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#1 2013-02-02 00:18:31

Mindstormscreator
Member
Registered: 2012-07-01
Posts: 165

Should "Arch Linux" also include architectures beyond x86?

I've realized that there are separate community projects for ports of Arch to different architectures, e.g. Arch Linux ARM. Different cpu architectures are clearly becoming more and more important in the current world of technology. Would it not be logical to merge these all under "Arch Linux" as a whole? I feel that this would contribute to Arch's core value of simplicity.

Additionally, I feel like a port for Arch would be needed for the upcoming Parallela board, which I think will be very popular.

What's your take on it?

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#2 2013-02-02 00:27:17

the sad clown
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From: 192.168.0.X
Registered: 2011-03-20
Posts: 833

Re: Should "Arch Linux" also include architectures beyond x86?

I think it would be a matter of finding enough maintainers interested in the alternate architecture.


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#3 2013-02-02 01:05:21

ewaller
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From: Pasadena, CA
Registered: 2009-07-13
Posts: 12,921

Re: Should "Arch Linux" also include architectures beyond x86?

This is an area where Gentoo has a tremendous advantage over us.


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Like you, I have no idea what you are doing, but I am pretty sure it is wrong...Jasonwryan
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#4 2013-02-02 01:26:24

Mindstormscreator
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Registered: 2012-07-01
Posts: 165

Re: Should "Arch Linux" also include architectures beyond x86?

the sad clown wrote:

I think it would be a matter of finding enough maintainers interested in the alternate architecture.

Well, if the Arch Linux ARM maintainers are interested in this change, couldn't they become maintainers? Maybe I could even help out.

ewaller wrote:

This is an area where Gentoo has a tremendous advantage over us.

True, source-based distros wouldn't have much of a problem for this, but then again Debian does this kind of thing.

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#5 2013-02-02 01:41:25

the sad clown
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From: 192.168.0.X
Registered: 2011-03-20
Posts: 833

Re: Should "Arch Linux" also include architectures beyond x86?

I thought this might be interesting for you.  This thread sort of tracks Arch's transition to x86_64:

https://bbs.archlinux.org/viewtopic.php?id=9548

I assume something similar would have to happen to add other architectures.


I laugh, yet the joke is on me

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#6 2013-02-02 01:56:33

kmihelich
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Registered: 2011-04-23
Posts: 8
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Re: Should "Arch Linux" also include architectures beyond x86?

Mindstormscreator wrote:

Additionally, I feel like a port for Arch would be needed for the upcoming Parallela board, which I think will be very popular.

This will be supported under Arch Linux ARM as soon as our boards are delivered, though no "porting" is needed.  Won't have them for a few months at least.

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#7 2013-02-02 02:32:39

carebearboy
Member
Registered: 2011-07-03
Posts: 56

Re: Should "Arch Linux" also include architectures beyond x86?

ewaller wrote:

This is an area where Gentoo has a tremendous advantage over us.

For sure. If you have the source you can pretty much do anything. Gives the user and he distro so much more options. This is the reason I haven't given my Gentoo setup up.

Imagine Arch with source (with Binary as default, but all-source option). So awesome. But it would take a lot of work!

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#8 2013-02-02 04:29:20

WorMzy
Forum Moderator
From: Scotland
Registered: 2010-06-16
Posts: 5,231

Re: Should "Arch Linux" also include architectures beyond x86?

It doesn't take that much work if you use ABS and devtools. All the hard work is already done for you.


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#9 2013-02-02 10:28:52

olive
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From: Belgium
Registered: 2008-06-22
Posts: 1,110

Re: Should "Arch Linux" also include architectures beyond x86?

Maybe the problem of supporting multiple architecture is that once you support them, you have to support them well. Otherwise you risk of well supporting nothing at all. It is true that many devices use an ARM processor, but usually these devices are not meant to install third party OS on it. You can install it on some tablets / Phones after hacking a lot and most probably the device will not be well supported anyway. For now Archlinux ARM is just a recompilation of the Archlinux packages but contains no software to make an actual ARM device useful (you would need good touchscreen support and software optimized for that). It seems that for now these installations are done just for the fun without the intention of actually really using them.

Of course things may change in the future and if in the future we see ARM devices that trully support Linux and are really usable with Linux, then things will of course be different. I have heard of a project of Ubuntu for Android devices http://www.ubuntu.com/devices/android . That is interesting but involve much more work than simply recompiling packages. A simple recompilation is not worthwhile IMHO

Last edited by olive (2013-02-02 10:33:37)

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#10 2013-02-02 12:37:53

Mindstormscreator
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Registered: 2012-07-01
Posts: 165

Re: Should "Arch Linux" also include architectures beyond x86?

olive wrote:

A simple recompilation is not worthwhile IMHO

I get where you're coming from, but I think it's a simple start to a complex issue that wouldn't be completely useless. For example, the Raspberry Pi works great with the current state of Arch Linux ARM. From there, it would have a solid backbone to expand upon. Maybe Arch doesn't need to develop the latest and greatest touchpad driver etc. but it would still make a ton of sense to combine different raw ports of Arch.

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#11 2013-02-02 16:42:49

carebearboy
Member
Registered: 2011-07-03
Posts: 56

Re: Should "Arch Linux" also include architectures beyond x86?

WorMzy wrote:

It doesn't take that much work if you use ABS and devtools. All the hard work is already done for you.

I've tried ABS and do find it simple to use. It even does dependancy resolution, which is nice. What I dont like is that it installs the deps as binary which kinda defeats the purpose. So if lets say I wanted to install KDE by source it would intall only one file in source, the rest in binary. This is not that usefull to me. For a one-off source install ABS is great though. Very fast and ports-like which is awesome.

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#12 2013-02-02 16:53:02

WonderWoofy
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From: Los Gatos, CA
Registered: 2012-05-19
Posts: 8,412

Re: Should "Arch Linux" also include architectures beyond x86?

carebearboy wrote:
WorMzy wrote:

It doesn't take that much work if you use ABS and devtools. All the hard work is already done for you.

I've tried ABS and do find it simple to use. It even does dependancy resolution, which is nice. What I dont like is that it installs the deps as binary which kinda defeats the purpose. So if lets say I wanted to install KDE by source it would intall only one file in source, the rest in binary. This is not that usefull to me. For a one-off source install ABS is great though. Very fast and ports-like which is awesome.

I have never tried it, but I thought that this is what srcpac was for, no?

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#13 2013-02-05 18:23:50

hawaiicharles
Member
Registered: 2012-12-21
Posts: 71

Re: Should "Arch Linux" also include architectures beyond x86?

ewaller wrote:

This is an area where Gentoo has a tremendous advantage over us.

On the other hand, it's a tremendous compliment that one of the two distros supported by the Raspberry Pi is... Arch.

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#14 2013-02-05 18:43:06

Awebb
Member
Registered: 2010-05-06
Posts: 4,301

Re: Should "Arch Linux" also include architectures beyond x86?

The ARM project currently looks good the way it is, I don't know, if merging the "normal" Arch and the ARM Arch would be beneficial right now. We could start by asking the ARM crowd to test AUR entries for compatibilities and leave a comment, so the respective arch can be added to the PKGBUILD.

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#15 2013-02-05 18:45:05

olive
Member
From: Belgium
Registered: 2008-06-22
Posts: 1,110

Re: Should "Arch Linux" also include architectures beyond x86?

hawaiicharles wrote:

On the other hand, it's a tremendous compliment that one of the two distros supported by the Raspberry Pi is... Arch.

But is there any people here that actually use this Rasperry Pi. I mean that I have a real use of it, not just installed to find it fun that it works?

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#16 2013-02-05 19:00:44

Awebb
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Registered: 2010-05-06
Posts: 4,301

Re: Should "Arch Linux" also include architectures beyond x86?

olive wrote:

But is there any people here that actually use this Rasperry Pi. I mean that I have a real use of it, not just installed to find it fun that it works?

*raises hand*

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#17 2013-02-05 19:04:14

HalosGhost
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From: Twin Cities, MN
Registered: 2012-06-22
Posts: 1,486
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Re: Should "Arch Linux" also include architectures beyond x86?

hawaiicharles wrote:
ewaller wrote:

This is an area where Gentoo has a tremendous advantage over us.

On the other hand, it's a tremendous compliment that one of the two distros supported by the Raspberry Pi is... Arch.

Of course, that's kind of the point of this thread. Arch doesn't support the RaspPi. ALARM does.

Personally, I would absolutely adore it if ALARM and Arch-proper merged. Having said that, ARM hasn't yet had the time to mature (I don't think) into a standardized enough architecture so that binary packages can be built with simplicity (notice how ALARM doesn't actually support all ARM boards, it develops with particular platforms in-mind). Once the platform has had more time to mature and standardize (for instance, after it accepts 64-bit instruction sets which are slated for the next series of ARM boards), and it has become more prevalent in the desktop sector, it might make more sense for ALARM and Arch-proper to begin merging efforts.

However, for the moment, I completely understand why it make more sense for them to remain separate.

All the best,

-HG


"All errors are ᴘᴇʙᴋᴀᴄ errors—It's just a matter of narrowing down which keyboard and chair." -Trilby
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#18 2013-02-05 19:07:41

MrCode
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Registered: 2010-02-06
Posts: 373

Re: Should "Arch Linux" also include architectures beyond x86?

Once the platform has had more time to mature and standardize (for instance, after it accepts 64-bit instruction sets which are slated for the next series of ARM boards), and it has become more prevalent in the desktop sector, it might make more sense for ALARM and Arch-proper to begin merging efforts.

Desktop sector, what desktop sector?  Don't you know that the desktop is dead? :V

In all seriousness, though: I may just be ignorant, but I think it may be a while before that kind of thing starts happening; Intel/AMD pretty much rule the (desk|lap)top market, and ARM is mostly designed for the power constraints of mobile devices AFAIK.

Last edited by MrCode (2013-02-05 19:09:33)

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#19 2013-02-05 19:11:33

HalosGhost
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From: Twin Cities, MN
Registered: 2012-06-22
Posts: 1,486
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Re: Should "Arch Linux" also include architectures beyond x86?

MrCode wrote:

Once the platform has had more time to mature and standardize (for instance, after it accepts 64-bit instruction sets which are slated for the next series of ARM boards), and it has become more prevalent in the desktop sector, it might make more sense for ALARM and Arch-proper to begin merging efforts.

Desktop sector, what desktop sector?  Don't you know that the desktop is dead? :V

In all seriousness, though: I may just be ignorant, but I think it may be a while before that kind of thing starts happening; Intel/AMD pretty much rule the desktop market, and ARM is mostly designed for the power constraints of mobile devices AFAIK.

I'm actually not so sure. It's true that x86 dominates the desktop market. However, if the media is to be believed, apparently the era of the spec sheet has largely ended. Now, the primary determiners for device purchases are program ecosystem compatibility and price margin. As ARM is ever improving on both fronts, I wouldn't be shocked if the desktop market sees a large shift to include a large market share by ARM (here's hoping).

All the best,

-HG


"All errors are ᴘᴇʙᴋᴀᴄ errors—It's just a matter of narrowing down which keyboard and chair." -Trilby
\ldots

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#20 2013-02-05 19:14:55

kmihelich
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Registered: 2011-04-23
Posts: 8
Website

Re: Should "Arch Linux" also include architectures beyond x86?

HalosGhost wrote:

Having said that, ARM hasn't yet had the time to mature (I don't think) into a standardized enough architecture so that binary packages can be built with simplicity (notice how ALARM doesn't actually support all ARM boards, it develops with particular platforms in-mind).

We actually do support virtually all ARM boards.  Packages are built per general architecture, not per board.  We only officially support certain boards because most require their own kernel, which increases the workload on our relatively small team.  Also, supporting the hundreds of obscure boards nobody buys in mass is a waste of time.

In all fairness, it would be appropriate to ask how we operate instead of making incorrect assumptions. smile  Our binary packages are built with extreme simplicity.  We're always available on IRC if you don't understand something.

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#21 2013-02-05 19:27:09

blackout23
Member
Registered: 2011-11-16
Posts: 780

Re: Should "Arch Linux" also include architectures beyond x86?

I could understand officially supporting ARM but dropping x86. One is dying the other one is growing.  There won't be any other x86 architecture after 64 Bit as far as I know. 128 Bit wouldn't make any sense. So x86_64 is probably what the future of the desktop will look like. On the laptop side I think there will be more midrange laptops with ARM CPUs like the Chromebook for people who only  want to do browsing, e-mail, text editing and some HD video playback. I don't do anything fancy with my 2006 dual-core laptop either.

Last edited by blackout23 (2013-02-06 12:22:22)

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#22 2013-02-05 20:43:22

olive
Member
From: Belgium
Registered: 2008-06-22
Posts: 1,110

Re: Should "Arch Linux" also include architectures beyond x86?

blackout23 wrote:

I could understand officially supporting ARM but dropping x86. One is dying the other one is growing.  There won't be any other x86 architecture after 64 Bit as far as I know. 128 Bit wouldn't make any sense. So x86_64 is probably what the future of the desktop will look. On the laptop side I think there will be more midrange laptops with ARM CPUs like the Chromebook for people who only  want to do browsing, e-mail, text editing and some HD video playback. I don't do anything fancy with my 2006 dual-core laptop either.

I was wrong 128 bits date back to 1999 ( http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/128-bit ) and it definitely does make sense to have a processor that do 128 bit arithmetic, especially in cryptography. Even 256 bits date back from 2002 ( http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/256-bit ). I think you would need at least 512 bits to be truly "bleeding edge".

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#23 2013-02-05 20:49:06

ANOKNUSA
Member
Registered: 2010-10-22
Posts: 2,141

Re: Should "Arch Linux" also include architectures beyond x86?

The problem behind supporting a broad range of architectures is an obvious one: You need people to do the work.  Gentoo excels at supporting many machine archs because it's a souce-based distribution. Hence, the work that Arch; devs do to give us repositories of binary packages are, in the case of Gentoo, off-loaded to the users.  Anyone who wants to install Arch on, say, SPARC or PowerPC can probably do so, if they're willing to manually tweak the builds. Not sure why one would want to do so with Arch, though.

Mindstormcreator wrote:

Different cpu architectures are clearly becoming more and more important in the current world of technology.

Disregarding ARM, what are these different architectures?  All PCs use x86 these days, as do servers, the next generation of gaming consoles, most HTPCs... 

OT:

Paralella Kickstarter Page wrote:

Q: Why do you call the Parallella a supercomputer?

The Parallella project is not a board, it's intended to be a long term computing project and community dedicated to advancing parallel computing.  The current $99 board aren't considered supercomputers by 2012 standards, but a cluster of 10 Parallella boards would have been considered a supercomputer 10 years ago...

That's one hell of a bad sales pitch.

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#24 2013-02-05 21:45:02

HalosGhost
Member
From: Twin Cities, MN
Registered: 2012-06-22
Posts: 1,486
Website

Re: Should "Arch Linux" also include architectures beyond x86?

kmihelich wrote:

We actually do support virtually all ARM boards.  Packages are built per general architecture, not per board.  We only officially support certain boards because most require their own kernel, which increases the workload on our relatively small team.  Also, supporting the hundreds of obscure boards nobody buys in mass is a waste of time.

In all fairness, it would be appropriate to ask how we operate instead of making incorrect assumptions. smile  Our binary packages are built with extreme simplicity.  We're always available on IRC if you don't understand something.

My apologies. Yet, my point remains largely intact. If the boards are not yet standardized enough that the kernel can be easily used across multiple boards (the great majority, really), I don't feel like it makes sense for Arch-proper to add support to it. I did not mean to belittle or misrepresent any of the work you do, only discuss the feasibility of near-universal ARM support (though I obviously should have done more research into the matter before I specified packages in that sub-argument).

All the best,

-HG


"All errors are ᴘᴇʙᴋᴀᴄ errors—It's just a matter of narrowing down which keyboard and chair." -Trilby
\ldots

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#25 2013-02-05 22:54:03

Allan
Developer
From: Brisbane, AU
Registered: 2007-06-09
Posts: 10,406
Website

Re: Should "Arch Linux" also include architectures beyond x86?

kmihelich wrote:

We only officially support certain boards because most require their own kernel, which increases the workload on our relatively small team.

Is that still going to be the case in the future?  I seem to remember support for providing a single kernel for multiple boards being added upstream - but could be making it up entirely...

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