Google Releases Glass Kernel Source Code to Developers

Blog Karthik's Geek Center noticed on Saturday that Google has released the Linux-based kernel source code for Glass which is currently offered on the Google Code site. Available under the GNU GPL v2 license, it's described as a "tarball file", weighing a mere 65.7 MB. The code was uploaded 2 days ago, and has seen 7448 downloads since it first appeared (as of this writing).

According to the blog, Glass may support NFC given all the headers in the source code have the required support. CNET speculates this may be for mobile payments, and that's a possibility, but it may more likely be used to transfer files and information with a broader range of NFC-enabled devices. The blog speculates that the drivers are included by default due to the version of Android, v4.0.4, Glass is using.

As Ars Technica points out, the release doesn't mean all of the Glass code has been released. Android is typically released in two parts: the altered Linux kernel under the GPLv2 free software license, and the rest of the Android OS under the Apache license. For now, only the former kernel has been launched – the remaining code will likely be released later on.

Last week, Cydia developer Jay Freeman claimed that he had jailbroken and modified the software on a developer version of Google Glass. Additional developers said they found that rooting Glass was relatively easy, and that the specs do in fact ship with Android 4.0.4. But Google engineer Stephen Lau jumped on Google+ and pointed out that Glass was left unlocked for a reason.

"Not to bring anybody down... but seriously... we intentionally left the device unlocked so you guys could hack it and do crazy fun shit with it," he said. "I mean, FFS, you paid $1500 for it... go to town on it.  Show me something cool."

Google employee Dan Morrill also made clarifications, reporting that developers are using a "fastbook OEM unlock" instead of an actual device root.

"There is no root here! This is 'fastboot oem unlock'. It's not rooting if they let you do it on purpose!" he stated. "'Rooting' means the act of obtaining control of a process running with privileges of the root user. You root a device when you use a security exploit to take control of it; one of the things you can do with a rooted device is (in some cases) bootstrap to a different system image. So it's only rooting if you do it in spite of them."

So far there has been no indication that Glass will have NFC, but then again Google hasn't revealed all the hardware specifics. Recently the company provided a brief list of specs that detailed the storage, camera, audio, connectivity and the screen. However last week several developers found the debug settings and ran the Android Debug Bridge, discovering the specs' OMAP4430 SoC and 1 GB of RAM.

  • sundragon
    This is all sorts of awesome. Thank you GooG, giving people the keys to the door so they can push the envelope.
  • soundping
    The developers will be the only thing making the tech attractive.