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Android kernel

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Android kernel

There is technically no such thing as an “Android 7 kernel.” Kernel versions for Android devices use an entirely different nomenclature system than the actual Android version. Android OS uses a variation of the Linux kernel which is typically based and built upon the GCC (GNU Compiler Collection) toolchain. If your question is whether or not a kernel compiled for Android 7.0 Nougat can be flashed onto a device running Android 6.0 Marshmallow, the general rule is that such a configuration would work just fine. One of the most fundamental rules of compiling kernels is that a newer version will not “break” anything from an earlier Android version. I'll use my own Lenovo Tab 3 device as an example here. My tablet is running a stock Android 6.0 firmware build. However, my kernel version is 3.18.31 — a kernel actually compiled for Android 7.0/7.1.1 Nougat that I built from upstream sources, and everything is perfectly compatible. In the Android development community we typically refer to a kernel such as this as a hybrid kernel — a kernel that is compatible with two or more Android versions.

Very simply put, a kernel on an Android device is the bridge, or nexus, between the software and hardware. The kernel encompasses all hardware drivers and blobs. Any piece of hardware on an Android device that needs instructions (display, camera, radios, sensors, etc.) must go through the kernel. Likewise, the Android OS itself gets its instruction sets for various hardware components from the kernel. So, generally speaking, whenever a newer kernel version is compiled from upstream repos and sources, nothing from an earlier version would get “broken” by the new build. After all, the hardware in your Android device does not change when a new Android version or a new kernel version is installed. However, with this having been said, please do not construe this as meaning that a kernel compiled specifically for Android 6.0 will necessarily work with Android 7.x.x Nougat. Such a vice versa scenario would not necessarily hold true. In fact, compatibility in this scenario would likely be problematic because a kernel compiled specifically for Android Marshmallow would not encompass the necessary source code for proper functionality with the Android Nougat OS build itself. So, as a general rule, a newer version kernel is typically compatible with an older version of Android —on a device-specific configuration — but not necessarily vice versa.


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