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Ubuntu Lucid Lynx on ARM

Written by Jamie Bennett on May 11th, 2010 at 8:53 pm in Ubuntu

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What a fantastic release Ubuntu 10.04, aka Lucid Lynx was. Many, many people helped to make 10.04 rock and as some of them attend the Ubuntu Developer Summit (UDS) this week to thrash out the roadmap for Maverick Meerkat, its a good time to look back at what happened to the ARM version of Lucid this cycle.

A new user interface

One of the most obvious changes is the user interface. The ARM version of Ubuntu’s previous release, Karmic Koala, booted to the default Ubuntu desktop. For some this was fine but typically today’s ARM devices tend to be different. At present, they tend to have smaller screens, less resources and little in the way of graphics acceleration. To overcome some of these limitations in the x86 netbook world, the netbook-launcher user interface was created. Based on Clutter, netbook-launcher could not run on the ARM devices Ubuntu was targeting due to a lack of 3D acceleration. Enter netbook-launcher-efl, a 2D version of the x86 netbook interface written using EFL packages.

Read more about the 2D EFL based launcher.

netbook-launcher-efl using the older karmic theme

Faster Live CD boots

Booting a Live CD is something that most new Ubuntu users do (and many existing users too). Its often their first experience of an Ubuntu release and should give a good impression. Well, on some ARM hardware, booting this Live CD image took over 3 minutes, not exactly the impression we would hope. So investigations happened into what was causing this slowness. In the end the final boot time was reduced by around 35% on all Ubuntu Live images, not just ARM ones.

Read more about the Live CD boot time improvements.

Web Office and Web Mail integration

Open Office on a resource limited platform isn’t the greatest experience and to make matters worse, on the ARM architecture there are issues building it correctly. A new way of viewing, editing and saving office documents was needed and for the Lucid cycle a web-based solution was integrated into the desktop called webservice-office-zoho.

Read more about the web office integration.

Similarly, Evolution could be considered too heavy-weight for ARM device needs. A solution was implemented to enable integration with several online mail providers.

Read more about the web mail integration.

Optimized Tool Chain Defaults

This release includes a complete archive rebuild using more modern tool chain defaults that the latest ARM hardware can take advantage of. As of Lucid Lynx, packages are built using Thumb-2 to reduce code size and improve performance, NEON for accelerate multimedia and signal processing, and are optimized for ARMv7A based chips. Although this means that some older hardware will not work with the latest Ubuntu release it does mean that the images perform much better on modern hardware.

Other Improvements

Much bug fixing went on this cycle. The fail to build list (FTBFS), a list of packages that fail to build on a given architecture, was a focal point of activity. For the first time ever, the number of packages that failed to build on ARM from the main archive was zero (apart from libx86 which refuses to leave the build queue for ARM due to a bug), a great achievement.

The Chromium browser now works on ARM, rootstock, the tool to build ARM rootfs tarballs gained a gui frontend, we added support for the very popular OMAP platform (beagle board) and many small improvements were implemented, making this the best Ubuntu ARM release ever.

We here at Canonical are very proud of the Lucid Lynx on ARM and are extremely excited at what future releases will bring.

9 Responses to 'Ubuntu Lucid Lynx on ARM'

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  1. Does V8 work on ARM?!


    11 May 10 at 9:29 pm

  2. Jamie Bennett

    11 May 10 at 9:43 pm

  3. Any idea if 10.04 can run on any of the plug computers, specifically Sheevaplug or Guruplug. They use Marvell Kirkwood processor.


    12 May 10 at 4:33 am

  4. The Sheevaplug is ARMv5 which will not work with Karmic and beyond but I have heard that Marvell will be bringing out a new version of the Sheevaplug that will support ARMv7 in the near future.

    Jamie Bennett

    12 May 10 at 8:41 am

  5. Will it run on Nokia N900?


    12 May 10 at 11:07 am

  6. In theory, yes. Look to the Mer project on how Ubuntu has been put on Nokia’s devices as a starting point. I know of no effort to get Lucid on the N900 yet but I’m sure someones probably done it already.


    12 May 10 at 12:34 pm

  7. [...] Beagle Board. With a completely redesigned user interface, a web based office solution and many more improvements, Lucid is a magnificent release; however there is still a need for a more consolidated effort. This [...]

  8. I am have an Archos 5 Internet Tablet and would love to use Ubuntu on it. Is there an easy way to install Ubuntu on my ARM Cortex 8 device? I tried to do a network install using Unetbootn and evidently the ARMEL+OMAP install is missing from the repos. Please advise. Thank you in advance!


    28 Jul 10 at 4:32 am

  9. From Lucid onwards only armv7 is supported.

    Jamie Bennett

    28 Jul 10 at 7:59 am

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