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Re: Official support Odroid hardware and other ARM development boards.

On Wed, Feb 26, 2014 at 05:54:47PM -0300, Reg Lnx wrote:

> Some distros have official support to several ARM development boards.
> ArchLinux - http://archlinuxarm.org/
> Fedora Project - https://fedoraproject.org/wiki/Architectures/ARM
> OpenSUSE - http://en.opensuse.org/openSUSE:Supported_ARM_boards
> Those distros do officially support several Open Source ARM development
> boards, such as Raspberry Pi, PandaBoard, BeagleBoard and Odroid U/X
> series.
> I'd like to know if Debian community have plans to officially support
> any of those development boards, providing ready to boot images,
> containing the Debian Installer for example.
> I am a owner of a Raspberry Pi Model B rev 1 and an Odroid u3.
> To get Debian on these board I have to relay on the Raspbian Community
> work (And they have done a wonderful work) and on generously built
> images for the Odroid hardware.
> Debian is my OS of choice and it would be wonderful if I could use it on
> all my devices and get packages and updates from Debian.

As far as I can tell there will probably never be direct support for
the Raspberry Pi in Debian (in contrast to Raspbian) for mainly two
reasons.  One is the CPU instruction set architecture on the Pi, which
uses an ARMv6 CPU while the minimum requirement for the Debian armhf
port is an ARMv7 CPU, so the Debian armhf packages cannot run on the
Pi's CPU.

Using the Debian armel (soft-float) port on the Pi would be technically
possible CPU-wise, but as armel targets CPUs way older than the one in
the Pi and does not use the CPU's floating point unit, it would be very
slow for many applications, so it does not really make sense to do it.

Raspbian is a very fine distribution for the Pi and as far as I know,
it provides nearly all Packages which are available in Debian armhf,
but built for the Pi's CPU.

Another problem is the firmware issue on the Pi. Booting the Pi
requires a set of non-free firmware files to be present on the boot
device.  Due to them being non-free, those cannot be part of Debian
main, so they cannot be included in the official Debian installer
images which contain only free software.

I have no personal experience with the other ARM boards you have
mentioned, so I would just like to point out a few general issues. 
Many arm boards do not work with the official "mainline" Linux kernel,
but instead need specific kernels from the board vendor or they need
patches to the mainline kernel which are incompatible with support for
other boards.  For Debian it is not feasible to support lots of
different kernel source trees for different boards, so one requirement
for support in Debian is that the board can run a kernel built from the
mainline kernel source.  Similar requirements exist for the bootloader
used to boot the board (often u-boot).  Due to lack of experience with
the boards you have mentioned, I cannot tell whether these requirements
are fulfilled for those boards.

I hope that at least partially answers your question.

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