Ubuntu on RISC-V boards

In the past decade, open-source software and open standards have reshaped the world of technology and produced long-lasting results. The time is now ripe for Open Hardware to Meet Open Software.

RISC-V is a new paradigm for Open Source hardware, developing a free and open Instruction Set Architecture (ISA). The ISA holds the promise of increasingly rapid processor innovation through open standard collaboration.

Thanks to its availability on a wide range of processors, from low-end microcontrollers to high-end server-grade processors, RISC-V is poised to empower a new era of processor innovation with rapid industry-wide adoption. Combining the best open-source architecture with the best open-source operating system, porting Ubuntu on RISC-V further facilitates the adoption of novel computing architectures.

As part of a vibrant ecosystem driving innovation at the edge, Canonical and its IoT technology partners work together to promote the deployment of high-performance devices. Within a few days, Canonical announced it enabled Ubuntu on Allwinner’s Nezha RISC-V and StarFive’s VisionFive board.

As Ubuntu and open-source software are already accelerating the adoption of IoT innovations, support for the RISC-V ISA reflects Canonical’s commitment to continued investments in open standards and collaboration.

Read more about the latest announcements here and tell us what you think!

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The one thing is, there needs to be a standard. Standard form factors, standard architectures etc. so you can publish a RISC-V image, and it works. It needs to be a platform, not just a compatible CPU.

@maximilian32 I think you are right. Common standards and interfaces would benefit the RISC-V ecosystem. However, one may argue that even though there are no such things for ARM and despite the variety of bootloader mechanisms and ways to describe hardware in the ARM world, it’s remarkably successful. (Thanks to the SystemReady initiative, the situation is slowly changing to be more standardized). There are many non-standard form factor x86 embedded boards too.

ARM isn’t successful on the desktop, and only successful among handsets where the OS is considered part of the hardware. We can’t afford 3 year smart phones forever.

Linus released kernel version 5.19 using an Arm-powered laptop :slight_smile:

To your previous point on standardization, there is a balancing act. Too much standardization in the RISC-V ecosystem and partners will find it hard to develop new purpose-built solutions that work for them (high SW maintenance cost). In case of too little standardization, RISC-V will risk having low-value variability injecting costs into the ecosystem for no real benefit (low flexibility).

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For the record the RISC-V foundation already has a working group developing platform standards. Currently they have OS-A Server for servers, OS-A Embedded for small boards and the M platform for Zephyr/Linux NOMMU size systems.