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ARM is a 'hodge podge', says Linus Torvalds

Lack of standardisation
Thu Aug 18 2011, 16:53

THE SMARTPHONE AND TABLET ecosystem based on ARM chip designs is a hodge-podge of companies making random pieces of hardware and throwing things against the wall to see what ships, Linux creator Linus Torvalds said at Linuxcon yesterday.

However, Linux has managed make ARM compatible with it, Torvalds said, adding that things are looking "at this point pretty good. Not as bad as when I started to scream at people".

"On the kernel side, we try to support a lot of the ARM architecture," he said. "We don't quite know what the solution is yet, it's being worked on."

A lack of standardisation among ARM devices has made it difficult to ensure that Linux can properly support ARM hardware. ARM, meanwhile, would do well to imitate the PC, Torvalds said.

"I think ARM is a very promising platform," he said. "At the same time, the ARM community has never had the notion of a standard platform. ARM never had the PC."

Even though people "love to hate" the PC architecture which is "clunky" and "nasty", Torvalds said it is a nice platform with a lot of effort concentrated in one area that is easy to support.

"No concentrated effort to have a framework for things... since we try to support a lot of the ARM architecture, it's been a painful thing for me to see, look at the x86 tree and ARM tree and it's many times bigger. It's not constrained by this nice platform thing, it just has random crap all over it. And it was getting to me."

In the end he said, "I just snapped, and instead of running around naked with a chainsaw like I usually do, I started talking to people and a lot of people admitted it's a problem."

While Torvalds accepted that "a lot of people love to hate the PC," the fact that Intel, AMD and hardware makers worked on building a common infrastructure "made it very efficient and easy to support". µ

 

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