Google Pixel 6 and Pixel 6 Pro are the first smartphones powered by the company’s internal Tensor SoC. They also came with Android 12 out-of-the-box, and if you take a look at the kernel sources, you can find the Linux kernel 5.10 under the hood. If you’ve already bought both devices for the sake of aftermarket development, then you’ll be happy to know that Google has recently started filling out a mainline Linux kernel 5.15 branch for the Pixel 6 family. What’s more interesting is that XDA Recognized Developer Freak07 has already managed to compile and launch the mainline core release for the device duo.
What’s so exciting about having mainline Linux kernel support for an Android device? In a nutshell, this is a bit reminiscent of how Project Treble modularized Android by separating the OS framework from the vendor implementation, but on a much larger scale. With a successful inclusion in the mainline Linux kernel, the Pixel 6 family will be able to launch future kernel revisions released by Google (or kernel.org) with no changes, which makes it much easier to keep up with AOSP versions or even vanilla Linux distributions. At the end of the day, this is the true essence of the Generic Kernel Image (GKI) project: Isolate SoC vendor and OEM customizations to plug-ins and eliminate out-of-tree code so Google can push kernel updates directly to the end-user.
- Pixel 6 comes with Google’s new Tensor chip, a modern design and flagship cameras.
- The Pixel 6 Pro is the bigger sibling that comes with Google’s new Tensor chip, a modern design and an extra telecamera.
That said, keep in mind that the entire mainline core of Google Pixel 6 is nowhere near the stable roof. As pointed out by Freak07, Google has also laid the foundation for a common Linux kernel 5.15 for Android 13, which may be related to the upcoming major kernel update for the devices alongside the next Android version, or it may be entirely intended for a future Pixel device .
Google Pixel 6 XDA Forums ||| Google Pixel 6 Pro XDA Forums
Nevertheless, you can launch the primary Linux kernel 5.15 on Pixel 6 and Pixel 6 Pro right now without messing with the code, thanks to the proof-of-concept kernel build offered by Freak07. According to the developer, a number of things, such as Wi-Fi calls and audio output via USB-C are currently broken, but if you can overlook them, you can get a first taste of the latest Long-Term Support (LTS) Linux kernel on your phone. To learn more, check out the XDA thread linked below.
Mainline Linux Kernel 5.15 for Google Pixel 6 and Pixel 6 Pro – XDA download and discussion thread