Today we have another interview with a rooting rock star (Rootstar?). He goes by the name of Dalingrin, one of the core developers doing the incredible work of porting Android to the HP Touchpad. If you want to find out about the man behind the myth, read on.
You’re a full time student, right?
Yes, I'm currently a full time Computer Science major at Arkansas State University. I hope to go straight to graduate school when I finish.
When did you get into Android? Do you go as far back as the G1?
My first Android device was the Nexus One. Prior to that, I had an iPhone 3G and then an iPhone 3GS. After switching to the Nexus One, I never looked back. I didn't get into Android development until later, though.
What prompted you to get into the development? what was your first project?
I've always had an interest in operating systems in general. The Nexus One had a pretty active development scene so it didn't take long for me to get into the obsession of flashing new ROMs/kernels every day. This eventually led me to CyanogenMod, which I really liked. Not too long after this the Nook Color was released and I found out someone was trying to port CyanogenMod to the device. I talked with Fattire, who was doing the development on the Nook Color at the time, and immediately went out to buy one. Soon I realized that there was still a ton of work to do in order to get it fully running on the Nook Color. Both Fattire and myself were entirely new to doing this type of development on a mobile device...I was very new to programming in general at that point.
What would you recommend to someone hoping to get into the development scene? Cyanogen recommends “The Pragmatic Programmer”, what computing textbooks do you sleep with under your pillow?
I haven't read that many books related to computer science. Even my classes don't adhere to a book very strictly. Some books I have used in the past are "Linux Kernel Development" by Robert Love and "Essential Linux Device Drivers" by Sreekrishnan Venkateswaran.
Cool, so far I've found Google to be the best resource. I find the best CS guys are always very good with their keywords.
Yes! Certainly an essential skill. (laughs)
If you have time for any, do you have any non Android related hobbies?
I have little time these days between friends, family, Android and school. I do enjoy playing and listening to music. I play drums primarily, along with guitar and bass. I recently took up piano and I'm enjoying that as well. Most of my time is spent doing something Linux related as of recent.
The Touchpad has introduced a huge amount of people to the Android rooting scene. Are you surprised by the attention it’s been getting?
I think it has gotten a lot of attention for the same reason that I bought one...it was only $100. Its not a great piece of hardware, its thick, heavy, relatively low resolution, no video output...but at $100, who could complain?
I love mine, especially with ICS. Do you think if HP had waited longer it might have seen more of a success?
I don't think any non-apple tablet would have a lot of success at $499. Even when HP reduced the price to $399 for the 16gb, I don't think it was all that attractive. The hardware was mediocre and webOS lacked a solid 3rd party app development community. I think webOS will be more interesting after it is open sourced.
When will you stop with your work on the Touchpad? will it ever be finished?
Currently the focus is on longer term development. That is, moving the kernel to 3.0+ and moving to the Linux ath6kl kernel driver for wifi. My hope is that the move to the 3.0 kernel will give us working hardware video decoding. In addition, we need to move to a different libaudio solution. Once these are done, I hope to take more of a backseat for the Touchpad and probably move on to another device.
I've been very lucky so far bug wise, I get very few bootloops or wifi drop outs
Same for me. The wifi issues are very situational dependent it seems.
It must be hard to fix problems you don't have especially when the bug reports can be so vague.
It is certainly an exercise in frustration. Some folks are very helpful when it comes to providing the relevant logs and diagnosing the problem. People willing to thoroughly test and provide logs are just as important as any developer on a project.
Where as others could learn to search or read the first post fully?
I think that is eternally unattainable. Some folks just don't have the patience to read, but they are a part of our community as much as anyone else.
It's amazing to see the amount of support RootzWiki members give each other.
I agree. I really enjoy the community at RootzWiki. The Nook Color community at XDA was/is pretty great also, but I quickly learned they were the exception there. Overall, RootzWiki has a much more enjoyable community.
What part of the Touchpad port so far are you the most proud of?
Hmm, thats a tough one... I'm probably most proud of the fact that the core developers stuck it out through all the drama that happened in the beginning of development. The folks working on the Touchpad are a small group of people but we all get along very well and it makes it so much more enjoyable. There were many challenges with the Touchpad, particularly the fact that webOS does many things in user space. These user space drivers are closed source so we had to completely implement them on our own.
It was certainly tough in the beginning, with all that was flying about.
It was...interesting. (laughs)
What do you hope to see from the next major iteration of Android, what are your predictions?
I think we'll see a move towards more UI acceleration. I believe Google will try to use more acceleration for the Skia drawing library. Qualcomm seems to be working on this now. Perhaps Chrome will become the new stock browser. Overall I think the next iteration will have less large subsystem changes and be primarily at the UI and application level. I would love to see Android adopt something like Onskreen's cornerstone.
The most remarkable part about Cornerstone is that it doesn't require apps to be modified. It would go a long way to making Android tablets something different than the rest of the market. Devices like the Asus Transformer with a keyboard dock would be even more useful. It still has some issues that need to be worked out, but I hope a few other developers join me in making it something we can use in CM9.
That would be great. Sometimes it feels like Android is annoyingly close to being a full computer replacement. Can you see tablets taking over as the mainstream platform?
I think there will be more of a convergence of these platforms, rather than the tablet being the lead. I do think touch interfaces will become more the norm, even on a more traditional notebook experience.
It certainly seems to be the direction Windows 8 is taking.
While I feel perfectly at home with a mouse and keyboard, I do think touch input is a more natural method for the majority of folks.
What platform do you use for development?
I run Linux on both my desktop and my laptop. I very rarely use Windows any more. Arch Linux is my distro of choice and has been for a while.
How are you enjoying your Galaxy Nexus?
I absolutely love it. I've had zero problems with it. I'm really looking forward to Google releasing source for 4.0.4. It seems to have made some considerable improvements to a device that already runs great.
Do you have any shout outs or notes you'd like me to add?
I'd just like to thank RootzWiki for supporting developers with devices. I wouldn't have a Galaxy Nexus to work on if RootzWiki had not given it to me.
Well I'm sure the team won't mind if I say you're welcome.