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Featured Developer Interview: Meet the Mastermind behind Franco Kernel

October 19, 2012 - Written By Alexander Maxham

In the Android community many of us like to Root and ROM our devices. Now if you own a LG-P500, Huawei X5, Nexus S, Galaxy Note, Galaxy Nexus, HTC One X, Nexus 7, or a Galaxy S3, then you’ve probably heard of Franco kernel. I have had Franco kernel on my Galaxy Nexus and Nexus 7 for most of the time I’ve had each device. And we recently had the chance to sit down with Francisco Franco “the kernel master” as he’s been referred to by many people, and get into his head and find out more about him.

Tell us a little bit about yourself (Ex. Where you live, Hobbies, favorite sports and teams, etc.)

My name is Francisco, I’m a 22 years old and I’m from Portugal. I’ve been having different hobbies for quite a while. I played Tennis at a serious level for roughly 10 years until I decided that pursuing an international career wasn’t for me. Then after I took almost 2 years of university I started to work on Android full time. When I’m not crashing Android devices I spend time with my girlfriend, my family, my friends…and then I crash more devices. I also have a great “friend” called PS3 that helps me go through when I’m frustrated with my development stuff. I also like a nice movie and I can’t go by without watching my favorite series, Walking Dead, Lost (already watched it all twice and can’t get enough of it), Supernatural, Castle (who doesn’t love Kate Beckett) and some other stuff that passes on TV. Thats me πŸ™‚

How did you get started in developing for the Android platform?

I started doing simple shell scripts roughly 2 years ago for the LG-P500 with simple sysfs tweaks, messing with file systems mounting options etc. I also played a big part into running /data and /cache from sdcard ext4 partitions on that device since our NAND was pretty slow because it used YAFFS2 file system. Then it all escalated and I started playing with kernels because I wanted to have more control over the device. I had some kernel background from my Computer Architecture and Operating Systems classes (I crashed some Linux installations for fun) so it all came by naturally. Then since last December I decided that I needed to understand userspace stuff and went programming applications and today I’m proud of my franco.Kernel updater app for all its achieving.

How did you get the idea to start developing kernels?

Like I said in the last answer, I wanted to have some deeper control over my device. I wanted to squeeze every byte of performance I could get. I also wanted to learn how a Kernel worked in a mobile device.

So is developing your only job?

Yes, developing is my full time job at this moment.

When did you get started developing?

December 2010 if I remember correctly.

What other apps/themes/kernels/ROMs have you developed or worked on, both for Android and other platforms?

I’ll list everything I did: kernels for LG-P500, Huawei X5, Nexus S, Galaxy Note, Galaxy Nexus, HTC One X, Nexus 7, Galaxy S3. I had a rom for the LG that was fairly popular. Now I collaborate with minooch on a rom called MiNCO for the Galaxy Nexus. I have some apps: franco.Kernel updater, both paid and free version. The free version only features a tool to download and update my kernels. I also have an app called Simple Reboot that creates shortcuts to reboot, reboot to bootloader and reboot to recovery.

How do you monetize your work?

Mostly from my paid app. I also receive some donations from time to time from people that really enjoy what I do.

What device(s) are your current daily drivers? Are they rooted? (Ex. Nexus 7, Galaxy Note, etc.)

I mainly use the Galaxy S3 and the Galaxy Nexus. Yes they are obviously rooted

Where did the name “Franco kernel” come from?

Eheh I get this question from time to time. It comes from my name, Franco is my last name. I wanted people to associate what I did directly with me.

What’s your OS of choice, Mac OS X, PC/Windows, or Ubuntu?

I was never a big fan of Windows, but I got around to use it for a while with W7. Ubuntu is nice because its Linux, its free and lightweight, but I got tired of incompatibilities and small issues here and there. So I bought a Mac last year and I’ve been very happy with it. Build quality is awesome, great battery life, awesome screen, stable OS, fast, reliable, I can compile Android kernels, develop Android apps etc. Its just great.

What are some of your favorite apps or themes, other than your own of course?

I don’t use many apps, but I can’t live without Digital Imported Radio for some Trance listening, XDA app, Temple Run and Root Explorer.

How does fragmentation affect development with your apps/themes/kernels/ROMs?

Doesn’t affect me at all because I only work for selected devices, mostly Nexus ones.

Are there any changes you’d like to see in upcoming versions of Android?

I’d like Google to re-write the applications life cycle. iOS does this much better. Its a little bit hard to explain what actually bothers me in that cycle because its mostly visible during usage of the device, but I believe thats one of the main reasons for Android battery problems. I never have battery issues because I control my device and I know what to do and what to remove, but 90% of worldwide Android users don’t and they just want to buy a device and use it without needing to tweak it and root it. I sincerely hope Google does something about this. As an app developer this also bothers me at all because the activities cycle is horrendous and very badly implemented by Google.

Are there any developers out there that you look up to? Or inspired you to get started developing for Android?

I didn’t look up on anyone for inspiration, but there are a few of developers which I consider to be my friends: Ezekeel, morfic and Imoseyon. I also admire what supercurio does with everything Audio related and his work on the original AMOLED panel from the original Galaxy S. Chainfire is also other developer that I admire a lot for his knowledge of the Android platform, and hes a pretty cool guy.

Anything you can tell us, and our readers about any of your upcoming kernels, or new devices to be supported?

I can’t say what I’m gonna do next because I don’t know myself. I can say that my updater app will continuously be updated with new and cool stuff and that I’ll keep buying Nexus devices and work on them so if you like what I do stick with Nexus branded phones.

Why would Android users who have never used your kernel before want to flash it and give it a go?

I offer great support, often release new builds and an almost 100% guarantee that after trying my kernels they won’t leave.

Do you have any advice for our future developers out there?

Something that I always say: don’t sleep, work hard, read lots, don’t sleep and don’t give up if something goes wrong… did I mention don’t sleep?

So where can we find you? (Ex. Google+ pages, twitter, facebook, etc.)

I have a twitter but I don’t use it very often: @franciscof_1990
Google+ is where I everything happens and where I spend most of my time with social interaction with my users.
I don’t use Facebook for any Android related stuff, just private things.

 

We’d like to thank Francisco Franco for taking time out of his busy schedule to work with Android Headlines for a Developer Interview. Don’t forget you can download his apps in the Play Store (must be rooted to use them), and check out the various threads on XDA for kernels for each of the devices he is currently working with.

If you’re a developer (App, theme, ROM or kernel developer) who would like to take part in our Developer Interview series feel free to email me.