Sunday, July 7, 2013

Book Review: Embedded Android

This is the review of the book, 'Embedded Android' by Karim Yaghmour, which is an essential reference for any developer doing customization of android platform. As I am an application and a device developer primarily when it comes to android or embedded device management respectively, I read this book as a novice attempting to glean some understanding of the android internals.

The first thing that struck me was the updated nature of the book wrt the android ecosystem and how some of the mystifying concepts of android were explained, like the comparison between gnu linux and its kernal and of dalvik with java and the algorithms employed by the OS for optimizing constrained resource devices. The next involved Karim taking me on a guided tour to the different parts of android that I did not imagined such as building and customization of the android SDK itself and custom roms for headless devices.

Make no mistake, this is not a book for android application development, or its native counterpart but explains you part-by-part about the different aspects involved in development of the android project.

Book contents

The book starts with the introduction of the android project's history and its differences with classical open source projects. It then dives deep into the internals of the android OS covering the architecture and comparing it with linux. It then covers dalvik and system services.
The next couple of chapters focus entirely on the android open source project and involves building of various components of the project. The build system of android is also discussed and compared with conventional makefile based systems. One considerable mention is the presence of build recipes and hacks that give more insight about what is being covered.
Hardware and popular systems are covered next and development on different boards and SOCs are covered in this chapter which is followed up by a thorough discussion of the filesystem, components as well as commonly used tools.
Finally the book discusses the android framework where different utilities, extension into support of newer hardware, components, services and parts of the android OS is covered.

The appendixes cover portions such as legacy user-space and adding support for new hardware as well as customizing the default lists of packages. The default init.rc files are also provided alongwith informative links to various websites that cover the latest in the topics that are covered in the book.

While I cannot honestly comment the usability of the book from an android modder/image customizer's point of view, in general I found the book to be of great use and armed with my preexisting knowledge of android development and linux, I was able to understand the topics very well.

Disclaimer: This book was provided to me by Oreilly as part of their blogger review program.

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