Linaro, ARM and the Road to Total Linux Domination

Well it seems like the dust may finally be settling here in the Linux blogosphere, and Linux Girl is fervently hoping for some long-overdue rest.

We endured the launch of Rectangle with Rounded Corners 5; we patiently listened to the endless blaring fanfare surrounding Windows 8’s debut. Not to mention the launch of Commander-in-Chief 2012!

Is there no end to the autumnal excitement? Now, more than a few Linux geeks are surely thinking, it’s time to get back to life.

‘Broad Industry Implications’

Linux Girl couldn’t agree more, which is why she was so happy to come upon word of Linaro’s Linux-on-ARM project, complete with the backing of Facebook and many others.

“Linaro, the not-for-profit engineering organization developing open source software for the ARM architecture, announced today the formation of the Linaro Enterprise Group (LEG) and the addition of AMD, Applied Micro Circuits Corporation, Calxeda, Canonical, Cavium, Facebook, HP, Marvell and Red Hat as Linaro members,” began the announcement last Thursday.

“With significant market interest in energy-efficient ARM-based servers, industry leaders have joined together through Linaro, creating LEG, to collaborate and accelerate the development of foundational software for ARM Server Linux,” the group added. “LEG benefits have broad industry implications, including time to market acceleration, lower development costs, and access to innovative and differentiated systems, fundamental to the ARM ecosystem.”

There might have been an unrelated din still lingering in the Linux blogosphere, but few FOSS fans failed to take note of this latest news.

“It Is Going to Pay Off’

“This is really good news,” enthused Google+ blogger Kevin O’Brien. “I love what Linaro is doing, and it is going to pay off for all of us.

“Although the emphasis right now is on servers, we should note that ARM powers most of the phones and tablets out there, and running a good full Linux distro on a tablet can only be good,” O’Brien added.

Indeed, “I’m excited to see the initiative regarding Linux on ARM,” agreed Google+ blogger Linux Rants. “I think Linux is a motivated programmer away from working on my toaster oven, but it’s great to see the dedication to making it work really well.

“This is yet another stone in the road to total Linux domination,” Linux Rants added. “The sooner the better.”

‘It Looks Promising’

Linaro could “take hold of the huge production of ARMed smart thingies and laptops,” suggested blogger Robert Pogson.

In fact, “it may be a great end-around play against Wintel,” Pogson added. “There are quite a number of x86 PCs with OEM-installed GNU/Linux, but there are many more ARMed machines being shipped. There is no reason in the world that GNU/Linux could not come pre-installed on ARMed devices.”

ARM is apparently “coming fast into the scene, and to stay,” agreed Gonzalo Velasco C., a blogger on Google+. “Even AMD is supporting building more Linux applications for ARM based servers! And this means we’re going to have more low-power, high-performance, hyperscale processors for servers.”

Red Hat, Canonical, Samsung and ST-Ericsson “are already there,” he added. “So, it surely looks promising. Lucky us computer users!

“We’ll take advantage of them without knowing (when using several internet/cloud services) and hopefully this will lead to new desktop, laptop and netbook multi-core economic processors,” he said. “Who knows, but Apple might have to go back to RISC processors after some time [laughs].”

‘Intel’s Game to Lose’

Slashdot blogger hairyfeet wasn’t so sure.

“I think we are about to see the end of the ARM bandwagon, as ARM simply doesn’t scale; it still hasn’t reached even Pentium 4 levels of IPC, and companies like Nvidia are having to throw more and more cores at the problem,” hairyfeet explained. “We all know how well that’s worked for AMD — more cores equal more power, and without the IPC it’s like racing a car in second gear: it sounds fast, but you’re not getting anywhere any quicker.”

So, “final verdict?” hairyfeet went on. “Sell those ARM chips while you can. They’ll be hot for another year, possibly two, just depends on how serious Intel is.

“After that it’ll be Intel’s game to lose,” he concluded. “They can simply throw more resources at any given problem than anybody else, and performance per watt is something they are sinking serious money into.”

‘More Free and Open’

Nevertheless, “one of the advantages of working with a FOSS system is that if you think Linux would work better on your preferred platform, you can do it yourself or pay to have it done without having to wait for an OS vendor to decide for you,” consultant and Slashdot blogger Gerhard Mack pointed out.

Indeed, “perhaps this is the way to go to GNU/Linux,” Google+ blogger Alessandro Ebersol agreed.

“I mean, it’s a more free and open environment to GNU/Linux, not restrained by two big evil companies (Microsoft and Intel),” he pointed out. “So, GNU/Linux on ARM can blossom and evolve much more than in the x86 world.”

Katherine Noyes has been writing from behind Linux Girl's cape since late 2007, but she knows how to be a reporter in real life, too. She's particularly interested in space, science, open source software and geeky things in general. You can also find her on Twitter and Google+.

1 Comment

  • Anyone who thinks ARM is gonna take on Intel in the server and desktop roles? i have some magic beans you might be interested in. in fact i honestly would not be surprised if the only place you find ARM on phones and tablets in 3 years is the low end stuff, and it all comes down to IPC or instructions per second. Intel is so far ahead of everyone, including AMD, when it comes to IPC it isn’t even funny, which is why they are working on PPW or performance per watt.

    Look up the features that are coming in the next Atom chip and you’ll see Intel is really ahead of the game, we are talking first gen Core performance in a chip that uses less than 6w under load! Not only that but they have come up with a new way to save power called "active sleep" where the chip will turn off its higher functions while still allowing you to, oh say take incoming calls or send and receive SMS while having the chip for all intents and purposes be asleep.

    So while i think competition is great I’m also a realist and looking at the numbers its really Intel’s game to lose.

Leave a Comment

Please sign in to post or reply to a comment. New users create a free account.

More by Katherine Noyes
More in Community

Should technology play a larger role in officiating sports events?
- select up to two -
Loading ... Loading ...

LinuxInsider Channels