Interview with the dev: Crossbones’ custom Nexus OS

I’ve used Crossbones ROMs on both my Nexus S and Galaxy Nexus and I have to admit, they’re as stable as you’re likely to find. They offer some very useful additions to Google’s stock offering, while also giving you a little more control over your device. If you’re looking for something that looks like stock, but feels and reacts quicker, then this is certainly worth a look.

CPU controls and unique notification toggles are two of the most important features to look for in custom ROMs and with an advanced reboot menu, and a few other tweaks, it really is a “daily driver” kind of ROM. Lead developer, Mike Wielgosz, was kind enough to answer some of my questions about Crossbones and its development, here’s what he had to say…

Gearburn: As a ROM developer, why do you feel there is a need for custom ROMs?

Mike Wielgosz: Two reasons.  The first being that anyone can sit down, learn how a small-scale operating system works (in relative terms to a desktop), and expand upon it in any way they desire.  

This may not necessarily constitute a “need” for custom ROMs, but it is definitely a great learning tool and way to express creativity, like an art. The second reason being so anyone who would like to customize their phone is allowed to do so.  

All devices come shipped a certain way, and because of the Android community as a whole, no one has to use the device as the manufacture intended; we have choice.  This makes it feel more personal, like how one would customize their computer, car, or motorcycle.

GB: If you could summarise your work in a single caption, what would it be?

MW: A never-ending learning experience which is fun to develop and share.

GB: What is your current daily device?

MW: Sprint Nexus S 4G (crespo4g)

GB: Which is your favourite Android device up to now?

MW: I personally like the Nexus line simply because it is the easiest and most direct route to software customization, therefore, the Galaxy Nexus.

GB: How did you get into ROM developing?

MW: Back when the HTC Evo 4G was popular, Savaged-Zen had developed a very stable kernel which was very popular among owners of the device.  A very good friend and fellow developer had an idea to build a rock solid ROM around the kernel.  

Once Josh caught wind that I developed the SMS message splitting code which was introduced in CM7 and was eager to learn Android, he started asking me for help with the project.  Programming has always been a passion of mine, and at the time I had quite a bit of free time on my hands.  2 + 2 = 4.

GB: I have used your work on my Nexus S as well, and loved your custom kernel, so, will we be seeing a Crossbones kernel for Maguro?

MW: My ICS releases all had custom kernels but the difference between the Nexus S & Galaxy Nexus kernels were the developers (I will get into this later). The Crossbones Jellybean ROM will be including a new custom kernel developed by someone other than myself.  Although I have added features (like governors and schedulers) to a kernel, I am no kernel developer.  I don’t know enough about how software interacts with and controls hardware to call myself one.

GB: Do you develop your own kernels, or is Crossbones a team effort? If so, who helps you out with the development?

MW: When I started the Crossbones ROM, I knew it needed its own unique kernel.  It was pure coincidence that around the time I started putting together the initial builds, an old friend and co-developer on the Savaged-Zen project had purchased a Nexus S.  

Luis wrote the Crossbones kernel released with the Nexus S devices (I just added a few extras to it).  For the Galaxy Nexus, I had permission to use the kernel from Codename Android which was also, in part, developed by Josh who was another member of the Savaged-Zen team.  Most of the unique features you find in the actual ROM were created by myself (but not all).

GB: Who are some of your favourite Android developers?

MW: Of course all the members of Savaged-Zen from the kernel and ROM devs, to the graphics and web design friends who helped out.  I have also always followed preludedrew (Evervolv), Robert Burns (burnsra), and Peter Alfonso.  It goes without saying that I pay huge respects to the CyanogenMod team.

GB: Which 3 Android apps could you not live without?

MW: Besides most of the apps developed by Google, Titanium Backup, GooManager, and TuneIn Radio.

GB: What would you like to see in the next Nexus device?

MW: The best hardware money can buy.  I want to see a beast of a phone with the Nexus label on it!

Get all the information you need about Crossbones, including the downloads, on their site, and for support there are two threads, one on XDA and the other on Rootzwiki. Give it a flash, I am sure you will be pleasantly surprised.



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