This week I’m proudly participating at the Ubuntu Developer Summit to help planning and defining what will the Quantal Quetzal (12.10) release be in the next following months.
As usual I’m wearing not only the Linaro hat, but also my Ubuntu and Canonical ones, interested and participating actively at most topics that are related with ARM in general.
And what can I say after the first 3 days at UDS-Q? Well, busy as never before and with great opportunities to help getting Ubuntu to rock even more at ARM, with current devices/platforms and with the exciting new ones that will be coming in the next few months.
Here are a few highlights from the first days:
Monday – May 7th
- Introduction and Keynote
- Great start as usual by Mark, showing the great opportunities for both Canonical and Ubuntu, describing the new target and use cases, and also showing how important Cloud is now for Ubuntu. After that we had, finally, the announcement of a real hardware availability from Calxeda, proving that ARM server are indeed real! (which is a quite important accomplishment)
- Schedule displays all working with our member’s boards
- This was the first time that all the schedule displays available at UDS were all covered by the ARM boards provided by Linaro. This time we got Pandaboard, Origen and also Snowball constantly showing the schedule through all the day. Low power and powerful devices all around :-)
- Plans for a minimum filesystem for embedded devices
- Discussion to cover all the possible embedded related use cases for Ubuntu, and trying to understand the real requirements for a minimum filesystem (rootfs) for those devices. While we didn’t decide to generate the smallest-still-apt/dpkg-compatible rootfs for our users (as ubuntu-core is already covering most of the cases), we’ll provide enough tools and documentation on how to easily generate them. At Linaro side the Ubuntu Nano image should probably reflect such suggestions.
- Identify impact of the switch to pure live images for ARM platforms
- Here the focus was basically to review and understand if we would really continue providing pre-installed based images instead of just supporting live based ones. Having the images provided only at the SD cards are very useful to make the bootstrap and install quite easy, but it hurts badly the performance. As we’re now getting ARM boards that are very powerful in many ways, the I/O bound shouldn’t limit what the users would be able to get from them. The decision for Quantal is to drop support for the pre-installed images, and provide live based ones at the SD cards (think like the live-sd image as we have with CD on other archs), where the user would install Ubuntu the same way as done with x86, and using USB/Sata based devices as rootfs by default.
- OpenStack Deployment on ARM Server
- The focus of this session was basically to better understand what might be the missing pieces for a proper OpenStack support at ARM. Quite a few open questions still, but the missing pkgs enablement, LXC testing and support and KVM for a few platforms will help making sure the support is at least correctly in place. After initial support, continuous test and validation should happen to make sure the ARM platforms keeps well supported over the time (which will be better stressed and tested once MAAS/Juju is also supported properly at ARM).
Tuesday – May 8th
- Detail and begin the arm64/aarch64 port in Ubuntu
- Clearly the most important session of the day for ARM. Great discussion on how to prepare and start the ARMv8 port at Ubuntu and Debian, by starting with cross-build support with multiarch and later support with Fast Models and Qemu. A lot is still to be covered once ARM is able to publish the ARMv8 support for Toolchain and Kernel, and session will be reviewed again at Linaro Connect at the end of this month.
- Ubuntu Kernel Delta Review
- Usual review of the patches the Ubuntu Kernel team is maintaining at the Ubuntu Kernel tree. At Linaro this is important as we also enable the Ubuntu specific patch-set at the packages provided by the LEB, for proper kernel and user-space support. Luckily this time it seems the delta is really minimum, which should probably also start to be part of Linux Linaro in the following month.
- Integrate Linaro hwpacks for ARM with the Ubuntu image build infrastructure
- Usual discussion about trying to avoid replicated work that is strictly related with each ARM board we support at both Ubuntu and Linaro. Decision is to finally sync with the latest flash-kernel available at Debian and try to get the common project/package with the hardware specific bits in place, so it can be used by linaro-image-tools, flash-kernel and debian-cd.
Wednesday – May 9th
- MAAS Next Steps
- Session to review and plan what are the next steps for the MAAS project, which is also missing proper ARM support for now. Great discussions on understanding all the requirements, as they will not necessarily match entirely with the usual ARM devices we have at the moment. Here the goal for ARM is to continue improving the PXE support at U-Boot (even with UEFI chainload later), and understanding what might be missing to also have IPMI support (even if not entirely provided by the hardware).
- System Compositor
- Great session covering what might be the improvements and development on the graphics side for next release. Goal is to use a system compositor that would be started right at the beginning at the boot, which will then be controlled and used properly once lightdm is up (with X11). This will improve a lot the user experience on normal x86 based desktops, and luckily on ARM we’re also in a quite nice situation with the work done by Linaro helping getting the proper DRM/KMS support for the boards we support, so I hope ARM will be in a great shape here :-)
- ARM Server general enhancements (for ARMv7 and perhaps v8)
- At this session we could cover what seems to be the most recurrent and problematically thing at supporting ARM servers, which is the lack of a single and supported boot method and boot loader. UEFI should be able to help on this front soon, but until then the focus will be to keep checking and making sure the current PXE implementation at u-boot works as expected (chainloading UEFI on u-boot is also another possibility Linaro is investigating). There is also the request for IPMI support, which is still unclear in general how it’ll be done generically speaking.
- Integration testing for the bootloader
- As Ubuntu is also moving to the direction of continuous validating and testing all important components available, there’s the need for a proper validation of the bootloader, and the effect at the user experience while booting the system. For ARM it’s also a special case, as U-Boot is still the main bootloader used across the boards. Test case descriptions in place, and discussion will probably continue at Linaro Connect as this is also an area where we also want to help validating/testing.
- ARM Server Benchmarking and Performance
- Here the Ubuntu Server Team presented how they are benchmarking and checking performance at the server level at x86, and covering what might still be needed to run and validate the ARM boards the same way. For ARM the plan is to run the same test cases on the available scenarios, and also try to get Linaro involved by making sure this is also part of the continuous validation and testing done with LAVA. Another important topic that will probably be extended at Linaro Connect is finding a way to get the power consumption data when running the test cases/benchmarks, so it can be further optimised later on.
- Compiz GLES2 Handover
- Last session of the day, trying to find the missing gaps to finally get the OpenGL ES2.0 support merged at the Compiz and Unity upstream branches used by the entire Ubuntu desktop (across all archs). Following work and actions will basically be to fix the remaining and important plugins after merging the changes, and also getting a few test cases to properly validate the support at Ubuntu. Once all done, it should be merged ASAP.
These are just a few topics which I was able to participate. There are a lot of more exciting work coming on, which can all be found at http://summit.ubuntu.com/uds-q/. Remember that you’re still able to participate in a few of them tomorrow and friday, as remote access is provided for all the sessions we have.
I’m sure a lot of more exciting stuff will be discussed for ARM support until the end of this week, and at Linaro Connect, at the end of the month, we’ll be able to review and get our hands dirty as well :-)
Exciting times for ARM!