[Freedombox-discuss] Ubuntu and Freedom Box?

Matt Zimmerman mdz at ubuntu.com
Sun Nov 7 12:46:23 UTC 2010

On Fri, Oct 15, 2010 at 07:26:11PM +0200, Melvin Carvalho wrote:
> What is the future of Ubuntu with embedded devices? Specifically the
> ARM based Guru Plug and the Sheeva Plug?
> ARM is now a fully supported architecture in Ubuntu. The ARM ecosystem
> is coming together in something called Linaro, and Canonical is very
> much part of that.
> Linaro is a forum to get stuff done, not a consortium or a new distro,
> it’s where we can set a roadmap for a unified ARM kernel, and set the
> pace for the ARM toolchain, in 10.10, for example, the whole of Ubuntu
> is built with GCC that includes patches from ARM which makes
> everyone’s life a little better, but a little more complicated and
> helps get those patches upstream faster, because they’ve been
> exercised at Ubuntu-scale, which is good.
> So, you can count on ARM support in 11.04 and the foreseeable future.

ARM has been supported in Ubuntu since 9.04 in fact.  This original port
targeted the Babbage board and the ARMv5 ISA.  Since then, it's moved on and
(as others has pointed out) targets ARMv7 and is optimized for use in
PC-class ARM systems, more so than embedded platforms.

This means that Debian is the best choice for the systems you named above,
the Guru Plug and Sheeva Plug, and the others listed on
http://wiki.debian.org/FreedomBox/TargetedHardware which are commonly
available today and based on ARMv5.

If the goal is to minimize cost, I expect that ARMv5 platforms will continue
to hit lower price points for the present time.  If the FB would benefit
from higher performance, then the next generation of devices may be worth
further consideration.

At present, the ARMv5 SheevaPlug development kit seems to cost about USD100.
ARMv7 developer boards cost significantly more, like the Beagle OMAP3 board
(USD150) and new Panda OMAP4 (USD179).  The Panda looks very promising, with
dual 1GHz Cortex A9 cores.

Regardless, it's likely that that the Freedom Box project could benefit from
some of the engineering work done in Linaro and Ubuntu related to ARM.  I am
happy to help coordinate that if I can be of assistance.

 - mdz

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