Linux, prepare for aarch64!

Linux, prepare for aarch64!

Introduction: x86 vs ARM

Short StackOverflow introduction into x86 and ARM differences.

Long AndroidAuthority article about x86 and ARM comparison.

GNOME and aarch64

A bit visionary when GTK 3 was released, team behind it made it well usable by touch – back then not praised effort. These days tho, after Purism started working on their phone Librem 5, which was based on Phosh compositor backed by GNOME applications, mostly using libhandy library, which allowed application to be adaptive to phone or tablet screen, this effort finally brought fruits.

Core GNOME applications always felt like ready to be used on aarch64, but now we talking about 3rd party apps. Application which aren't distributed as a part of the system.

Since yesterday, GNOME has new aarch64 builders for Flatpak and other purposes.

So why you could be excited about it?

Because future is now

Many years, we been using phones with aarch64. Majority of Android phones are build on ARM. But Android isn't Linux.

Since projects as postmarketOS brought Linux on older Android phones, but also because there are native Linux phones as PinePhone and Librem 5.

What about desktop?

Since Apple brought their M1, there are coming other powerful notebooks, ultrabooks and tablet to the market based on aarch64. Lenovo on Qualcomm Snapdragon chipset, who would know?

We already have Asahi Linux on M1, we have Linux on PINE64 PineBooks and we'll have Linux on most of new aarch64 laptops.

Is aarch64 better than x86_64?

Yes and no. From my perspective I see it advantages, because it doesn't bare the legacy of Intel i386. On other hand, it's not a magical solution for all our problems. Neither is RISC-V.

And what about RISC-V?

One serious advantage of RISC-V is fact, it's open and patent-free. On other hand, currently there are no competing implementation with aarch64 or x86_64. When there is at least remotely competing SoC, it's proprietary (since RISC-V is only ISA, not an SoC implementation)

Should I test my software against aarch64 or RISC-V?

For aarch64 it would make sense do it today. There are users and their number will be increasing over time. We have many Linux phones, which can do calls, SMS and data. PINE64 and other companies making tablets and computers based on aarch64 and you want to be ready. For RISC-V it's long run, but if you're excited about it, you can test it in QEMU or order HiFive Unmatched from SiFive (as a development board or a toy).