So a month ago I received a pre-release version of the Developerbox from Linaro HQ. Since that time I have been dogfooding to see how it is to work from a completely ARM based stack!

So first off the box by default will install the 17.12 release of the Enterprise Reference Platform from LEG (its even an award winning distro thanks ARM Techcon). For the geekier out there its based on debian stretch with a newer kernel (with needed ARM server patches that had not made it upstream yet) and a few updated packages.

The Firmware is UEFI based and currently passes a DT to the kernel, the plan for production boxes is for them to be fully ACPI capable. UEFI means the installing is just like how it happens on UEFI PC’s no surprise there.

Given the box has an nvidia card and nouveau does basic 3D accelleration I decided to give the box a bit of a workout by using the Cinnamon desktop. 4K was a bit of a stretch for the machine (but then the GF710 was never really designed for that), but at 2K res the desktop runs at a perfectly fine speed for everyday use. And in fact I was using every day as my work machine.

Chromium runs at an acceptable speed although a little slow on some tabs as the single core speed on the CPU in developbox is not great. But we are not intel we are supposed to be all about the parallel, thats why there are 24 CPU cores in the machine.

Kernel builds on the other hand are much fun, I have been building with -j28 and build positively fly compared to my other work machine (Dell XPS13). So it shows when you can take advantage of parrallel tasks it starts to show.

For debian kernel Image only

[linaro@xora-synquacer acpi (sinquacker-4.16)]$ time make -j28 Image
real	5m47.420s
user	111m15.325s
sys	9m35.070s

For the modules

[linaro@xora-synquacer acpi (sinquacker-4.16)]$ time make -j28 modules
real	25m20.982s
user	538m18.905s
sys	44m20.923s

Everyone loves a screenshot or two right?

Some htop action during kernel compile.

htop screenshot

Desktop running browser

htop screenshot

And playing the difficult to render track in supertuxkart.

htop screenshot

Sharp eyed readers will have noticed that I have upgraded the RAM to 8G, I have also added an SSD for storage. Next would be a picopsu supporting case to make the system dead silent.

So this machine is not perfect but it shows the world what could be done to make ARM Workstations a reality for Developers. I would hope it would also follow on that ARM laptops with standard firmware become a reality too.