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Linaro on the OMAP4 TI Pandaboard

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Just a quick one.

A couple of days ago I intercepted a package meant for Marcin Juszkiewicz on the promise I would give him it back in a weeks time at the Linaro@UDS event. This package contained a shiny new TI OMAP4-based Pandaboard. Now, the run up to a UDS event is always super busy but I managed to steal a few hours here and there and with some last minute late night debugging with Canonical kernel engineer Lee Jones (borked UART settings in the end for those interested) the Linaro images now work on the Pandaboard. Special kudos to the Canonical ARM team who did all the heavy lifting to enable the Pandaboard in Ubuntu.

And before you say “it didn’t happen without pictures”, here they are.

Expect some video demo’s and more pictures of the various Linaro flavours soon.

Written by Jamie Bennett

October 21st, 2010 at 4:13 pm

Posted in Linaro,Linux

Tagged with , , , , ,

Planning and Executing the Linaro Cycle

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The Linaro release cycle is similar to the Ubuntu one but does has some subtle differences, specifically around the planning stages. This presentation shows how Linaro plans, implements and finally releases software every six months.

The slides for this presentation can be found on slideshare.net and are available in many formats on my Linaro wiki page.

Written by JamieBennett

October 12th, 2010 at 3:50 pm

ARM A15: A Game Changer

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ARM? Who are they?

ARM are a humongous company, not so much in employee numbers and site buildings, but in the number of actual products that their technology comes to market with. From a seemingly small number of incredibly smart people comes a sales figure of nearly 3 ARM chips for every man, woman and child on the planet, a huge feat that, with recent partnership announcements, and rumors galore, is only going to get bigger.

ARM shares have gone from a level of just over 135 this time last year to well over 400 today and with ARM’s Q3 2010 Earnings release due Oct 26th, I’m sure we will see continued growth. But why all the fuss?

ARM has been around for a long time. Smartphones, set-top boxes, even a robot or two so what is going so right for ARM lately? Well their deal with Apple for the strangely named A4 (cleverly stripped Cortex-A8, ARMv7-A core) which went into the iPad, iPhone, iPod, Apple TV, and is now the corner-stone of Apples iOS solutions has helped, a deal with Microsoft, dozens of ARM based Android phones, and the odd Maemo/MeeGo phone helps. But now we have a new era. A time where ARM are moving out of their comfort zone and competing with the likes of Intel and AMD on performance, but this time doing it with an eye to power consumption. There are a lot of exciting things going on at ARM, not to mention their huge focus on Linux with Linaro, but their recent announcement of the ARM A15 architecture got me excited more than others.

Low Powered, Multi-Core, High Performance

The A15 is billed as having:

Unprecedented levels of performance, power-efficiency, and technology leadership

and reading the technical specs one can only wonder what is in store for this architecture. Some of the highlights include:

    • Up to 2.5Gz clock speed
    • Chip fabrication down to 28nm
    • Address up to 1TB of memory
    • Hardware Virtualisation
    • Single to Quad core (and beyond) configurations
    • Suitable for everything from phones to servers


So looking at the specifications, where is this chip likely to land? Well, its not quite that easy to guess as the processor itself is so versatile. If one were to attempt a guess one could hypothesise that we will see at least phones and netbooks but more importantly tablets, laptops, and servers. The last three, maybe four are new to ARM. But a chip so capable has its uses.

    • For netbooks and laptops, a more powerful CPU is essential. Couple this with low power consumption and an increasingly powerful user experience from Ubuntu, Linaro and other Linux distributions equates to a great portable laptop device.
    • Tablets are the new buzz word. Android is the main contender to Apple at the moment although RIM have just announced their PlayBook and HP cannot be discounted with their acquisition of PALM and WebOS. If its not an Apple device then its most likely to be Linux based (unless its the QNX RIM tablet) and what better way to utilise that than to use a flavour that is highly optimised for ARM based Linux devices.
    • Servers are uncharted territory for ARM. Quietly, bubbling up amongst the tech crowd is the notion that vast arrays of hot, expensive to run, power-hungry x86 based servers could be replaced by cold, cheap, powerful ARM servers. For a company who pays millions (upon millions) of dollars for a server farm, saving money on both climate control to cool servers and their electricity bill is huge news. Couple that with the fact that ARM servers could be cheaper to purchase and you get a lot of buzz in this area. One such company that caught this curve early was SmoothStone. Expect to see a huge uptake in the interest of ARM based servers in the coming 12 months.


ARM based devices are ubiquitous, just like Linux. You may of not of even heard of ARM, just like you may not of heard of Linux, but making a phone call or searching on Google means you could already using their respective technologies.

ARM, just like Linux, is a quiet pioneer, prevalent in the background just waiting for the opportunity to become mainstream. Whether mainstream is the goal, prevalence most definitely is on the agenda.

Written by JamieBennett

September 28th, 2010 at 11:26 pm

Linaro Beta Released !

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Wow, we are at Beta already. There are still some tweaks and bug fixes planned before final, maybe a surprise or two, stay tuned.


Another month, another release. Today sees the launch of the Linaro
Beta image which will in-turn become the final release in November.
The team have been working super-hard to ensure bugs are at a
minimum whist bring in new exciting functionality.

Highlights of this release include:

* Support for the ARM Versatile Express platform which supplements
the existing OMAP image.
* Support is now available for OMAP Beagle Board C3/C4, OMAP
Beagle Board XM, ARM Versatile Express, and with some
modifications OMAP Panda Board, IGEPv2, Freescale iMX51.
* Three new experimental seeds are available which enable the
headless image to be supplemented by a particular install
o linaro-netbook-efl – Netbook user interface using the EFL based
o linaro-alip – A reduced size installation, see
http://linux.onarm.com/index.php/Main_Page for more details on
o linaro-handset-plasma – A KDE/Plasma based user interface.
* 35 upgraded packages since alpha-3.
* Includes the 2.6.35 final kernel.
* Tested using the new QA Tracking infrastructure located at

More information on this development release as well as download and
installation instructions can be found at:


More information on Linaro in general and the 10.11 plans can be found

* Homepage: http://www.linaro.org
* Wiki: http://wiki.linaro.org
* 10.11: http://wiki.linaro.org/Releases/1011

Also subscribe to the important Linaro mailing lists and join our IRC
channels to stay on top of Linaro developments:

* Announcements: http://lists.linaro.org/mailman/listinfo/linaro-announce
* Development: http://lists.linaro.org/mailman/listinfo/linaro-dev
* IRC: #linaro on irc.freenode.net

For any errata issues please see:


Bug reports for this release should be filed in Launchpad against the
individual packages that are affected, if a suitable package cannot be
identified, feel free to assign them to:



Linaro Release Manager

Written by Jamie Bennett

September 3rd, 2010 at 9:35 pm

LinuxCon 2010

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Boston Skyline
This month I had the pleasure of attending LinuxCon in Boston. The event was a great success and I managed to get some face-to-face time with old and new friends alike, including the new Ubuntu Release Manager, Kate Stewart and the new Ubuntu Technical Architect, Allison Randal among others. I attended many, many sessions and even managed to catch up with one or two people to talk business but the sessions that stood out for me were:

A Technical Look at Linux at Oracle – Wim Coekaerts

Wim is a great speaker and the topic was new to me so I listened intently. Unfortunately Oracle followed up by promptly suing Google.

Mobile Linux: Adapting Practices, Driving Innovation, Collaboration, and Scalability – Rob Chandhok

Rob outlined Qualcomms Open Source effort. They do a lot of good work with Linux and their latest announcement, that they would be making an effort to consolidate work done in the ARM eco-sphere, echo’s what Linaro is tasked at achieving. I’m sure there will be a lot of overlap and collaboration going forward.

Android/Linux Kernel: Lessons Learned – Matthew Garrett

Matthew spent his time describing the failed attempt to get Android’s power management solution, suspend blockers, into the mainline kernel. It was a heated discussion at times but did highlight some failings on both Google’s and the kernel communities sides.

Linux Kernel Panel – James Bottomley, Jon Corbet, Dave Jones, Chris Mason, Ted Ts’o

Kernel panels, or round-tables, seem to be a common practice at many conferences and this was no exception. A good bunch of speakers, lots of questions from the audience including one or two on the status of the ARM kernel.
Kernel Panel at LinuxCon

Open Source Software Adoption Patterns in Enterprise IT – Jeffrey Hammond

Jeffrey fired of statistics and facts about the studies his company have been doing with regards to Linux adoption. The facts proved interesting with a trend for an accelerated Linux adoption from the pool of people he surveyed.

MeeGo: Where Are We Now – Dawn Foster

Dawn gave a high-level introduction to MeeGo, the project bearing the fruits of the collaboration between Nokia and Intel. Nothing new was discussed but the level of interest in MeeGo was evident by the full room.

Doing What it Takes: Current Legal Issues in Defending FOSS – Eben Moglen

Listening to Eben speak is a pleasure in itself, let alone listening to him talk about a subject close to the heart of many open source developers. For someone to stand there for 30 mins, without slides or prompts, never fumble a word and capture the attention of everyone in the room, Eben must be commended.

Selling the Value of Open Source When Cost is Not the Driver – Ravi Simhambhatla

Virgin America wouldn’t be my obvious choice when selecting a company that really utilizes and ‘gets’ open source but Ravi’s explanation of how they use it, where they were before open source, and what they have planned for the future was captivating. Virgin America really are revolutionizing their internal IT departments by using Linux and they have even bigger plans for the future.

Overall a good event, looking forward to the next one.

Written by Jamie Bennett

August 24th, 2010 at 9:40 pm

Launchpad, Work Item tracking, and Linaro Landing Teams

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Recently I was asked to give a couple of presentations. One is entitled “Launchpad and Work Item tracking” and is a short introduction to Launchpad and how we track work items, the other is “An overview of Landing Teams within Linaro” which introduces the Landing Team concept and offers insight into what a Landing Team for ARM could initially concentrate on. The slides from both presentations can be found on slideshare.net and are available in many formats on my Linaro wiki page.

Launchpad and Work Item tracking

An overview of Landing Teams within Linaro

Written by Jamie Bennett

August 7th, 2010 at 9:51 pm

Linaro Alpha-3 Released

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Hot on the heals of the Ubuntu Alpha-3 announcement, please all welcome Linaro Alpha-3.


Well, it’s that time again, please all welcome Linaro Alpha 3 into the
world. This will be the final release before the beta version arrives
at the end of August and signals Linaro’s continued maturity towards
the final November image.

Highlights of this release include:

  • A small Linaro headless image with basic OMAP3 beagle board support
    (reported working on other architectures with minimal changes).
  • A new software archive rebuild with GCC 4.4.4, CodeSourcery
    enhancements and ARM-related improvements.
  • Support for opengl ES development through MESA.
  • GPS support via gypsy and geoclue.
  • Netbook user interface capabilities with the latest EFL software

More Information on this development release as well as download and
installation instructions can be found at:


More information on Linaro in general and the 10.11 plans can be found

  • Homepage: http://www.linaro.org
  • Wiki: http://wiki.linaro.org
  • 10.11: http://wiki.linaro.org/Releases/1011

Also subscribe to the important Linaro mailing lists and join our IRC
channels to stay on top of Linaro developments:

  • Announcements: http://lists.linaro.org/mailman/listinfo/linaro-announce
  • Development: http://lists.linaro.org/mailman/listinfo/linaro-dev
  • IRC: #linaro on irc.freenode.net

For any errata issues please see:


Bug reports for this release should be filed in Launchpad against the
individual packages that are affected, if a suitable package cannot be
identified, please feel free to assign them to:



Linaro Release Manager

The original announcement can be found here.

Written by Jamie Bennett

August 6th, 2010 at 11:12 am

Linaro announcement at Computex

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The video announcing the Linaro initiative is now available on youtube.com.

Written by Jamie Bennett

June 16th, 2010 at 1:42 pm

Posted in Linaro

Linaro Tools and Infrastructure Sprint

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ARM visitors badge

For the past couple of days I’ve been attending the first ever sprint held by the Linaro Tools and Infrastructure team. The sprint itself lasts all week but I arranged to be there for just Tuesday and Wednesday to find out what they had planned and to join up with a few guests.

This event is slightly different from what we typically do at Ubuntu sprints. The team hasn’t been together for that long so there was equal focus on both information sharing and collaboration. To that end, mornings were for presentations and discussion, afternoons for hands-on hacking.

A link to the whole schedule is here; for my account of what happened whilst I was there, read on.

Tuesday started with a discussion on image building by Michael Hudson. Often lively and full of good information, the key steps to producing the Linaro images was the focus of conversation. Two launchpad specifications cover this effort, the first, arm-m-image-building-tool concerns improving live-helper to accommodate Linaro’s needs, the second, arm-m-image-building-console aims to produce a web based front-end for the image building tools.

Zygmunt Krynicki‘s project entitled Validation Dashboard was next (slides can be found here). An ambitious project to produce a front end visual representation for various testing tools; this effort is of great importance as validation and correctness is paramount to the software releases Linaro makes.

Another requirement for Linaro is the ability to branch and rebuild parts of the Ubuntu archive. Linaro benefits from the great effort that is put into the Ubuntu archive but as Linaro’s needs are at times, different, being able to diverge without affecting Ubuntu itself is important. This effort is being lead by James Westby.

Tuesday morning finished with Paul Larson‘s testsuite and profiler presentation. Closely related to Zygmunt’s dashboard effort, Paul is working on combing the various testsuites and profiles into one big validation effort.

At this point the guys from Code Sourcery joined us to discuss toolchain’s and related tools. Will Deacon, Matthias Klose and David Rusling joined the conversation and many points were ironed out. Linaro will benefit from the great work Code Sourcery do around GCC and related tools, producing what we think will be the industry standard tool chain for ARM based devices. A lofty goal but everyone behind the effort is confident.

Talk on tools and toolchains continued to be the focus for the rest of Tuesday and Wednesday. Code Sourcery went away with a pile of work items and the Linaro members todo lists were equally full. There was just enough time Wednesday to sit down with Dave Rusling to formally sign off the technical requirements.

As one Linux Weekly News author put it,

the list of planned achievements for the five months before the release is quite ambitious … even completing a big chunk of it would be quite an accomplishment

We believe we can do it and with the great individuals such as those at the sprint this week, the 10.11 release will be something special.

Written by Jamie Bennett

June 10th, 2010 at 12:37 pm

Posted in Linaro,Linux,Ubuntu

Tagged with , , , ,

Towards Linaro 10.11

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“Any intelligent fool can make things bigger and more complex… It takes a touch of genius – and a lot of courage to move in the opposite direction”.
- Albert Einstein

A little history

Perhaps a little known fact is that well over 15 billion chips have been shipped using ARM’s technologies, 1.3 billion in the last quarter of 2009 alone and as the internet goes truely mobile this is set to sky rocket. ARM have sold over 600 processor licenses to more than 200 companies and 12 of the top 20 semiconductor companies use their technologies. ARM based devices really are everywhere. In contrast, Intel have shipped just 3.3 billion to date. Renowned for their low power consumption and high performance, ARM based devices really do seem to be the holy grail of computing but why is it that Intel continues to dominates the desktop, laptop, netbook and server market?


Developing for ARM devices isn’t without its problems. There are a lot of companies all working independently on producing their own products, often duplicating effort. Kernels, boot loaders, and to a lesser extent middleware are being worked on in isolation with little in the way of standards and a common direction. This is scary for those who are used to working in the Intel world where one kernel and one boot loader will pretty much work on all compatible devices. To really push ARM devices into the standard spaces Intel currently enjoy’s, something needs to be done.

Ubuntu’s Linux on ARM initative

Canonical, creators of the renowned Ubuntu distribution, and ARM saw the need to rally around an effort to produce a modern, full-featured Linux distribution tailored for ARM devices. Together, starting in 2008, Canonical and ARM took on the task of bring Ubuntu to ARM platforms. Release 9.04, codenamed “Jaunty Jackalope” was the first Ubuntu release supporting Freescales iMX51 and Marvell’s Dove platforms. This distribution was further refined in the 9.10 Karmic Koala release and 10.04, Lucid Lynx even added support for a third ARM platform, TI’s 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 is where Linaro fits into the story.

What is Linaro?

Linaro is an initiative undertaken by ARM, Canonical and partners with the task of improving the state of the whole Linux on ARM ecosphere. It brings together the vast talents of the open source community and ARM’s wealth of experience in the electronics industry to work on key and game-changing projects. It will work in the various upstreams where possible and provide engineering, technical and guidance support for a wide and diverse set of problem area’s. Linaro will not just help other projects, there will also be a clear set of deliverables which will culminate Linaro’s efforts into regular 6 monthly engineering releases, starting this November.

Release Objectives

So this is the area which gets me the most excited. As the release manager for Linaro I am responsible for making sure each and every release captures exactly what the essence of Linaro is, consolidation, collaboration, improvement and robustness. Each of these qualities are goals for the Linaro releases and to that end our first release, 10.11, will contain all of these in abundance.

Building upon the already successful Linux on ARM effort, Linaro will utilize Canonical’s Launchpad framework including bug management, code hosting and blueprints.

Just some of the high-level highlights are below. I’ll leave the other Linaro team members to blog the details about their teams efforts later.

  1. Help standardize the industry on common kernel versions and features.
  2. Improve debugging and performance analysis at the kernel level.
  3. Bring power management and performance improvements including boot speed reduction.
  4. Promote and implement device-tree’s on ARM hardware.
  5. Provide test ‘heads’, whole vertical software stacks and distributions, to show what can be done on top of Linaro.
  6. Explore integrating telephony right into the distribution.
  7. Improve the state of graphics acceleration.
  8. Provide QA and validation harnesses to ensure anything built with Linaro is of the highest standard.
  9. Offer performance analysis and suggestions on how to improve.
  10. Supply a whole host of development, archive and image management, and distribution creation and customization tools.

And much, much more. A full list of blueprints which capture what we are trying to achieve can be found on the Linaro wiki.

Get Involved

For more information on the Linaro initiative please see the official website and the wiki. We have mailing lists and a Launchpad project page and I invite you all to come and participate in this exciting and ground-breaking venture.

What next?

So whats next? Well, the famous words of Albert Einstein that opened this post are most relevant here. We are the Genius’s trying to make ARM development both easier and simpler. So with courage and a bit of luck, Linaro will succeed in bring Linux and ARM to a whole new level.

Written by Jamie Bennett

June 3rd, 2010 at 4:34 pm

Posted in Linaro,Linux,Ubuntu

Tagged with , , , ,