Earlier this year, the CyanogenMod team discussed the future of the open source ROM project now that Jelly Bean has gone open source. At the time, they hinted that they might have to drop support for older devices with the new version of the OS, but did say that CyanogenMod 7, based on Gingerbread, would be maintained simultaneously with CyanogenMod 10. Unfortunately, the team has in fact confirmed that they will be dropping quite a few devices from CM9/CM10 support, meaning that many of these old smartphones won’t be getting official builds beyond Gingerbread.
The list of devices that won’t be getting any builds beyond CyanogenMod 7 is quite large, and includes such popular phones as the Nexus One, HTC EVO 4G, HTC Desire, HTC Droid Eris, HTC Droid Incredible, as well as many more first generation Snapdragon devices. The reason these devices will no longer be supported is purely technical, however, and the CyanogenMod team found that while technically most of these devices could support Ice Cream Sandwich or Jelly Bean, it would require “compromises in the CyanogenMod code that we are not willing to make.” For example, the Nexus One would require quite a bit of partition customization to work with ICS, and the team says that “The pieces just aren’t there.”
The team also utilizes a pass/fail system, the Android Compatibility Test Suite. Basically, the test is used by manufacturers to ensure that their custom software does not violate Android API or platform standards. If a CyanogenMod build doesn’t pass the test, it would not only result in a bad experience for the user where many apps don’t work, but also could have greater repercussions for the entire project.
As you can see, while the news is disappointing, the CyanogenMod team does have very good reason for dropping support of these older devices. Anyway, users of those older devices will still be provided with stable CM 7.2 builds, based on Gingerbread, for quite a while. I also wouldn’t be surprised to see “kangs,” or unofficial modified CyanogenMod builds, pop up for most of these devices. So, while older devices may still get unofficial updates for a while, there is a point at which community ROM projects can’t help anymore.