According to this post Android 7.1 has kernel 4.1.1 and Android 6.0 has kernel 3.18.10.

I installed Android 6.0 on a Nexus 5 (using the latest google image) and ended up with kernel 3.4. Then I installed 7.1 on a Nexus 6 (also using the latest google image) and ended up with kernel 3.10.

I could go try on a newer version yet on a newer phone but I'm doing this to get dwarf-based callstacks on perf runs and I really want to do it on the oldest phone possible.

Has anyone  gone through this before?

2 Answers 2


Android devices generally don't receive major kernel upgrades, and Nexus devices certainly never did. Even when OS upgrades take place they only get minor-version kernel patches. The table in the other question is intended to represent what a new device would ship with given the first version of Android it supported, but even that is not a hard-and-fast rule.

For your specific example, Google has no code for either the N5 or N6 with a 3.18 kernel. Both remained on their original major versions (3.4.y and 3.10.y, respectively) for their entire lifetimes. You can check the "hammerhead" and "shamu" related tags in the kernel/msm repo to verify this. If you need a newer kernel on one of those devices you're likely going to have to port it yourself, unless you can find another 3rd party that already undertook this work.


Chipset manufacturers ship close source drivers which makes it impossible to update the kernel to a major version. Huge third party roms like Lineage OS do not update the kernel even if you install a newer Android version.

ASOP maintainer resigned over this issue


Currently, there are a few efforts fix this issue such as

Collabera is spear heading the effort to run Android on Linux graphic pipeline


I.MX platform have upstream gpu drivers. I.MX6 is upstreamed and working

I.MX6 Development boards can boot Android


This I.MX6 5 in tablet should have full upstream support https://necunos.com/shop/

In the future, Librem 5 will be the first fully open GNU phone.


I.MX8 gpu driver development is a work in progress

Anholt has been working on Videocore for Broadcom, but I find it a shame by the lack of adoption among handset manufacturers.


  • This post is just so wrong. Hw manufacturers actually usually support their SoCs for at least 2 or 3 LTS releases. It's individual OEMs then that usually chooses not to rebase their builds (it does happen though). Second, in 2019 there are plenty of devices with LOS that got updated unofficially. And last but not least, you are probably going to see a mainline-ish QCOM phone before librem is really production-ready.
    – mirh
    Nov 20, 2019 at 13:23
  • @mirh, you just describe my problem. You need strong political pull to convince hw manufacturers to rebase. All these changes cost money too. Open source is all about reducing support costs too. Dec 15, 2019 at 15:17

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