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RISC-V Linux Development in Full Swing

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Linux
Hardware

Most Linux users have heard about the open source RISC-V ISA and its potential to challenge proprietary Arm and Intel architectures. Most are probably aware that some RISC-V based CPUs, such as SiFive’s 64-bit Freedom U540 found on its HiFive Unleashed board, are designed to run Linux. What may come as a surprise, however, is how quickly Linux support for RISC-V is evolving.

“This is a good time to port Linux applications to RISC-V,” said Comcast’s Khem Raj at an Embedded Linux Conference Europe presentation last month. “You’ve got everything you need. Most of the software is upstream so you don’t need forks,” he said.

By adopting an upstream first policy, the RISC-V Foundation is accelerating Linux-on-RISC-V development both now and in the future. Early upstreaming helps avoid forked code that needs to be sorted out later. Raj offered specifics on different levels of RISC-V support from the Linux kernel to major Linux distributions, as well as related software from Glibc to U-Boot (see farther below).

The road to RISC-V Linux has also been further accelerated thanks to the enthusiasm of the Linux open source community. Penguinistas see the open source computing architecture as a continuation of the mission of Linux and other open source projects. Since IoT is an early RISC-V target, the interest is particularly keen in the open source Linux SBC community. The open hardware movement recently expanded to desktop PCs with System76’s Ubuntu-driven Thelio system.

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