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Re: [Testing] GRUB and OLPC

From: Mitch Bradley
Subject: Re: [Testing] GRUB and OLPC
Date: Sun, 07 Apr 2013 14:18:51 -1000
User-agent: Mozilla/5.0 (Windows NT 6.1; WOW64; rv:17.0) Gecko/20130307 Thunderbird/17.0.4

OLPC stopped making x86 machines some time ago.  XO-1 machines have
reached or exceeded their design lifetime.  I expect that, if there are
any active users of GRUB on OLPC machines, upgrading to new versions of
GRUB-booted OSs is becoming less and less attractive due to resource
constraints and hardware aging.

OLPC was targeted toward a very specific audience, and the overwhelming
number of active users is within that target audience.  In the early
days there was a lot of interest from developers of other OSs, but as
far as I can tell, that waned years ago as other platforms started to
capture peoples interest.

That being the case, I don't see any compelling reason to continue
maintaining the support.  Existing users could continue to use their
working builds.  It is hard to imagine that there are many (if any)
people who have a real need to install a fresh new version.

I would say that it is time to move on.

On 4/7/2013 12:45 PM, Vladimir 'φ-coder/phcoder' Serbinenko wrote:
> Hello, all. GRUB has supported OLPC for quite some time but I don't know
> if there are any remaining users. Given how small the intersection
> between geeks and XO-1 owners nowadays is, continuing support is
> problematic. Among other things it's likely to degrade over time unless
> at least minimum maintainance is done. AFAIK none of the active GRUB
> maintainers even possesses one. The current regular testing is limited
> to checking whether it builds. The underlying OLPC ieee1275 firmware
> implementation OFW supposedly supports also qemu and coreboot. While
> it's still somewhat functional in qemu, it lacks important drivers for
> modern system when booted with coreboot, most notably AHCI. Some basic
> automated testing can be performed with OFW on qemu. They currently
> aren't, another gap needed to fill.
> Half of the drivers for OLPC aren't included in this OFW-qemu, each of
> them with specific interface. As a matter of fact we have some
> workarounds enabled for real OLPC which are not needed in qemu but
> without them GRUB would hang on real machine. I don't know if they still
> work. So tests on qemu are better than nothing but give very small
> guarantee. Also OLPC is at intersection of generic i386
> XT-almost-compatible and OFW. Whether ieee1275 or i386 functions work
> better can be inferred from testing on real hardware but failing that
> none is used and corresponding functionality is just disabled. Because
> of all these reasons i386-ieee1275 lags behind and missing features
> often require special case-checking in other parts. E.g. write-back to
> nand is probably trivial to implement but can't be so without testing.
> Supporting jffs2 on nand without testing isn't realistic either.
> Because of all these reasons it may be time to either find solutions to
> at least some of problems (mainly lack of testing) or to retire the port
> altogether.
> P.S: attitude of OFW devs of rejecting even an idea of GRUB for OLPC
> like I've just experienced on IRC isn't helpful.
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