Chip maker ARM is to get Ubuntu Linux up and running on its ARMv7 processor architcture, part of its plan to get its chips into netbooks and handheld internet devices. It's all about taking the fight to Intel's Atom, of course. The chip giant's processor has become the de facto standard for small, cheap computers. But the …
ARM design great chips, and between them and the software Psion wrote to run on them, the behinds of early WinCE devices were whipped red raw by the Series 5, but after the Carphone Warehouse's experience of Linux, I'm left wondering whether it matters that someone can produce technically superior netbooks if the public will balk at the sight of them?
Perhaps the absence of companies like Psion and Palm has led to an unexpected side effect - people are no longer used to anything different in the mass market so they don't have the patience to give something new a try. Unless it's from Apple of course, then it's a wonderful new paradigm in human-fruit information interchange, even though most users only barely know how to make phone calls on it.
It's a shame that Psion's own netBook™ and netPad ranges never survived, I'm sure they'd be quite incredible machines today with wi-fi, touchscreens, 8 hours of battery life and an all-singing-and-dancing ER10.
As with the MC laptops of the 1980s, it seems Psion were 10 years too early again.
SCC versus MID
The article mentions the "full Ubuntu desktop", which sounds more useful for SCCs than for MIDs.
And I can't see why not: We have seen SCCs powered by Chinese MIPS-compatibles, so why not ARM?
As for XP winning the SCC market, I think this has more to do with users' ignorance and retailers' laziness than with any real advantage. Just about the only thing XP can do that Linux can't is play Windows-only games, and SCCs are not suited for anything but decade-old games anyway.
But I agree that ARM is in position to dominate the MID market, where they are a bit late to do anything but cut a slice of the SCC market.
Sounds good for the Pandora project...
I'm not sure what you're suggesting about CW. I suspect the main problem is that if you give a 'small laptop' to joe public they immediately try to install Windows software and then go back and swap their 'faulty' machine for a Windows version.
That's not an issue with MID devices because of the mix of incompatible processors that are currently around; the arrival of atom won't change that. 'Desktop' Windows (XP or whatever) is never likely to run on these devices because of lack of resources.
I do think there is a strong likelihood of the MID market gravitating to a two-horse race though; Windows Mobile, probably running on Atom only V Linux running on Arm and others. All we need then is Java SE for both and who cares what the OS or processor is?
ARM *not* a chip maker
ARM is a chip designer. Other companies license the design and do the actual silicon bashing.
My RiscPC stil lives :-)
my RiscPC will now get 'ubuntufied' instead of ARMSlacked :-)
Intel architecture SCC?
Where are they?
All the Atom boxes I have seen are smallish barely-cheaper-than-a-laptop computers.
Not so good for Maemo...
I enjoy Maemo, which runs on Arm, and it does a pretty good job (On my Nokia N810.)
If Ubuntu moves in, it'll bring fanboys and funding and could just obliterate Maemo if it snags all the market share.
How many Debian-derived MID Arm distros do we really need?
Oh well, so far as I've seen the whole MID idea isn't really all that great, according to my trying for ~4 months to find a decent use for my N810.
Even better idea
Port it to ARM2 or ARM3. Any patents covering those architectures will have expired by now; and their memory-inefficiency is less of a problem today what with the way 80x86 and its greater memory-inefficiency have brought down the cost of RAM, FLASH and HDD space.
Oh, and it wasn't really that the public balked at CPW's Linux offering, so much as Microsoft gave them a stiff talking-to.
MIDs and Psion netBook
As someone still using a Psion netBook for 'real work', I agree with Bit Fiddler that experiences of half-baked support of Linux will ruin the chances of non-MS product acceptance. My netBook still excites interest and even more so because it is not Windows but is still fully functional. I've just bought an EEE PC 4g - same size as a netBook and from the 'simple gui' works fine with just as much 'under the cover' access that a Psion gave. Being experienced in Linux, I've enabled full desktop; rooted round the fs/OS but have gone back to the simple gui. Why? Because the basic product is 'good enough'; full desktop (and I suspect an XP desktop also) is too much for the form factor/screen size. I like Basket for KDE so installed it for a 'free form database/notes' but could have used TiddlyWiki just as well. It is a replacement for the netBook - just need to get used to different programs/usage of programs.
I wanted a robust; (spinning) hard diskless machine and the EEE Pc/Linux is nearly there (apart from battery life). ARM+Linux - we need. We need MIDs to be as physically robust as the Psion devices but up to date at an OS level and with the battery life AND robust OS. ARM have a good heritage with EPOC/Symbian as a reliable architecture OS so ARM+Linux is to be welcomed. If the ARM/OS hookup is as the ARM+EPOC customisation then a customised ARM/Linux integration will be all the better for users.
Last words on operating systems belongs to my son- a Windows-only user (he can/does install XP himself including partitioning) - "Linux is boring; just keeps on working; there's no fun in fixing things when they stop working" Sounds perfect for ARM and MID
What's to port?
Debian already runs on ARM. Ubuntu is just a careful selection of Debian packages.
Linux badly supported out of the SCC vendor's box ..
My experience of the pre-installed Linuxes on an EEEPC 701 and an Acer Aspire One has been one of utter frustration. They initially both worked fine until you used their online updater and then bang both Linpus and Xandros implementations shot themselves in the head and refused to perform any more updates and broke some other things like networking 8-( I put this down to bad testing and support by ASUS and Acer rather than any inherent issues with Linux in general ... however ...
However, I have since been trying out different Linuxes and whilst ubuntu (8.4.1 and 8.10) are both somewhat useable, even with the driver hacks available it is still an incomplete solution 8-(
So I can understand why people would want to sell and buy SCCs which are both mostly functional and compatible with a well known "OS" such as XP. Sad but true.
After weeks of fiddling I have settled for OSX on the Acer (works lovely even on a 7.2Gb SSD and 1.5Gb RAM and is a fully licenced copy 8-) and eee-ubuntu on the EEE701 (but will be stripping stuff out because it is going to be a CarPC embedded in my Smart car!-)
I think this is a bad idea. Porting Ubuntu to ARM takes focus away from the main goal, at a time when that focus is what's needed. If you want to smash MS on the desktop, you need to be quick; Windows7 is coming soon, and that *might* be the end of the opportunity window.
Back in the good ole days™ we had masses of competing platforms, with oodles of underlying processor designs and a myriad of operating systems sitting on top. This was a pain.
So, personally I don't want a non-x86 compatible processor on the desktop, or in an SCC/MID. If you want my money for your hardware, you need to make it x86 compatible. Based on sales of the non-x86 SCC's, I think the mass market agrees with me too.
Cooperative marketing funds
"it wasn't really that the public balked at CPW's Linux offering, so much as Microsoft gave them a stiff talking-to."
Quite. What's the point in being a cash-rich monopoly with a huge budget for cooperative marketing funds, if you can't use those coop funds to motivate The Channel not to sell new innovative interesting cost-effective products that might just compete with the monopolist's tired old overweight overpriced dross.
I do not understand
...why the SCC companies do not enable WINE as standard on their Linux-driven machines. The second thing I did on my EEE 900 was install WINE (the first was to install FreeDoom).
SCC companies don't install Wine because it isn't easy to get working and there are still a lot of things it can't handle. It's really better for all concerned just to supply the Open Source alternatives to commonly-used Windows software.
And anyway, Wine only works on an 80x86-type processor; it doesn't implement the instruction set on other processors, nor does it implement the "missing" 32-bit instructions on a 64-bit processor.
Much better in the long run would be a general paradigm shift away from providing software in compiled binary form, which will be good for everyone except malware writers.
Re: My RiscPC stil lives :-)
“my RiscPC will now get 'ubuntufied' instead of ARMSlacked :-)”
You're planning a port to ARMv3 or ARMv4, then?
Already Been Ported
The folks at http://mojo.handhelds.org already ported Ubuntu to ARM