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Posts Tagged ‘canonical’

Try Ubuntu Touch on Your Computer with Ubuntu Touch Emulator

February 20th, 2014 2 comments

Canonical has just announced Meizu (China) and Bq (Europe) will be the first manufacturers to launch Ubuntu Touch phones at the end of 2014. But if you want to try Ubuntu Touch, and don’t own a Google Nexus 4 or 7, or simply don’t want to flash Ubuntu Touch to your devices, you can do so using Ubuntu Touch x86 Emulator in your computer running Ubuntu , or in an Ubuntu Virtual machine in Virtualbox or VMWare.

Ubuntu Touch Emulator (Click to Enlarge)

Ubuntu Touch Emulator (Click to Enlarge)

The emulator has been available since last November, but Ricardo Salveti announced an updated version, the first public preview, with the following changes:

  1. Better TLS handling (not using the Android slots, but using pthread_set/getspecifics instead)
  2. Qt packages compatible with OpenGL ES 2.0 available at https://launchpad.net/~rsalveti/+archive/qt-gles-test

It has been tried on Ubuntu Trusty (14.04), but I could run it just fine on Ubuntu Saucy (13.10), by following the instructions below in a terminal:

  1. Download and extract the emulator:
    wget http://people.canonical.com/~rsalveti/aosp/generic_x86/emulator-x86.tar.bz2
    tar -jxvf emulator-x86.tar.bz2; cd emulator-x86
  2. Download the rootfs (~350 MB) and create the sd card image with:
    ./build-emulator-sdcard.sh
  3. Start the emulator
    ./run-emulator.sh

After about a minute, I could access the emulator, and enter a small tutorial teaching how how to swipe the screen edges to access the different options / menus. My main display is 1920×1080 and it nearly takes the full height, although the emulator itself is cut, the emulator’s “screen” is still visible on my secondary display (1280×1024), but if your resolution is lower than that you may have issues. I did not have to install anything else to run it, but if something goes wrong you may want to check Ubuntu Touch emulator wiki to check for dependencies.

The few apps I’ve tried (Browser, Setting, Facebook, Dialer, Contact…) appear to work, except the gallery app (known bug), and the camera app which is not usable in an emulator anyway… More apps can be installed from the marketplace.

You can access the terminal via adb:

adb shell
root@ubuntu-phablet:/# uname -a
Linux ubuntu-phablet 3.4.0-2-goldfish #13-Ubuntu PREEMPT Thu Feb 13 20:47:44 UTC 2014 i686 athlon i686 GNU/Linux
root@ubuntu-phablet:/#

or ssh (password: phablet):

adb forward tcp:9999 tcp:22
ssh phablet@localhost -p 9999
phablet@localhost's password: 
Welcome to Ubuntu Trusty Tahr (development branch) (GNU/Linux 3.4.0-2-goldfish i686)

 * Documentation:  https://help.ubuntu.com/
Last login: Thu Feb 20 03:29:05 2014 from localhost.localdomain
phablet@ubuntu-phablet:~$

By default the memory is set to 512MB, but if you need more you can change the -memory argument in run-emulator.sh.

Watch the video below to see Ubuntu Touch running in its x86 emulator.

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ARM Unveils System Base Architecture Specification to Standardize ARM based Servers

January 31st, 2014 1 comment

64-bit ARM based servers should hit the market later this year or earlier in 2015 with SoCs such as Applied Micro X-Gene or AMD Opteron A1100. ARM still has the lead in terms of efficiency with a lower dollar per watt ratio, but Intel is closing in with their new Avoton server-on-chips. However, there’s one aspect where Intel is clearly in the lead: standardization and compatibility. ARM is very flexible, and allow SoC designers to create more or less what they want, but it comes at the cost that most ARM based systems are not capable of running mainline Linux, and instead use vendor trees.  With many applications, that may not be critical, but when it comes to data-centers, companies want to be able to run the latest Linux version with the latest security patches as soon as possible, and want to lower the total cost of ownership (TCO), so they don’t want to spend considerable resources to handle different hardware platform. This is currently not feasible, but ARM together with their partners, including silicon vendors such as AMD, Applied Micro Cavium, and Texas Instruments, and software companies such as Canonical, Citrix, Linaro, Microsoft, Red Hat and SUSE, have jointly announced the System Base Architecture Specifications to standardize all ARM based servers so that one single OS image can run on all ARMv8-A server.

SBSA_Specifications

The SBSA specification does not address the application layer, but it standardizes low-level CPU and SoC attributes such as timers, interrupt controllers, watch dog timers, performance counters and also specifies minimum hardware requirements that firmware and OS vendors expect to be present. To be compliant, server will also need to run industry standards for bootloader and firmware,  with all hardware being describable or discoverable. There are three levels of standardization:

  • Level 0 – Defines CPU Architecture, Interrupt Controller, Memory Map, IO Visualization, Clock and Timer Subsystem, Wake up semantics, Power State Semantics and Peripheral Subsystems
  • Level 1 – Based on Level 0 with extra requirements with regards to CPU Architecture, Interrupt Controller, Clock and Timer Subsystem, Watchdogs, Requirements on power state semantics, and Peripheral Subsystems
  • Level 2 – Based on Level 1 with extra requirements with regards to CPU Architecture, Interrupt Controller (inc. PPI assignments),  Memory Map, Requirements on power state semantics, IO Visualization, Clock and Timer Subsystem, Wake up semantics and Watchdogs

Most recent ARM SoCs, such as Opteron A1100, are likely to only support Level 0 or 1 at first. I haven’t read the specifications in details, but for example, Level 0 defines SoC with up to 8 CPU cores, Level 1 is still limited to a maximum of 8 cores, but adds minimum requirements for the number of PMU counters, watchpoints and breakpoints, and Level 2 supports SoC with up to 2^28 (268,435,456) CPU cores which is the maximum supported by GICv3 architecture.

If you want to find out the details, you can download the specifications from ARM website, after registration and accepting an EULA. Alternatively, since the document is non-confidential, the EULA is also listed in page 2 to 4 of the document, you can download it directly here.

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Canonical Releases Ubuntu and Android Dual Boot Developer Preview

December 24th, 2013 2 comments

Canonical announced Ubuntu for Phones at the very beginning of the year, and the operating systems have been ported to several phones since then. The only problem is that if you just want to try it, you’d have to replace your Android installation. To work around this problem, Canonical just released Ubuntu and Android dual boot developer preview, that installs both OS on your smartphone, and one app in Ubuntu and Android, let you choose whether you want to boot Ubuntu or Android.

Ubuntu_Android_Dual_Boot

The installation requires rewriting the Android recovery partition, and changes the partition layout, so Canonical only recommends Ubuntu Dual boot to developers, in case something goes wrong during installation. Having said that, the installation instructions do not seem particularly difficult to follow, as it’s just the case of running one script (dualboot.sh), after you’ve made sure your device is rooted, connected your phone to a Linux PC via USB, and installed some tools.

Several Android 4.2 or higher flavors are supported including stock firmware, AOSP and CyanogenMod, and even though the company has only tested it with the Google Nexus S4, it should work, in theory, on the Galaxy Nexus, as well as the Nexus 7 and 10 tablets. We might also get devices ported to Ubuntu Touch by the community, eventually support dual boot.

Ubuntu uses the recovery partition, so this mode is not available for Android, and booting into recovery will just boot into Android. This looks similar to how Linux on Rockchip RK3xxx works, including Android / Linux dual boot.

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Ubuntu Edge Smartphone PC Hits Indiegogo

July 23rd, 2013 3 comments

Canonical has announced Ubuntu for Phones and Ubuntu for Tablets at the beginning of the year, with the goal of bringing Ubuntu operating system to mobile devices, and transform high-end devices into the new PC when they are connected to an HDMI display. It turns out mobile phone manufacturers may not be ready to take the risk launching a completely new high-end platform to the market, so Canonical decided to leverage the power of crowdfunding but launching an Indiegogo campaign for Ubuntu Edge, a smartphone with hardware specs like no others, capable of running both Android and Ubuntu, and fully replacing your PC when docked.

Ubuntu_Edge

Ubuntu Edge Preliminary/Targeted Specifications:

  • SoC – “Fastest Multicore Processor Available”
  • System Memory – At least 4 GB RAM
  • Storage – 128 GB flash
  • Display – 4.5″ display with the best balance of resolution (720p), dynamic range and color accuracy, covered with sapphire crystal glass (Unscratchable, unless you happen to carry diamond in your pocket).
  • Camera – 8MP low-light rear camera and 2MP front-facing camera
  • Connectivity – 802.11n dual-band WiFi, Bluetooth 4.0, Dual antenna LTE, NFC, GPS
  • Sensors – Accelerometer, gyro, proximity sensor, compass, barometer
  • Stereo speakers with HD audio, dual-mic recording, Active Noise Cancellation
  • MHL connector, 3.5mm jack
  • Battery – Silicon-anode Li-Ion battery (See Nexeon for details about the technology. Canonical did not mention Nexeon at all, but that’s the first site I found with some informations)
  • Dimensions – 64 x 9 x 124mm

Ubuntu_Edge_PC

Ubuntu Edge in Desktop Mode


With this type of specs, you should not be surprised it does not come cheap. Early adopters can get it for $600 (first day only), and if you miss the window, you’ll have to pledge $830 to eventually receive the device in May 2014, if there are no delays. The price may seem high, but it’s not that much pricier than high-end Samsung or Apple smartphones, and you’ll be able to completely ditch your PC. To make that project become a reality, Canonical needs volume, and they’ll need $32 million (equivalent to about 40,000 phones) for the project to go ahead, AFAIK that would the biggest ever successful crowdfunding if they reach that target.

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AllWinner Announces A31s Processor for Phablets, Hints about Ubuntu Devices

February 28th, 2013 5 comments

AllWinner is currently a Mobile World Congress 2013, and Charbax had the chance to interview Eva, manager at AllWinner, and learn more about new processors, and future plans by the company. They spent some time discussing about AllWinner A31 and AllWinner A20 quad and dual Cortex A7 processors, but since we’ve know about those for a while I’ll skip this part. The most interesting part is about AllWinner A31s, a cost down version of A31, specifically designed for phablets (smartphones with 5″ to 7″ screens).

AllWinner A31s Block Diagram

AllWinner A31s Block Diagram

Like AllWinner A31, AllWinner A31s is also a quad core Cortex A7 processor with PowerVR SGX544MP2 GPU (8 shader engines) and the following specifications:

  • CPU – ARM Cortex-A7 Quad-Core with 256KB L1-Cache/1MB L2-Cache
  • GPU – POWERVR SGX 544MP2 with 8 logic cores. OpenGL ES2.0, Open CL1.x and DX 9_3 compliant.
  • Memory
    • 32-bit Dual-Channel LPDDR2/DDR3/DDR3L Controller,
    • 8-bit NAND FLASH Controller with 64-bit ECC
  • Video
    • UHD H.264 2160p video decoding
    • Multi-format HD video decoding including MPEG1/2,  MPEG4 SP?ASP GMC, H.263, H.264, etc.
    • BD Directory, BD ISO and BD m2ts video decoding
    • H.264 High Profile 1080P@30fps encoding
    • 3840×1080@30fps 3D decoding, BD/SBS/TAB/FP supported
    • 3840×1080@30fps 3D encoding
    • Complies with RTSP, HTTP, HLS, RTMP, MMS streaming media protocol
  • Display
    • Dual-Channel LVDS/RGB/CPU LDC Interface 1024×768 resolution
    • Integrated HDMI 1.4 1920×1080@60fps
  • Camera
    • Supports 0.3M/1.3M/2M/5M CMOS Sensor
    • Supports 8/10/12-bit YUV/Bayer sensor
    • Integrated ISP
  • PMIC – PMIC AXP221s designed for A31s. 21-CH power output and 2.2A Flash charging. Complies with USB 3.0 power supply standard

I extracted this from the video below, and some things do not look right (e.g. 3840×1080@30fps 3D decoding), but compared to AllWinner A31, I understand that A31s “only” support 2160p video decoding, a rather low 1024×768 resolution for screens, and 1080p HDMI output. A31 camera sensor can support between 5 to 8 MP, but A31 can support lower resolution (0.3M) for front camera, to a maximum of 5MP. The PMIC is called AXP221s vs AXP221 for A31. The rest of the specifications appear to be the same. They will mention Android 4.1/4.2 support, as well as “Windows 8″.

The interview starts with AllWinner A31, at 3:04 they switch to A31s for about 2 to 3 minutes, and continue with A20.

Eva also explains A20 is pin-to-pin compatible with A10, but it appears some other modifications are required on the board. She also talks a bit about future products, including a server chipset? (not sure I heard that correctly) in Q2, and a “super processor” in Q3 (AllWinner Cortex A15 coming our way?). Finally she mentioned AllWinner has a close relationship with Ubuntu (I suppose she means Canonical), so that could bode well for AllWinner based Ubuntu tablets or smartphones in 2014.

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Canonical Unveils Ubuntu on Tablets

February 20th, 2013 No comments

Yesterday, Ubuntu.com displayed a time counter for an announcement reading “Tic Toc Tablet Time” that ended being about Ubuntu on Tablets, and not an HTC Tablet running Ubuntu as some blogs speculated, as both companies had a timer counter set to expire at the same time for separate, and unrelated, announcements.

Ubuntu_on_TabletsThe interface looks very much like Ubuntu for Phones with a similar “Welcome Screen”, except multiple users are supported, no icons (except for apps), and you can swipe around the 4 edges to access the dash, opened applications, notifications, and more. Canonical highlights 5 key features for Ubuntu on Tablets:

  • Real multitasking – Run mobile and tablet apps at the same time on the same screen
  • Secure multi-user
  • Voice controlled HUD productivity
  • Edge magic for cleaner apps – As I said previously no buttons, you control eveything from the edges.
  • Content focus – Messages and media are easily accessible from  the Welcome screen.

Canonical also disclosed the hardware requirements for potential partners, and the company clearly redefines what low-end tablet means…

Entry level consumer Ubuntu tablet High-end Ubuntu enterprise tablet
Processor architecture Dual-core Cortex A15 Quad-core A15 or Intel x86
Memory 2GB preferred 4GB preferred
Flash storage 8GB minimum 8GB minimum
Screen size 7-10 inch 10-12 inch
Multi-touch 4 fingers 4-10 fingers
Full desktop convergence No Yes

This is not completely unexpected, but still disappointing, as that means that most tablets sold today may not be able to run Ubuntu on Tablets optimally, or maybe even not run at all. If you want desktop convergence, it’s simple, there’s currently no existing ARM hardware that supports Ubuntu for Tablet requirements, except possibly some (undisclosed) Exynos 5 Octa development boards.

Marc Shuttleworth gave a short 6 minutes introduction to Ubuntu on Tablets, and as for the phone version, I really like the user interface Canonical came up with.

App development will be similar to Ubuntu for Phone, with support for both Web/HTML5 apps and native apps written using QML/Javascript/C++ in Eclipse giving access to OpenGLES runtime. Visit Ubuntu Tablet App Ecosystem page for details, and on the 21st of February, you’ll be able to download the Touch Developer Preview to develop apps specific to Tablets, and try it on your Nexus 7 (Tegra 3 with 1GB RAM) or Nexus 10 (Exynos 5250 with 2GB RAM) tablet.

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ARM 64-Bit Bootstrapping with OpenEmbedded – ELCE 2012

January 16th, 2013 No comments

Marcin Juszkiewicz, software engineer at Canonical, explains how ARMv8 was bootstrapped with OpenEmbedded with fast model simulation at the Embedded Linux Conference in Barcelona on November 7, 2012.

Abstract:

The time has come – there is ARM 64-bit architecture right behind a corner. In this talk I will present how OpenEmbedded was used to build root filesystem for fast models simmulating not-yet-existing hardware. Presentation is targeted at developers interested in cross compilation, handling new architectures in existing projects.

Agenda of the talk:
OpenEmbedded Logo

  • Introduction to Aarch64 – aka arm64 or ARMv8,  the new 64-bit version of the ARM architecture
  • Introduction to OpenEmbedded – Build system capable to build everything from package to
    whole distribution with repositories
  • First steps:
    • Create own layer for AArch64 stuff
    • Adding basic support into OE classes
    • Machine definition
  • Toolchain – Based on  gcc 4.7 + ARM patches
  • Build results – As of October 2012, 800 packages have been built, and LAMP and SDK images are available
  • Typical problems – configure scripts, old config files, and CPU/Architecture definitions
  • Current status – Merged into OpenEmbedded, Available in meta-linaro layer and meta-aarch64 layer
  • Build Instructions:
    git clone git://git.linaro.org/openembedded/meta-aarch64.git
    bash meta-aarch64/scripts/init.sh
    bitbake nano
  • Lessons learnt

You can download the slides for the presentation. You can also read one of my previous post entitled “Getting Started with 64-bit ARM Development: Hello World and Linux on ARMv8 Fast Models” to have a go.

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