June 30, 2014

Let’s start this out proper.

You want to know what it takes to build Android?  I have no idea.   Not surprisingly, there are as many different ideas and models as there are people actually doing it.  I can’t (or won’t) speak to what others do; Much like a debate about religion, any God (or Dev Team) should be more than capable of defending themselves against the Hun invasion.  I can only speak to what we do, foibles and all.

Let’s talk tech, as most folks into the Android culture – be it flasher/end user or dev – probably has an inner geek that needs to be sated.  Yes, the impulsive need to have the latest and greatest, let alone actually going about achieving it, constitutes having an inner geek.  It’s that small voice that whispers “Hey, I bet we can go get that preview of Android L!  Who needs sleep?”

We currently have 6 development boxes spread around the country.  These aren’t hosted in a data-center, and are owned by various members of the team.  The original boxes (1 and 2) are shown below.  They are housed in my basement on hardware I own. Various donations have made it easier to add additional boxes, which increase the ability for us to work.

Dev Box 1 and 2


The 2U unit on the right is the physical chassis for Dev1/2, along with some other servers for the house.  It’s a 2U box, each blade is a IBM iDataPlex DX340 4x XEON L5420 QUAD CORE CPU with 32GB SODIMM RAM each.  List price was right around $500 on e-Bay.  The green case in the background is my local NAS box.  The monitor stand is a Dell PowerEdge that is currently sitting idle.

Do you need a server?  No.  Many of our team members are just as happy to hack their code locally on a Linux install or even a VirtualBox VM so they can keep their Windows install intact.  It takes longer to build, but unless you plan on going heavy into the releases, there is no reason not to grow into your needs.   Boxes 3-6 are the same configuration, just split into smaller resource allocations.

We currently sport Ubuntu Server 13.10 as our platform on all boxes, and use PuTTY SSH to access them.  These are free, and means that anyone with access to the Internet and the ability to use Google, plus some desire and motivation to make it work, can easily jump into the game.

The TeamOctOs.com website space (including this page), where you can pull down our latest releases, was generously donated by a team member, but most of our transfer heavy items like testing releases are housed on Barracuda Network’s Copy.com cloud storage.  This is also free.   If you’ve not already signed up with Copy, I invite you to do so here using our referral code.  It doesn’t get us money, but it does give you 20GB of cloud storage rather than the standard 15GB, and gives us an extra 5GB of space that won’t be taken away (unlike, say, with DropBox).

So, given a computer made within the past few years and access to the Internet, a person can start on the Android dev track for no money and nothing more than time and effort (the cost for couples’ counselling not included).  I do know that our code-base is MacOSX ready; Again, I can’t speak for all ROM bases.

So, geek up folks!  There will be frustration.  Nothing worth doing should be easy, but it is obtainable.  It isn’t magic, although the fact it works sometimes makes it seem like it.

– Grommish