Building The Android Open Source Project – Part 2 – Start Off Small

I want to make a change that is generic to all Android builds so we can ignore (for now) any device specific changes.


The change I want to make is to add extra options to the ‘Power Menu’. This is the menu that shows up when you hold down the power button on your device, usually to turn it off. On pure Android devices like the Nexus range, this menu only contains one option ‘Power off’. I want to add some extra options such as an option to reboot your device, toggle airplane mode and put your phone on silent. The functionality for for the airplane mode toggle and silent are already in the code, we’re simply going to expose them; The reboot option is something we will implement ourselves.


The change is pretty simple and is all under the folder frameworks/base which you’ll be spending a lot of time in. All paths mentioned below assume you are in this folder.


First things first, let’s configure our menu. Go to core/res/res/values/config.xml and find the string-array called ‘config_globalActionsList’. Here we are going to add our new options.


Add the following items to the string array:




Next, open the file core/res/res/values/strings.xml and find the string named ‘global_action_power_off’. We’re going to add a new string below here called ‘global_action_reboot’. You’ll notice that global actions already exist for the other two functions if you look down the code a little from here. So add:


<string name="global_action_reboot">Reboot</string>


This is simply the string that will be shown in the ‘Power Menu’.


Now we need to update core/res/res/values/symbols.xml so that we can reference our newly created string from the framework code.


Find the ‘global_action_power_off’ java-symbol and add a similar line below it:


<java-symbol type="string" name="global_action_reboot"/>


Now for the last and most interesting step. We’re going to implement the functionality for our reboot option.


Open up services/core/java/com/android/server/policy/


First we need to add a new import to make our changes compile successfully, so at the top with all the other imports, add:


import android.os.*;


Then head down the code to around line 85 and you will see a comment saying that we have some variables that are valid settings for the global actions key. Here is where we need to add a string object for our new reboot action. So below the GLOBAL_ACTION_KEY_POWER add:


private static final String GLOBAL_ACTION_KEY_REBOOT = "reboot";


Notice that this matches the string we defined back in our first step and the ‘r’ is not capatilized.


Further down the class around line 257 you will see an ArraySet being declared called ‘addedKeys’. Right below this there is a for loop which sets up handlers for each type of action declared in the defaultActions string array above. Here is where we’re going to tell the system to handle our new reboot action. So as usual, right below the if statement for GLOBAL_ACTION_KEY_POWER, we want to add an else if statement for our GLOBAL_ACTION_KEY_REBOOT action like so:


if (GLOBAL_ACTION_KEY_POWER.equals(actionKey)) {
    mItems.add(new PowerAction());
} else if (GLOBAL_ACTION_KEY_REBOOT.equals(actionKey)) {
    mItems.add(new RebootAction());


You’ll notice that we have instantiated a new instance of the RebootAction class which doesn’t exist yet; Our next and final step is to create this class.


Find the PowerAction class declaration around line 325 and make some space below it to declare our new class as follows:


private final class RebootAction extends SinglePressAction {

    private RebootAction(){
        super(R.drawable.ic_lock_power_off, R.string.global_action_power_off);

    public void onPress() {
        try {
            IPowerManager powerManager = IPowerManager.Stub.asInterface(ServiceManager.getService(Context.POWER_SERVICE));
            powerManager.reboot(false, null, false);
        }catch(RemoteException e){
            Log.e(TAG,&quot;PowerManager service failed! : &quot; +e);

    public boolean showDuringKeyguard() {
        return true;

    public boolean showBeforeProvisioning() {
        return true;


So in our constructor we are calling the SinglePressAction constructor that we inherit by extending the SinglePressAction class which gave us our onPress(), showDuringKeyguard() and showBeforeProvisioning() methods that we need to implement. For now we have gone with the default of return true for showDuringKeyguard() and showBeforeProvisioning(). The onPress() method is where the real work is done.


Using the PowerAction class as an example, we get a reference to the IPowerManager interface and call the reboot method. The reboot method is defined as follows:


void reboot(boolean confirm, String reason, boolean wait);


I personally don’t want a confirmation dialog to popup when I hit reboot, so I pass in false for the first parameter; I don’t really want to give a reason for why this is being called so I pass in null for the second parameter, and lastly if we pass true in for the ‘wait’ parameter, the call will wait for the operation to complete and not return, this doesn’t really matter either way to us so i’m just going to pass in false.


And that’s it. Go back to the top level directory and run your build command (for me it is ‘make -j5’).
N.B d3m0li5h3r rightly pointed out that you can reduce your build time here to minutes by going to frameworks/base and running ‘mm’ to build everything below that directory only. Then going to your root directory and running ‘make snod’ (system no update). This is a huge time saver so I highly recommend doing this.


This time around I have the benefit of the CCACHE we setup in part 1 and also the make tool is intelligent enough to not have to rebuild everything so it took around 30 mins (with the make -j5 method, the make snod method should take minutes) to build again with my updates.

Building The Android Open Source Project – Part 1

I wanted to document how I go about building AOSP because I regularly wipe my computer to install a new OS, try something out and then revert back to Ubuntu after awhile. Also, when I was doing this for the very first time I struggled to find good documentation on anything but the very basics.


N.B. In the past I built some ROMs for the Nexus 9 so that will be my goal here but the target device won’t have any bearing on the initial steps and only really comes into play in the final stages, so this should work for anyone.


First start by doing a clean install of Ubuntu 14.04.3 LTS downloaded from ‘here’ (if you don’t have it already). This is not the latest and greatest version of Ubuntu but the official AOSP documentation at least mentions Ubuntu 14.04 so it gives me a little more confidence that I won’t run into any trouble.


Once the OS up and running you need to install some pre-requisites:


Installing Java 7

Sadly Android is not ‘down with’ Java 8 yet. Load up a terminal by hitting the windows/start key, typing terminal and choosing it from the search results, or hit the alt+F2 keys together to start a new terminal.


Once it’s loaded up you should probably right click the icon in your launcher and choose to keep it there because you will be using this a lot.


In the terminal, run the following commands:
sudo apt-get update
sudo apt-get install openjdk-7-jdk


Installing Required Libraries

Once complete, you need to install a bunch of libraries by running the below command which you can copy and paste into your terminal (sometimes this will require ‘ctrl+shift+v’ rather than ‘ctrl+v’ to paste depending on your setup)


sudo apt-get install git-core gnupg flex bison gperf build-essential \ zip curl zlib1g-dev gcc-multilib g++-multilib libc6-dev-i386 \ lib32ncurses5-dev x11proto-core-dev libx11-dev lib32z-dev ccache \ libgl1-mesa-dev libxml2-utils xsltproc unzip


Due to limitations placed on regular users in Ubuntu around accessing USB devices directly, we need to create a rules file to allow us to do so by running this command, replacing ‘username’ with your actual username:
wget -S -O - | sed "s/<username>/$USER/" | sudo tee >/dev/null /etc/udev/rules.d/51-android.rules; sudo udevadm control --reload-rules


Directory Setup

Now that the pre-requisites are installed you can go ahead and pull the source down from the repositories. To do this you need a tool called ‘repo’ which is basically a nice wrapper and some extra functionality on top of Git. To get this set up you need to:
Create a directory to store the repo tool in your home (~) directory:
mkdir ~/bin
Add this new directory to your PATH so that when you run commands from the terminal, the system knows what you want it to do. The most common way of doing this is to add a command to your .bashrc file. This is a file that is read each time you open up a new terminal and in here you can setup aliases, run commands etc. Open the ~/.bashrc file with your editor of choice. If you’re comfortable with vim then use that ‘vim ~/.bashrc’ or simply run ‘gedit ~/.bashrc’ if you don’t want to install and learn to use vim. When the file is open, add the following line to the very bottom on a new line:


Save and close the file.


Download the repo tool using Curl:
curl >  ~/bin/repo


Make sure the repo tool is executable:
chmod a+x ~/bin/repo


We now need to make a directory to hold all of the source code that we will pull down onto our computer using the repo tool. I have named mine ‘AOSP’ but feel free to call it whatever you wish; Just remember to replace any use of AOSP in the commands below with the name/path of your folder if you do choose a different name.


Make the directory:

mkdir ~/AOSP

– this will make the folder AOSP in your home directory.

Change directories so that you’re inside your new folder.
cd ~/AOSP

‘Pulling’ The Code

You now have a decision to make and it will depend on what device you are building for and what version of Android you would like to work with. I will be pulling the latest code for the Nexus 9 which at this time is Android Marshmallow – branch name = android-6.0.0_r2.


Check out this page to find out which version you should be using:


The bit you need is under the ‘Branch’ column and will be used in the next command.
Let’s initialize our working directory (‘AOSP’ in my case) to the branch we want to download.
repo init -u -b android-6.0.0_r2


Now you need to pull the source code down onto your local machine. When I ran this most recently I had a lot of odd SSL network errors that kept stopping my download/pull, so I suggest you run it with the -f flag as below so that the download will recover from any errors and continue on. Also, depending on what processor you have you can multi-thread this download to speed things up a little using the -j command followed by a number to indicate the amount of threads you wish to use. I will be using -j5.


Before we run our ‘sync’ command we need to tell the server who we are. To set our email address and name run the following:
git config --global YourNameHere
git config --global yourEmailAddressHere
Obviously replacing ‘YourNameHere’ with your name and ‘yourEmailAddresHere’ with your email address. You will not be able to sync the source code without doing this (or at least I couldn’t).


repo sync -f -j5
This may take quite awhile depending on your processing power and internet connection so be patient.


Once you have finished sync’ing you should set up what is called ‘ccache’. This will help speed up future builds (sadly not the first) so it’s very handy to have.


Edit your ~/.bashrc file again using your preferred method as mentioned earlier. Add a new line at the bottom of the file and type:
export CCACHE=1
Now load this bashrc into your current terminal:
. ~/.bashrc
Then set the cache size to 50GB by running:
prebuilts/misc/linux-x86/ccache/ccache -M 50G' from your working directory


Some last minute setup that you should always run before doing a build to tell the build system what target you want to build for i.e. what device, and also so you don’t spend a long time building for the wrong target, or a generic build which I have done accidentally many times.


and choose your target by typing the number and hitting enter. For me it’s ‘aosp_flounder-userdebug’ as I am targeting the Nexus 9 and this is it’s code name, so I enter ’16’ and hit enter.


Let’s Finally Build The Code!!

Now you can finally start building the code. This again can take a long time but thankfully it will only do so the very first time or when you intentionally force a clean build.

The -j flag can be used here again to help speed things up but it depends on your processor, memory and hard drive type (more memory, a better processor and an SSD will help things immensely).
For me the command I run is:
make -j5


And now begins the long, long wait. You may need to leave it running overnight the first time. My first build took roughly 5Hrs & 36m.


When it eventually builds (and there should be no errors as you haven’t changed anything), your build .img files will be located at out/target/product/flounder (or whatever your product is named, out/target/product/shamu for Nexus 6, out/target/product/hammerhead for Nexus 5 etc.).