gilius2k15
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History of Linux on ARM?

Sun Jan 19, 2020 12:37 pm

Does anyone know at what date the various Linux distributions gained ARM support and ARM64 support, respectively?

And which packages were first available in ARM and ARM64, respectively, to coincide with the earliest releases?

I know that Arch Linux gained ARM support on March 11th 2002 - but what packages could be run at launch time? Same question for other distros.

Ubuntu apparently didn't get ARM support till version 9.04 = April 23rd 2009!?

Heater
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Re: History of Linux on ARM?

Sun Jan 19, 2020 1:34 pm

I have no idea what Arch or Ubuntu are but the one true distribution, Debian, got ARM support in 2000. Everyone else benefited from that.

Everything you need to know is in the Debian history: https://www.debian.org/doc/manuals/proj ... ed.en.html

Debian 2.2 (Potato) was released August 15th, 2000 for the Intel i386, Motorola 68000 series, alpha, SUN Sparc, PowerPC and ARM architectures. This was the first release including PowerPC and ARM ports. At the time of release, there were 3900+ binary and 2600+ source packages maintained by more than 450 Debian developers.

If you are really keen you can see all the available packages in Debian 2.2 here: http://archive.debian.org/debian/dists/potato/
Memory in C++ is a leaky abstraction .

gilius2k15
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Re: History of Linux on ARM?

Sun Jan 19, 2020 2:02 pm

Wow, so many people died during the making of Debian! Could there be a conspiracy against open-source Linux by the powers that be I wonder? :?:

Cheers for the info! I guess when they first released Potato they must have re-compiled hundreds of base packages in ARM? I wonder what good productivity apps would have worked at the time.

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rpdom
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Re: History of Linux on ARM?

Sun Jan 19, 2020 2:44 pm

gilius2k15 wrote:
Sun Jan 19, 2020 2:02 pm
Wow, so many people died during the making of Debian! Could there be a conspiracy against open-source Linux by the powers that be I wonder? :?:

Cheers for the info! I guess when they first released Potato they must have re-compiled hundreds of base packages in ARM? I wonder what good productivity apps would have worked at the time.
Thousands, possibly even tens of thousands even in those days.

My first experience of Debian was with Potato. It was the only Linux OS I found that could install on the PC I had back then. I found I liked it and stuck with it.
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Re: History of Linux on ARM?

Sun Jan 19, 2020 3:30 pm

gilius2k15.
I wonder what good productivity apps would have worked at the time.
Probably a lot more than were actually usable on any hardware at the time.

What on Earth is a "productivity app"? Heck what is an "app". Back in those days we did not have "apps". We had "programs", possibly "applications", possibly "suites"

Don't forget that at that time there was nothing much you could run typical user desktop programs on that was ARM based. There were no tablets, chrome books or smart phones. Some people has Compaq iPaqs
Image
Some of those got to run Linux. But what could you do on it?

ARM Linux was great for embedded systems that needed network capability.

No, back then all my productivity was based on Vim and GCC. And remained so until I got VSCode and Rust.

The Raspberry Pi changed the whole landscape with respect "productivity apps" on ARM Linux.
Memory in C++ is a leaky abstraction .

gilius2k15
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Re: History of Linux on ARM?

Sun Jan 19, 2020 6:35 pm

Very good points! Was there even a Linux desktop experience to be had on ARM before the Raspberry Pi in 2012? Which device(s) was Debian ARM run on between 2000 - 2012!?

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rpdom
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Re: History of Linux on ARM?

Sun Jan 19, 2020 7:51 pm

gilius2k15 wrote:
Sun Jan 19, 2020 6:35 pm
Very good points! Was there even a Linux desktop experience to be had on ARM before the Raspberry Pi in 2012? Which device(s) was Debian ARM run on between 2000 - 2012!?
As has been stated, Linux on ARM was available since Potato, which was (at guess) around 2002.

As for desktop on ARM, that was available since shortly after its launch. I was running an ARM desktop in the late 1980 on my Archimedes A310 and, although Linux wasn't an option back then, there was a Unix OS for it.
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gilius2k15
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Re: History of Linux on ARM?

Sun Jan 19, 2020 8:15 pm

Sure - but I'm trying to understand why Debian released Linux for ARM in 2000/2002 since this predates the first single board computer from about 2008 (BeagleBoard) if I'm not mistaken? Why were there ARM Linux distros available throughout the noughties? And for what devices?

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rpdom
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Re: History of Linux on ARM?

Sun Jan 19, 2020 8:25 pm

There were many ARM based computers from the late 1980s onward. Why do you think Linux is restricted to SBCs?
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gilius2k15
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Re: History of Linux on ARM?

Sun Jan 19, 2020 8:53 pm

rpdom wrote:
Sun Jan 19, 2020 8:25 pm
There were many ARM based computers from the late 1980s onward. Why do you think Linux is restricted to SBCs?
I can understand the Linux kernel being used in electrical devices - but surely distros were developed more for personal computing with a desktop environment, etc? Intel PCs would have been Debian's main target presumably - so why was is it ported to ARM and for what devices?

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Re: History of Linux on ARM?

Sun Jan 19, 2020 9:43 pm

rpdom,
As has been stated, Linux on ARM was available since Potato, which was (at guess) around 2002.
Since at least 2000. Which is when we got Debian Potato. As noted above.

No doubt people had Linux up and running on ARM before that.
As for desktop on ARM, that was available since shortly after its launch. I was running an ARM desktop in the late 1980 on my Archimedes A310 and, although Linux wasn't an option back then, there was a Unix OS for it.
Ah yes. I was forgetting about that.

I recall lusting after an Archimedes at the time. No way I could afford it. To this day I have never seen one in the flesh.

Anyway, those early ARM could not run Linux.
There were many ARM based computers from the late 1980s onward. Why do you think Linux is restricted to SBCs?
There were? Can you link us to one?
Memory in C++ is a leaky abstraction .

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Re: History of Linux on ARM?

Sun Jan 19, 2020 9:49 pm

gilius2k15,
Which device(s) was Debian ARM run on between 2000 - 2012!?
Did you miss my comment about the Compaq iPaq above?
Memory in C++ is a leaky abstraction .

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Re: History of Linux on ARM?

Sun Jan 19, 2020 9:55 pm

gilius2k15,
I can understand the Linux kernel being used in electrical devices - but surely distros were developed more for personal computing with a desktop environment, etc? Intel PCs would have been Debian's main target presumably - so why was is it ported to ARM and for what devices?
Why do you assume so?

Linux and distros like Debian have far wider use in servers and embedded systems than they do as desktops for personal computers.

As to why? Likely somebody somewhere wanted it. For their iPaq or whatever. They made it so. Because they can. As is often the case in the open source world. Then it all landed in Debian and other places.
Memory in C++ is a leaky abstraction .

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rpdom
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Re: History of Linux on ARM?

Mon Jan 20, 2020 10:43 am

Heater wrote:
Sun Jan 19, 2020 9:43 pm
I recall lusting after an Archimedes at the time. No way I could afford it. To this day I have never seen one in the flesh.
I got a big trade discount on mine. I also visited Acorn in Cambridge to see what it could do as well as being invited to the launch party in London where there were several interesting people to talk to like Robert Schifreen.

On one of my trips to see Acorn people in Cambridge I was given a floppy disk for the BBC Master Compact to test our software with. I poked around on the "unused" sectors on that disk and found a load of text with plans for the ARM chip, some came to fruit, some didn't.
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Re: History of Linux on ARM?

Mon Jan 20, 2020 11:47 am

Trying to remember when I first used Linux on ARM, probably about 12-13 years ago. This was for embedded HW in industrial inkjet printers. And it had already been around for a while when we were looking at it. PXA270 chip IIRC.

Don't think there were any desktop ARM systems at that point.

Of course, Android, at launch in 2007, used Linux as its underlying OS.
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Re: History of Linux on ARM?

Mon Jan 20, 2020 8:39 pm

Not precisely Linux on ARM but for a while in the mid/late 80s I had an Acorn R260. Preferred the A540 for RISC OS though. And obviously not Linux but Helios for the Active Book machines, so still a *nix.
Then in the mid 90s in California I had a Corel Netwinder or two, which I think actually was Linux. Oh, and one of the prototype DEC Itsy palmtop things that became the HP journada and several other derivatives. And a couple of similar doohickeys still covered by NDA.
Making Smalltalk on ARM since 1986; making your Scratch better since 2012

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rpdom
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Re: History of Linux on ARM?

Mon Jan 20, 2020 8:48 pm

My first ARM experience was one of the Acorn ARM Evaluation systems. It had 4MB of RAM and cost £4000. It was nice to play with, but I had to give it back after a while to the owner (who might have been the London Stock Exchange who were evaluating it at the time, but I can't say that).
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Re: History of Linux on ARM?

Mon Jan 20, 2020 8:59 pm

First ARM Linux SBC I remember was the gumstix (period website from 2004; they're still in business) with a 400 MHz (max) Intel XScale and 64 MB RAM. Not bad for 2004, but hardly a desktop. They're absolutely tiny: smaller than a Raspberry Pi Zero, IIRC.
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fladda
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Re: History of Linux on ARM?

Mon Jan 20, 2020 10:40 pm

I can't believe that nobody has mentioned Russell King. From http://armlinux.simtec.co.uk/whoswho.html
Russell King
Russell is "the" ARM Linux guy, he did the initial port to Acorn A5000 many years ago and has continued to provide a huge level of input ever since. His advice should be heeded as he probably knows the ARM Linux kernel better than anyone else. Russell maintains the official ARM Linux project homepage where you can find a large number of resources.
Acorn Computers released the ARM3 powered A5000 around September 1991. So Russell would have been working on ARM Linux in the early to mid 1990s. At that time Acorn were the only manufacturer to use ARM processors (indeed the 'A' in ARM originally meant 'Acorn').

I remember Linux being available for the Acorn machines back then, although I never tried using it at that time (I was a RISC OS user, and indeed I still am, although this is being written on an RPi4 running Raspbian).

fladda
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Re: History of Linux on ARM?

Mon Jan 20, 2020 10:50 pm

From https://www.linux.com/news/linux-kernel ... sell-king/
...Russell King, who originally ported Linux to ARM and continues to oversee ARM Linux development. Russell King: “I started hacking on Linux for my Acorn A5000 machine back in Spring 1994 while still at Southampton University, after a fellow student, Martin Ebourne, introduced it to me. An A5000 is a desktop-like ARM based machine. It was already about 3 years old and underpowered at that time, with only 4MB of RAM but it was the machine I had.
So mid 1990s.

Acorn were launching their new RISC-PC at about this time, which used the ARM610 processor (developed for the Apple Newton) and later the StrongARM processor (developed by DEC of all companies).

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Re: History of Linux on ARM?

Wed Jan 22, 2020 4:48 am

I've never thought about it, but here I found so much interesting info.
Soo, now, I'm encouraged about this topic.

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