The Rumor Of My Demise Has Been Greatly Exaggerated!

So it’s been a long time since I’ve blogged! At the beginning of the year I was aiming to post regularly. Jared challenged me to blog about my Fedora happenings weekly at FUDCon Tempe, that seemed to go OK until around June. For a while there I was actually quite a bit ahead, now I’m about 10 posts behind my goal 🙁

So what has this slacker been up to? Well quite a lot actually!

  • I’ve started my tenure on the Fedora Board. I’m some what into the groove now but I need to start blogging more about it too.
  • Fedora 14 on ARM. As part of the OLPC XO 1.75 I’ve been rebuilding the entirety of Fedora 14 on ARM. Its been somewhat daunting and I think to some people it must look like I’m on a quest to get a ChangeLog entry in every package in the distro :-/
  • My $DAYJOB has been manic! Lots of interesting RHEL 6 bit but also massive amounts of VMWare vSphere stuff. I’m off the VMWorld in Vegas this week so if there’s any Fedora people about at VMWorld or Vegas and you want to catch up get in touch with me

I’ve also been going through the final bits of my naturalisation process in the UK and attempting to sail regularly with my crew. Last week we won 2 races and came second in two races in the Sussex Regatta which gave us an overall win 😀

There’s all sorts of other things going on but I think that’s the biggies. Hopefully I’ll be able to start blogging more in the coming weeks!

Fedora 14 on ARM Alpha release

I wanted to do this over a week ago to get this out over a week ago but I broke my Beagle Board XM’s boot and only had time to investigate the issues and fix it on the weekend.

You can get the Fedora 14 ARMv5tel rootfs here. I’m calling it an alpha as none of the packages are signed and just pulled straight from koji. I’ve got a few things on my list that need to be fixed but we’re not looking too bad. One thing to note here is that you’ll need at least a 2.6.32 kernel. All the other details to get it to work are the same as for the F-13 releases.

Note this isn’t the “hardfp” release, that will be coming with F-15 at the same time as the release for this arch and with luck we’ll be in a similar situation with F-15 shortly 🙂

I’ve been crawling through “build previous” slowly… I think we’re around 15% through rebuilding the entirety of the gold release of Fedora 14. While the script has been running I’ve been also pushing targeted groups of packages to minimise the number of runs we have to do and for what I believe to be the most useful stuff. We’re currently concentrating on “dist-f14” (ie the packages tagged for the original release sans any updates), hopefully we can start looking at updates soon.

Now it the time for people that are interested in getting particular group of packages to step up and help out. This includes particular desktops such as gnome/kde/xfce/lxde etc and particular development environments and languages such as eclipse or java/mono/ocaml/haskel etc so if you helped out with the F-13 stuff on ARM we’d like some more assistance.

Fedora ARM hardfp bring up FAD

So the hardfp on Fedora bring up is happening today. Newer ARMv7 chipsets can basically run in two modes that aren’t compatible. The current and most widely used variant is softfp which uses a software based FPU. The newer and cooler (read faster) variant ARMv7 chips contain a hardware FPU but the GNU open tool chain has only recently got to the stage where its all supported. All the needed components should be in Fedora 15 with one of the key pieces being gcc 4.6.

What does it mean for ARM on Fedora…. in the short term likely not much. The older ARMv5tel platform support isn’t going anywhere. Its a little like mainline x86_64 vs i386 platforms, except you can’t run 5tel binaries on 7hl distributions (although you can run an entire 5tel distro on ARMv7 hardware. Also with the hardfp stack support being very new there will likely be a number of weird and interesting bugs that will make it not for the faint of heart.

With luck this should change in the Fedora 16 time frame and with luck we should be in sync on both armv7l (hardfp) and armv5tel (softfp) in the Fedora 16 timeframe for a near in-sync release.

Mobility Devices

I’ve been meaning to do a post with details of all the small devices I have. Not all the devices pictured below currently run Fedora although nine out of the twelve shown either currently run Fedora or I’ve had them boot Fedora. The three devices that don’t, as yet, boot Fedora are devices 8, 9 and 11. There’s no reason why they can’t as they all run some form of Linux, in the case of 8 and 11 its Android and 9 is a Logitech SqueezeBox Touch.

One of the things that I’ve been trying to achieve in Fedora for many years is slimming of the required dependencies of certain combinations of installs. Not everyone needs everything, and not everyone has Terabytes of storage that can be thrown about.

So what are all the devices above. I’ll go through each one and give some details of each:

  1. OLPC XO 1.75: 1Ghz ARMv7 Processor, 512Mb RAM, 4Gb eMMC storage, GPU Unknown
  2. OLPC XO 1.5: 1Ghz VIA C7 Processor, 1Gb RAM, 4Gb microSD storage, VIA VX855 GPU
  3. OLPC XO 1.0: 433Mhz AMD Geode Processor, 256Mb RAM, 1Gb Flash storage, Geode GPU
  4. Nokia n900: 800Mhz OMAP3 A8 ARMv7 Processor, 256Mb RAM, 32Gb eMMC storage, PowerVR SGX530 GPU
  5. BeagleBoard XM: 1Ghz OMAP3 A8 ARMv7 Processor, 512Mb RAM, 8Gb microSD storage, PowerVR SGX530 GPU
  6. Fit-PC 1.0: 500Mhz AMD Geode Processor, 256Mb RAM, 40Gb HDD, Geode GPU
  7. O2 Joggler: 1Ghz Z520 Atom Processor, 512Mb RAM, 2Gb Flash storage, GMA-500 Poulsbo GPU
  8. Orange SanFrancisco AKA ZTE Blade: 600Mhz Qualcomm MSM7227 ARMv6 processor, 512Mb RAM, 150Mb Flash, Adreno 200 GPU
  9. Logitech SqueezeBox Touch: 600Mhz ARMv6 Processor, 128Mb RAM, 128Mb Flash, GPU Unknown
  10. Toshia AC100: Dual Core 1Ghz Tegra 250 A9 ARMv7 Processor, 512Mb RAM, 8Gb SSD, GeForce ULP GPU
  11. Samsung Galaxy Tab:1Ghz Samsung A8 ARMv7 Processor, 512Mb RAM, 16Gb SSD, PowerVR SGX540 GPU
  12. Asus EeePC 901: 1.6 Ghz Atom Processor, 1Gb RAM, 4Gb Primary SSD, 16 Gb Secondary SSD, Intel G450 GPU

All the devices have WiFi, some have wired Ethernet, some 3G, GPS etc.

There’s two main issues with smaller “mobility” devices. Firstly is the GPU support is obviously a mixed bag, there’s obviously AdamW’s favourite GPU… the Poulsbo on the Intel Z5xx series atoms. The Poulsbo is basically a variant of the PowerVR GPU’s that Intel licenese. Unfortunately this is still basically the case for the new Z6xx series which contain a GMA-600 Poulsbo device. Buyer beware! Its been leaked this week that Intel for later generations isn’t going to improve the situation as they just going to use the PowerVR GPU directly.

The other issue is storage. Most of the devices just don’t have that much of it. This is why I spend so much time filing bugs to split out dependencies. While you can install the standard desktop into 4Gb it doesn’t leave that much for things like yum updates or fun things like music 🙂

Cheap hardware to get involved in Fedora ARM?

For Fedora people that are interested in getting involved with the ARM secondary arch you can currently get a Pogo Plug from CompUSA for a smidg under 60 greenbacks. In hardware specs, its pretty much a SheevaPlug in pretty clothing, so its well supported on Fedora ARM. There should also be some nifty improvements soon to make it even easier to use Fedora on ARM devices thanks to some cool projects by students at Seneca College for kernel build rpms!

FUDCon Day 0

Having arrived in Tempe for FUDCon late on Thursday evening having been in transit for close to 24 hours it was great relief to meet up with Mel and Sebastian at the hotel. After a great nights sleep, except for a massively sore neck, it was great to get up on Friday morning to find people starting to arrive and the office hallway track begin to take shape.

I went out in the afternoon to get out and about from the hotel and see a little of the surrounding areas. By the time I got back a huge crowd had started to gather and it was good to catch up with adamw, jsmith, dgilmore, pfrields and many many others.

FUDCon officially started with the first birthday party of with beers, pizza and cake provided them to assist the conversations and celebrations.

FUDCon Tempe

Well its not long before I’ll be jumping on a plane to head over the pond to Tempe, Arizona to the latest and greatest FUDCon. This will be my forth FUDCon event. I always enjoy them. Its lots of fun catching up with friends and fellow contributors who’ll no doubt become friends. There’s always one thing I really don’t like about FUDCon…. its that there’s always too many awesome topics of discussion and sessions that I want to attend but they conflict with other sessions that I want to go to 🙂

So what do I want to discuss and see discussed at FUDCon Tempe? Well as per usual there’s lots so here’s a quick bullet list:

  • Fedora Mobility: How to take it forward and who wants to achieve what, and how we all go about it. As devices get smaller and every company and their dog release tablets I think mobile devices will become more key to Fedora. It also fits in very well with a number of the Fedora Board Long Term Goals in particular I think it fits well for the help people control their content and devices and the Access from anywhere strategy.
  • Sugar, OLPC and Sugar on a Stick: there’s going to be quite a few people from various OLPC and Sugar projects in attendance. Also the awesome adamw and the Fedora QA team is going to be there so there’s plans to extend the discussions we started at FUDCon Zurich. The OLPC project is arguably the largest deployment of devices based on Fedora. The OLPC OS that runs on their XO laptops is pretty close to a vanilla Fedora release and as the last of the XO kernel patches make it upstream you can run vanilla Fedora on them with few issues.
  • Fedora ARM and secondary architectures: dgilmore, ctyler, PaulW will (I think) all be there and Fedora ARM is really starting to amp up with their awesome work! This also crosses over somewhat into OLPC and is hand in hand with Fedora Mobility. I suspect the discussions will revolve around getting Fedora 14 and rawhide building, ARMv7 + hardfp builds and ensuring ARM becomes a solid secondary arch.
  • Cloud: This sort of stuff is part of what I do for my $dayjob and it interests me greatly! I just wish I had more time to contribute to the SIG.
  • MeeGo Netbook UX: yes, this was a big FAIL for Fedora 14 and I need to blog on this. Looking much better for Fedora 15. Watch this space!
  • IPv6. There’s been some interesting posts on using IPv6 with various ISPs with that other Linux based desktop OS. Why isn’t there the same for Fedora??
  • Friends: One of the big ones of the four F’s of Fedora.
  • There’s always lots of random hallway discussions.

There’s no doubt a number of things that I’ve missed. The other thought I have is what of my Mobility tech toys to bring along. I have my laptop obviously. My atom based netbook running MeeGo Netbook UX on rawhide, my XO 1.5 running Fedora 14, my Toshiba AC100 running Fedora ARM 13 but I don’t think I can pack 4 laptop/netbook devices 😛

Fedora ARM on the Toshiba AC100 Smart Book

I finally sat down on the weekend to try and get some OS other than Android running on the Toshiba AC100 I bought off ebay on a whim. The AC100 doesn’t look that different to your average 10.1 inch netbook except its extremely thin and and light and on the inside it has a Nvidia Tegra 2 SoC based on the dual core ARM Cortex A9. My initial plan was to get Ubuntu running on due to the instructions about doing that to be found on the net. After doing some reading and while part way through the process I decided that I would try Paul Whalen’s Fedora 13 ARM rootfs instead as the process of creating a linux rootfs is similar across all distributions! There’s still quite a way to go. For starters its currently a very base system and its currently running a 2.6.29 kernel for ubuntu based on the code released by Toshiba but its a start. Over the next couple of days I plan on getting networking up and from there X plus gnome. Once I’ve got that done I’ll put up a more defined process and add the details to the ARM wiki devices page.