SMP-enabled kernel for OLPC XO-4

I had known even before I received the laptop over a year ago that the Marvell Armada PXA2128 Soc used in XO-4 featured a dual-core CPU, but for some reason the kernel didn't support that.

I recently got tipped by forum member mavrothal, my partner in development of FatdogArm for the OLPC, that the OLPC kernel for XO-4 finally got dual-core capability, who had built the latest git master from the kernel and got SMP kernel working.

I didn't have the time back then, but yesterday I finally got the chance to play with it. I built the kernel myself too, and I needed to update the OFW firmware to at least q7c04 for the dual-core kernel to run, but everything is smooth - new kernel booted and worked flawlessly with both cores enabled. All the existing functionalities continue to work, but the rc.platform will require a little patch because the ID code that I used to identify XO-4 has changed.

I will upload the new kernel, with update instructions (mainly pointing back to OLPC on how to update the firmware etc), and a new FatdogArm sfs with the required rc.platform change.

It has been a long time since the last FatdogArm beta2 release, so I may as well update some of the other packages too and call it beta3. Watch this space for further announcement.

After updating the OLPC firmware, the old original Fedora/Sugar in XO-4 will stop running. The fix is to download a newer build of the OS and install it to the laptop.

I need to say that I continue to be impressed and amazed of how OLPC implements these processes (both updating firmware and updating the internal OS). They are simple, easy, foolproof and very informative.

This is a far cry from similar processes of other commercial offerings. Especially since I had to deal with UEFI recently - if only UEFI implements half of what OLPC does with its Open Firmware, it would have been immensely more useful. Something's got to be better than BIOS, but UEFI isn't the one - OpenFirmware certainly is.

I applaud the engineering that went into the design and implementation of these features. There must have been a lot of thinking, and a lot of effort to examine of how the processes on standard PC broke down or failed in one way or another - and they made it really better.

This is of course on top of other excellent features of OLPC laptop - and I don't even mean the advertised educational benefits - but things like physical robustness, ease of maintenance, quality selection and durability of its components. Sure, this does not make it the lowest cost laptop (or even a lower cost tablet), but quality has its price and an investment of an OLPC laptop will far out-weight its cost and last far longer than any other laptops (or tablets) designed for similar purposes.

Personal note - I still think that a laptop is a far more useful for education than a tablet, regardless of the recent fad. If you are a decision maker and considering to get some sort of tablets or OLPC laptops, I'd highly recommend you go with OLPC XO-4. As a bonus, an XO-4 with touch screen (XO-4 touch) can function as a tablet too - just flip its screen. That is how versatile it is.

Disclaimer: I am saying all the above not because I am affiliated with OLPC (the only indirect relationship I have with OLPC is that I am doing a non-commercial community project for the OLPC XOs - that is, FatdogArm). I really like the OLPC laptop, I really like OLPC mission, and I really wish and hopeful that OLPC as an organisation will succeed and continue to focus on these quality offerings.

Posted on 28 Mar 2015, 19:30 - Categories: FatdogArm Linux Arm
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Posted on 29 Mar 2015, 3:48 by puppyite
"How to contact you?"
I would like to contact you. My email is puppyite@hidden
Thanks, hope to hear from you soon.

Posted on 31 Mar 2015, 23:46 by jamesbond
"RE: How to contact you"
Hi puppyite thanks for the message, I will contact you soon. I removed portions of your email address to avoid spam.

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