Xiaomi has a very unique relationship with the developer community at large, especially here at XDA. While often their devices are cheap and unlockable, they have failed to abide by the GPLv2 on multiple occasions in the past. As a result, it doesn’t matter if the devices are unlockable since the developers can’t do anything with them. Kernel sources are needed to develop custom ROMs and kernels for an Android phone. Thankfully Xiaomi pledged to release kernel sources within 3 months after launch. It’s still not abiding by the GPL, but it’s certainly a huge step forward. The Xiaomi Redmi Note 5 Pro on Android 8.1 Oreo is the next of the company’s devices to have kernel sources released on GitHub.
Interestingly, Xiaomi already released kernel source code for the Xiaomi Redmi Note 5 Pro – but for Android Nougat. Releasing them a month later for Android Oreo signifies that, at least for now, the company is committed to change. While there is definitely no shortage of ROMs for the device on our forums, developers will no longer have to rely on shims to make sure everything works.
Android 8.1 Oreo for the Xiaomi Redmi Note 5 launched in March and with it came Project Treble support. This makes it one of the very few devices that have been updated after launch to support it, despite no requirement to do so. Xiaomi supporting its devices is great to see and seeing them stick to their 3-month window is even better. Releasing kernel sources in this instance isn’t even necessary for development to take place as you can easily flash a Generic System Image (GSI) on any Project Treble enabled device and use LineageOS, Resurrection Remix or even AOSP if you wish. Still, being able to develop for a specific device is, at the moment anyway, far superior to using a GSI simply for compatibility reasons.