Slackware Aarch64: What now?

I’ve been quite busy since Slackware Aarch64 was released for public consumption. As some of you may know, the Raspberry Pi has been difficult to find the “sweet spot” with video and audio. I sorted that out in a previous kernel (with collaboration from Stuart Winter) and now it is broken again in kernel 5.18.19. I recommend downgrading to kernel 5.18.17 for better stability. That is the nature of running a development branch of any Linux distribution. A bug report on the Raspberry Pi GitHub account stated that kernel 5.20.x will have better support for the video core driver that should finally provide a stable graphics stack on the Raspberry Pi 4. I am still waiting for that stability and it is more realistic to expect it to be implemented in Linux 6.0.

I took the time to upgrade some of my hardware in order to respond to the bug reports and to implement new features I like to have available. I upgraded my ZaReason Strata 7440 to a Honeycomb LX2 (lx2160acex7 chip set). The Honeycomb is built with the ARM64/Aarch64 architecture. The ZaReason is my very old laptop that uses the x86 architecture. This resulted in a large performance increase, having the ability to build software and kernels much more quickly.

The Honeycomb LX2 is manufactured by Solid Run. It is a great company, with excellent technical support and decent documentation. I chose to purchase the Workstation configuration with 32GB of RAM. It can be upgraded to 64GB of RAM in the future. I have not ran into a situation where I am short on system memory. I went with all Kingston SSD’s for storage and one Kingston NVME disk for the Root partition.

I added preliminary support for the Honeycomb in early June, and finished it off only a few days ago. It boots from a USB thumb drive with the SD Card slot occupied by the Solid Run vendor UEFI firmware. Rather than sticking with U-boot as the boot loader I moved to Grub. Since the Honeycomb is listed as “ARM Systems Ready,” I was able to boot it fairly quickly with other Linux distributions. At this point, I have a reasonable confidence that it is ready for consumption into Slackware-current. This will happen in the near future, pending other life responsibilities do not interfere. As always, the final word goes to Stuart Winter, the Slackware ARM Architect.

Keep an eye on the Slackware Aarch64 change logSlackware Aarch64 change log!

P.S. I almost forgot to mention this Slackware documentation I wrote: Zram in Slackware ARM and ARM64 .Architectures. This documentation outlines how to implement ZRAM to leverage better system performance on the Raspberry Pi 3/4, the RockPro64, and the PinebookPro.

Author: Brenton Earl
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