guigz2000
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Re: Custom Linux Distro

Mon Sep 05, 2011 7:33 pm

I was wondering if you were prepairing a custom distro (based on debian or fedora or ubuntu) for the raspberry pi?

The device has low memory (256MB) and there are few issues with it:

1..I doubt it's possible to install latest Fedora or Ubuntu with such low memory available.The graphic installer for x86 needs 512MB RAM.

2..I doubt GNOME or KDE will be usable with such a low memory (with a recent version),and if it is,it will just leave such a low amount of memory that it will be nearly impossible to use memory hungry apps (firefox/eclipse/etc...).

3.. Big distro (Ubuntu/Fedora/etcc) tends to install by default a LOT of useless services if you do not have the hardware.That just eats memory.

So,building a custom basic distro based on a big one (debian for example...lot of packages available) with just the necessary services and an efficient UI would be awesome.That way anyone would be able to tailor his system by adding needed functions ,without spending hours on forums to figure how to do such things.

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liz
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Re: Custom Linux Distro

Mon Sep 05, 2011 7:53 pm

Well, happily the distros all (Ubuntu excepted, for reasons you can read about elsewhere on the forums) have alpha boards and are happily optimising for them. We've had excellent feedback from several of them already, so we shouldn't have to write our own distro.

That said, of course, if anybody fancies writing a Raspberry Pi custom distro, we'd love it!
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Shane Hudson
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Re: Custom Linux Distro

Mon Sep 05, 2011 8:55 pm

I hope to get Arch working on it. So far I have not got a working version of Arch... but it is the perfect distro for r-pi (for projects not for kids!)

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liz
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Re: Custom Linux Distro

Mon Sep 05, 2011 9:14 pm

Arch Linux are going to be receiving an alpha this week - we're hoping to launch with it working already. :)
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iAreNewb
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Re: Custom Linux Distro

Mon Sep 05, 2011 10:56 pm

It'd be nice to have a drop-down menu on the order form for an R-Pi, to select which OS/distro you want :D

By sending alpha boards to each distro's community/organization for dev'ing, I take that to mean that they're doing some tweaking for optimization and ARM compatibility?

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liz
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Re: Custom Linux Distro

Mon Sep 05, 2011 10:57 pm

Just that. :)
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jimslinux
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Re: Custom Linux Distro

Mon Sep 05, 2011 11:41 pm

Like to try, Bodhi Linux based on E-17 Ubuntu LTS with back-porting of some apps and kernels, there is also active work on porting to arm below.
http://forums.scotsnewsletter......opic=46328
And rather you like or not the enlightenment window manager, there is no denying that it looks sharp for it's small foot print.
I think it would need work to stay under 256 on the ram side, but I have had e16 flying on 128 PIII machines.
Would like to try Slitaz on it as well, since it is very fast, easy and light.
Trying to get on the mailing list but the progress ball never stops spinning : /

DanielSilva
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Re: Custom Linux Distro

Tue Sep 06, 2011 8:38 pm

Quote from liz on September 5, 2011, 20:53
Well, happily the distros all (Ubuntu excepted, for reasons you can read about elsewhere on the forums) have alpha boards and are happily optimising for them. We've had excellent feedback from several of them already, so we shouldn't have to write our own distro.

That said, of course, if anybody fancies writing a Raspberry Pi custom distro, we'd love it!

Any word on Debian ? A working zimage/kernel would be purrrfect to me.

Chris
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Re: Custom Linux Distro

Tue Sep 06, 2011 9:06 pm

Debian probably wont support R-PI, it has very slow but rock solid releases. From what I remember i dont think there has been a new release in over 2 years. But its still the Go to, Daddy of the Linux Distro's.

Dont expect any updates from Debain, but dont go elsewhere for your base -.o

Blars
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Re: Custom Linux Distro

Wed Sep 07, 2011 6:18 am

The alpha board is already running Debian, as mentioned in the blog here and various forum posts. Other than the GPU firmware and perhaps some drivers and a custom-compiled kernel, it is standard Debian AFAIK.

DanielSilva
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Re: Custom Linux Distro

Wed Sep 07, 2011 4:36 pm

Quote from Chris on September 6, 2011, 22:06
Debian probably wont support R-PI, it has very slow but rock solid releases. From what I remember i dont think there has been a new release in over 2 years. But its still the Go to, Daddy of the Linux Distro's.

Dont expect any updates from Debain, but dont go elsewhere for your base -.o

Independently of that i will always base my RPi system on Debian. I started using Linux with Mandrake, tried RH and ended up running Debian, so Debian has been my choice of distro for 10 years now and i don't see it changing any time soon :D

I actually wasn't asking for official support but rather some "unofficial" almost completely functioning zimage/kernel so that i wouldn't have to do all the work my self :P

baldand
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Re: Custom Linux Distro

Fri Sep 09, 2011 5:42 pm

Can you say already how the distros with alpha boards are planning to handle the challenge of creating something usable with the 128Mb RAM on Model A R-Pi boards? Hopefully not with a very large swap file, or running without any UI.

Do they have good plans to fully offload the UI rendering through OpenGL ES2 (e.g. using clutter or QML2), leaving the ARM11 free for other work? Will they use something like GL rendering with Wayland composition sitting straight on top of the display driver instead of X11?

Maybe these are not easy questions to answer at this point, but it seems to me also that without good answers to them, the potential of R-Pi may end up being limited to determined hackers scratching their own personal itches, rather than the accessible and widespread educational tool it could be.

Perhaps R-Pi really would be better focusing around a distro (which may not even exist yet) that is designed to take advantage of the hardware's strengths (powerful programmable GPU with standard API), instead of ones that struggles to live with perceived limitations ("only" 128Mb RAM & ARM11)

Here's what I would like to see emerging somehow once R-Pi boards are available for us all to experiment with:

- Starting from an embedded linux base, like OE or Yocto, instead of a desktop linux base, for a minimum sized basic system environment under the UI
- Selecting an existing easy-to-program UI description language that makes best use of OpenGL ES2 (e.g. shaders) for rendering. I would recommend QML2 and Qt5 here (but I'm biased - see below)
- A simple customisable UI & app environment based on the Wayland composition protocol pushing rendered buffers to HDMI/Composite as efficiently as possible
- Package/distribute the standard environment as an image that can downloaded and copied to SDCard to boot into a usable environment (even on a 128Mb Model A board) for creating apps (e.g. without another computer available) or customising the whole behaviour of the device for a single use case.
- Provide infrastructure (servers, forums) for a community to share apps & customisations that can be installed on top of the vanilla base (Think open App Store with Source Code)
- Watch the R-Pi user base explode

Of course, it wouldn't have to be the R-Pi Foundation supporting this, it could just emerge from a separate group of people based on the HW R-PI is offering.

Well, I know what I'll be trying to do when I get my R-Pi Model A (yes, I like the challenge of the 128Mb & no ethernet). Anyone else interested in working on something like this too?

(Disclaimer: my day job is connected with the development of the LGPL open source Qt5 libraries, especially the GLES2 graphics bits. So naturally I think QML2 would be a perfect for the R-Pi. A long long time ago, I worked on developing some of the first ARM-based devices (think Psion, not Archimedes) with full GUI and apps that fitted in much much less than 128Mb of RAM...)

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liz
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Re: Custom Linux Distro

Fri Sep 09, 2011 5:52 pm

Love it - it's really good to see the community working on this sort of stuff already. Any help we can give you once the boards are launched, please let me know.
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Svartalf
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Re: Custom Linux Distro

Fri Sep 09, 2011 6:40 pm

Quote from baldand on September 9, 2011, 18:42
- Starting from an embedded linux base, like OE or Yocto, instead of a desktop linux base, for a minimum sized basic system environment under the UI


Heh... I'm itching to get a machine config for the R-Pi to do this for the reasons you're talking to as well as my own inscrutable reasons... ;)


- Selecting an existing easy-to-program UI description language that makes best use of OpenGL ES2 (e.g. shaders) for rendering. I would recommend QML2 and Qt5 here (but I'm biased - see below)


Heh. Either QML2/Qt5 or Clutter/GTK+ would work, I'd think. Don't they have both options available under Yocto as recipe sets right at the moment?


- A simple customisable UI & app environment based on the Wayland composition protocol pushing rendered buffers to HDMI/Composite as efficiently as possible


Is Wayland ready enough to do this work? I thought that Intel was just now moving things in Yocto/MeeGo that direction in recent times.


- Package/distribute the standard environment as an image that can downloaded and copied to SDCard to boot into a usable environment (even on a 128Mb Model A board) for creating apps (e.g. without another computer available) or customising the whole behaviour of the device for a single use case.


The big problem with this is the bulk of the dev tools that do GUI work are geared to X11. Some of that sort of support within Wayland's still a bit raw from what I understand.


- Provide infrastructure (servers, forums) for a community to share apps & customisations that can be installed on top of the vanilla base (Think open App Store with Source Code)


Well, this would require getting someone to back the needed server infrastructure, wouldn't it? And you almost need to get that started now, rather than when the first devices ship to people to do it. You almost need to get an alpha board in hand to get OE pumping out image files for it and get scripting to generate SD cards from those image files so you can hand people a file or three and the tool to pop out their own images.

So far...heh...I've not managed to pry one of the Alpha boards from their hands yet... Not that this is all that big of a problem...it just delays these things from happening around the rollout is all. I'm patient...after a fashion.


Well, I know what I'll be trying to do when I get my R-Pi Model A (yes, I like the challenge of the 128Mb & no ethernet). Anyone else interested in working on something like this too?


Heh... Already have plans for something along these lines right now. :D So, what should we call this custom distribution? Raspberry Linux? Something else?

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Re: Custom Linux Distro

Fri Sep 09, 2011 6:46 pm

Sorry sorry sorry about the lack of alphas for this sort of project. I'd really love to be able to let you have one, but we simply don't have enough. (I can't wait for November either - even I don't have one!)
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ukscone
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Re: Custom Linux Distro

Fri Sep 09, 2011 6:48 pm

Quote from Svartalf on September 9, 2011, 19:40

Heh... Already have plans for something along these lines right now. :D So, what should we call this custom distribution? Raspberry Linux? Something else?

"Raspberry Sorbet Linux" because it's so darn cool!

?

baldand
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Re: Custom Linux Distro

Fri Sep 09, 2011 6:54 pm

@Svartalf, yep clutter has good GLES2 support too.

I did explain why I am a bit biased towards QML2, but one technical reason maybe why to prefer that is that you can quite effectively create compact and maintainable applications with just QML+Javascript+GLSL shader code, and not need any C++ compiled parts. Of course there are also more options open if you do support C++ plugins, but it's not mandatory.
Last time I looked at ClutterScript (closest clutter equivalent to QML) it still had some way to go to be at the same level of programmer usability.

Anyway, I was thinking that making a minimal on-device QML+JS dev environment *in* QML would probably be quite a manageable task. But C++ might need to be off-device (supporting SDK?)

re Wayland, it's almost there, especially if you don't have a need to support legacy X11 apps. The open source qt-compositor framework makes it pretty trivial to make a custom Wayland compositor that can work any you like (e.g. doing composition in QML and OpenGL).

Svartalf
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Re: Custom Linux Distro

Fri Sep 09, 2011 7:07 pm

Quote from liz on September 9, 2011, 19:46
Sorry sorry sorry about the lack of alphas for this sort of project. I'd really love to be able to let you have one, but we simply don't have enough. (I can't wait for November either - even I don't have one!)

I'm teasing you all, Liz. :D

I know you can't hand any more out- not even to outside people that could do these things for the Foundation. It's the bane of trying to do things like this, really.

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Re: Custom Linux Distro

Fri Sep 09, 2011 7:13 pm

Quote from baldand on September 9, 2011, 19:54
@Svartalf, yep clutter has good GLES2 support too.
Anyway, I was thinking that making a minimal on-device QML+JS dev environment *in* QML would probably be quite a manageable task. But C++ might need to be off-device (supporting SDK?)

Hm... My only concern there is how natty JS coding can end up being, along with it being not the best thing to teach people CS concepts with. It wasn't designed initially with anything other than driving a bit of local client-side Web UI- which didn't need to do a lot. If there was a bit of something like Python or Ruby having bindings to that stuff, it might be a great answer for the project.


re Wayland, it's almost there, especially if you don't have a need to support legacy X11 apps. The open source qt-compositor framework makes it pretty trivial to make a custom Wayland compositor that can work any you like (e.g. doing composition in QML and OpenGL).

The bulk of the available tools for the purpose of the device are console or "legacy" X11 applications. I'm not saying this is a dealbreaker, but it will present issues until either the X11 issues are resolved with Wayland or most things work out of box with Wayland. I'm thinking us doing this stuff might be an impetus to get both situations resolved, really.

jarope
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Re: Custom Linux Distro

Fri Sep 09, 2011 7:35 pm

a second vote for Bodhi linux

thats what I intend to run on it!!

we already have some ARM dev going on.

DanielSilva
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Re: Custom Linux Distro

Fri Sep 09, 2011 8:15 pm

Quote from baldand on September 9, 2011, 18:42
Well, I know what I'll be trying to do when I get my R-Pi Model A (yes, I like the challenge of the 128Mb & no ethernet). Anyone else interested in working on something like this too?


Yes but using Clutter/GTK+ ( already working on it actually, or at least on some things ).

ryao
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Re: Custom Linux Distro

Sun Sep 11, 2011 5:40 am

Quote from liz on September 5, 2011, 22:14
Arch Linux are going to be receiving an alpha this week - we're hoping to launch with it working already. :)

What about Gentoo Linux?

Ralph Corderoy
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Re: Custom Linux Distro

Mon Sep 12, 2011 11:08 am

I wonder how much building Lubuntu for ARMv6 is limited to toolchain configuration as opposed to changes to the source of packages. It would seem an idea distro for RPi and is now an official Ubuntu spin-off.

mahin
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Re: Custom Linux Distro

Mon Sep 12, 2011 7:11 pm

May be I am mistaken but most logical choice for Raspberry Pi is " Linux From Scratch " to be more specific " Cross Linux From Scratch (CLFS) " a sub project of LFS.

Now LFS is not a Distro in traditional meaning rather it is a bunch of scripts and sources for packages which one has to compile to make it work like normal Distro every one is familiar with.

Once done that is going to beat every Distro [ may be to some extent not Gentoo ] in terms of performance on RaspberryPi. Only catch is that nothing is going to happen till boards are available and then I think letting few kids loose with one test board + CLFS is going to do the trick.

.

Svartalf
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Re: Custom Linux Distro

Mon Sep 12, 2011 7:31 pm

Quote from mahin on September 12, 2011, 20:11
May be I am mistaken but most logical choice for Raspberry Pi is " Linux From Scratch " to be more specific " Cross Linux From Scratch (CLFS) " a sub project of LFS.

Now LFS is not a Distro in traditional meaning rather it is a bunch of scripts and sources for packages which one has to compile to make it work like normal Distro every one is familiar with.

Once done that is going to beat every Distro [ may be to some extent not Gentoo ] in terms of performance on RaspberryPi. Only catch is that nothing is going to happen till boards are available and then I think letting few kids loose with one test board + CLFS is going to do the trick.

.

It'll be in the same class as OpenEmbedded- the beauty of using OE versus LFS would be that you can fully automate the whole process of building it from scratch and pick-and-choose recipes of from-scratch distribution images. Gentoo's a good prospect, but it's more geared for tweakage from the host system it's installed perspective than OE. LFS is just a process of building a Linux distribution from scratch, much like every distribution starts off with unless they deviate from one like Ubuntu, Mint, etc. does.

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