[solved] GPIO on UP^2 with more recent kernels/ubuntu is a non-starter

wezwez New Member Posts: 4
edited March 2019 in UP Squared Linux

This isn't communicated clearly enough in the documentation and it takes reading through a lot of posts and kernel patches to get to the bottom of things. If I'd seen a post like this I would have saved time and money, so I'm making this post to give others considering this purchase more information so that they can make a better-informed choice than I did.

The documentation is clear about what is officially supported by the vendor, but the forum posts give the impression that you can install patched kernels and get things working. That is obviously not supported by the vendor, but it is also misleading: for the UP^2 there is literally no code in those patches and thus literally no support.

I purchased the up squared with the impression that the kernel was actively supported and developed in the open, and that the various devices in the shop are actively supported. That appears to be true with a cursory glance, but having now spent a good chunk of time over the past few days trying to get a system bootstrapped, I'm regretting my purchase.

The current state of the world based on what I've been able to extract from these forums and the available source code is:

  • The officially supported kernel code has had no changes since August 2017 and is based on kernel 4.9
  • There are some patches floating around for Arch linux that compile against a newer kernel, but they only work with the "UP" board, not the "UP^2" board
  • There's talk in these forums of work being done to upstream the required changes to the linux kernel, but there's no activity in the github repo and no links to that work
  • Similarly, there's talk of releasing a kernel for more recent Ubuntu, but that is blocked on the above. It has been many months since those posts were made in the forums with no visible progress.
  • Since the hardware is not open, there is no documentation available for the community to be able to add support for themselves

My advice to future buyers is: if you're not going to be content sticking with a somewhat stale and opaque flavor of linux, think carefully about buying in to the "UP" ecosystem.

I know this post has a critical tone, so I also want to clarify that I love the idea of this project, and I think the selection of add-ons in the shop are great (a low power SBC + UPS was just the hardware platform I was looking for!). What I feel is lacking at the moment is transparency around what is happening to keep that ecosystem up to date.

--Wez.

Comments

  • ccaldeccalde New Member Posts: 348 admin

    Hi @wez ,

    Thanks for your opinion and interesting on the UP platforms.

    I think the info about kernels and software updates are clear enough in the Wiki to be sure what kernel is supported:
    https://wiki.up-community.org/Ubuntu

    And yes, you could build your own kernel using the sources to add the patches you need:
    https://wiki.up-community.org/Compile_ubilinux_kernel_from_source

    About new kernel updates, you are right the next kernel is coming but it was blocked during some time due to some issues. It will come early.

    Thanks for the comment, it could help to other UP users...

  • DCleriDCleri Administrator, AAEON Posts: 1,083 admin
    edited November 2018

    @wez said:
    This isn't communicated clearly enough in the documentation and it takes reading through a lot of posts and kernel patches to get to the bottom of things. If I'd seen a post like this I would have saved time and money, so I'm making this post to give others considering this purchase more information so that they can make a better-informed choice than I did.

    The documentation is clear about what is officially supported by the vendor, but the forum posts give the impression that you can install patched kernels and get things working. That is obviously not supported by the vendor, but it is also misleading: for the UP^2 there is literally no code in those patches and thus literally no support.

    I purchased the up squared with the impression that the kernel was actively supported and developed in the open, and that the various devices in the shop are actively supported. That appears to be true with a cursory glance, but having now spent a good chunk of time over the past few days trying to get a system bootstrapped, I'm regretting my purchase.

    Hello wez ,

    Thanks for your feedback on the UP platforms.

    I think that you might have missed the information available from the UP wiki (links available on the main menu, just beside the Forum), this is the specific section about the Software:
    https://wiki.up-community.org/Software

    @wez said:
    The current state of the world based on what I've been able to extract from these forums and the available source code is:

    • The officially supported kernel code has had no changes since August 2017 and is based on kernel 4.9
    • There are some patches floating around for Arch linux that compile against a newer kernel, but they only work with the "UP" board, not the "UP^2" board

    The official Kernel supported are:
    Debian 9 with Kernel 4.9 LTS
    Yocto 2.3 with Kernel 4.9 LTS
    Ubuntu 16.04 with Kernel 4.10

    Newer kernels revision of 4.9 and 4.10 have been released over time with bug fixes and security improvements

    @wez said:

    • There's talk in these forums of work being done to upstream the required changes to the linux kernel, but there's no activity in the github repo and no links to that work

    The upstream works is proceeding the usual way via mailing lists, you can easily find all the references from lwn: https://lwn.net/Articles/769017/

    @wez said:

    • Similarly, there's talk of releasing a kernel for more recent Ubuntu, but that is blocked on the above. It has been many months since those posts were made in the forums with no visible progress.

    As mentioned by ccalde, Ubuntu will soon receive an update with a new supported Kernel, 4.15.

    I can add that Q1 next year we plan to add support for Yocto 2.5 and Kernel 4.14 LTS

    @wez said:

    • Since the hardware is not open, there is no documentation available for the community to be able to add support for themselves

    Like most SBC, including Raspberry Pi, the hardware is not open but you can find all the hardware documentation in our download section (including interfaces list, mechanical drawing etc.): https://downloads.up-community.org/

    @wez said:
    My advice to future buyers is: if you're not going to be content sticking with a somewhat stale and opaque flavor of linux, think carefully about buying in to the "UP" ecosystem.

    I know this post has a critical tone, so I also want to clarify that I love the idea of this project, and I think the selection of add-ons in the shop are great (a low power SBC + UPS was just the hardware platform I was looking for!). What I feel is lacking at the moment is transparency around what is happening to keep that ecosystem up to date.

    --Wez.

    The critics are very important and if information and documentation are not easy to find, we will look into improving it and provide a better support for our platform.

    Thanks!

  • joemjoem New Member Posts: 4

    Just as an FYI the Ubuntu 16.04 Xenial release is an LTS release with standard support for 5 years (April 2021) and you could get Extended Security Maintenance after that for 3 more years until 2024.

    By installing unattended upgrades security packages are kept up to date.

    Although I'd love to run 18.04 Bionic on it as well.

    Cheers,
    -Joe

  • ccaldeccalde New Member Posts: 348 admin

    Hi @joem ,

    Ubuntu 18.04 Bionic version is already supported and available in our Wiki:
    https://wiki.up-community.org/Ubuntu#Ubuntu_18.04_installation_and_configuration

    Cheers!

  • joemjoem New Member Posts: 4

    Hey @ccalde - That is awesome!

    With 18.04 you'll have support until 2023 and then ESM until 2028. No reason not to build an IoT device on that!

    Cheers,
    -Joe

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