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Allwinner Preparing Their A100 SoC Support For The Upstream Linux Kernel

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  • Allwinner Preparing Their A100 SoC Support For The Upstream Linux Kernel

    Phoronix: Allwinner Preparing Their A100 SoC Support For The Upstream Linux Kernel

    Allwinner Tech has prepared their initial Linux kernel patches for bringing up the A100 SoC. The A100 SoC is one of their newest tablet-focused SoCs moving forward...

    http://www.phoronix.com/scan.php?pag...-Linux-Patches

  • #2
    It's nice that they're seeking mainline kernel support for the SoC (does that include graphics drivers???) but ARM is still a big heaping mess when it comes to actually being able to load a Linux distro on them, what with needing special custom flashing tools for their janky bootloaders instead of being able to use PC-like installation routines. How about seeking support for SBBR/SBSA and/or Coreboot?

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    • #3
      Originally posted by Giovanni Fabbro View Post
      It's nice that they're seeking mainline kernel support for the SoC (does that include graphics drivers???) but ARM is still a big heaping mess when it comes to actually being able to load a Linux distro on them, what with needing special custom flashing tools for their janky bootloaders instead of being able to use PC-like installation routines. How about seeking support for SBBR/SBSA and/or Coreboot?
      First, the usual bootloader for ARM devices is "Das U-Boot". Its not "special" or "janky" and it does exactly what it is meant to do, initialize the hardware and load the linux kernel, and it actually does a lot more. But it isnt a clicky easy uefi implementation, you need to actually be able to read text and even write text. It is a extremely robust solution.
      Coreboot would be possible, but it would load uboot anyways as it is not a IBM PC compatible, so no chance for SeaBIOS or Tianocore uefi.

      Second, you do not need any special tools to accomplish that. GNU dd does that just fine and if you are afraid, Gnome Disks also does this job very well.

      Third, It is really not that hard. Its actually a lot more simple.

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      • #4
        Originally posted by Giovanni Fabbro View Post
        It's nice that they're seeking mainline kernel support for the SoC (does that include graphics drivers???) but ARM is still a big heaping mess when it comes to actually being able to load a Linux distro on them, what with needing special custom flashing tools for their janky bootloaders instead of being able to use PC-like installation routines. How about seeking support for SBBR/SBSA and/or Coreboot?
        With PowerVR, graphics on these chips is DoA in any open source sense. These chips are for Android. I'm surprised that they bothered upstreaming code to the kernel. Don't get me wrong, I'm happy they're upstreaming code for the first time, ever. They usually hack up an older kernel and distribtue that ask part of their BSP.

        The chip isn't anything special. Yet another quad A53.

        I hope this is a move to Allwinner being more open, but the best way to have done that would have been to have made better docs and let the linux-sunxi people keep doing what they're doing. Those people are great.

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        • #5
          Originally posted by Alexmitter View Post

          First, the usual bootloader for ARM devices is "Das U-Boot". Its not "special" or "janky" and it does exactly what it is meant to do, initialize the hardware and load the linux kernel, and it actually does a lot more. But it isnt a clicky easy uefi implementation, you need to actually be able to read text and even write text. It is a extremely robust solution.
          Coreboot would be possible, but it would load uboot anyways as it is not a IBM PC compatible, so no chance for SeaBIOS or Tianocore uefi.

          Second, you do not need any special tools to accomplish that. GNU dd does that just fine and if you are afraid, Gnome Disks also does this job very well.

          Third, It is really not that hard. Its actually a lot more simple.
          If you think that using DD is simpler than just booting an OS installer from a disk/disc, you need a reality check.

          Comment


          • #6
            Originally posted by Giovanni Fabbro View Post

            If you think that using DD is simpler than just booting an OS installer from a disk/disc, you need a reality check.
            It's no different. On a PC you must insert a DVD/USB flash key with OS installer and set the boot option using BIOS menus. On ARM you typically only have one drive (SD card) and it's totally possible to flash another SD card plugged in via USB/SD bridge. Some ARM boards even support diskless network/USB boot. I can't see how this is any simpler on PC. Sure, most PCs come preinstalled with an OS (Windows) or you buy the Windows DVD from a store. So maybe that's how.

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            • #7
              As someone who is writing this on an ARM-based laptop and intends to set up an ARM-based home server, I see both sides to this argument. For an experienced user, downloading a disk image and using dd to a micro SD card is about the simplest it gets to install an OS.
              BUT...
              If you want to do anything beyond that, it's harder. You have very little control over how the device operates and creating your own custom disk image is tedious at best if you're new to a platform. If you're not using ARMv8, all of the custom kernels is really tedious to deal with. Rebuilding the kernel because you're missing a driver here and there is a PITA. The fact you need a separate computer to get an ARM system working is already less user-friendly than x86 (unless you buy a uSD card with a disk image for your specific device already on it).

              If you're using something like a Raspberry Pi, Jetson, or Beaglebone, your user experience will be pretty easy and complete. If you're using a RPi knockoff or an ODROID, your experience won't be terrible but still limited functionality. For everything else, expect frustration.

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              • #8
                Originally posted by schmidtbag View Post
                As someone who is writing this on an ARM-based laptop and intends to set up an ARM-based home server, I see both sides to this argument. For an experienced user, downloading a disk image and using dd to a micro SD card is about the simplest it gets to install an OS.
                BUT...
                If you want to do anything beyond that, it's harder. You have very little control over how the device operates and creating your own custom disk image is tedious at best if you're new to a platform. If you're not using ARMv8, all of the custom kernels is really tedious to deal with. Rebuilding the kernel because you're missing a driver here and there is a PITA. The fact you need a separate computer to get an ARM system working is already less user-friendly than x86 (unless you buy a uSD card with a disk image for your specific device already on it).

                If you're using something like a Raspberry Pi, Jetson, or Beaglebone, your user experience will be pretty easy and complete. If you're using a RPi knockoff or an ODROID, your experience won't be terrible but still limited functionality. For everything else, expect frustration.
                And lets not forget that video drivers and the ARM hardware they run on are sh*t. I mean, it's not like GNOME 3 really does a lot graphically. We're talking less graphical effects than Vista's Aero, and that's more than 10 years old now! And yet, these same chips can do all kinds of fancy stuff on Android on high resolution, high-DPI screens. Because Android and ARM are both built around protecting intellectual property, and so said companies only design their products around mobile graphics API's, not desktop ones like full OpenGL (non-ES). You can buy a cheap Intel mini PC like a Zotac Edge CI341 or an AliChiner knockoff with a 6W fanless processor that's still faster than most ARM SBC systems, and install Linux (not flash - INSTALL using a standard image) on it and everything will just work, other than maybe wireless depending on what type of WiFi chip it has. Even GNOME 3 works fine, and supports video acceleration across the board with every app, not just some specific app that has a codec filter compiled for that GPU like most Big Buck Bunny ARM GPU test videos like to show off.

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                • #9
                  Originally posted by Giovanni Fabbro View Post
                  If you think that using DD is simpler than just booting an OS installer from a disk/disc, you need a reality check.
                  If you think using DD is so difficult you need to get a new brain.

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                  • #10
                    Well, I guess it's nice seeing Allwinner doing at least some upstream work. Shame the GPU will take a long time (if ever) to actually work on Linux :/

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