Nothing opens the door for custom ROMs with kernel source release

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    Whether Nothing's freshman Phone (1) has you excited or not, there might be another reason to be interested in it. Nothing has just released its first set of kernel sources for the Nothing Phone (1). Paired with the fact that security researcher Linuxct revealed that the device should be bootloader unlockable, it sounds like the phone might have some custom ROMs to look forward to.


    The timing here is notable, given recent events. The Nothing Phone (1) was only technically released on Tuesday, July 12th, and kernel sources are being released a mere three days later. For a little perspective, although it claims to be a pro-ROM and pro-developer brand, OnePlus has been notably late to release its kernel sources recently. Although it was a little more prompt, even the OnePlus 10 Pro's kernel sources took two weeks to land, and that's actually pretty fast for some Android brands. It's not rare for a source release to take even longer than that.

    Companies are required to do this because Android actually uses the Linux kernel, and the licensing terms for the Linux kernel mandate that companies release their source code when they make modifications to it for their devices, which is pretty much required for things to work. This has the beneficial effect of releasing the changes made to developers, who can then build their own projects like custom kernels or ROMs that would then be compatible with the device.


    According to XDA Developers, the kernel source release here also includes a full device tree, which isn't always guaranteed. This essentially means that there's extra documentation included in this release, and that gives third-party developers an easier time playing with it, potentially making the job of ROM developers a little easier and the results a little less buggy.

    This doesn't intrinsically guarantee that we'll see custom ROMs debut for the Nothing phone, but right now it looks good. Mobile security analyst and friend of the site Linuxct previously dug into an image for the phone, and unlocking the bootloader looks like an easy proposition.

    With kernel sources and an unlockable bootloader, custom ROMs probably aren't too far behind.

    I've reached out to Nothing directly to see what the company's stance on ROMs is and if it plans to embrace the practice in the same way that Carl Pei's last company did, but representatives did not immediately respond to a request for comment. In the meantime, interested developers can dive into the source over on Github.

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