the Linux Foundation discovered that the Linux.com community site was also compromised. The Linux Foundation has since restored its infrastructure, but Google decided to take the opportunity to move the AOSP to its own self-hosted infrastructure.
In the mailing list message, Morrill said that Google was already planning to relocate the AOSP because the project was putting a considerable burden on kernel.org infrastructure. Indeed, it makes sense for Google to move AOSP hosting in-house, where it will be able to better handle the load. Much of the kernel.org infrastructure is maintained by the Linux Foundation, which is funded through donations.
Morrill briefly mentioned ICS in his mailing list post in the context of describing what sources are being brought back online this week. The new AOSP code repository contains Gingerbread, but not Honeycomb or ICS. He said that the ICS code will be available “soon, once it’s available on devices.” This likely refers to the launch of the Galaxy Nexus, the flagship ICS phone that Google jointly developed with Samsung and announced earlier this week.
Android source code availability has been a contentious issue this year following the release of Android 3.0, codenamed Honeycomb. Google declined to publish the Honeycomb source code, even after the operating system was shipped on hardware. Only select hardware partners were given access.
Google’s Android chief, Andy Rubin, contends that the source code was withheld because Google cut corners during Honeycomb development and didn’t want hardware vendors to ship the platform on unsupported hardware. At the Google I/O conference earlier this year, the company promised that source code would be available for Honeycomb’s successor�likely before the end of 2011. The company appears to be on track to follow through with that promise.