[ubuntu-uk] Raspberry Pi

Liam Proven lproven at gmail.com
Fri Mar 2 12:40:04 UTC 2012

On 1 March 2012 17:00, Bruno Girin <brunogirin at gmail.com> wrote:
> On 29/02/12 20:45, Steve Pearce wrote:
>> <snip>
>> Unity is such a fresh and exciting environment to study and use. I imagine
>> kids would get excited about it on looks alone. It's so much classier than
>> what they're used to seeing on their smartboards.
> Totally agree!
>> Imagine if Unity could be optimized to run well on the such low-end
>> hardware. Or if that's not realistic then consider a new window manager that
>> takes all of the design principles of the Unity desktop but strips out a lot
>> of the integration so as to improve performance. It would be king!
> Unity 2D should run on low spec hardware. It runs fine on my old Celeron
> based laptop so should be OK on the Pi :-)

"Low-spec hardware" is not a single criterion. The Rπ has a powerful
GPU (for such an inexpensive, low-end system) which is probably more
than capable of running Unity 3D.

However there are other important restrictions.

The Rπ CPU is a low-end ARM6 processor, for which family of ARMs the
Ubuntu kernel dropped support in 10.04. So nothing newer than (AFAIK)
Ubuntu 9.04 will run on it, which is long before Unity was developed.

Secondly, it's also not a very powerful implementation - perhaps
roughly equivalent to a 300MHz Pentium II. So it's a slow machine by
modern standards.

Thirdly, it only has 256MB of RAM - and this is up from the planned
128MB for the Model A Rπ. That's not enough to run a Unity desktop - I
find Unity struggles in 512MB, let alone half that.

It is too simplistic to say something like "it's a low-spec system so
Unity 2D would be OK".

A slow CPU and 256MB of RAM would mandate something like LXDE, if
that. And Lubuntu did not exist back in the Ubuntu 9.x timeframe.

The specs are arguably not enough for a *desktop* GUI at all, just a
simple window manager such as bare OpenBox without a panel and a
desktop manager.

> Unity 3D is probably more of a challenge because it relies on hardware
> acceleration. The Broadcom chip on board has a decent GPU but the API is
> proprietary. However, I'm sure that with support from the Raspberry Pi
> foundation, who have been designing the Pi with Broadcom and have a
> licensing agreement with them, it would be possible.

The CPU is masked onto some spare space on the GPU chip; it is the GPU
that boots the system, for example, so not just the graphics drivers
but even the bootloader is proprietary, AIUI.

Liam Proven • Profile: http://lproven.livejournal.com/profile
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