Update: CyanogenMod on its Google+ account reminds us all that of its official position on the Galaxy S4 -- which is to say it doesn't have one yet. CM also reminds us all that individual developers' do not speak for CM as a whole. (Which is why the quotes in the following piece are from Team Hacksung and not CyanogenMod.) CM adds that it intends to wait for retail release of the Galaxy S4 before commenting on support, as it does for all new devices.
Original story: With the Samsung Galaxy S4 presumably coming soon, many are excited about the possibility of running a more stock Android-based experience, like CyanogenMod, on the hardware. It looks like that's going to be a slower transition than many were hoping, as the current Samsung CM maintainers have said that they have no plans to support the device.
The relationship between Samsung and the people trying to hack CM onto Samsung phones has been pretty tumultuous as of late. On one side, Samsung has to try to protect their IP. Some of the decisions they have made to help do this just aren't very developer-friendly, and some even violate the GPL (an open source license that covers everything in the Linux kernel used in Android). On the other side, you have a group of people that have to have a little access to this IP so they can build a working firmware for the device. They need everything covered under the GPL, and even a little friendly advice from the manufacturers is what it takes sometimes to get everything working just right. With the two sides unable to get together, frustration has set in and the developers have spoken. XpLoDWilD, speaking for Team Hacksung states:
Nobody at Team Hacksung (the team behind Galaxy S2, Note, S3, Note2, G Tabs... official CM ports) plans to buy it, neither develop for it. There are two variants which will be a pain to maintain, [and] the bugs we have on the S3 will probably be there on S4, too (camera), and we all know Samsung ability to release sources while staying in line with mainline. Yes Qualcomm releases sources, but Exynos sources we had were far from [working on] actual Galaxy products. I'm pretty sure the same will happen for this one.
That's a uniform "no" from us.
The other developers are saying basically the same. Codeworkx, Entropy512, and kernel developer Gokhan Moral have said they refuse to develop for the Galaxy S4. Read through the break for some discussion of what this might mean for users like us.
What does this mean to me?
Maybe a lot, maybe nothing. In the grand scheme of things, Samsung will still sell a shitload of Galaxy S4 phones. Nine out of every ten people buying one will have no clue what CyanogenMod even is, and will never care enough to find out even if they heard mention of it. We all need to realize this every time we talk hacking. These people, along with plenty who know exactly what CM is, will happily use the stock Samsung firmware. There is nothing wrong with liking the stock Samsung firmware. Full stop.
There will also be folks who want custom, AOSP-based firmware on their Galaxy S4. Some who want it bad enough to build it as best they can, and share with the community. But work will be slow, and there's always that chance that it may never happen. Plenty of folks love a challenge.
OK. I want AOSP for sure, what should I do?
A lot of people recommend a Sony Xperia device or an LG device. These companies are working hard with developers, but request that much of what they do stays under the radar and unpublicized. This is so we aren't disappointed if/when we find out our favorite device isn't fully (or partially) supported by CM. Sort of like today. I imagine a few of the developers are quiet in respect to Sony and LG, or they would encourage the same thing.
Of course, the only way to be certain to get AOSP-style support is to buy an AOSP device from Google Play. We understand that not every carrier is supported, and that makes things a bit problematic, but there are just no other devices almost guaranteed to be included in CM.
We're not going to blame you if you pass on a device because you want CM support. Likewise, we fully understand why someone would not care and get the Galaxy S4, and love the way it runs with the stock Samsung firmware or a customized version of it. This is what choice is. We just want to make sure you know what's going on with the whole mess.