Box86 Continues Quest For Running x86 Linux Programs On ARM, Other Archs
Written by Michael Larabel in Free Software on 28 March 2021 at 06:03 AM EDT. 11 Comments
FREE SOFTWARE --
An interesting open-source project that has been brought up now a few times by Phoronix readers is Box86 for allowing 32-bit x86 programs to run unmodified on non-x86 Linux systems like ARM.

Box86 leverages some of the system's native libraries and in turn can often deliver better performance than say using QEMU to run x86 programs on other CPU architectures. Box86's design does as well easily allow running x86 OpenGL games and other graphical software too. With some workarounds, even Steam / Wine games in turn can run under Box86.

For Box86 on ARM, there is also a dynamic recompiler that can lead to significantly better performance than its interpreter-based implementation. Back during FOSDEM 2021 there was a Box86 virtual stand with some performance numbers shared - in CPU-bound benchmarks Box86 delivered half or so the performance of the native system but for glmark2 as a graphics test was close to the bare metal / native performance.


The main downside though to Box86 is the requirement over 32-bit library support for the host/native system complicating some deployments and Box86 not supporting x86_64 Linux programs at this time.

Those interested in learning more about Box86 can see Box86 on GitHub.
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Michael Larabel is the principal author of Phoronix.com and founded the site in 2004 with a focus on enriching the Linux hardware experience. Michael has written more than 20,000 articles covering the state of Linux hardware support, Linux performance, graphics drivers, and other topics. Michael is also the lead developer of the Phoronix Test Suite, Phoromatic, and OpenBenchmarking.org automated benchmarking software. He can be followed via Twitter or contacted via MichaelLarabel.com.

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