Android Systems Engineering: A Quick Look Under the Hood

Tom W Wolf

Overview

Most of us we have become comfortable with the understanding that Android is a very specialized and customized version of Linux. The resulting level of customization does however render the OS sufficiently different that most general purpose Linux Systems Engineering expertise is of limited value. We also need to acknowledge that this simply means we need to get back to the foundations and explore / relearn from the bottom up (or top down – depending on your perspective).

If we take a quick survey of the multitudes of Android devices available, it is clear that there are both similarities and significant differences. Some of these are cosmetic and some are not, and one way to understand which is which,  is by dissecting the construction of the OS – and identifying where these modifications were interjected. From the bottom up we have:

  • The Android Kernel: The Android kernel is…

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