Linaro at work: porting, testing, and Android

Thursday, November 11th, 2010

Congratulations to Team Linaro on their first full release yesterday. For those not yet in the know, Linaro is a collaborative forum with dedicated engineers making sure that Linux rocks on ARM (and potentially other architectures). Staffed by a combination of Canonical and new Linaro engineers, together with secondees from the major ARM silicon vendors, it’s solving the problems of fragmentation in Linux across that ecosystem and reducing the time to market for ARM devices.

Linaro uses the same cadence as Ubuntu and we’re able to collaborate on the selection, integration and debugging of key components like the kernel, toolchain, (still ;-)), and hundreds of small-but-important libraries and tools in between. Team Linaro was @UDS and it was very cool to see the extent to which their sessions drew attendance from the wider Ubuntu community – I think there’s a growing interest in efficient computing across the Ubuntu landscape.

The Linaro team is pleased to announce the release of Linaro 10.11.
10.11 is the first public release that brings together the huge amount
of engineering effort that has occurred within Linaro over the past 6
months. In addition to officially supporting the TI OMAP3 (Beagle
Board and Beagle Board XM) and ARM Versatile Express platforms, the
images have been tested and verified on a total of 7 different platforms
including TI OMAP4 Panda Board, IGEPv2, Freescale iMX51 and ST-E U8500.

The advances that have happened in this cycle are numerous but include a
completely rebuilt archive using GCC 4.4.4 and the latest ARM optimised
tool chain, the Linux kernel version 2.6.35, support for
cross-compiling, a new hardware pack way of building images, 3D
acceleration improvements, u-boot enhancements and initial device tree
support, a new QA tracking structure, the list goes on.

Android in the house

The road ahead looks even more interesting. For the next cycle, the Linaro team is going to build an Android environment on the same kernel and toolchain that we collaborate on with Ubuntu. For folks building devices, picking a board that’s part of the Linaro process means you’ll be able to get either an Ubuntu-style or Android-style core environment up and running at Day 1, which should reduce time to market for everyone.

If the Linaro team pulls this off, it will mean that Linaro provides an intersection point for the majority of the consumer electronics x86 and ARM ecosystem, regardless of the end OS. I’m sure over time we’ll find more groups that are interested in joining the process, and I see no reason why they couldn’t be accommodated in this cadence-driven model.

More players, more diversity in services

It was also good to see folks from Montavista and Mentor at Linaro@UDS this year. Whether the Linaro kernel and toolchain plug into their own distros, or they start to offer their services around the Linaro/Ubuntu/Android BSP’s, the result is a healthier ecosystem with fewer snags and gotchas for device makers.

One group asked me explicitly if Linaro was a Canonical show, and I was glad to say it isn’t. Canonical can’t possibly do everything that embedded Linux needs done, but our competence in cadence and release management makes us good custodians of a public project, which is what we do with Ubuntu itself. Participation and collaboration are at the heart, and they benefit from being partnered with a commitment to delivery and deadlines. We can’t do everything in a single cycle, but we can provide a roadmap for things like kernel defragmentation, the device-tree work, enablement of an ever-increasing cross-section of the ARM ecosystem, and transitions between versions of GCC or Python or X or even Wayland. So Canonical makes a good anchor, but Linaro has room for lots of other service-providers. Having multiple companies participate in Linaro means that the products we’re all shipping get better, faster.


The Linaro team is also going to focus on repeatable, rigorous testing of the core platform in the next cycle. That harmonises nicely with our growing focus on quality in Ubuntu, and the need for better quality and testing in open source in general. I’m interested to see what tools and results the Linaro team can produce in the next six months. Open source *can* be bulletproof, but it can also degrade in quality if we don’t put the right processes in place upstream and downstream, so this is a very welcome initiative.

22 Responses to “Linaro at work: porting, testing, and Android”

  1. Andrew Ampers Taylor Says:

    I would be very interested in reading, in simple layman’s terms for someone who is non technical and 71, what this means. It sounds very exciting.


  2. Sergey Reymerov Says:

    Hmm… Mark deeply pull in Wayland idea.) Maybe when ARM-netbooks appears I’ll be glad to install on some of them Ubuntu.

  3. Linaro at work: porting, testing, and AndroidMark Shuttleworth | Says:

    […] mark Posted by Bez kategorii Subscribe to RSS feed […]

  4. Jon Loldrup Says:

    Wonderful to hear that Canonical will focus more on quality!
    Bugs in mainstream features are disillusioning and frustrating.

    Last weekend I installed Ubuntu on my cousins computer. I had to spend several hours establishing workaround solutions to the problems. Especially the social part really fails.

    It was a bitter sweet feeling showcasing all the neat thinks in Ubuntu, as I simultaneously had to explain the various workarounds to her. I think she likes it still though, but would she also have liked it if I wasn’t there to patch it up?

  5. Ben Says:

    This is great news! I’m looking forward to bridging the gap between GNU/Linux and Android!

  6. anzan Says:

    Having grown quite fond of Android, I’m very interested in how this will develop. Best of luck, Mark.

  7. Petteri Says:

    It would be nice to know how Linaro interoperates with MeeGo project, since it seems that both are doing the at least somewhat duplicate work.

  8. GNU Says:

    Google is the new Microsoft. Just see what they’re doing to Firefox. They’ve been following Microsoft’s old tactics of Embrace, Extend, Extinguish.

    You’re getting in bed with the devil! They will destroy Ubuntu. They don’t really care about Linux. They only care about profit!

    Android only uses the Linux kernel but runs in a JAVA VM that they are currently being sued for. It’s not open source.

    Why not focus on truly open source Qt?

  9. Mandy Sauls Says:

    Once again pleasantly surprise.
    Just shows folks in the IT business that sphere collaboration and diverse talents
    Can be used for the greater good of OSS LTS sustainability.
    Let’s be positive in looking forward to the brilliant end result. I’m totally stoked at the speed Ubuntu et al collabs & development is evolving.

    I’m following this cycle with great excitement, especially in
    anticipation of brilliance made
    simplistic for millions more people to use and enjoy.
    Teamwork sure goes along way faster when taking into account peoples views. The gesture is an impressive feature which pays dividends in the form of a quality user friendly end product.

  10. Jo-Erlend Schinstad Says:

    This is good news indeed! I’ve been struggling with my IGEPv2 and it’s working … kinda. Graphics is much slower than it should be, wlan doesn’t work, bluetooth doesn’t work. But except for all the things that doesn’t work, it’s really nice. 🙂 I haven’t tried the new Linaro kernel yet, though. I guess that’ll be the first thing I do monday morning. Keep feeding us with ARM news! The idea of Ubuntu ARM as a desktop coupled with a SPICEd Ubuntu server for the heavy stuff, is really enticing.

  11. Marko.K Says:

    It’s always sad to read this kind news where not even the chief of the Ubuntu project understand that Linux kernel is the operating system and there is no need to talk about kernel of the Linux.

    It just causes so much wrong information among non-technical people who then later has more trouble to actually understand the technical, political, etchical or economical desicions what are made.

    Canonical should start focus to re-check and re-write their documents, web sites and teach their workers that Linux kernel is not microkernel and so on it is the operating system. That would give freedom the all open source followers to really understand what is happening.

  12. IndianArt Says:

    Hi Mark,

    When can we get to see (& hear) you on some TV interviews?

    Here in India Gadget Guru would be a great place to tell a wide audience about the great product Ubuntu. A demo with a Laptop (maybe Dell) would be great.

    Newspaper interviews here (like the ‘Times of India’s Tech-a-tete) would also be a great way to spread the word.

    Good luck & Thank you for a great free product.

  13. Leon Bogaert Says:

    Sounds interesting. When I get my pandaboard I’ll have a look at Linaro.

  14. foo Says:

    Why are they targeting such an old version of GCC?? Are they falling into the standard Ubuntu trap of not contributing upstream?

  15. A. Peon Says:

    Any chance for an Android environment ‘hosted’ on a Ubuntu environment, for the best of both worlds as far as that goes?

  16. Linaro faz avançar Linux nos dispositivos ARM | ZWAME Portal Says:

    […] haver pela proximidade com o Ubuntu. Aliás o que me chamou a atenção foi uma entrada no blog do Mark Shuttleworth e perceber que tem havido colaboração com o Ubuntu e que para o próximo ciclo de desenvolvimento […]

  17. Androidiani: Il progetto Linaro | android, drivers, kernel, linaro, linux, open source Says:

    […] considerazioni dopo il rilascio da parte di Mak Shuttleworth (fondatore della Ubuntu Foundation) […]

  18. enedene Says:

    I’ve seen that Jolicloud has pushed their own netbook, which is great.
    Then someone on site OMG Ubuntu suggested that it would be great to have an Ubuntu laptop/netbook.
    I couldn’t agree more. Dell is selling some Ubuntu laptops, but they are practically ashamed, it’s really hard to find a Ubuntu laptop on their web site let alone in practice in shops.
    Is there any chance that Canonical/Ubuntu will try to ship their own laptops/netbooks, something like Mac does? Is there enough market to make it profitable?

    @GNU Google is nothing like Microsoft, quite the opposite.

  19. T. J. Brumfield Says:

    I still think Canonical should buy SUSE. Novell was just sold, but I don’t know if Attachmate wanted the Linux division particularly.

    It sounds crazy to suggest because I hate a lot of things about Ubuntu and love SUSE, but I think it would be a marriage made in heaven.

    Ubuntu is really trying to innovate and change desktop paradigms. They’re making serious in-roads, and OEMs are willing to deal with Ubuntu.

    That being said they are too bleeding edge to be taken seriously in the server/enterprise department, they have poor QA, they treat KDE as a bastard stepchild, and they don’t push enough code upstream.

    SUSE has great engineers, pushes tons of great code upstream, has a great server product, has good QA and puts out a great KDE desktop.

    You’d get the best of Ubuntu’s package manager, and SUSE’s fantastic Yast tools. Canonical would also pick up SUSE’s SUSE Studio and the Open Build Service.

    I think you could capture the desktop market with Ubuntu’s music store, cloud storage, etc. and the enterprise server market by leveraging Novell/SUSE’s good name with SLED.

    Tell me you wouldn’t want to run a desktop that merged the best features of Ubuntu and openSUSE.

  20. hansioux Says:

    Mark, after seeing the recent trend fro mobile devices, I feel the future of OS depends on its ability to bring apps to its users. What attracts developers are:
    1. how many users they can reach.
    2. how easy is it to port to/from other platforms/devices.
    3. how easy is the publication process.

    If it simply is a pain to do the second 2, sometimes devs don’t even care if they are missing a huge market. The more devs willing to write for your application distribution platform, the more apps for the users, thus the OS gets more users.

    I see this trend coming to the desktop OS platforms as well. Even though Ubuntu is on the right track with its software center, I feel that some directions are still stuck in traditional view points. Currently the process of getting paid software into the software center is long and difficult, it’s new, i understand. but just getting things working on launchpad and getting a PPA isn’t all that easy/well documented. And the software center should be available to other distros if their users so choose to install it, and get apps from there.

    Therefore, being able to compile the code into different Package Managers (deb/rpm/), and for different architectures (32bit/64bit) on launchpad will allow devs to reach maximum linux user base, thus attracting more developers and more apps. It’s a page from OpenSuse’s play book, but they are really aiming to do just that, especially now they are developing their own software center.

    ubuntu seems to have a great vision of how the linux desktop experience can be, keep on the good work at canonical.

  21. bcbc Says:

    That sounds exciting. Particularly the part about rigorous, repeatable testing. This is one area that is very conspicuous by its absence in other critical parts of Ubuntu – e.g. Grub2. There also appears to be an imbalance in developer focus to preparing for upcoming releases, rather than maintaining existing releases (to the detriment of the existing userbase). It’s great to anticipate what’s coming, but if you look after your current user base (and especially new users), that will ensure a faster growth to achieve what Ubuntu deserves.

  22. Zac Says:

    I agree with hansioux above. The Software Centre is very important for uses and developers. I hope more work gets focussed on the Software Centre. This is one of the central pillars for growth.

    Thanks for another great year of your effort. Keep those changes coming and make Ubuntu the best OS for desktop, netbooks, tablets, and phones. It can be done. Keep pluggin’ away.