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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?

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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.

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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

https://plus.google.com/+JeanBaptisteQueru/posts/9HHRURorE7g

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

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

https://lwn.net/Articles/733463/

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

I.MX6 Development boards can boot Android

https://www.xda-developers.com/its-now-possible-to-boot-android-on-i-mx6-platforms-without-proprietary-blobs/

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.

https://puri.sm/products/librem-5/

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.

http://www.anholt.net/papers/index.html

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