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Linaro 11.05 Alpha-2 Released

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After a couple of last minute scares, Alpha-2 is out the door.

Hi,

The Linaro team is pleased to announce the availability of the 11.05
Alpha-2 images. These are still very early developer images but we
encourage all with supported hardware to use and test them by
downloading from:

http://releases.linaro.org/platform/linaro-n/

Highlights of this release include:

* Added Gumstix Overo support.
* New Developer image including console base developer tools.
* Complete rewrite of the installation tools (linaro-image-tools) to
improve the user experience.
* A staggering 141 out of 160 packages have been upgraded since
Alpha-1.

The images consist of two parts. A hardware pack which can be found
under the ./hwpacks directory which contains hardware specific packages
such as the kernel and bootloader. The second part is the rootfs which
is combined with the hardware pack to create a complete image. For
information on how to create an image please see:

http://wiki.linaro.org/Releases/MilestoneBuilds

More information on Linaro in general and the 11.05 plans can be
found at:

* Homepage: http://www.linaro.org
* Wiki: http://wiki.linaro.org
* 11.05: http://wiki.linaro.org/Releases/1105

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.linaro.org or irc.freenode.net

For any errata issues please see:

http://wiki.linaro.org/Releases/1105/Alpha2#Issues

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:

http://www.launchpad.net/linaro

Regards,
Jamie.

Linaro Release Manager

Read more over on the Linaro wiki.

Written by Jamie Bennett

February 3rd, 2011 at 9:13 pm

ARM Technology Conference 2010 videos

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A couple of videos from the ARM Techcon event in Santa Clara this week.

George Grey, Linaro CEO

Jesse Barker, Linaro Graphics Working Group lead

Written by Jamie Bennett

November 12th, 2010 at 9:34 am

Posted in Conference,Linaro,Linux

Tagged with , , ,

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

with 5 comments

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

Possibilities

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.

Conclusion

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 !

without comments

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

Hi,

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
flavor:
o linaro-netbook-efl – Netbook user interface using the EFL based
netbook-launcher
o linaro-alip – A reduced size installation, see
http://linux.onarm.com/index.php/Main_Page for more details on
ALIP
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
http://qatracker.linaro.org/

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

http://wiki.linaro.org/Releases/1011/Beta

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

* 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:

http://wiki.linaro.org/Releases/1011/Beta#Issues

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:

http://www.launchpad.net/linaro

Regards,
Jamie.

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

Ubuntu Lucid Lynx on ARM

with 9 comments

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.

Written by Jamie Bennett

May 11th, 2010 at 8:53 pm

Posted in Ubuntu

Tagged with , , , , ,

Ubuntu’s New Web Office Integration

with 34 comments

Why Online?

Desktop Integration with the cloud is hot news. Ubuntu One is a great example of this. Currently Ubuntu One integrates file storage, contacts and notes sync, and now you can even buy music from the online store, delivered straight to the Rythmbox media player. But for some devices, integration with the cloud isn’t just a nice feature, it completely changes the user experience (UX). Take for instance a low powered, possibly mobile/embedded system with limited processing power and memory. A cloud based service for these devices could allow resource intensive tasks to be offloaded to an online server somewhere, greatly improving the UX. One set of tasks that are used often but can put a strain on resources are related to office document editing.

Ubuntu’s Current Offerings

The standard Ubuntu image currently contains the Open Office suite. For those that do not know, Open Office is, from the website:

“OpenOffice.org 3 is the leading open-source office software suite for word processing, spreadsheets, presentations, graphics, databases and more. It is available in many languages and works on all common computers.”

Open Office also has around 9 million lines of code spread over 30 thousand files, in short, its a large project. Running this on a device with limited resources is a recipe for disaster. Of course there are alternatives, Abiword and Gnumeric are examples of two applications that replicate functionality found in Open Office’s Writer and Calc respectively. There are also online services such as Google Docs and Zoho but neither of these are tightly integrated with the desktop, until now. Enter webservice-office-zoho.

Why Zoho?

First off, why Zoho and not, for instance, Google Docs. Both services offer great functionality and are very competitive but the ultimate decision came down to which suited our use case the most. What we wanted was for a user to double click on a document which would then seamlessly open ready for editing. From there the user would edit, read, and maybe even save it back to the local device. No fuss, no logging in, no other requirements, just open and get on with it. Similary, when a user launches the application on its own, we wanted the correct type of service to open ready for the user to concentrate on their document. The service that allowed us to do this was Zoho. Zoho allows the user to do all of this without ever registering or logging in. Of course you get online storage with Zoho if you do register, but if you choose not to you can still get a full featured experience.

Integrating Zoho with the Desktop

So what do you get with this new integration. Well as alluded to before you can:

  • Open, read, edit and save email document attachments.
  • Open, read, edit and save local documents.
  • Open, read, edit and save remote documents linked to with a url.
  • Launch the required application, Writer, Show or Sheet (Word Processor, Presentations, Spreadsheets) which will present the user with an empty document of that type ready to edit.
  • More functionality to come in Maverick Meerkat.

webservice-office-zoho shown here installed along side Open Office

The Future

This functionality is currently only available as default on Ubuntu’s ARM images, typically where limited hardware resources are more commonly found. But that’s not to say webservice-office-zoho can’t be used on any other Ubuntu install. As the package is in the main Ubuntu repository, a simple:

sudo apt-get install webservice-office-zoho

will install it on your Lucid based machine or if you are feeling brave, checkout the latest bazaar branch with:

bzr branch lp:webservice-office-zoho

There are lots of things planned for the future of webservice-office-zoho. If you have comments, idea’s or just want to rant, come along to the web integration UDS session this May, either in person or via online methods or just leave your thoughts here.

Written by JamieBennett

April 8th, 2010 at 1:49 pm

Posted in Linux,Ubuntu

Tagged with , , ,

The New UI for ARM Based Ubuntu Devices

with 65 comments

ARM based platforms traditionally have a problem with graphics drivers and free software. Encumbered by licensing issues, many platforms only ship with 2D based drivers whilst the 3D driver-enabled offerings only frequent the poshest of circles such as Nokia’s N900. There are exceptions, but its a painful reality at the moment.

Vendors are trying to work around it, especially as there is the expectation of a ramp-up in the availability of ARM based hardware. Super long-life netbooks, low powered touch based computers, and even a flurry of smaller embedded devices are forecast to hit the market this year, many of which will be based on the Linux operating system. Ubuntu would be a great match for this.
Read the rest of this entry »

Written by JamieBennett

February 15th, 2010 at 9:38 am