Mesa hardware drivers can be built for Android one of two ways: built into the Android OS using the ndk-build build system on older versions of Android, or out-of-tree using the Meson build system and the Android NDK.

The ndk-build build system has proven to be hard to maintain, as one needs a built Android tree to build against, and it has never been tested in CI. The Meson build system flow is frequently used by Chrome OS developers for building and testing Android drivers.

Building using the Android NDK

Download and install the NDK using whatever method you normally would. Then, create your Meson cross file to use it, something like this ~/.local/share/meson/cross/android-aarch64 file:

ar = 'NDKDIR/toolchains/llvm/prebuilt/linux-x86_64/bin/aarch64-linux-android-ar'
c = ['ccache', 'NDKDIR/toolchains/llvm/prebuilt/linux-x86_64/bin/aarch64-linux-android29-clang']
cpp = ['ccache', 'NDKDIR/toolchains/llvm/prebuilt/linux-x86_64/bin/aarch64-linux-android29-clang++', '-fno-exceptions', '-fno-unwind-tables', '-fno-asynchronous-unwind-tables', '-static-libstdc++']
c_ld = 'lld'
cpp_ld = 'lld'
strip = 'NDKDIR/toolchains/llvm/prebuilt/linux-x86_64/bin/aarch64-linux-android-strip'
# Android doesn't come with a pkg-config, but we need one for Meson to be happy not
# finding all the optional deps it looks for.  Use system pkg-config pointing at a
# directory we get to populate with any .pc files we want to add for Android
pkgconfig = ['env', 'PKG_CONFIG_LIBDIR=NDKDIR/pkgconfig', '/usr/bin/pkg-config']

system = 'linux'
cpu_family = 'arm'
cpu = 'armv8'
endian = 'little'

Now, use that cross file for your Android build directory (as in this one cross-compiling the turnip driver for a stock Pixel phone)

meson setup build-android-aarch64 \
    --cross-file android-aarch64 \
    -Dplatforms=android \
    -Dplatform-sdk-version=26 \
    -Dandroid-stub=true \
    -Dgallium-drivers= \
    -Dvulkan-drivers=freedreno \
meson compile -C build-android-aarch64

Replacing Android drivers on stock Android

The vendor partition with the drivers is normally mounted from a read-only disk image on /vendor. To be able to replace them for driver development, we need to unlock the device and remount /vendor read/write.

adb disable-verity
adb reboot
adb remount -R

Now you can replace drivers as in:

adb push build-android-aarch64/src/freedreno/vulkan/ /vendor/lib64/hw/

Note this command doesn’t quite work because libvulkan wants the SONAME to match. For now, in turnip we have been using a hack to the to change the SONAME.

Replacing Android drivers on Chrome OS

Chrome OS’s ARC++ is an Android container with hardware drivers inside of it. The vendor partition with the drivers is normally mounted from a read-only squashfs image on disk. For doing rapid driver development, you don’t want to regenerate that image. So, we’ll take the existing squashfs image, copy it out on the host, and then use a bind mount instead of a loopback mount so we can update our drivers using scp from outside the container.

On your device, you’ll want to make / read-write. ssh in as root and run:

crossystem dev_boot_signed_only=0
/usr/share/vboot/bin/ --remove_rootfs_verification --partitions 4

Then, we’ll switch Android from using an image for /vendor to using a bind-mount from a directory we control.

cd /opt/google/containers/android/
mkdir vendor-ro
mount -o loop vendor.raw.img vendor-ro
cp -a vendor-ro vendor-rw
emacs config.json

In the config.json, you want to find the block for /vendor and change it to:

    "destination": "/vendor",
    "type": "bind",
    "source": "/opt/google/containers/android/vendor-rw",
    "options": [

Now, restart the UI to do a full reload:

restart ui

At this point, your android container is restarted with your new bind-mount /vendor, and if you use android-sh to shell into it then the mount command should show:

/dev/root on /vendor type ext2 (rw,seclabel,relatime)

Now, replacing your DRI driver with a new one built for Android should be a matter of:

scp $HOST:/opt/google/containers/android/vendor-rw/lib64/dri/

You can do your build of your DRI driver using emerge-$BOARD arc-mesa-freedreno (for example) if you have a source tree with ARC++, but it should also be possible to build using the NDK as described above. There are currently rough edges with this, for example the build will require that you have your arc-libdrm build available to the NDK, assuming you’re building anything but the Freedreno Vulkan driver for KGSL. You can mostly put things in place with:

scp $HOST:/opt/google/containers/android/vendor-rw/lib64/ \

ln -s \
    /usr/include/xf86drm.h \
    /usr/include/libsync.h \
    /usr/include/libdrm \

It seems that new invocations of an application will often reload the DRI driver, but depending on the component you’re working on you may find you need to reload the whole Android container. To do so without having to log in to Chrome again every time, you can just kill the container and let it restart:

kill $(cat /run/containers/android-run_oci/ )