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Re: Debian is supported on many arm platforms

On Fri, Sep 10, 2021 at 12:40:49PM -0700, Vagrant Cascadian wrote:
> On 2021-09-10, LinAdmin wrote:
> > The unnamed decision makers of Debian some unknown time ago
> > decided that Pi and *Pine* stuff won't be supported by Debian.
> This is the second time you've stated this, without really adding
> meaningful content to the conversation, and people have presented
> evidence to the contrary... 
> If you don't want to help, that's fine, but please at least refrain from
> making repetative, vague statements of questionable accuracy.
> Debian Developers and many other contributors to Debian are in fact
> supporting these and many other platforms on Debian... They have done so
> by submitting patches, bug reports, fixes, etc. It would be difficult to
> create a comprehensive list of all of them. Check the changelogs for the
> linux kernel, u-boot, debian-installer, raspi-firmware... there are lots
> of people making decisions to support these platforms in those and even
> other packages.
> Specifically...
> There are at least five pine64.org platforms listed at:
>   https://d-i.debian.org/daily-images/arm64/daily/netboot/SD-card-images/
> I believe the same set of images is supported in the Debian bullseye
> release. At some point they worked (I personally tested each of them
> before adding support), if they don't currently work, please file bug
> reports and ideally patches if you can.
> While the Raspberry Pi can't fully be supported in Debian "main" due to
> the Debian Social Contract and the lack of compatible licenses:
>   https://www.debian.org/social_contract
> There is support for the non-free firmware in "non-free" since 2019:
>   https://tracker.debian.org/pkg/raspi-firmware
> More recently, you can get a UEFI implementation for pi3 and pi4:
>   https://github.com/pftf
> With a UEFI implementation, you can boot the standard debian-installer
> .iso images for arm64 platforms:
>   https://cdimage.debian.org/debian-cd/current/arm64/iso-cd/
>   or
>   https://cdimage.debian.org/debian-cd/current/arm64/iso-dvd/
> And there are "unofficial" images made to be written directly to boot
> media produced by Debian Developers available at:
>   https://raspi.debian.net
> Somewhat of an aside, I feel inclined at this point to bring up the
> Debian Community Guidelines:
>   https://people.debian.org/~enrico/dcg/
> I find it has some valuable thoughts that help improve my contributions
> to Debian.
> live well,
>   vagrant

You got in there on the Community Guidelines just before I did :)

This has been a long thread: I think there's something to be brought out
of this - let's see if I can summarise some of the back and forth.

1. There _is_ support for the Raspberry Pi in Debian. There are unofficial
images from raspi.debian.net maintained by Gunnar Wolf. They're unofficial
for the reasons outlined by Paul Wise: containing non-free firmware.

2. These images use u-boot and dtb primarily. There are images for all
currently released Raspberry Pis. The earlier Pis are not compatible with
the later Pi architectures necessarily - Debian does things differently
to Raspbian.

[it's an interesting point that they could be put into cdimage.debian.org
in the same way that unofficial firmware images for amd64 are already there.
Likewise, almost certainly for the next alternative - certainly something to

3. An alternative is to use the UEFI approach from Pete Batard for Pi3 and 
Pi4 specifically. This doesn't use dtb by default and uses ACPI. It's a rebuild
of Tianocore.  Provided you have the firmwrare, it does allow a user to use
an unmodified Debian arm64 image to install everything else.

4. Other platforms may have more/less support: this is not for want of effort
and a unified approach would be really very helpful. [This might need a
more standard approach to boot methods/co-operation from manufacturers 
 and is not something to be solved immediately]. Support for Pine / other
Allwinner platforms / other boards may sometimes be difficult for reasons
outside Debian's control.

4. There's scope for all approaches: more help is always appreciated. At 
times, it felt like contributors to this discussion were talking past each
other inadvertently whereas they've mostly been in violent agreement. 

5. There is always scope for better communication and, certainly, better understanding
of where we are, how we came to reach this point and for everything to be
better documented.

LinAdmin: The "decision makers" from Derbian aren't unnamed: they're 
primarily the developers and others who've chipped in on this discussion.
Opinions vary, as you've read, but your help would be appreciated. If you're
not in a position to help, please relay the accurate information from 
this list. Your cooperation in this would be greatly appreciated.

With every good wish to all, as ever,

Andy Cater

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