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Precise Puppy planned, maybe

March 13, 2012 — BarryK
Just posting my thoughts, so that I don't clash with what someone else is thinking of doing.

I am thinking of building a Upup based on the upcoming Ubuntu Precise Pangolin 12.04 LTS release.

I have various reasons for this. One is that the Ubuntu ARM port is based on the ARMv7 architecture, and I will be needing a pup based on that architecture -- reason for that, I should be able to announce in a day or two.

Another reason is that this is the first Ubuntu where LTS means the desktop is to be supported for 5 years (previously it was 3 years). So, this could be a LTS pup also.

Precise Pangolin is scheduled for release on 26 April, supported until April 2017.

This website has a very interesting comparison of a board with ARM Cortex dual A9 CPUs, and various x86 CPUs, running Ubuntu 12.04 beta:

...notice in particular how well it performs against the Intel Atom CPU. Also, it was not measured by that comparison, but the ARM chip consumes considerably less power.

However, I must add that the above is only my intention at this stage. It could emerge that another ARMv7 distro will better suit my needs. I should be able to make a final decision about 3 - 4 weeks from now.


Or maybe not
Username: BarryK
Heh, heh, I am already backing off. The problem is, it seems that the ARMv7 build of Precise Pangolin does not include support for NEON. NEON is a set of multimedia instructions, kind of like SSE in the x86 chips. NEON is not defined as part of ARMv7, but most chips have NEON. For example, the Cortex-A8 chip does. However, as there are some exceptions, it seems that Ubuntu have compiled without NEON. NEON can improve performance, and if using an ARM chip with NEON it would be a shame to throw away that feature. Ok, on to [b]Plan B[/b]...

Go for it Barry!
Username: D2R
"Go for it Barry. I'm using Puppy on an old desktop to run some amateur radio equipment. It runs 24/7 so power consumption is important and a move to a netbook or less is in the wind. I've ordered a RasPi and would like to continue to use a puppy varient. Keep up the good work Barry and your team of talented volunteers. D2R Puppy lover since '109

Plan B
Username: lobster
"No computer and already a dual blog for the Puppy Raspberrians It is interesting that the Rpi is set up to educate a new generation of programmers. It seems to be rekindling mini hardware interest . . . Looking forward to Plan B :happy:

ARM architectures
Username: BarryK
"A clarification, for those not familiar with ARM architectures. The Raspberry Pi has an ARMv6 CPU (also known as ARM11, just to confuse you), whereas most ARM boards these days have at least a Cortex-A8, which is ARMv7 (+NEON). ARMv6 and ARMv7 refer to the instruction set. From my fairly brief reading, it seems that ARMv6 has "thumb" instructions but they are not very usable, whereas ARMv7 has "thumb-2" instructions which are usable -- these can considerably reduce the size of executables. Most ARMv7 CPUs also have the NEON multimedia instruction set, which can speed up multimedia operations. What it comes down to, is if code is compiled for those extra goodies of ARMv7, then it won't work on an ARMv6 CPU. However, code compiled for ARMv6 will work on an ARMv7 CPU. I want those extra features of ARMv7, if I am going to be using a board with an ARMv7 CPU. So that means I am going to have to build two different puppies, one targeting the Raspberry Pi, another targeting the ARMv7-based board. Precise Pangolin is a suitable source of binary packages for the ARMv7-based Puppy (except for the omission of NEON). For RasPi, I will have to build from another distro such as Debian, that does have ARMv6 binary packages. I hope that clarifies things.

arm toolchain
Username: ttuuxxx
"Hi Barry I came across this thread that uses a script to build a arm toolchain, It might be something worth looking at. ttuuxxx

MMX, not SSE
Username: BarryK
"I stated earlier: [i]NEON is a set of multimedia instructions, kind of like SSE in the x86 chips.[/i] Correction: [i]NEON is a set of multimedia instructions, kind of like MMX in the x86 chips.[/i]

Tags: puppy