How to lay out your source strucure.

AOSP layout

When you set up your Android directory with repo init, what happens is the Google repo tool creates a hidden .repo folder, which by default has a manifest.xml file.

manifest.xml and local_manifests

manifest.xml is actually a symbolic link to .repo/manifests/default.xml. It contains a description of the directories needed to build android, and where to get them. Those directories are all just git repositories that get cloned from A <remote> is just a git remote base url with a default branch specified. A <project> sets name and path as well as remote and revision(git branch).
Let’s take this example:

<remote name="sony" fetch="" />
<project path="hardware/qcom/gps" name="hardware-qcom-gps-sdm845" groups="device" remote="sony" revision="aosp/android-9.0.0_r11" />

This would just git clone the git repo from into hardware/qcom/gps. Every time you run repo sync it would fetch the latest version of the branch aosp/android-9.0.0_r11 from GitHub.

Instead of editing manifest.xml, you can instead put your modifications inside .repo/local_manifests/. This way, if the AOSP default manifest changes, you do not have to re-apply your changes manually.

To get started with your own local_manifests, take a look at If you want to remove a default project, use <remove-project>.


Every directory with an or Android.bp file in it will get considered.

Most interesting to new developers might be the frameworks, hardware, kernel and packages folders.

Everything together

└── android-build-dir
    ├── .repo
    │   ├── local_manifests
    │   │   ├── qcom.xml
    │   │   └── oss.xml
    │   └── manifest.xml
    ├── bionic
    ├── build
    ├── device
    │   └── sony
    │       ├── common
    │       ├── tone
    │       └── kagura
    ├── hardware
    ├── kernel
    │   └── sony
    │       └── msm-4.9
    │           ├── kernel
    │           └── common-kernel
    ├── [...]
    └── out
        └── target
            └── product
                └── kagura
                    ├── boot.img
                    └── system.img


  • Use the appropriate branch for your things at all times! It is tempting to test out patches from master, but be consistent.
  • Cherry-pick carefully
  • If anything goes wrong, use repo forall -vc "git reset --hard"
  • If you must fork a repository, never commit your changes to the master branch, create a custom branch instead. This way, you can still pull from the “upstream” repo(i.e. the repo you forked it from) to master and then merge from master into your own custom branch. Otherwise you will run into merge conflicts very quickly.


  • It is way easier to write a patch and submit it than forking a repository and keeping it in sync with the upstream repo. If the maintainers do not accept your patch but you still need it, keep a branch in your forked repository for all your changes and only cherry-pick them with your own patch script. Take a look at from sonyxperiadev for inspiration.
  • Use overlays instead of modifying android_frameworks_base

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