Canonical has been working on RISC-V support for Ubuntu for a while and released Ubuntu 20.04/21.04 64-bit RISC-V images for QEMU and HiFive boards last year. Now the company has released an Ubuntu 22.04.1 Server image for the StarFive VisionFive V1 RISC-V single board computer.
While that’s a good development, The VisionFive V1, and other RISC-V platforms, are nowhere close to being Ubuntu-certified hardware, and Canonical posted a note reading “It is an early RISC-V developer access through Ubuntu 22.04.1.”
The VisionFive V1 SBC is a pretty good platform for development with a StarFive JH7100 dual-core RISC-V processor, 8GB RAM, Gigabit Ethernet and WiFi connectivity, HDMI output, and four USB 3.0 ports, plus GPIOS headers, and MIPI CSI and DSI connectors. It offers a good middle ground between the high-end (and relatively expensive) HiFive Unmatched mini-ITX motherboard and the low-end Allwinner Nezha single board computer both of which can also run Ubuntu 22.04.1 with Canonical support.
You’ll find Ubuntu 22.04.1 Server for supported RISC-V platforms on the download page as well as instructions explaining the xfce4 desktop environment can be installed but is really slow without some workarounds. Ubuntu Desktop will take longer, notably because none of the RISC-V processors come with an integrated 3D GPU so far. But this is about to change as the VisionFive V2 SBC with StarFive JH7110 quad-core RISC-V GPU will include an Imagination IMG BXE-4-32 GPU, and should be announced next week on August 23, right before RISC-V Summit China.
Canonical also looks really excited about the future prospect of the RISC-V ecosystem and it appears to be a long-term project for the company:
Canonical aims to position Ubuntu as not just the reference OS for innovators and developers, but also as the vehicle to enable them to take their products to market faster by letting them focus on their core application without having to worry about the stability of the underlying frameworks.
RISC-V has a lot of potential and is becoming a competitive ISA in multiple markets. With this premise in mind, porting Ubuntu to RISC-V to become the reference OS for early adopters was the natural choice.
It is clear that RISC-V hardware running a stable Ubuntu release is coming, and the only question is when. I’d guess we may need to wait one or two more years before getting price-competitive RISC-V single board computers with most features working reasonably well, and hopefully a bit earlier for headless systems.
Jean-Luc started CNX Software in 2010 as a part-time endeavor, before quitting his job as a software engineering manager, and starting to write daily news, and reviews full time later in 2011.