ARM progress!

Blog post by ithamar on Fri, 2012-11-09 19:04

The ARM is moving

After porting the basic VM code from X86 to our ARM port, it has been pretty much 2 years since I worked on it. Last weekend, BeGeistert 026, gave me a chance to work on it again, for a couple of days (nights?) in a row, and I tried to make the most of it.

Besides working on Haiku/ARM it was great to meet up with many of the people I already knew but had not seen for a long time, as well as finally meet the new people behind the names and posts I had followed over recent times.

Anyway, with much help from the people around me I was able to bring Haiku/ARM to the point where it now boots, lights up a couple of icons, and then fails to boot as the boot disk is not found. This means that scheduling, interrupts, and basic vm operations all work!

However, in the process of getting it that far in fairly limited time I had to make a couple of shortcuts that really need to be cleaned up before trying to bring up userland, and see Tracker/Deskbar appear ;)

Hardware Variation

One of the obvious ones is the problem that currently, the kernel will only run so far on the Verdex (Gumstick) target. This is due to the fact that things like timers and interrupts are handled differently between different System-On-Chips. This means that even at this very low level, we'll need to introduce some type of abstraction to be able to run on more then just the Verdex/PXA270 SoC.

As people reading the commit list might have noticed, Francois has commited basic code to support Flattened Device Tree (FDT). This is a way of describing full hardware layout, in a standardized format. This format has been used by OpenFirmware implementations, like the PowerPC machines from Apple, the DEC Alpha machines, and many more.

FDT is becoming mandatory for Linux support on ARM as well, which means there are more and more of these board description files available for hardware we want to run on. The intent therefore is to implement FDT support, making it (theoratically) possible to support newer hardware with only a new FDT file, but also being able to build a single kernel that can run on any ARM device, assuming the necessary drivers are available ofcourse.

If I can find the time, I'll write up a post about FDT, if Francois does not beat me to it ;) In docs/develop/ports/arm/urls.txt Francois was so kind to store an extensive list of URLs about FDT, so feel free to browse if you are interested in helping out.

Where's that page?

Another thing that needs work is the ARM VM implementation. Currently, all it really does, is the page table bookkeeping, but permissions are not handled, memory/caching types are not handled, not to mention that ARMv6 and ARMv7 support will need more work as well. My idea is to finish the VM for ARMv5 first, and then implement v6 and v7 support in a proper OO manner, by making subclasses of the base ARM VM classes.

ARMv5 has no builtin support of tracking page status bits that our VM expects (dirty/accessed), so we'll have to work around that. However, ARMv7 (and some ARMv6) do have that, so there's a fair amount of work to do.

Drivers and Busses

No I'm not talking of public transport here :P For a properly usable embedded ARM target, there's a lot of things besides the kernel proper that will need implementing. There's SPI and I2C controllers to support, there's storage like raw NAND, or MMC/SD to support, many things that aren't support as of yet in Haiku for other architectures.

Some of these will present new features for our non-ARM targets too (SD/MMC support will make Laptop users happy, I imagine), but quite few will not but will be critical to get a seriously usable system on ARM devices...

Where to go from here?

As the current target is a QEMU supported platform, anyone who wants to can join in and help out. I invite anyone interested in helping out with Haiku/ARM to follow the guide for compiling for ARM and start poking at the code. I tend to have very little time in general, payed work taking up the most of my time, so don't just wait for me to complete the port!

However, feel free to contact me with questions/flames/anything if you want, as I'll try and help out as much as I can, there's nothing I want more then for this port to reach completion!


Re: ARM progress!

Just here to say, to you, and to the rest of the Haiku's Team: Thanks a lot for your work! It is really appreciated!

Re: ARM progress!

Great to hear of progress on ARM, apart from my personal interest of running Haiku on Raspberry Pi, I also think it's on ARM that Haiku might find some commercial potential which might lead to some developers being able to work on Haiku fulltime (here's hoping!).

Re: ARM progress!

Dreams come true :-)

Re: ARM progress!

Hey Ithamar,

nice work, great you could extend your coding sprint a few days (and nights)!

You wrote:

ARMv5 has no builtin support of tracking page status bits that our VM expects
(dirty/accessed), so we'll have to work around that. However, ARMv7 (and some ARMv6)
do have that, so there's a fair amount of work to do.

Considering that it'll take many months (probably years) to get the ARM port ready for users, wouldn't it save work to drop implementing functionality that's missing in ARM5/6 and concentrate on current ARM hardware? After all, by the time Haiku on ARM is ready, there'll probably be ARM12+...


Re: ARM progress!

Indeed ARMv5 probably isn't all that worth while for instance the Nokia n800 is armv6 n770 is arm v5... n800 is probably about as slow as you would want to run haiku on. And even then you would seriously miss DSP support for what the device is acutally good at, playing media.

Then again you could have your own reasons which is cool :D.... I'd like to run it on my SparcStations lol.

Re: ARM progress!

Well, skipping ARMv6 would mean leaving the rPI in the dust... ARMv5 might sound very outdated but there is a lot of interesting hardware out there (Take a look at the Rockchip RK28xx SoCs) that we would be able to run on...

To be honest ARMv5 was mostly because QEMU had a decent target for that, ARMv6 was only supported relatively recently, and debugging is *so* much better using an emulated target...

Also, my expectation is that Haiku would run *very* nicely on some of the older SoCs, that have been abandoned by Android because their requirements are much higher.

In the end, if ARMv5 would block progress I'm planning to abandon it anyway.

Ofcourse, anyone is more then welcome to step in and focus on ARMv7+ if they want! :)


Re: ARM progress!

Well that makes sense. Those RK20xx chips though look to sometimes support a decent amount of ram but rarely ship with much meaning most of those devices would swap like crazy to nand :/

Do you think ram usuage could be reduced to fit better into these devices? (my transmeta laptop would also benefit lol currently it can barely load web+ with about 230Mb ram similar to a ARM sharing ram with its GPU except its used for dynamic translation cache)

Re: ARM progress!

If you want to target a specific board, we would be happy to donate a few Rasberry Pi devices to the effort. If there are other financial obstacles, please post what might be needed.

Re: ARM progress!

Best news since years !
I am dreaming to use a RPi with haiku.
Congrats =)