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#1 2023-12-08 09:21:14

solskogen
Member
From: Norway
Registered: 2005-03-06
Posts: 116

Bring ARM into the fold?

Is it time to bring Arch Linux ARM into the fold of Arch Linux?
The GNU toolchain of ALARM is now very behind, and the developers are dead silent about why. There little to no response on pull requests on the github page, and while it seems like there is activity on their PKGBUILDs repo, it almost seems to me that it is some kind of automatic jobs being run.

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#2 2023-12-08 09:33:43

WorMzy
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From: Scotland
Registered: 2010-06-16
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Re: Bring ARM into the fold?

These are end-user support forums, and not actively frequented by 'decision makers'. You may have more luck reaching your target audience using the arch-general mailing list.

https://lists.archlinux.org/postorius/l … linux.org/


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#3 2023-12-08 13:56:19

Trilby
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Registered: 2011-11-29
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Re: Bring ARM into the fold?

If what you say / imply is correct that their devs / packagers are not keeping up, why would we want to add that to our community?

I gather you are not actually suggesting merging and bringing those devs / packagers along, but instead suggesting that arch devs take over ARM packages, right?  But if the limiting factor is the lack of person-hours to properly maintain those packages, allocating that same amount of work to a smaller set of people would not help and would not likely be welcomed by the people you'd hope to dump that work on.

Of course if you were willing to volunteer to take on some of that work, that'd be good.  But if this was the case, you'd not make your current proposal here, you'd just contribute over on archlinuxarm.


"UNIX is simple and coherent..." - Dennis Ritchie, "GNU's Not UNIX" -  Richard Stallman

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#4 2023-12-08 14:15:13

solskogen
Member
From: Norway
Registered: 2005-03-06
Posts: 116

Re: Bring ARM into the fold?

I think that there's a lot of work being done in Arch Linux that Arch Linux ARM would benefit from. IF the few developers that are left wants to be a part of this proposed merge, that would be of course very very welcome.
There are people who wants to volunteer already that cannot because there is just dead silence from the core developers of ALARM. I'm one of them.

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#5 2023-12-08 14:37:23

merlock
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Registered: 2018-10-30
Posts: 231

Re: Bring ARM into the fold?

solskogen wrote:

There are people who wants to volunteer already that cannot because there is just dead silence from the core developers of ALARM. I'm one of them.

So what's stopping you from assembling a team and forking the project (like manjaro and their ilk)?


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#6 2023-12-08 15:05:56

solskogen
Member
From: Norway
Registered: 2005-03-06
Posts: 116

Re: Bring ARM into the fold?

Because I don't want yet another fork. The last time a fork did something good was when GCC and EGCS split. I'd rather want the exact opposite.

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#7 2023-12-08 16:54:50

jclds139
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Registered: 2023-07-13
Posts: 1

Re: Bring ARM into the fold?

solskogen wrote:

Because I don't want yet another fork. The last time a fork did something good was when GCC and EGCS split. I'd rather want the exact opposite.

While I wasn't around for that split I definitely agree on the sentiment here. And an ALARM fork would just end up dividing the already sparse ARM side of things, particularly since ALARM is already the package source for most of Manjaro ARM.

On the subject of package maintenance falling behind, the biggest problems right now seem to not be "ARM-specific", but just that they don't have an adequate "staging → testing → core/extra" pipeline to do manage full rebuilds regularly when toolchain updates happen. I suspect that there are sufficient volunteers (like solskogen and myself, possibly even including the current core ALARM developers) who would contribute to the ARM-specific packaging changes, but can't also manage an entirely separate distribution with its own infrastructure as is currently the case.

Basically, my argument is that Arch-ARM is maintainable if it was part of Arch proper, but not as an independent distribution as it currently stands. As a backup plan, if the core Arch devs are against this idea could we try to reach out to Manjaro to see if the core packaging could be maintained as part of them?

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#8 2023-12-11 13:54:27

drzee99
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Registered: 2023-12-11
Posts: 1

Re: Bring ARM into the fold?

I'm maintaining the AWS Arch Linux AMIs (https://wiki.archlinux.org/title/Arch_L … b_Services).

With AWS and Cloud Computing in general pivoting more and more to ARM based architectures (Graviton 2 and 3) it would be great to also have AMIs for ARM CPUs and It wold IMHO even be better to have this as part of the standard Arch project.

The PKGBUILD system is already capable of managing multiple architectures and for many packages they only need to be recompiled for ARM to make them work.

Even the kernel, I have been compiling the standard Arch Project kernels on ARM by basically only changing the 'arch=(x86_64)' to 'arch=(arm64)' and it works! (ok need a specific kernel config file, but generating the default from the kernel for arm64 worked just fine). IMHO most of the packages in the official Arch Linux repos should compile just fine on ARM.

I had been playing with using the Arch ARM packages (https://archlinuxarm.org/packages) as a base and then providing a secondary Arch REPO where I would release the latest builds of the Linux Kernel for ARM at the same pace as the x86_64 Arch version and also a ARM version of the cloud_init tools (which do not exist in the ALARM repo) to provide AMIs for ARM on AWS.

I had it 90% working when I discovered that it looked like ALARM had stalled ... and put the project on standby for now.

I would be happy to contribute.

IMHO Arch Linux as a project should take the next step and embrace Cloud and ARM architecture in the official project. I'm afraid if not done then Arch Linux over time will become obsolete.

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#9 2023-12-14 05:06:19

ARM32Enthusiast
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Registered: 2023-12-14
Posts: 3

Re: Bring ARM into the fold?

solskogen wrote:

Because I don't want yet another fork. The last time a fork did something good was when GCC and EGCS split. I'd rather want the exact opposite.

What if the fork's aim was to simply be Arch Linux ARM but actually maintained?  It could exist until there's change in the regular badly maintained official Arch Linux ARM.  ARM64 support is just plain bad on Arch Linux ARM (ALARM) and ARMv7h support is even worse.  Could you call Arch Linux ARM in its current state 'Arch Linux' if a significantly large number of the packages and PKGBUILDs for it are severely out of date?   In fact, ALARM is still ships Glibc 2.35 and main stable kernel for ARM64 and ARMv7h is stuck on Linux kernel 6.2, so not a great look at all.  I could keep going, but if you invest some time to look at what's going on over there, it's clearly a dead project.  An example of what ALARM could have been is something similar to postmarketOS (the rolling release version).  I think I might be interested in contributing to ALARM here and there.  I've noticed that a lot of PRs go ignored for some unexplained reason.  I don't see the ALARM community as a community that isn't willing to maintain the project, but rather a community whose maintainer who refuses to accept anything from his community.

Last edited by ARM32Enthusiast (2023-12-14 06:08:49)

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#10 2023-12-14 07:06:07

solskogen
Member
From: Norway
Registered: 2005-03-06
Posts: 116

Re: Bring ARM into the fold?

I don't think you and I disagree on much :-) That's the reason why I started this thread. I have to admit that I don't care /that/ much about armv7, having just aarch64/arm64 would suffice /for me/. There's been little to no response on my mail to arch-general mailing list, will try the developer one today.

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#11 2023-12-14 07:11:57

ARM32Enthusiast
Member
Registered: 2023-12-14
Posts: 3

Re: Bring ARM into the fold?

ARMv7h isn't really difficult to maintain either, and I think it would be great if the main ALARM maintainer would start allowing actual community support.  On ALARM's official webpage, you even see the phrase "Community Supported Devices" when in reality, the community isn't actually able to have any contributions merged.

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#12 2023-12-14 07:20:12

solskogen
Member
From: Norway
Registered: 2005-03-06
Posts: 116

Re: Bring ARM into the fold?

I totally agree with you, that's why I created this thread. But I can't do it alone, heck there's a lot of stuff happening behind the scenes of maintaining a linux distribution that I have no knowledge of, still if I can help by maintaining some PKGBUILDs, I'd be more than happy to help. Getting the toolchain and kernels up-to-date would be my first priority.

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#13 2023-12-14 07:25:03

ARM32Enthusiast
Member
Registered: 2023-12-14
Posts: 3

Re: Bring ARM into the fold?

I mainly got into ARM Linux because of an ARM ChromeBook I purchased about two years ago.  There's many things that can be fixed that don't actually take as much effort as you'd think.  In many cases, existing x86 Arch Linux PKGBUILDs you'll find will work or don't take many changes to work.  Wouldn't you think it's a good idea to go ahead and start making a repository of PKGBUILDs and compiled packages already for ALARM for people to contribute to?  It would be like an AUR of sorts in a way.

Also, at least Clang is up to date for ARM64 and ARMv7h on ALARM: https://archlinuxarm.org/packages/aarch64/clang

Last edited by ARM32Enthusiast (2023-12-14 07:32:32)

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#14 2023-12-22 23:14:07

Popolon
Member
Registered: 2020-09-28
Posts: 18

Re: Bring ARM into the fold?

You could maybe take some inspiration of the current Arch Linux RISC-V project, they maintain a git repository that contains only the RISC-V diff needed for some specific packages that need the addition of patchs or modifications in PKGBUILD, and it progress really fast this way. I use both x86_64, armv7h, aarch64 (ARMv8) and riscv64 and it is a very good news in my point of view to have finally a willing to melt ALARM in main Arch smile.

Last edited by Popolon (2023-12-22 23:18:00)

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#15 2024-02-24 09:20:41

Neitsab
Wiki Maintainer
Registered: 2013-12-05
Posts: 25

Re: Bring ARM into the fold?

solskogen wrote:

There's been little to no response on my mail to arch-general mailing list, will try the developer one today.

For those willing to contribute, here is the thread on arch-general: Bring ARM into the fold.

If many people chime in, it will give more strength to the request (which is a fairly big ask from Arch's team POV, with far-reaching consequences for the project's identity, infrastructure, support cost...).

I am working on a rationale to back up the request. So far it centers around the following points:

  1. embrace the gradual shift to more ARM-powered devices: cloud servers (Graviton, Ampere), Qualcomm laptops, Chromebooks... x86_64 preeminence is slowly eroding. Now would be a good time to start working towards a more architecturally-diverse computing future.

  2. maintain Arch's quality standard: ALARM uses Arch branding "under permission of the Arch Linux Project Lead" according to its homepage, so that anyone would be excused if they believed it is an officially endorsed project, if only a side one. But in recent times, users have reported that it's been providing a subpar experience (one completely at odds with upstream Arch Linux) with core packages being outdated for months and communication from the project almost non-existent. Folding it under Arch would take stock of the existing (and understandable) belief that it is an Arch subproject (despite it being completely separate), and mitigate the harm done to Arch branding by improving quality consistency and ensuring that it remains so.

  3. do a service to the ALARM community, which unlike other downstreams are actual Arch users at heart (they just want to use Arch on their ARM devices), which is hindered in its development by the unresponsiveness of the project's leadership. On the forums several users have already stepped up to offer their help, but due to the project's organization (no TUs, the only responsive "developer" – the one and only Graysky – being very clear about his limited responsabilities/power as a maintainer), the community's development has hampered.

Is there something else important that you would like to see included?

Besides the rationale, a successful plea would consider what the request entails for the main project: what are the changes needed in the infra? Is it possible to onboard ALARM community members and pair them with core contributors to organize and oversee all those changes? Etc. etc. It is a far reaching change that we are proposing.

Maybe graysky and tpowa would be willing to chime in and say what they think of the idea, or even provide guidance on how to present this request to other Arch developers?

Edited to add: although the main developer is consistently active on ALARM GitHub, I think the plea for folding into Arch remains valid, potentially with him in the group of coordinators if he so wishes. Although reducing the bus factor and improving the project structure could be done standalone, I still think that reason number 1 (preparing Arch for a more ARMed future) is actually the most important here, and in turn it would also improve point 2 & 3.

Last edited by Neitsab (2024-02-24 10:28:38)

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