Experimental Android 5.x Lollipop Port for Raspberry Pi 2?

When Raspberry Pi 2 was announced, I was quite hopeful Android would be ported to the board since it now had the processing power and memory requirements to run Android. But members of the Raspberry Pi foundation put a damper on this expectation directly in their Android forums by closing some Android related threads, and stating the mobile operating system does not bring anything to the educational goal of the Raspberry Pi.

But yesterday, I’ve been informed that there was an experimental Android 5.1 port for ODROID-C1 and another Android 5.x port for Raspberry Pi 2. One of the key challenges to port Android to Broadcom BCM2836 is allegedly the large number of changes required for VideoCore 4 GPU’s buffer management, which was done by Broadcom internally for BCM2835, but never ported to the Raspberry Pi. So it does not quite seem an easy task.

The README on github describes how to build and install the Android image to an SD card bootable on the Raspberry Pi 2. The steps involve building the kernel, then android, and preparing an SD card with 4 partitions:

  • Partition 1 (FAT32) – 512MB for the bootloader, the kernel (zImage) and initramfs (ramdisk.img), just like for other R-Pi images.
  • Partition 2 (EXT-4) – 512 MB for /system (system.img)
  • Partition 3 (EXT-4) – 512 MB for /cache
  • Partition 4 (EXT-4) – Remaining of SD card for /data

But does the code actually boot? Answer: not yet, and the developer has stopped working on it:

I was trying to enable vc4 with github.com/anholt kernel.
But it was not working.
vc4 branch of device_brcm_rpi2 & external_mesa3d are history of above trial.
Currently no activity on my side. Will check anholt’s update later.
Or someone interested can study it.

So to answer the question raised in the title. Yes, there’s an experimental port of Android Lollipop for the Raspberry Pi 2, but no, it does not work yet, and development activity seems to have stopped for now.

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7 Replies to “Experimental Android 5.x Lollipop Port for Raspberry Pi 2?”

  1. This:
    “But members of the Raspberry Pi foundation put a damper on this expectation directly in their Android forums by closing some Android related threads, and stating the mobile operating system does not bring anything to the educational goal of the Raspberry Pi.”
    is exactly what made me turn away from the Pi. I’ve seen them do it before. If you claim to be an open source educational device you should encourage all activity. By porting Android people learn (and from reading and discussing it others will learn too).
    (and I really dislike censorship).

    Off my soap box. Happy PI day (PI as in 3.1415, this comment was written on 3/14/15 (US notation))

  2. I have to agree with FransM in and the statement in this article regarding the Pi foundation closing the Android section of the community, its a really disappointing attitude. As soon as the Pi 2 was released the potential for an Android port looked more promising with the higher hardware spec. However the vibe in the Android section of the forum was very negative with anyone dare ask a question getting shot down in flames. It felt like the mods took people asking questions to mean that there was an expectation the foundation needed to sponsor this effort. I don’t think anybody really did have that expectation other than to have a place to talk about it. I’m not even sure I’d end up running Android on the Pi myself but I say the more the merrier as it provides choice and I even include Win 10 IoT edition in that statement.

    The forums did help clarify my question about how the Arm world works with regards to who is typically expected to fund the creation of the relevant drivers which was quite interesting. Also interesting is the work that Eric Anholt (github linked to above) has been employed to do at Broadcom which is to create an open source OpenGL driver for the videocore4 on the Pi. Even Eben Upton has mentioned this in a positive way with regard to enabling the porting of Android which is very different to the attitude in the forums.

    Useful update Eric’s work here from LCA 2015 in Jan -> https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=EXDeketJNdk

    I think it will just be a matter of time now before we see a working port.

  3. If android is required, just go to Allwinner platform.
    From A10, A20 to latest A80 give us a perfect support community.

  4. @iridiumsat
    Are you working for Allwinner or a partner of theirs? Because what you just said is a total lie, as Allwinner have among the worse history of open source support ever, the and their partners have made GPL violations into a sport.

  5. @Harley
    > “Are you working for Allwinner or a partner of theirs? Because what you just said is a total lie, as Allwinner have among the worse history of open source support ever, the and their partners have made GPL violations into a sport”

    Well… you are mentioning two orthogonal topics : even though they may not be perfect, I think Alwinner is not-so-bad for a chinese vendor (most of their competitors are doing worse in terms of GPL compliance and long-term support). For example look at http://rhombus-tech.net/allwinner_a10/ => “The critical decisive factor however was the immediate support of Allwinner’s Board of Directors for releasing full GPL Source Code”. Also, the fex system (even though it’s not a standard device-tree support) probably makes it easier to ensure “one kernel to rule them all” and to have long-term support for existing devices by the community. My main issues for industrial applications is lack of visibility regarding long-term chipset manufacturing, and long-term software support by allwinner itself. Yet for consumer applications I think they improved a lot.

    On the other hand, “their parners” : I assume you are speaking about the ODMs and factories ? So far, I have seen very very few chinese ODMs and vendors that comply with GPL. Most of them will either say it’s their own secret source-code, or will ask you to pay, or will ask you to sign an NDA, etc. This is sad (and I will never again buy a short-lifetime low-quality non-GPL-compliant device from a vendor), but you cannot blame Allwinner for this !

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