• The kernel is a computer program that is the core of a computer's operating system, with complete control over everything in the system. It is the first program loaded on start-up. It handles the rest of start-up as well as input/output requests from software, translating them into data-processing instructions for the central processing unit. It handles memory and peripherals like keyboards, monitors, printers, and speakers.

    Android's kernel is based on one of the Linux kernel's long-term support (LTS) branches. Since April 2014, Android devices mainly use versions 3.4, 3.10 or 3.18 of the Linux kernel. The specific kernel version depends on the actual Android device and its hardware platform; Android has used various kernel versions since the version 2.6.25 that was used in Android 1.0.

    Android's variant of the Linux kernel has further architectural changes that are implemented by Google outside the typical Linux kernel development cycle, such as the inclusion of components like Binder, ashmem, pmem, logger, wakelocks, and different out-of-memory (OOM) handling. Certain features that Google contributed back to the Linux kernel, notably a power management feature called "wakelocks", were rejected by mainline kernel developers partly because they felt that Google did not show any intent to maintain its own code.

    The flash storage on Android devices is split into several partitions, such as /system for the operating system itself, and /data for user data and application installations. In contrast to desktop Linux distributions, Android device owners are not given root access to the operating system and sensitive partitions such as /system are read-only. However, root access can be obtained by exploiting security flaws in Android, which is used frequently by the open-source community to enhance the capabilities of their devices, but also by malicious parties to install viruses and malware.

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