We continue to participate in the promising RISC-V ecosystem. Already in 2021, Ben Dooks fixed a challenging kernel bug, Robin Heywood prototyped an Arduino Mini clone, and we completed the initial bootstrap of Freedesktop SDK to the RISC-V architecture.

Since our last post, James Thomas and Valentin David worked on stabilizing the remaining parts of Freedesktop SDK. We are delighted that the new 21.08 release of Freedesktop SDK comes with RISC-V support out of the box, as this opens up the whole Flatpak app ecosystem on RISC-V platforms. All this was first demo’d in a talk at Linux App Summit 2021.

GNOME’s testing-only OS was our next goal and we recently demo-ed this running on RISC-V, first on virtual hardware and then on a SiFive Unmatched board. This lets us validate the whole GNOME desktop software stack on RISC-V, which is exciting for everyone – many of the same software components are also used in the commercial Linux space.

So how close are we to a full desktop experience? Will desktop Linux be ready when the first RISC-V laptops arrive? Read on for more about what we’ve done and what challenges remain.

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