Ubuntu Unity 2D

Posted: February 16, 2011 in ubuntu
Tags: , ,

Some random musing about Ubuntu ARM Netbook Edition.

Last month Canonical held its Ubuntu Platform Team rally in Dallas TX. During this rally the Unity 2D launcher was added to the public archive for use with the Ubuntu ARM Netbook edition.  We had hoped it would be fairly simply to replace the existing EFL (Enlightenment Foundations Library) launcher with the QT based Unity launcher.

What a surprise, it was not as easy as we hoped, what happened was we discovered a nasty crash bug that only effected the ARM QT builds.  It took quite a lot of time to isolate the issue.  It finally turned out to be a compiler bug that only raised it’s nasty head in specific C++ code!  Once we were able to show the error, we handed it over to the Linaro tool/compiler team and they were able to fix it in less then 2 weeks! Yea.

We now have an ARM image for OMAP that uses the Unity 2D interface as default. It’s fast, clean and works pretty well.  Why 2D? Well most ARM SoC’s don’t have open source 3D drivers, though most do have 3D capabilities, so the default image will use the 2D Unity interface.  Later once Compiz and the NUKs libraries are  ported to Open GL ES then we can worry about getting the 3D Unity working on ARM too.   Since Linaro is working on this now, I don’t expect this will take too long to happen.  From the looks of the Linaro schedules it looks likely that Compiz and NUK’s will understand Open GL ES right after Ubuntu 11.04 is released.

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Comments
  1. Anders Runeson says:

    Thanks for your post.
    I have a question regarding Linaro / Compiz / Open GL ES on ARM. Will this work on e.g. Beagleboards which have the OMAP 3530 (with DSP)?

    • dmtechtalk says:

      In theory it might, but that said there are several issues that suggest that it won’t work well if at all:
      1) Standard Beagle Board is 256 Meg RAM a bit small for Ubuntu, the Beagle XM might have more luck it’s 512Meg of RAM, but see item 2 below as it still might not work.
      2) The 3D driver for OMAP 3 is not as robust as the driver for the OMAP 4 so there are likely going to be issues there.

      The driver will be tested on the OMAP 4 Panda board and should work pretty well there, and by the time Linaro ships in May the Panda board should be in good supply and its at a pretty good price point.

      Hope that helps.

      • Anders Runeson says:

        Ah, thanks.
        I’ve ordered a Panda board a couple of weeks ago, it’s more suitable anyway with built-in ethernet etc.
        So once Compiz&Co is ported it should work on a Panda out of the box?

      • dmtechtalk says:

        Once the Linaro team finishes porting Compiz and NUK to Open GL ES, the Ubuntu ARM will test it and make sure Unity 3D works on ARM. This might be an iterative process with Linaro folks depending on what we find, but once that is done you will need to add the TI PPA to your apt sources list, install and it should work very well.

  2. Sebastian says:

    One question arises.
    Will there ever be a good Arm Netbook to run this on.
    Could not find one on the net after an hour of searching.

    • dmtechtalk says:

      I think so, right now I have a Toshiba AC100 which is really really nice. It was shipped with Android but the community has since created an Ubuntu image that works pretty well with it. As more and more ARMv7 Cortex A8, A9 and A15 SoC’s (System on Chip) hit the market you will see OEM/ODM’s creating great netbooks I think. Personally I think we will also have notebooks that run ARM SoC’s/CPUs. After all I really want a laptop that runs for days without worrying about a battery charge.

    • Uli says:

      the Asus Transformer looks pretty awesome: http://www.engadget.com/tag/ASUS+Transformer/

    • Rune K. Svendsen says:

      There is also the Efika MX Smartbook by Genesi. A new one is supposed to come out in July/August based on the Freescale i.MX53 chip (1-1.2 GHz Cortex A8). The good thing about Genesi is that they ship with Ubuntu as the default OS, and so you get full Ubuntu support unlike with the Toshiba device. The Toshiba, however, has 2x1GHz A9s. If I had to sum up the pros and cons of each device, I’d say this:

      New (i.MX53) Genesi Smartbook:
      Pros:
      -H.264 High Profile 1080p decode (HD YouTube/Blu-ray videos will play)
      -Commercial Linux support
      Cons:
      -Cortex A8 (no A9)

      Toshiba AC100:
      Pros:
      -2x1GHz Cortex A9
      Cons
      -No commercial Linux support
      -Only H.264 Main Profile 1080p decode supported (HD YouTube/Blu-ray videos will *NOT* play)

  3. Alessandro Moraes dos Santos says:

    This version of Ubuntu was wiped out the worst 11:04 created shortcut Alt + F1, for the disabled and new users in ubuntu.

    If indeed they were destroyed and sprayed the Alt + F1 this is a great technological leap and not being archaic and outdated as before as the Alt + F1, and adopted instead of the Win Key or Key Ubu

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