My ARM grab bag device list

They say the first step of coming to terms with addiction is admitting you have a problem… I have a problem with collecting ARM devices… there I said it! How big is this problem you ask? How about I list them out and let you decide!

I’ll break the list down into categories as I believe it’s big enough to do so :-/

The aarch64 set of devices currently stands at:

  • 2x Applied Mustang (different x-gene SoC revs)
  • AMD Seattle
  • 96boards HiKey (hi6220)

The ARMv7 boards list is currently:

  • Compulabs Trimslice (tegra-2)
  • Toshiba AC100 (tegra-2)
  • nVidia Jetson TK1 (tegra-124)
  • Acer Chromebook (tegra-124)
  • BeagleBoard xM (omap3)
  • Nokia n900 (omap3)
  • Nokia n950 prototype (omap3)
  • BeagleBone (am33xx)
  • BeagleBone Black (am33xx) x3
  • BeagleBone Green (am33xx)
  • PandaBoard ES Prototype (omap4)
  • PandaBoard ES B2 (omap4)
  • CubieBoard (allwinner-a10)
  • CubieTruck (allwinner-a20)
  • Banana Pi (allwinner-a20)
  • C.H.I.P. Alpha x2 (allwinner-r8)
  • Snowball (u8500)
  • Compulabs Utilite (imx6q)
  • WandBoard Quad revb (imx6q)
  • novena board (imx6q)
  • RIoTboard (imx6s)
  • UDOO Neo (imx6sx)
  • Origen (exynos-4)
  • OLPC XO 1.75 – a number of variants (mmp2) xNumerous
  • OLPC XO-4 including XO-Touch (mmp3) xNumerous
  • Linksys WRT1900AC (armada-xp)
  • Mirabox (armada-370)
  • ifc6410 (qcom)
  • Parallella Board (zynq7000)
  • Raspberry Pi 2 x3

The Cortex-M series for IoT sensors is currently:

  • TI SensorTag 2015
  • ARM mBed IoT starter kit
  • BeeWi SmartClim

Other random related bits:

  • BeagleBone Breadboard Prototyping Cape x2
  • BeagleBone CryptoCape
  • Original 256Mb Raspberry Pi model B
  • Grove starter kit for BeagleBone Green
  • Explorer HAT
  • PiGlo HAT
  • TI CC2531 802.15.4 USB dongle x3
  • numerous random sensors

So the list above is the devices that I use for hacking on. I count 41 without listing out the dozen or so ARM based XOs I have (various prototypes and models). I also don’t have in that list phones, tablets and two drones as I don’t really hack on those as it’s not like with the list above I don’t already have enough toys! So do I have a problem?

GNOME 3 fall back mode

I’ve been aware of the possibility of gnome fallback mode being dropped for quite some time. I wasn’t aware a decision had been made to definitely do so.

This is somewhat disappointing to me as I know of a lot of users of it. For starters there’s the 2.5 million OLPC XOs that were in the field as of January 2012 (I’m led to believe there’s around 1.5 million more to add from this year) and there’s a lot of ARM devices that have no 3D support because it’s pretty much impossible to use ESGL with gnome-shell at the moment (yes I know there’s plans to refactor mesa and friends to cope with this but that’s not now).

This isn’t designed to be a Federico style rant and if it was it would be aimed as much at the MATE Desktop as the GNOME team. I personally believe MATE would have been better off targeting their resources at properly fixing the GNOME 3 fall back mode to do the things they miss from GNOME 2 as attempting to glue together the GNOME 2 desktop as at least all the core apps are not duplicated and they get to keep the newer code which ultimately will be a lot more maintainable moving forward through the shared development of code. I’m not sure why they went the other route.

Oh well ultimately I believe it will be yet another net loss for GNOME as possibly eventually losing 4+ million odd young users from OLPC deployments (and all the other people such as families that use the devices) when they leave school I think would be a loss for the community moving forward and then add to that the users of it on ARM devices and other old computers in the developing world I think they’re not even aware of the users they have.

N.B. As always the words and thoughts are those of my own and don’t represent anyone else’s opinions.

A long overdue status update of Fedora on ARM

Well I’ve been meaning on doing a status update on ARM as well as a number of blog posts for quite sometime but I’ve had some personal changes I’ve been settling into (more on that sometime soon).

So first and foremost we’ve announced (a slightly delayed) Fedora 18 ARM alpha. There’s a some of images there for supported devices but if there’s an image you’d like that’s not there feel free to come and help out to make it happen.

We’re looking pretty good for Fedora 18. We’ve got even more packages built than what we had for Fedora 17 and we’ve fixed and improved a lot of issues. I’ve spent a lot of time massaging the kernel into better shape with the help of the Fedora Kernel team and jwb in particular. We have people polishing desktop environments like XFCE and KDE with thanks to some of the XO 1.75s that people received as part of The Fedora Summer of Fun and I look forward to seeing more of the 50 people that received one coming and helping out. Not everything was quite so rosy though as the anaconda newui work has delayed more than just the main Fedora release. We do still have a lot of work to as while the vast majority of packages build and a lot of them even run there’s a lot of testing and optimisation to do.

But it’s not all about Fedora 18 as we’re already working on Fedora 19 (that is after all the reason we branch just prior to Alpha release)! The big thing to note to date is I’ve now landed the first support for a unified kernel. We should be able to boot around 4 different SoC platforms with the 3.7 kernel but expect this to expand rapidly in the 3.8 kernel and by the time Fedora 19 is released with what will probably be the 3.9 kernel I’m hoping we should be able to much easier support a lot more devices with just a couple of kernels.

The last couple of weeks has also been quite mammoth in general ARM news. In the shipping now news the first of the new ARM Cortex-A15 chips has made it to a great and cheap device. We hope to get it running a Fedora Remix soon. It’s the first device and the Samsung SoC based on the A15 and it’s the first of many we’ll see over the next couple of months.

In other not so shipping news it’s been mega ARMv8 / arm64 announcements week. It start with Andrew Haleyannoucing Red Hat is working on openjdk for ARM64. This was followed by Linaro announcing a ARMv8 image based on Open Embedded. Then it was AMD announcing ARMv8 chips and it’s working with Red Hat on them. And then finally today was the announcement of Linaro Enterprise Group. LEG for short (I’m already sick of the puns!). This is great news! And there should be the first starts of the Fedora bring up being available soon and a lot of work to do over the next year too!

Overall it’s been a busy six months in ARM and for me personally. I’ve known about a number of the announcements and it’s finally great to have the cat out of the bag. The soon to be released (hopefully sooner rather than later!) Fedora 18 is another pretty big step forward for ARM on Fedora. The next year is going to be a fun ride!

So one of the things that people often ask me is how do I get involved in ARM stuff. Most of the boring things like builds are mostly automated so I usually recommend to get a device and start using it, hacking on it and testing it. Even the qemu image is a good way to get started. There’s almost 12,000 source packages in Fedora so it’s impossible for us to test all use cases. There’s also a lot of bits of hardware even on the supported devices like the panda boards we don’t have time or the ability to test from GPIO to various sensors etc. So that sort of stuff is a good way to begin!

Using Fedora on your shiny new OLPC XO

So you’ve just received your shiny new OLPC XO 1.75 as part of the awesome Fedora Open Hardware Summer of fun! or you have an existing OLPC XO that you haven’t used for a while and it’s gathering dust. While it’s running Fedora it doesn’t seem to act completely like Fedora and what’s more it’s likely running an ancient Fedora 14 based release and that’s not really cool is it?

Well the first thing to do is to update it to a newer release. There’s XO releases based on both Fedora 17 (stable 12.1.0 release) and devel releases based on Fedora 18 (development 13.1.0 releases). For a XO-1.5 or XO-1.75 the update process is identical. The process I mention here re-images the machine so if there’s anything you need to save back it up first!

It’s relatively straight forward. You basically get the appropriate .zd file, put it on a USB key and away we go. The Fedora 18 based 13.1 images can be found here. You just need the latest .zd (and it’s good practice to grab the .zd.md5 file too) so for 13.1.0 os3 we’d download this file or for F-17 we’d use this one and pop it on a usb key. From there we make sure our XO has battery juice and is plugged into the power. We power it on and instantly hit ESC to get the OFW OK prompt. Plug in the usb key and run the command “fs-update u:\31003o2.zd“. The screen should change to a grid and slowly go all green. Once we’re back at the OK prompt we can type “reboot”. It will take a while to boot the first time as it will update the Open Firmware and do a few other bits but you should eventually be greeted with a Sugar prompt to enter your name. More detailed instructions including for the XO-1 can be found on the OLPC WIKI.

If you wish to move from the Sugar UX to the more familiar GNOME UX you can right click on the little man in the middle, select “My Settings” to get the Control Panel and there’s a icon “Switch to GNOME”. It will ask you to restart X. There’s a matching App in the GNOME menus to switch back.

Next up we want to unblock all updates from the Fedora repositories. The OLPC releases have a specific package NVR set for stability and release just selected updates rather than the usual firehose from Fedora. We generally want all updates available. The one exception to that at the moment is the kernel. So we do the following which removes the OLPC excludes and excludes just the kernel:
vi /etc/yum.repos.d/fedora*
delete this line
add this line

Of course the first thing you want to do now is “yum update” to get the latest and greatest :-D!

Next up is enabling the standard GDM login. This is as simple as yum install gdm and then updating which display manager starts with the following:
rm /etc/systemd/system/display-manager.service
ln -s /usr/lib/systemd/system/gdm.service /etc/systemd/system/display-manager.service

Finally I suggest joining the Fedora OLPC mailing list. It’s a pretty quiet list but it’s where we copy any release announcements and also a spot to ask XO specific Fedora questions.

So that should get you to something a little more standard and allow you to install some of your favourite bits. Next up of course is getting more involved in both OLPC and ARM things happening in the Fedora community. I look forward to hearing about what works and what doesn’t on the Fedora planet and mailing lists 🙂

Also note that the above isn’t just restricted to the ARM based XO 1.75, even the original XO-1 runs Fedora 17 and 18 well so if you have an old XO lying around now is a good time to dust it off.

Fedora Board and run off voting

Well it seems I was re-elected to the board for a second term. I’m looking forward to driving forward some of the issues I was dealing with and continuing with the projects I was working on. Of course the board is just a small proportion of what I do within the Fedora Project. I believe it’s important to represent the areas of the project I work in such as ARM as well as other wide projects such as OLPC and Sugar Labs that use Fedora as a core base to their projects as well as contributing back to some of the non technical parts of the project.

Of the three board seats that were up for election the third seat was a dead heat so don’t forget there is run off election between the two candidates that ends tomorrow.

Don’t forget to VOTE once again. It literally takes less than a minute to follow the link and make your vote heard. I personally think that this is as important as the first vote to ensure we get the best candidate.

I look forward to working with you all over the next 12 months.

Announcing Sugar on a Stick 7 (Quandong)

I’d like to announce Sugar on a Stick 7 (Quandong)

There’s been a lot of work go into this release from a lot of communities from Fedora and all the Fedora 17 features that give us new and exciting hardware support to the Sugar Labs community and all the new features that come with the Sugar 0.96 release on which SoaS v7 is based.

Thanks go to all the people that have contributed to this release including Kalpa and Thomas who helped directly with SoaS, the Sugar development team and other Sugar developers. A lot of work has been done to ensure we can get working core Activities like Read and Browse work well. While those Activities look simple there’s been a lot of work from a lot of people to support GTK3 and gobject-introspection bindings, a lot of bugs were fixed with upstream packages to make it all work nicely. The few GTK3 Activities are just the beginning of a long road to convert the entire Sugar interface to newer technologies.

Some of the key new features of this release include:

  • Based on Fedora 17 and it’s new features
  • Massively improved x86 Mac support
  • Sugar 0.96 with initial support for GTK3 Activities and many other improvements
  • Return of Browse, now based on WebKit
  • The long awaited return of Read and inclusion of GetBooks
  • Enhanced hardware support with the 3.3 kernel
  • An increase in default Activities by nearly 50%

Almost all of the previous Activities have seen updated releases including but not limited to:

  • Abacus 35 (GTK3)
  • Record 95
  • Physics 9
  • TurtleArt 138

Newly added Activities include:

  • Browse 137 (GTK3)
  • Countries 33
  • Finance 7
  • GetBooks 11
  • Help 14 (GTK3)
  • Infoslicer 14
  • Labyrinth 12
  • Paint 43
  • Portfolio 21
  • Read 99 (GTK3)

There are many more Activities available through the usual Fedora repositories.

There’s a good getting started guide for Activity developers who wish to work with Fedora 17. It is a step by step guide to getting sugar and the development environment configured to enable a quick head start on development.

The release name, Quandong, continues the tradition of naming releases by types of fruit. The Quandong, or Native Peach, is a native Australian bushfood.

You can download the release from the following link.

It can also be installed as part of a standard Fedora 17 install and is shipped as part of the official Fedora installer DVD and the Fedora Multi Spin Live DVD. It can also be installed from the GUI package tool within a running Fedora install or by command line “sudo yum install @sugar-desktop”.

ARM hardware now and the not so distant future

So one of the things that I noticed during the heated discussion on the devel mailing list is the impression is why would we want to promote ARM to a Primary Architecture when there wouldn’t even be hardware available to run it in the next year or so. Well the lack of hardware is completely untrue and that will only increase in the coming months and years. So I thought I would try and cover off some of the hardware that is either available now or will be in the next year or so that you might want to run Fedora on. All of the devices covered are available now or should be available by the time Fedora 18 makes it’s Halloween début, of course I have no crystal ball as to HW time lines so things might well change.

Development Boards: all these devices are currently available, there will no doubt be new releases or refreshes in the coming months, likely as Cortex-A15 chips become more widely available.

  • BeagleBoards: There’s three main varieties of these single core Cortex-A8 devices consisting of the original BeagleBoard, the BeagleBoard xM and the new tiny BeagleBone. They range from 800Mhz – 1Ghz and 256-5126Mb RAM with a few other options.
  • PandaBoards: There’s the PandaBoard and the PandaBoard ES. Bother at dual core Cortex-A9 processors the former at 1Ghz, the later at 1.2. From there the specs are similar with 1Gb RAM, WiFi, BT, 100Mb ethernet and various other features.
  • Raspberry Pi: The little baby that took the world by storm taking pre orders in the order of 200K boards and taking a couple of sites offline. There’s a model A and B based on a Broadcom ARMv6 chip the later has ethernet, both have 256Mb of RAM. Fedora is the recommended OS by the Foundation
  • Snowball: A ST-Ericsson based dual core Cortex-A9 with 1Gb RAM, wifi, BT, GPS, ethernet, 4/8Gb emmc and a raft of other fun stuff. It also has a MALI GPU which has development on the open “LIMA” driver
  • Origen: based on a Samsung dual core 1Ghz Cortex-A9 processor which can be replaced, it has 1Gb of RAM, wifi and number of other bits including the same MALI GPU of the igloo
  • Freescale i.MX53: A single core 1Ghz Cortex-A8 Freescale board 1Gb RAM, SATA, ethernet, with options of LCDs etc

SmartBooks, SmartTops, Terminals: These devices are the equivalent of the x86 netbooks and nettops, all are mostly available now.

  • OLPC XO 1.75: Initially shipping with Fedora 14 but we’ve already got dev images running F-17 and it will be the basis of the June stable release. The first production shipment of this device will be 60,000 units. There’s various SKUs but it’s a 1ghz Marvell processor with either 512Mb/1Gb RAM, 4/8Gb emmc, wifi, and the usual XO features, it should have in excess of 9 hours of battery life.
  • Efika SmartBook: a 800Mhz Cortex-A8 Freescale processor, 512Mb RAM and with all the usual 10 inch Netbook style of features
  • Efika SmartTop: the same specs as the smartbook
  • Toshiba AC100: A dual core Cortex-A9 1ghz processor with 1gb of RAM, and all the usual 10 inch netbook options, very thin and light with great battery life but the device wasn’t widely available but is sought after
  • ASUS eeePad Transformers: These devices are a combination tablet and netbook. Depending on the model they either come with a dual core 1ghz Tegra2 or a quad core Tegra 3 CPU with various specs. They are a tablet with the option of a keyboard dock which makes them into a netbook. With touchscreens, quad core processors, an interesting form factor and an unlocked bootloader they’re an interesting format.
  • HP t5325 thin client: A Marvell 1.2ghz Cortex-A8 512Mb RAM thin client
  • Trimslice: A Tegra 2 based smarttop desktop device with a couple of different modes all with a dual core 1ghz Cortex-A9 processor with 1Gb of RAM, 1Gb ethernet plus a couple of options including dual HDMI, 11n wifi.

Tablets: these aren’t readily available at the moment but should be available this year.

  • OLPC XO 3: Similar specs to the XO-1.75 but in tablet form factor, it will ship the Fedora derived OS all touch based UX it will likely be one of the first production devices using the new gtk3 and XInput 2.2 touch support in Fedora 17
  • Vivaldi: A 7inch tablet running KDE Plasma tablet UX on Mer the HW is a 1ghz single core Cortex-A9 processor with 512Mb of RAM and a MALI GPU it’s not the highest spec device but it should be easy to run Fedora on it


  • HP Moonshot: In conjunction with Calxeda this is a quad core processor server with 4GB of RAM with up to 288 servers in a 4U chassis. Includes all the expected server features with things like a fully reconfigurable switch backplane with each device using a mere 5 watts of power.
  • Dell: has announced it’s intention to enter the ARM server market, there’s not much detail as yet
  • Seco Carrier Boards: these are various boards using Tegra processors used in things like the Barcelona Super Computer

Plug Computers: There’s a number of plug computers out there based on the Marvell Sheeva Plug generally a 1ghz ARMv5tel processor with 512Mb RAM. These devices are low power, generally quite cheap and come in a number of different devices.

So I think that gives a reasonable overview of ARM based devices that will be available in the coming months, if not already, that should be easily able to run Fedora on ARM without too many problems. This covers but a few of the available ARM based devices but they are a subset that should be relatively easy to run Fedora on them in the coming releases. ARM processors have a number of interesting advantages hardware wise. Firstly they are generally very low power with a lot of quad core devices needing only 5 watts to run, but some of the other advantages is HW encode/decode support for things like MPEG2/4 out of the box which would enable HD decode without having to ship encumbered codecs in Fedora as well as HW crypto as well.

I’m also sure this isn’t a definitive and there’s a lot of other devices that should be able to run Fedora on ARM without too many problems if someone is prepared to roll up their sleeves and get stuck in.

Fedora ARM F-17 and rawhide status update

or as the saying goes… the mustard indicates progress! Well there certainly has been an a-bun-dance of movement in the Fedora ARM world of late and it’s been way too long since I’ve given an update on the status of the Fedora ARM SIG.

We’re progressing well and there’s a lot of stuff going on. Of course you’re all going to be up be up at 06:00 GMT tomorrow (Wed) to order your Raspberry Pi running Fedora 14… aren’t you! I’m sure those of you that got a voucher for one at FUDCon Blacksburg will be ready and waiting.

In terms of raw package building of rawhide and F-17 branches we’ve been progressing well since we kicked off the mass rebuild shortly after the aforementioned FUDCon. In terms of numbers of a total 11348 packages in F-17 we’ve built 8861 of them giving us around 2487 left to go. Of course that’s not an exact number as there’s a number of x86 only packages and between now and the final beefy F-17 release there will be lots more releases of the packages that will need to be built. We’re already building rawhide to ensure we stay up to speed on that front too! One thing that is slowing us down is having to spend a lot of time fixing broken upstream packages and of course fixing ARM specific issues.

In terms of devices that will be supported for the Fedora 17 release the number will be quite small. The list at the moment will likely be PandaBoard (including ES), all modern BeagleBoards, Trimslice, Efika SmartTop and SmartBook, Raspberry Pi and the OLPC XO 1.75. The last two will be Fedora re-mixes. In most cases of pure Fedora the support will likely be console based or accelerated 2D UX. The device market and associated support is moving pretty quickly at the moment so that could easily change between now and release, this is very much a moving target. It’s also not to say that Fedora 17 won’t run on all devices, it’s just that Your Mileage May Vary and it depends a lot on the state of the mainline kernel support.

So what else are we working on? We’ve been doing a lot of planning in preparation for the Proposal to primary arch. We’ve also been working with various tools teams like Anaconda to get some features for building images. In this regard we also need to work with the appliance-tools and livecd-tools teams to see what can be done to allow them to support image creation. It would be cool to be able to use the appliance tools to create an qemu image that can be directly reported into libvirtd and virt-manager (hint hint 😉 ). I’m also slowly starting to investigate what’s needed to support DeviceTree so we can build less kernels and support more devices but I’m not sure it’s all quite there yet.

So what can you do to help? The most simple and best thing is to ensure your package has been built properly for mainline as part of the mass rebuild, or if we file a RHBZ bug with ARM issues to fix it or assist us in fixing it quickly. Most people have been fabulous with quick fixes and attention on bugs. Lastly we should have some minimal rootfs files available soon for F-17 😉

In summary we’ve got nearly nine thousand individual packages already built for ARM supporting both ARMv7 and ARMv5tel architectures. For our Fedora 17 release will be on a reasonable number of innovative and interesting devices. We’re aiming to release as close as is humanly possible to the Mainline Fedora release. Users should be able to run anything they would on similar x86 devices. We’re running and fast catching up 😀

OLPC XO-3 and Fedora

For a lot of you its not been much of a secret that I’ve been working on various OLPC things for quite a number of years now in my own time. Its also not a shock to a lot of people that I’ve been spending a lot of my Fedora time on ARM related things in recent months! After all in both cases it’s been not unusal for me to bother you about dependency or build issues whether it be by email, bugzilla, or even in person 🙂

Most Fedora people would have seen the announcement of the XO-3 Tablet by One Laptop Per Child and Marvell Semiconductor. You’ve likely seen it in the media, its been reported all over the place. You might have even seen some of the cool press shots like this one..

XO-3 Tablet

or this one…

XO-3 Tablet

One of the things that you may not have realised is that the devices being demoed at CES were running Fedora 14 on ARM. Pretty cool huh? Sure it’s by no means currently as fast as it could be. Firstly it’s running “softfp” which doesn’t properly make use of the hardware floating point. It also doesn’t even begin to make use of Marvell’s equivilent of SSE/MMX let alone some of the other features. We’re aiming to make it scream, comparetively for a device that draws 2 watts! It will never be a super computer but it will be able to run an OS that is pretty close to the linked beast, and even be a little more rugged and portable to boot!

If you don’t believe me check some of the following photos (courtesy of Gizmodo) . Do any of them look familiar?

Yes, that’s Sugar

And GNOME 2.32, I’m working on GNOME 3… help wanted!

a close up.

Say CHEESE! Well say Record on Sugar actually.

More details can be found in Gizmodo’s OLPC XO 3.0 Hands On: The $100 Wonder Tablet article.

I think it’s very cool to have Fedora running on a device that is again so ground breaking in both cost and design right from the very beginning! No Android here, it’ll come later. I’ll have its big brother at FUDCon Blacksburg and I look forward to getting it running Fedora 17 very soon 🙂

Preparing for FUDCon Blacksburg

Well its almost time for FUDCon Blacksburg. In fact this time next week I will have already been in Blacksburg for over a day. I’m really looking forward to the event but I know it’s going to be very busy. So what have I got planned for my time in Blacksburg? The list in fact is pretty small:

  • Fedora Board Business: We have a open board meeting planned. There will no doubt be a numbner of things to discuss and there’s already a number of things on the list.
  • Fedora ARM and Secondary Architectures in general. There’s a lot of things to discuss with ARM from koji infrastructure, building rawhide, things we need to do to progress ARM to a Primary Architecture and a lot of other things from technical to procedural and process oriented. There will also be ARM based OLPC XO 1.75s and if the rumours are true possibly even a pre production Raspberry Pi

That looks like a small list but it would be very easy to fill an entire week with those two topics on their own. If I get a spare session here and there I would also like to spend some time attending some of the Cloud SIG sessions as there’s going to be some great stuff happening there too!