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Facebook Joins Linaro Linux-on-ARM Effort 60

Posted by timothy
from the like-a-tattoo dept.
dgharmon writes "It has been more than two years since Freescale Semiconductor, IBM, Samsung, ST-Ericsson, and Texas Instruments formed a non-profit software company called Linaro to help focus the disparate efforts to get Linux running well on ARM processors and system-on-chip designs. A slew of companies, some new to the ARM racket, have joined the Linaro effort – and as of Thursday afternoon, so has social media juggernaut Facebook."
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Facebook Joins Linaro Linux-on-ARM Effort

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    • Re:Makes sense. (Score:4, Informative)

      by hendridm (302246) on Sunday November 04, 2012 @04:36PM (#41874777) Homepage

      FTFA: "Facebook and AMD are joining the Linaro Enterprise Group, which was formed to focus on "the development of foundational software for ARM server Linux," as the announcement put it."

    • by cultiv8 (1660093)
      can't figure out why I was modded down. ARM/Linux on smartphone makes sense, no? If someone can fucking tell me otherwise, great, still don't get why I was modded down for "redundant".
      • by Anonymous Coward

        ARM/Linux on smartphone? Genius! Quick, call Google and Samsung and tell them about your amazing new discovery.

    • But there are so many working distributions out there right now, why start from scratch with a new one. For example there are about three linux based distros for the openmoko, all with custom UI front ends.

      • There are about three linux based distros for the openmoko, all with custom UI front ends.

        Most "distros" that you see are exactly that; ways of experimenting with different UI, usability and system administration concepts. The guys that do them don't want to do much of the low level plumbing. Think of Linaro as being similar to Mer [wikipedia.org] which is the underlying developer whilst Plasma Active [wikipedia.org] and Nemo [merproject.org] the consumer distros built on top of it.

        In the case of Linaro, though, they are trying to support completely embedded customers. These users often don't end using a proper distro at all. For this re

      • Linaro is not a distribution. It's a joint effort to *help linux run on ARM hardware*.

        For example there are about three linux based distros for the openmoko, all with custom UI front ends.

        And for these "linux based distros" to work you need a running linux (kernel) on which to base them. That's the work of the software company named Linaro.

        To give into more details:
        as a point of comparison, in the x86 processor world, things are rather standardized, and well modularized. There's more or less only one single main platform (the PC) with some weirder variant (BIOS vs. (U)EFI, or even weirder PC vs. custom Appl

  • Um... (Score:2, Redundant)

    by epp_b (944299)

    I'm posting from a Linux on ARM device right now.

    • Re:Um... (Score:5, Informative)

      by godrik (1287354) on Sunday November 04, 2012 @04:32PM (#41874755)

      Of course, that's not what Linaro is about. They are looking forward to stop the explosion of code and architecture within the ARM familly. No two ARM machine boots the same. No two ARM processors expose component the same way. You did not read Linus saying "what about stoping the ARM crap?"

      http://linux.slashdot.org/story/11/08/18/1728227/arm-is-a-promising-platform-but-needs-to-learn-from-the-pc [slashdot.org]

      • by hendridm (302246)

        Of course, that's not what Linaro is about. They are looking forward to stop the explosion of code and architecture within the ARM familly.

        Agreed, it even says that in the summary, lol.

      • Of course, that's not what Linaro is about. They are looking forward to stop the explosion of code and architecture within the ARM familly. No two ARM machine boots the same. No two ARM processors expose component the same way. You did not read Linus saying "what about stoping the ARM crap?"

        Soon they will have to address this problem, not so much as to allow Linux to spread, but because it drives the cost of ARM based devices for the companies that make money writing the operating systems for them, such as Microsoft. It is a competitive disadvantage for ARM to be in charge of a zoo.

    • by cultiv8 (1660093)
      ...and you were modded down as redundant for saying this... same as I was.
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  • I guess it depends on what you mean with "running well": I have a Pandaboard and, well, it has been a major clusterfuck all the way from the beginning, what with constant breakage of features, on some releases of the software the features disappear completely, and then there's the constant crashes in the kernel. Imagine my surprise when I installed the latest stable Texas Instruments - release of the kernel only to find that networking is completely broken and the kernel goes to a hard lock-up after being on for 5-10 minutes, whether or not it just sits idle this whole time.

    If all I want out of it is unaccelerated X or just console applications then yes, it runs very well, and it works great as a low-foothold server for all kinds of things. I'm just saying that I sure have no high expectations for these guys and their efforts.

    • by rdnetto (955205)

      The very reason it's a clusterfuck is because of the fragmentation these guys are trying to address. Each device has a different kernel, even those that use the same SoC (because the GPIOs, etc. are hardcoded). That means that the developers efforts are fragmented - only a small number of people see the bugs and put in the effort to fix them, which undermines Linus' law. 3.7 [phoronix.com] will help, but there's still a lot to be done before ARM has the kind of compatibility that x86 does.

      tldr: These guys are doing useful

    • by drinkypoo (153816)

      I'm sorry to hear your Pandaboard is a clusterfuck, but the Raspberry Pi is pretty stable now so long as you don't try to use turbo mode so clearly it's not impossible to get something working.

      Personally I only know linaro exists because someone compiled an advanced kernel for the Nook Simple Touch with it, and it's supposed to have improved performance considerably. I can't speak to that, because this kernel also provides a lot of other things including overclocking, and I didn't even try to make a direct

  • by symbolset (646467) * on Sunday November 04, 2012 @06:06PM (#41875345) Journal
    It's long past time for this. China is doing MIPS servers too.
  • Not About Mobile (Score:5, Interesting)

    by fm6 (162816) on Sunday November 04, 2012 @06:09PM (#41875371) Homepage Journal

    Even if Facebook is planning a smartphone (huh?) they don't have a lot of motivation to improve core Linux on ARM. I think it more likely that they're seriously looking at transitioning their (huge) data centers to ARM in order to save energy costs.

    I've poo-pooed ARM-server speculation in the past, but this goes way beyond speculation.

  • Can you get Linux to run on a 6502? Thanks.
    • My first personal computer had a 6502 (and a Z80) on the motherboard. Now get off my lawn!
    • by rubycodez (864176)

      no, it has no MMU

      • no, it has no MMU

        Actually, that's not the big problem. I think that the MMUless code was merged back into the mainline at some point. Either way there's still ucLinux.

        The more fundemental problem is that the stack pointer can't be moved, which makes preemptive multitasking painful.

        But it has been done, and it's called lunix.

        • by rubycodez (864176)

          ucLinux is not Linux

        • by rubycodez (864176)

          also, the ARM patches to a few of the 2.6 kernels that use the MPU of certain ARM systems still is relying on a memory management/protection hardware

          no memory management/protection, no full Linux

    • Emulate an x86 or supported ARM on a 6502. Of course, performance would likely be seconds (or minutes) per FLOP. Aside from the slow instruction cycle rate of the fastest made 6502, all your "emulated" RAM would have to be on disk.

  • I understand the upsides of ARM servers, namely lower cost hardware and much better energy efficiency. However, what are the downsides? I've heard mixed stories about whether or not we can achieve the same performance from ARM as we can from x64, but nothing concrete.

    If there are no significant shortcomings, I'd wager that Intel's days are numbered. A lot of AMD's revenues come from server deployments, and they've already jumped on board with ARM, but Intel shows no interest in doing so. You'd figure that *

    • by imsabbel (611519)

      Server chips make less than 12% of AMDs revenue, tieing with chipsets, of all thing. Graphic chips are more than twice that.

    • by sky770 (2731643)
      ARM is the future. Period. Atleast for the mobile segment and for those who want to cut down development costs, save on energy efficiency and on top of all that "increase in processing power" ( LOL din't I just covered every "major" aspect of the needs of our immediate future?) More and more ARM SoC's are having better and better GPU's in them which are coming up quite well. Also, you should have a look at the Adapteva's Kickstarter Project Parallella [kickstarter.com]. Its based on a dual-core ARM A9 SoC. Now this might s
    • by banbeans (122547)

      It really depends on the load.
      I don't see them taking over totally anytime soon but for some tasks they will be good enough.

      sql back end of any kind forget about it, not even worth discussing anytime some.
      They could need hardware accelerators to even be really useful on anything but the lightest loads.

      Even middle-ware processing, not soon.
      This is an area where accelerators could shine.

      Front end web servers, This is the place they will show up and shine.
      A lot of power is wasted waiting to serve a heavy load

    • by drinkypoo (153816)

      It remains to be seen if ARM will ever offer the same single-thread performance as x86, but it offers better performance per watt now, so embarrassingly parallelizable tasks are already better done on ARM so long as the servers don't cost so much that you don't save any money using less power. Power is pretty expensive these days though, which is one big reason you're seeing so much interest in ARM servers, and intel isn't exactly known for offering their chips at unbelievably low prices.

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