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Questions regarding armhf port for Raspberry Pi

I am potentially interested in creating/maintaining a Debian port that would mirror the work being done in armhf, but with the port tuned to the specifics of the Raspberry Pi hardware which I believe is ARMv6+VFPv2.  The goal would be a Debian distribution on the Raspberry Pi which would squeeze the most performance possible from the CPU/MPU on the $25 to $35 device.  It seems that such an effort could piggyback off the efforts of those working on armhf so it could be managed by a small group of volunteers.

I don’t have experience with managing such a project, but I’m a fairly quick learner and could hopefully leverage past experience with maintaining builds of FreeBSD years ago. I've been a user of Debian for many years and as a user I'm quit impressed with the community that supports it.  I've never been let down.  With this in mind, I have a few questions to understand what would be involved in such an effort.

First, is there an existing group of volunteers already looking to support the Raspberry Pi hardware in this manner?  If so, I could look to lend a helping hand rather than trying to duplicate working being done by others that potentially have much more experience/knowledge of what would be involved.

Second, where would I start to understand what is involved with creating a Debain port that supports a specific set of hardware such as the Raspberry Pi.  Obviously the archive management and autobuilding tools will have to learned.  Hopefully this path has been followed enough that it’s fairly well documented and not tribal knowledge. 

Third, beyond time to learn everything involved and organize whatever other volunteers might help, what would be required in terms of hardware, network bandwidth, etc…  A person I’ve communicated with on the Raspberry Pi forums indicated that cluster of six Freescale i.MX535 Quick Start boards with SATA hard disks may be enough to get started with. If figure this could probably be had for about $2000 or perhaps less.

Finally, what high-level things should be thought through before starting such a project.  I’m certain many projects like this get started all the time just to whither on the vine for various reasons.  I would like to avoid that scenario if possible.

Thank you for any feedback or information.

Mike Thompson

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