14 November 2008

ARMed and Dangerous - to Microsoft

It's often forgotten that one of the strengths of GNU/Linux is the extraordinary range of platforms it supports. Where the full Windows stack is only available for Intel processors - even Windows CE, a distinct code-base, only supports four platforms - GNU/Linux is available on a dizzying array of other hardware.

Here's an interesting addition to the list:

ARM and Canonical Ltd, the commercial sponsor of Ubuntu, today announced that they will bring the full Ubuntu Desktop operating system to the ARMv7 processor architecture to address demand from device manufacturers. The addition of the new operating system will enable new netbooks and hybrid computers, targeting energy-efficient ARM technology-based SoCs, to deliver a rich, always-connected, mobile computing experience, without compromising battery life.

The combination of a commercially supported, optimized Ubuntu distribution for ARM, together with Canonical’s ability to tailor solutions to specific ARM technology-based devices and OEM requirements, ensures that highly-optimized systems can be rapidly deployed into the fast growing mobile computing market. ARM’s wide partnership with leading semiconductor and device manufacturers strengthens the mobile computing software ecosystem and extends the market reach for Ubuntu-based products.

Since ARM is based on original work by the ancient Acorn Computers (hello, BBC Micro), this represents a nice coming together of two British-based companies, albeit with global reach.


Shlomi Fish said...

Hi Glyn!

It seems that your phrasing that "Here's an interesting addition to the list" is somewhat ambiguous and misleading. The Linux kernel and the GNU/Linux run-time has been able to run on ARM-processors for years now, and there were several available distributions for the ARM.

What has changed is that Ubuntu will now be ported to the ARM, but not Linux (or GNU) in general. As desirable as it is, the lion's share of the porting effort was done by other people, a long time before Ubuntu's.

Glyn Moody said...

Yes, I agonised over that verb. I decided it was still an addition, even though ARM has been supported before, simply because Ubuntu is being supported for the first time, and so added to the list in a literal sense.

But thanks for raising the issue.

The Open Sourcerer said...

I think the important part of this is about a fully supported distribution for the OEMs.

And, when you consider a user/company will be able to use *the same* OS on his little ARM thinggy and his Desktop/Laptop/Server/Media PC, you start to get a very compelling story...

WinCE is not the same as Windows Mobile is not the same as Windows XP/Vista.

Glyn Moody said...

Exactly. *This* is the power of GNU/Linux.

David Gerard said...

Yep. Glyn, have you looked at those cheap little MIPS-based netbooks Maplin's selling? x86 may be RISC inside, but the instruction set interpreter on the front still loads the chip down - for a given price point, an ARM or MIPS-based laptop will run cooler and faster. And it's exactly the same GNU/Linux.

Glyn Moody said...

No, I hadn't - do you have a name/URL for them, please?