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Bug#439832: Please include armel port in the archive

Package: ftp.debian.org
Version: n/a, reported 27.8.2007
Severity: wishlist

This the request to include armel architecture in debian. We
believe that we can meet the archive criteria[1] reasonably
with the current state of the port.

Executive summary of the new port:

Armel is a port for litte-endian arm processors using
the Arm (ltd) defined ABI. This brings us better upstream
support for toolchain and libraries, soft-float[2] for
faster floats and support for thumb and vfp instruction sets
For very long explanation, see:


To the archive qualification questions[1]:

* Is port cursed?


* Are machines available to general public?

Yes. The linksys Nslu-2 and Thecus N2100 are currently
best supported.

* Is full source available?

The port builds out of unmodified debian source packages. For
bootstrapping a selection modified package sources are available
in gnuab repository in the "unreleased" suite.

* Is this architecture related to other architectures already in the
  archive, or that also should be considered, either now or in the future?
  Can the related architectures be supported in a single architecture (eg,
  with a biarch arrangement)?

Armel and the current arm can run on many same CPU's. But with the
current arm port one cannot use all the features of modern ARM
CPU's, such as thumb instruction set or VFP floating point units.

A kernel built with armel port can run most binaries of the old ABI if
a compatability option is enabled, but not the other way around. Being
a embedded architecture, where storage space may be scarce, a biarch
solution would be really wastfull. Both users and developers are
uninterested in biarch or similar solution.

* Are there 3 or more developers (or n-ms) actively maintaining the port?
Who are they?

Currently the most active DD porters are:

Riku Voipio
Aurelian Jarno
Joey Hess
Guillem Jover

[1] http://ftp-master.debian.org/archive-criteria.html

* What sort of architecture is this?

Embedded/PDA. subnotebook/Thin client style desktops
might come out as well.

* Does it have any users?

Armel is being used by Nokia on their Internet Tablets
(n800, 770), unkown amount sold. Compatability with them
is one goal of Debian armel project. Armel is also being
used by ADS and some other embedded users.

* Is there kernel and toolchain support? At what level? Are the latest
  versions supported, or are legacy releases required for compatability
  with some hardware?

The port buildd's are now running gcc-4.2 on latest (2.6.23-rc3)
kernels. The problems is slightly opposite, it's the legacy toolchains
(gcc < 4.1) that do not have armel support. Debian still has large
chunks of code that needs gcc 3.x to build...

Armel toolchains are still missing Obj-C, java and g77 support.

* Has the ABI stabalised, or are there major ABI changes coming up?

None that I'm aware of.

* How do you install a system?

Using debian-installer from


Instructions will come part of normal d-i installation manual.

* Has a buildd been setup? How much of the archive has been built (count
by source package, builds of old versions are fine for this case)?

There is two buildd's running, using Aurelian Jarno's wanna-build
setup for kfreebsd-*. wanna-build-statistics for now.

Distribution unstable:
Installed       :  6381 (buildd_armel: 2560, buildd_armel2: 2529,
                         unknown: 1292)
Needs-Build     :    32
Building        :    64 (buildd_armel: 31, buildd_armel2: 33)
Uploaded        :    19 (buildd_armel: 2, buildd_armel2: 17)
Failed          :    97 (buildd_armel: 47, buildd_armel2: 50)
Dep-Wait        :   533 (buildd_armel: 286, buildd_armel2: 244, unknown: 3)
Failed-Removed  :     3 (buildd_armel: 3)
Dep-Wait-Removed:     7 (buildd_armel: 1, buildd_armel2: 6)
Not-For-Us      :    57
total           :  7193

 89.42% up-to-date,  89.69% if also counting uploaded pkgs
  0.45% uncompiled
  0.90% currently building (short-term delay)
  8.83% failed or waiting (long-term delay)

Which is relatively representative of where the port has been
( 88-90% ) for the last weeks. All packages are built and
signed by DD's. There is a small chunk of out-of-date packages
in building, dep-wait and failed sections.

To get to the 95% region zone, we mostly need gcj, fortran,
objC/gnustep and ghc properly ported.

The TODO of the port is at:


* What hardware is potentially available as a fast buildd?

Currently we use 2x 600Mhz Thecus N2100 machines with 512MB
of RAM. It's almost enough to keep upto date with sid. With
a third one we could keep up easily. These are commercially
available systems.

Fastest potentially available hardware is intel IOP34x
systems with 1.2Ghz CPU's with 2MB of cache with upto 2GB
of ram. These are available as developer boards atm.

* Is there any corporate support of this arch, and the
  Debian port in particular?

The new EABI arm abi is officially supported by ARM co.
Kernel and related stuff tends to be well commercially
supported by the vendors of the hardware. EABI toolchains
are supported by codesourcery. The debian port in
also has corporate support chances, especially when
the armel port gets official blessing.

* Is there an example box developers can login to to see if it works?

Developers can either use armel in qemu virtual machine (hmh,
some instructions surely would help here..), or ask me or
wookey for a account.

Thus we believe the port is ready for archive inclusion.
While it is not ready for Lenny release yet, if we get a
message from DSA and release team that it is a plausible
goal, we are ready to work hard to make it possible.

In case there is any questions, doubts or you wish us to
reach some specific goals before allowing armel, please
contact us. We want to avoid any kind of hiatus where
it is unclear what needs to be done and by who.

Best regards on behalf of the armel porting team,
 Riku Voipio

[1] http://ftp-master.debian.org/archive-criteria.html
[2] No current or future arm cpu has the fpu our current arm port.

"rm -rf" only sounds scary if you don't have backups

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