Ready for some more Android Open Source Project woes? In addition to the Nexus 7 drama over AOSP builds in the last couple of weeks, it looks like there are some issues with the Nexus 10 as well. Don't worry, the Android 4.3 factory image for the N10 is sitting on the Google Developers page, proud and happy, but the binaries and drivers for some individual components on the tablet seem to be missing, most notably the graphics driver. It's available for 4.2.2, but not 4.3. What's up?

n10 binaries

Our favorite AOSP evangelist, Jean-Baptiste Queru, confirmed this state of affairs on a Google Groups developer conversation back ion July 30th. While he doesn't display the firebrand passion that caused him to publicly "quit AOSP" over the lack of a factory image for the Nexus 7 2013, he makes it clear that those developers wishing to build Android for the Nexus 10 from source are out of luck when it comes to 4.3.

Nexus 10 is not supported in AOSP as of 4.3. You need to use 4.2.2... Getting a license would be a prerequisite, but it might not be the only factor. Specifically, if such a license doesn't apply to all the necessary files, or if it only applies to 4.3 but not subsequent releases, it's not clear that Nexus 10 would be considered supported again.


So what's the deal here? Qualcomm can't be a problem for the Nexus 10 - the GPU is a Mali T604, paired to Samsung's Exynos 5 chipset. Since Samsung has licensed the design of the GPU from ARM, that means that the binaries are theirs to release, or as it may be, not release. It's even more puzzling since the Nexus 10 binaries for 4.2 and 4.2.2 both include downloadable files for the graphics, marked as "Samsung" on the Drivers page. Whatever the issue, it's apparently enough of a roadblock that Queru states that a lack of licensing might keep the Nexus 10 from getting official AOSP support going forward.

Again, the 4.3 factory image for the Nexus 10 is still available to end users. The Nexus 7 situation was quickly and amicably resolved - let's hope that the Nexus 10 gets a similar ending.

Source: Google Groups, Google Developers - thanks, Al Sutton!

Jeremiah Rice
Jeremiah is a US-based blogger who bought a Nexus One the day it came out and never looked back. In his spare time he watches Star Trek, cooks eggs, and completely fails to write novels.
  • Jeff Tycz

    "Since Samsung has licensed the design of the GPU from ARM, that means that means that the binaries are theirs to release" yikes my head hurts trying to read this lol

  • javier rodriguez

    Maybe the random reboots that make this tablet a hassle to use have something to do with it?

    • mjku

      Those seem to be gone now.

      • Idon’t Know

        It only took a year.

        • mjku

          8 months. But yes, far too long.

  • http://ignaciozippy.com/ Ignacio Zippy

    …Android is doomed. ._.

    • Jeremiah Rice

      That seems slightly hyperbolic.

  • Nathaniel Webb

    Lawyers make everything better.

  • trev8988

    F..k you super cheaper plastic master sammy

    • Hans Pedersen

      Looking at your incredibly short comment history, it always baffles me to see people like you actually logging on to Android websites and write comments. What's the point? Do you think you're achieving anything?

      • trev8988

        You are not funny man

  • Michael Ward

    I would be deeply saddened and disappointed if this tablet does not receive the next version of Android. The N10 is currently my goto device alongside my N4 and i paid a pretty penny for it with expectations of a few years of support.

    • Ryan Stewart

      It will receive the update. AOSP has nothing to do with Google releasing an update. The issue is they cannot make the source for the drivers publicly available.

      • Andrew

        Google never releases source to drivers. This is about them not even releasing driver binaries.

        • Ryan Stewart

          Wording aside the point stands. Google isn't allowed to publish them but even without they were able to apply updates. This isnt going to prevent the N10 from getting an update.

          • MSined

            Wording is pretty important here.
            Source Code is quite valuable.
            Binaries (compiled source code) isn't as its shipped with updates like the 4.3 update.
            All this legal hoopla is stupid, I can't fathom why there is a big fuss about binaries.

  • infogulch

    Wait, JBQ isn't back is he? What's up with that anyways?

    • http://www.androidpolice.com/ Artem Russakovskii

      He still hasn't left, probably gave his 2 weeks, or has some obligations before he can move on. Plus, his comment was made at the end of July, before he announced AOSP departure.

  • Aleksandr Ivanov

    Do you remember three years ago?

    the definition of open: "mkdir android ; cd android ; repo init -u git://android.git.kernel.org/platform/manifest.git ; repo sync ; make"

    From https://twitter.com/Arubin/status/27808662429 ?

    Looks like no more open party for Android...

    • naysayer

      Completely different issue.

    • Adrian Meredith

      completely unrelated, android is fully open but it depends on closed source binaries for graphics drivers. This is true for any operating system wanting to use hardware.

      • Idon’t Know

        Android is not and has never been fully open. Writing to api's of closed code that interacts with hardware is required all over the place and it's only going to get worse especially with LTE.

        • mjku

          Don't confuse the OS with graphics drivers.

      • Aleksandr Ivanov

        Most of Linux drivers for my laptop are open sources, some have blobs which are easily available. Android is closed not only in drivers department, some core features like GCM are proprietary too, yet are marketed as part of Android. Android was open sourced in 2009-2010, not any more.

  • Carlos Rodríguez

    I still don't get this drama for binaries: they are BINARIES, not source code for the drivers of those components.

    If someone wants to reverse engineer those drivers, they could get them from the system dump.

    I hope someone would enlighten me.


  • mememe

    I remember JBQ said that the Nexus 10 was the most AOSP friendly one. What give Samsung?

  • UniBroW

    4.3 fixed the reboots on my Nexus 10, over 10 days of uptime for me right now. That's a first in the months I've had this thing. It REQUIRED you do a daily reboot otherwise it would throw a fit and force one on it's own.

    • mjku

      Same story here. I wonder what the deal was?

      • Idon’t Know

        Samsung quality control.

        • mjku

          Meh, it was the only issue I've ever run into on my own Nexus 10. Plus, it only ever happened every 1-3days of actual use. On a separate one that I test with, I've never run into it at all.

          Otherwise, the Nexus 10 has always performed very solidly for me. The display is fantastic, battery life is good, and the front-facing speakers are the best I've ever heard.

          I only bought mine about 2 1/2 months ago, and I was waiting to see if I should return it. The reboot issue was annoying when it happened as it only took a few seconds to reboot, but my biggest fear was that it was a hardware issue. Now that it's fixed and I know it's not a hardware issue, it's a no-brainer to keep it.

          But looking at your comment history, I'm guessing you'll try to clobber anything Samsung made no matter how good it is in reality.

  • Jack


    • Idon’t Know

      Hopefully it's true that Asus is making the next Nexus 10. Samsung sucks.

  • Idon’t Know

    The gpu on the Nexus 10 is garbage, iPad 4 gpu is four times faster.

    • mjku

      First, the Nexus 10 GPU is very good. iPad or no iPad, it performs solidly.

      Second, nobody here actually gives a shit how it compares to a fruit box.

  • Pic889

    Stock Android, the "open" OS you can't download or build for most devices.