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Ubuntu 12.04: Initrds, Qt 5, DKMS & More

Ubuntu

Published on 02 November 2011 08:07 AM EDT
Written by Michael Larabel in Ubuntu
8 Comments

Here's some more of what was discussed Tuesday at the Ubuntu Developer Summit for Ubuntu 12.04 LTS "Precise Pangolin" in Orlando, Florida.

Besides talking about the graphics stack requirements, LXC virtualization, loving Mono and Banshee, and a stable Ubuntu API, there were also other interesting discussions from the second day of this summit for Ubuntu Linux developers.

Making initrds optional: Ubuntu developers are hoping to make initrd images optional. Ubuntu wants to make it optional to need an initial RAM disk and instead to load the kernel from the root file-system directly. The primary focus of this would be to lower the boot times (Ubuntu's boot performance has been bad lately), which would really help those running Ubuntu on ARM.

For initrd images to be optional, UUID support needs to be implemented in the kernel, more kernel modules needed to boot the system need to be built into the kernel (instead of modules), there needs to be initrd-less PXE booting support, and other areas investigated. Per their plans, an initrd would always be generated, but when it came time to configuring the boot-loader, it would be decided if an initial RAM disk image should be used. Ubuntu's safe-mode would also always use an initrd.

Enhancing DKMS On Ubuntu: Ubuntu developers want to make it more simpler to create and maintain DKMS packages. Dynamic Kernel Module Support (DKMS) is what allows out-of-tree Linux kernel modules (namely device drivers) to be rebuilt automatically when installing a new kernel. There's DKMS support in the AMD Catalyst Linux driver and other modules so that their modules can work rather seamlessly when installing a new kernel, assuming there are no breaks in the kernel API. They already have some plans to improve the DKMS process in Ubuntu, per these notes.

Ubuntu 12.04 Kernel Configuration: As said in the graphics stack article, Ubuntu 12.04 LTS will likely ship with the Linux 3.2 kernel, but there is a chance they instead may go with the Linux 3.1 kernel (it should be decided this week, hopefully it's 3.2). As far as the kernel configuration goes in whatever kernel they pick, there's a few changes.

More boot-essential modules may be built into the kernel (per the initrd-less UUID-booting support in the kernel), EXT2 file-system support will no longer be built-in and instead be a module, FAT file-system support will be built-in since it's needed in some ARM configurations, and ProcFS support is likely to be removed. The non-PAE Ubuntu kernel might also be removed with most hardware now supporting the Physical Address Extensions.

UEFI Linux Kernel Support: The Linaro developers discussed UEFI support within the ARM Linux kernel. Here's their brief notes where discussing the EFI support in GRUB vs. ELILO and how well the current kernel UEFI implementation is for ARM.

U1DB: Ubuntu One developers are working on a new synchronized database system called U1DB that's meant for... Ubuntu One. U1DB is the codename for "an easy-to-use database API layer which can work on any platform." By any platform they mean anything from Ubuntu to servers to Windows to embedded/mobile devices. This layer would then interact with an actual native database such as SQLite or MySQL. The purpose of U1DB is all about ensuring synchronized data between systems and the cloud. Details on U1DB can be found from the Launchpad page.

Nokia QT & Ubuntu: Qt developers from Nokia were at UDS to talk about Qt 5 and Qt in Ubuntu 12.04 (they also did some interesting Qt Embedded demos late in the afternoon). Among the items brought up during this discussion is that Qt 5 will support using "LLVM Mesa" (I assume they are referring to the LLVMpipe driver, I wasn't at this part of the session in person), Qt 5 will support both X11 and the Wayland Display Server, and the developers discussed the state of QML and other areas relevant to Qt 5.

Now off to the third day of the Ubuntu Developer Summit in Orlando (and I need to finish some things I am working on for testing/benchmarking for the talk tonight). For those that didn't see Monday's coverage of UDS-P on Phoronix, it's summarized here.

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