GPS HAL Adaptation

Overhauling, soong, QMI


The Qualcomm GPS/GNSS functionality in Android is spread out over lots of files and repositories. Most important are the hardware/qcom/gps and vendor/qcom/opensource/location directories, plus a lot of proprietary libraries.

We wanted to upgrade our forked opensource location HAL to a more recent CAF tag since we had to resort to retrofitting patches to keep up with the hardware/qcom/gps parts, see for instance this PR.

This turned out into a larger ordeal, since more recent Qualcomm/CAF versions of the OSS location repo depended on extensive changes to the gps HAL as well, so we had to pull in those changes and adapt the repo into our SODP build environment as well.

Picking a CAF tag

Let‘s take as given that we need to bump our OSS location and gps HALs. We want the sm8150 future-oriented version of our HALs, so we head to the CodeAurora Forum git repos and fetch the latest 8.1 tags: platform/hardware/qcom/gps and platform/vendor/qcom-opensource/location using tag LA.UM.8.1.r1-14500-sm8150.0. You can search for tags at the repo’s /refs node.


Starting out, the package list in looked like this:

# hardware/qcom/gps
    libloc_core \
    libgps.utils \
    liblocation_api \
    libloc_pla \
# vendor/qcom/opensource/location
    libloc_api_v02 \
    libloc_ds_api \

The init-startable location services are included via

    android.hardware.gnss@1.1-impl-qti \

This results in the following dependency chain: android.hardware.gnss@1.1-service-qti loads android.hardware.gnss@1.1-impl-qti, which loads:

  • libloc_core
  • libgps.utils
  • liblocation_api
  • libloc_pla
  • libgnss

libloc_core loads the following in ContextBase.cpp (shortened):

const char* libname = "";
// If gps.conf has GNSS_DEPLOYMENT = 1 (QCSR SS5 enabled):
libname = ""
if ((handle = dlopen(libname, RTLD_NOW)) != NULL) {
  getLocApi_t* getter = (getLocApi_t*) dlsym(handle, "getLocApi");

That means that we need to provide, and in case we want to provide the OSS “synergy API”,

I could not find any reference to libgnsspps, and libloc_ds_api seems unused on 8.1 as well.

One peculiarity for SODP is that we cannot rely on proprietary symbols and libs at build time since all our non-odm code is public. For that reason, Obeida Shamoun wrote a tool called libloc_loader which dlopens the required libraries from the /odm partition. The required libraries are defined in libloc_loader.h:


We can ditch libdsi_netctrl and libqmiservices and their respective loader functions since their symbols are no longer required on the 8.1 OSS location repo.

So, let us review our requirements:

  • android.hardware.gnss@1.1-impl-qti (should be bumped to 2.0)
  • android.hardware.gnss@1.1-service-qti (should be bumped to 2.0)
  • libloc_core
  • libgps.utils
  • liblocation_api
  • libloc_pla
  • libgnss
  • (odm)
  • (odm)

Adaptation phase

To adapt the new 8.1 HALs, we need to re-apply some commits that we had applied to the previous CAF base and cull usage of some proprietary libs. Just rebase the previous SODP adaptation commits on top of the 8.1 OSS location repo.

These bringup tweaks are fairly tame and self-explanatory:

QMI and proprietary headers

Since Qualcomm wants to keep their chip and core firmware and software internals secret, they devise all sorts of idiosyncratic schemes and data formats to interface with their chips. One of those formats is a sort of messaging protocol called QMI, a form of IPC. QMI stands for “Qualcomm MSM Interface”. For more information, see the entry on QMI on the osmocom Wiki1.

Even though the location repo is filed under opensource, it relies on symbol definitions in header files that are only shipped with a Qualcomm “Board Support Package” - BSP for short.

Let’s gloss over how exactly Jens Andersen managed to extract the needed headers by “studying the code and the functions defined in the kernel headers” and keep in mind that less is more when interacting with and working around proprietary interfaces. The needed symbols are part of the PR Add headers needed for compiling location provider. I am sorry that I cannot be more specific with this topic, it‘s a delicate matter.

With the 8.1 location repo, we need to adapt a few headers slightly: loc_api: Update QMI header symbols and loc_api: Fix error type enums. Marijn and me were puzzled as to how the doubly-included common_qmi_idl_type_table_object_v01 was even compiling with the legacy location repo, but we agreed that the definition should be moved to libloc_loader.c.

Modern makefile practices

The heading of this section is a tad contradictory, since the build system is very slowly being phased out. Still, one has to adapt to the times, and Google is planning to or already has deprecated a good lot of functions in Q and will make them errors on the R release.

We shall we begin by looking at a typical old-style multi-library entanglement of medium complexity. Usually libraries will have interdependencies and reliance on shared header files.

File structure:

├── module_a
│   │── libfoo.c
│   │── libfoo.h
│   └──
└── module_b
    │── libbar.c
    │── libbar.h


include $(CLEAR_VARS)
LOCAL_MODULE           := libmodule_a
LOCAL_SRC_FILES        := libfoo.c
LOCAL_COPY_HEADERS     := libfoo.h

libmodule_a will have access to the headers in $(TARGET_OUT_HEADERS)/data/inc. The headers var resolves to:

$ get_build_var TARGET_OUT_HEADERS
# out/target/product/<device>/obj/include

So out/target/product/<device>/obj/include/data/inc/my_inc.h will be #include-able as my_inc.h for module_a/libfoo.c:

#include "my_inc.h"

Similarly, libfoo.h will be accessible to libbar.c (or any other lib for that matter) because it was explicitly copied into a subfolder of the out dir’s include directory via LOCAL_COPY_HEADERS_TO.


include $(CLEAR_VARS)
LOCAL_MODULE           := libmodule_b
LOCAL_SHARED_LIBRARIES := libutils libmodule_a
LOCAL_SRC_FILES        := libbar.c


#include <module_a/libfoo.h>

You will note that the make system allows specifying absolute paths (i.e. not relative to the module dir and also outside the module dir).

Android Q is starting to discourage such Wild West practices and kindly asks you to use “header libraries” as modules instead.


LOCAL_PATH := $(call my-dir)
include $(CLEAR_VARS)
LOCAL_MODULE := libmodule_a_headers


LOCAL_HEADER_LIBRARIES := libmodule_a_headers

At the same time, you should revise your makefiles and see whether you can remove some overzealous logic. Makefiles are slow to parse and can slow down your iteration speed a lot.

We do the same for libloc_loader and move its header into a separate module: loc_api: Clean libloc_loader, headers as module.

Soong and blueprints

Now we also need to slightly modify some behaviour because soong does not allow that specific mode of operating any more. We can prepare this in make already so that the switch to soong will not be as drastic. utils+gnss: Invert debuggable logic: Rather than checking whether the build type is a user build, soong with its product_variables: debuggable only allows checking whether it is not.

Now we can go ahead and start converting the gps and location modules to the soong Android.bp language. Using blueprints is much faster to parse. A downside is that any dependency of a module defined in a blueprint file must also be defined in a blueprint file, because all blueprint modules are evaluated and validated before make modules are read.

You can use the androidmk tool to bear the brunt of the conversion work, but complex make structures will not translate one-to-one into blueprint format.

../-style relative LOCAL_C_INCLUDES outside the module dir like in gps/2.0/ are no longer allowed. We need to define those as header library modules. For make, you can refer to the BUILD_HEADER_LIBRARY example from above, in soong it looks like this: android: Define viz+measurement@1.0 header libs 2.

Source files from outside the module directory are similarly no longer allowed. Soong has the concept of a filegroup which we can use instead.

File structure:

├── foo
│   ├── foo.c (shared)
│   └── Android.bp
├── bar
│   ├── bar.c
│   └── Android.bp
└── baz
    ├── baz.c
    └── Android.bp


filegroup {
    name: "foo_src",
    srcs: ["foo.c"]

You can reference that group of files via :foo_src (note the colon) from anywhere else, e.g. bar/Android.bp

cc_library_shared {
    name: "bar",
    srcs: [

You can no longer rely on traditional conditional statements in soong; this is a no-go:


You will need to write your own go logic in Go for makevar-dependent build logic. See for example how SODP differentiates between gralloc versions in the display HAL: bootstrap_go_module, gralloc_defaults.go, device tree config via SOONG_CONFIG_<X>.

For project-wide inherited variables, Qualcomm uses and sets LOCAL_CFLAGS to $(GNSS_CFLAGS). We can use the defaults system of soong to supplant that behaviour:

cc_defaults {
    name: "foo_defaults",
    // Contents of $(GNSS_CFLAGS) from target_specific_features follow:
    cflags: [
cc_library_shared {
    name: "libfoo",
    defaults: [

Defaults are usable even from outside the current module. But note that source files stay relative to the inheriting module, so if you have foo/foo.c, define foo_defaults with srcs: ["foo.c"] and try to access foo_defaults from bar - which also contains foo.c, you will have bar/foo.c selected as srcs! Defaults are like header files in that way.

Taken together, the conversion of our GPS and location repos to soong looks like this: location: Convert to Android.bp and gps: Convert to Android.bp. Note that we need to empty the file or give it a build guard so that we do not run into duplicate module definitions.


Now a particular annoyance: android.hardware.gnss@2.0-service-qti relies on, which is hidden behind a soong namespace. Even though the namespace is added to PRODUCT_SOONG_NAMESPACES in our device trees, libqti_vndfwk_detect still is inaccessible from other soong modules which have not explicitly imported the core-utils namespace.

Note: make modules can access libqti_vndfwk_detect because they only “care” about whether core-utils is in the board’s PRODUCT_SOONG_NAMESPACES.

We define a namespace for hardware/qcom/gps and let it import the core-utils namespace: gps: Android.bp: Define soong_namespace. That in turn necessitaces namespacing the OSS location repo: location: Android.bp: Define soong_namespace.

All in all, more work than I’d have liked, but that is the “correct” way to do it, according to Google.

Device trees

Those changes in the hardware repos need to be reflected in the device trees as well. Add GPS+location soong namespaces and Update GNSS package list.


The uprevisioned service binary needs an SELinux label: sepolicy/vendor/file_contexts:

-/(system/vendor|vendor)/bin/hw/android\.hardware\.gnss@1\.1-service-qti   u:object_r:hal_gnss_qti_exec:s0
+/(system/vendor|vendor)/bin/hw/android\.hardware\.gnss@2\.0-service-qti   u:object_r:hal_gnss_qti_exec:s0


So, what‘s left? Cleaning up and crafting proper commits, documentation, testing, trying to send as much as possible upstream.

Converting your projects to soong can make them “cleaner” and faster to parse, but since Google is obsessed with namespacing and versioning things - well, overengineering and refactoring constantly is what it is - implementing blueprints often ends up being a bit more complicated than it ought to.

  1. The osmocom Wiki page on QMI might be outdated at this point. QMI is a proprietary and not publicly documented interface. ↩︎

  2. For later, it might be interesting to look into export_header_lib_headers and export_shared_lib_headers/export_static_lib_headers. ↩︎

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