Oracle Linux, virtualization , Enterprise and Cloud Management Cloud technology musings

  • June 24, 2018

Oracle Linux 7 for Arm is now Generally Available

We released Oracle Linux 7 for Arm a few days ago. General Availability. We have been making previews available for a few months now but the time has come to put support behind it and make clear to customers and partners that this is a real product, not just a preview.

A few specific things:

- This is a 64-bit version only. We do not intend to support ILP 32. Our focus is on making sure we can provide a high quality server product to run now and in the future, serious applications and I think it's fair to say that ILP32 would just be more work with little added value to reach that goal. So OL7 is a very clean 64-bit only distribution.

- Oracle Linux 7 update 5 is the base level of OL7 for Arm. We have done a lot of work to ensure that it's very close to x86(x64). Our Arm packages are built off of the same source RPMs as the x86 version and that allows us to have as little, if any deviation between the 2 architectures. We want it to be as seamless as possible to go from one architecture to the other. We will make the same errata available across the architectures and where it makes sense, have the same repo names and structure.

- Our Arm port uses UEK5 only. The other distribution kernels are still a bit in flux on Arm because their x86 kernel is a bit older and Arm is still undergoing a decent amount of churn. For us, with the UEK model, it was a lot easier to align the 2 architectures and it worked out perfectly fine timing wise. UEK5 is 4.14.x mainline Linux based. So we have the same kernel, same source-base on x86 as well as arm. That means dtrace is there, ksplice support is there, etc...  Errata for one architecture, when relevant on the other will be released at same time. Again - streamline it as much as possible so that our customers and partners that have both x86 and arm architectures won't really notice any difference at all. 

Also, UEK5 on x86 is built with the default gcc version that comes with OL7 (gcc 4.8). However on Arm we decided to build with gcc7.3. and... UEK5 ARM is built with 64k page size.

- As with x86, Oracle Linux for Arm is freely downloadable. We have installable ISO images. Errata will also be freely available. It can be used in test, dev or production, we have no restrictions on that. If you want support, you get a support subscription, just like on x86, otherwise you can use it as much as you want. No auth keys, no private repos. Just simple public https://yum.oracle.com for errata. Of course the source code as well.

- Since a lot of enhancements have gone into the toolchain (compiler, glibc, ...) we decided to provide a gcc7.3 environment with OL7/Arm. The Software Collection 3.0 repo on ARM contains the 'Oracle Arm toolset'. Which is basically gcc 7.3 and related items. The toolchain team is doing a lot of work with Arm optimizations. (as is the kernel team for that matter).

- Hardware partners : Right now we have validated and work closely with our partners Ampere Computing and Cavium. The majority of our testing and validation happens on these platforms and chips.

- ISVs. In order to build out a very viable server/cloud platform for Arm. We (as everyone else) need our ISV partner ecosystem to follow us. This is one reason we decided to go GA. We want to ensure we show that we are serious about this platform and that helps partners move forward as well. Internally we have already worked with the MySQL team to provide MySQL 8.0 for Arm. We are also doing work on Java optimizations and looking at other products.

- Cloud-'native'... docker for Oracle Linux/Arm is there - we have Oracle Linux images on docker hub (in case you didn't know...). You will see k8s show up etc..

- Basics/beginnings of EPEL. A lot of our users on x86 use a lot of EPEL packages. As many of you already know, we started rebuilding (not modifying) the EPEL packages so that they are (1) signed by us (2) come from the same repo source as the base OL (easier to have a single download location) (3) allows us to easily make all our RPMs available for Oracle Cloud users on the 'internal' cloud network. We are going to expand this to Arm as well so that we slowly increase the Arm/EPEL repo. This will take some time.

- We have a Raspberry Pi 3B and 3B+ image that is still pre-GA with UEK5 and grub. Expect to see an update to the GA code-base in the near future. RPI3 is more of a 'fun' and easy way to get to play with OL7/Arm, we don't see it (sorry) as a production target.

Go download it, play with it, have fun...

and thanks to my team at Oracle for making this happen and also a shout out to our partners for their contributions (Ampere Computing folks! and Cavium folks!)





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