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Why Canonical Is Using Android Drivers For Ubuntu Mir

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  • #16
    Originally posted by curaga View Post
    Given the quality of Android gpu drivers, they are definitely not building their house on rock.
    That was the first thing that came to my mind... everything that Canonical developers seem to put out is marketing, marketing and marketing. Android drivers are written for particular chip as fast as possible and then forgotten because the next chip is already in developement. Quality is not something I would associate with Android drivers. I have gotten the impression that most ARM drivers overall that have been open sourced have been pure garbage at first too.

    If Canonical, like Samsung with Tizen, Nokia with Maemo/MeeGo, Jolla with Sailfish... made hardware or had proper hardware partners they wouldn't need to rely on the Android stack. Ubuntu Touch seem like a mix of Android and GNU/Linux that have been duct taped together as fast as possible (by writing something as major as display server from scratch in matter of months, using libhybris and so on and so forth).

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    • #17
      Thanks so very much, canonical, for your continued support of our cause, and for making this line in the sand for open ARM GPU drivers.

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      • #18
        Originally posted by pdffs View Post
        [...] but Ubuntu's NIH syndrome still disgusts me. [...]
        Why is it NIH if they reuse the android drivers? Isn't that like the antithesis of NIH?

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        • #19
          Originally posted by panda84 View Post
          There's a big downside on relying on binary driver: more often than not you'll be stuck with a fixed kernel version, and you'll not be able to upgrade. Android Jelly Bean, which is the latest public Android release and is installed in roughly 25% of the devices (http://developer.android.com/about/d...rds/index.html) is generally using kernel 3.0, 3.2, or at maximum 3.4. But 3.9 is just out of the door.
          And you have no guarantee that your device manufacturer will upgrade your phone software to the latest version.
          So, no Canonical, I'm not interested in another Poulsbo mess.
          Actually, the need for newer GPU drivers with each Android upgrade has more to do with Android's increasing utilization of the GPU than with the kernel version. Quite frankly, we are using the same GPU drivers across several different kernel versions with perfect compatibility, this is because the glue is open source.

          Also, the reference hardware for Android 4.2 is the LG Mako (nexus 4), running a qualcomm snapdragon, which is (as snapdragon's always are) paired up with an Adreno (aka RADEON -more or less) GPU. You may not be aware, but this is the ONLY mobile GPU that can run on *fully* open source drivers, although others are following. Other GPUs have a much steeper hill to climb, since they don't share nearly as much with any desktop chips running open source drivers -- except maybe tegra sharing a bit with desktop nvidia, maybe nouveau will be helpful? No documentation, unfortunately. Anyhow, my Samsung Relay sitting in my pocket right this moment, is running a 3.0 kernel, along with Adreno drivers pulled from LG Mako, which shipped running 3.4 kernel.

          Now for canonical... they're using Android drivers, because they're running Android, more or less. And nobody, of course, takes them at all seriously.

          As for poulsbo mess... unless you run a powervr GPU, you won't be running into that. The four big mobile gpu's are Adreno, Mali, tegra, and powervr.... ordered from most functional open source to least. Keep left.

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          • #20
            I actually see Canonical's move as a smart one, look how many years it took for the linux kernel to have some decent video drivers shipped by mainstream hardware vendors.

            I think this will actually even help ubuntu and other distros that adopt Mir (if any) on the desktop side. Lets take for example the raspberry pi. It has a mali 400 quad core video chip, now imagine running the desktop environment with hardware accelerated graphics, everything would run faster.

            If things go well, we will have an era where replacing typical x86/x64 desktops with low power arm counterparts would be much easier. Take a look at the odroid-u2: http://www.hardkernel.com/renewal_20...=G135341370451 that piece of hardware runs ubuntu smoothly, consumes little power, small and powerful. Now imaging the possibilities if we could use existing android drivers, you could take any cellphone and convert it to a desktop pc with good performance running a full fledge linux software stack.

            We shouldn't be haters or fanboys but take a look at things with an open mind (even if the drivers source code isn't open).

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            • #21
              Originally posted by droidhacker View Post
              The four big mobile gpu's are Adreno, Mali, tegra, and powervr.... ordered from most functional open source to least. Keep left.
              Yeap. Right now it's most likely that Jolla's first phone will be using a Mali (due to their partnerships).
              If anyone was to ever fork or rewrite Lima at some point, they should totally call it "Armali"

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              • #22
                It seems to me that regardless of whatever marketing speak Canonical paints over this, it makes quite a bit of sense if they REALLY plan on putting Mir in "production" as soon I think I remember was stated early on (i.e. in the next year). Even if they had started trying to negotiate their own drivers as soon as they decided to go with Mir, I just don't see them getting their own special drivers in time for rollout.

                I don't know if it is necessary or even possible for backport hacking to be done so that the drivers will work on cutting edge kernels, but I'm guessing that's their plan.

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                • #23
                  Originally posted by TheOne View Post
                  I actually see Canonical's move as a smart one, look how many years it took for the linux kernel to have some decent video drivers shipped by mainstream hardware vendors.

                  I think this will actually even help ubuntu and other distros that adopt Mir (if any) on the desktop side. Lets take for example the raspberry pi. It has a mali 400 quad core video chip, now imagine running the desktop environment with hardware accelerated graphics, everything would run faster.

                  If things go well, we will have an era where replacing typical x86/x64 desktops with low power arm counterparts would be much easier. Take a look at the odroid-u2: http://www.hardkernel.com/renewal_20...=G135341370451 that piece of hardware runs ubuntu smoothly, consumes little power, small and powerful. Now imaging the possibilities if we could use existing android drivers, you could take any cellphone and convert it to a desktop pc with good performance running a full fledge linux software stack.

                  We shouldn't be haters or fanboys but take a look at things with an open mind (even if the drivers source code isn't open).
                  raspberry pi does not have mali. It has a BCM2835 broadcom videocore. And yes, it does work with accelerated UI, using evil "driver is entirely hidden in firmware" approach.

                  And BTW: odroid u2 is on a totally different playing field from raspberry pi. Raspberry pi has a crappy single core 700. odroid u2 has a quad-core cortex A9, with a, yes, this one actually does have a Mali.
                  Last edited by droidhacker; 04-09-2013, 11:18 AM.

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                  • #24
                    Originally posted by pdffs View Post
                    Obviously if even Google couldn't force hardware vendors to provide open drivers,
                    Could you please share the link to the source of that claim? I dont think they at least care even a bit about opensource drivers. If not the oposite.



                    To the news, I found the title funny, because I did ask myself never that question, but I did not read here anything about that Mir will be compatible or uses android driver architecture.

                    So I would have liked as title more something like: "Canonicals Mir is using Android drivers" or somethign like that.
                    I need no Canonical dev say some marketing blabla about it, to know why they want that.
                    If you as company care 0 about free software, free drivers and so on, of course you would like to be able to use all the arm non-free drivers.

                    If you have not to sell your "product" because of openess or freeness, you just can switch from closedsource support drivers (too) into closedsource drivers only from now on, a complete closed plattform.
                    From now on I think I call Ubuntu not anymore (GNU)Ubuntu/Linux, but Ubuntu/Android so Ubuntu is now a Android distribution, basicly.

                    And they should not say some stupid about the architecture, its because they can use the closed source drivers, thats the reason the only reason for that move.

                    So I am to lazy to scandalize that, I will make my desition based on that desitions and maybe some are able to guess what that is.
                    Last edited by blackiwid; 04-09-2013, 11:28 AM.

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                    • #25
                      Originally posted by droidhacker View Post
                      raspberry pi does not have mali. It has a BCM2835 broadcom videocore. And yes, it does work with accelerated UI, using evil "driver is entirely hidden in firmware" approach.

                      And BTW: odroid u2 is on a totally different playing field from raspberry pi. Raspberry pi has a crappy single core 700. odroid u2 has a quad-core cortex A9, with a, yes, this one actually does have a Mali.
                      Ahh, thanks for clearing that out don't know where the heck I read it was a mali 400 it seems it happened to me the same as this guy: http://www.raspberrypi.org/phpBB3/vi...hp?f=24&t=7485

                      I'm looking forward for a future of energy efficiency computers and it seems ARM has the lead for now. Want to buy an odroid u2 but with all this stupid war threats and stuff is kind of risky to order one since it is manufactured on south Korea.

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                      • #26
                        If I'm correct, Mir would use the same approach as Wayland to get up and running on Android drivers through libhybris. Maybe that's an oversimplification, but for people who think this is somehow Mir's secret weapon, there's nothing to keep Wayland from the same approach. So we don't need Mir to run the traditional Linux stack (GTK & Qt in particular) on the broad range of mobile devices.

                        On the other hand, I get the feeling that running all of the same software on an Android GPU would give you some issues. Would Blender 'just work', for instance? Consider how Intel's GPU drivers on Mesa used to have issues and still do with some advanced features, like acceleration in VMWare and VirtualBox (probably not necessarily Intel's fault). Still, you see where I'm going with this- can we really use all the same software, even with XWayland/XMir? If so, count me in for a future in ARM.

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                        • #27
                          Originally posted by scionicspectre View Post
                          On the other hand, I get the feeling that running all of the same software on an Android GPU would give you some issues. Would Blender 'just work', for instance?
                          Likely not. Many mobile GPUs only support GL ES, and even those that would support real/desktop GL, the Android drivers are ES only.

                          That is, unless Blender has a GL ES port.

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                          • #28
                            Originally posted by scionicspectre View Post
                            ...
                            can we really use all the same software, even with XWayland/XMir? If so, count me in for a future in ARM.
                            I guess we will have to wait to see if Canonical's offerings triumph or become a major league disaster. I guess that part of success will be if open source developers update the source of many critical applications to use newer technologies Wayland/Mir replacing X.

                            On the raspberry pi side, xbmc was ported to work with GL ES as Open Arena, it all depends on developers motivation to do it.
                            Last edited by TheOne; 04-09-2013, 02:27 PM.

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                            • #29
                              Seem reasonable to me. I guess quite a lot of ubuntu phone early users will be enthusiast that flash it on a android phone (even after the first actual ubuntu phones come out), and what easier way to support more phones than being able to use their android drivers.

                              I will at least keep an eye on ubuntu phone and sailfish, I want something more like maemo (that is, something a little bit more in line with linux desktops). I think there very well might be a small market made up by tech enthusiast for one of these, at least as 3d party roms for other androids.

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                              • #30
                                Maemo on N900 refused 3D drivers b/c of the closed-source reason. Ubuntu made it big with great 3D on closed drivers before they became open, so I'd think the same will happen in mobile.
                                Since Mir (as opposed to SurfaceFlinger) provides C/C++ bindings to these 3D drivers, we can finally get the most out of ARM hardware.

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