Roadmap update – Ubuntu support for the Raspberry Pi

Computing and digital crafting should be accessible to all! This imperative inspires the mission that Ubuntu has been pursuing for nearly two decades now. The Raspberry Pi Foundation is pursuing a similar mission with the single-board, low-cost and high-performance Raspberry Pi computers. With our commitment to official Ubuntu support for the Raspberry Pi, we want to accelerate the commodification of digital innovation.

Besides bringing the benefits of modern GNU/Linux, Ubuntu delivers the latest and greatest free and open source software to the Raspberry Pi. Ubuntu also brings versatile options for software packaging, delivery and updates. Users will benefit from frequently and reliably published software and long-term support. Ubuntu provides innovators – in their garage, in schools, in labs or in the enterprise – with a robust software infrastructure to create exciting solutions on their Raspberry Pi.

Progress to date

Since our last roadmap update, we’ve extended our support to cover a large proportion of the +30M shipped Raspberry Pi family devices. The Raspberry Pi 2/3/4 models and Compute Modules are supported by the latest release of Ubuntu (19.10) in 32 bits for all models, and 64 bits version for the Pi/3 and /4 models. Ubuntu Core and the most recent long-term-support (LTS) release of Ubuntu (18.04) are similarly available, with enterprise and commercial use cases in mind.

The way forward

Going forward, new releases of Ubuntu will automatically support the latest Raspberry Pi device models. We will also strive to make Ubuntu available from day one for any new Raspberry Pi model.

Our future support efforts will be centered around advancing computing education,  fostering the digital maker culture, improving developer’s productivity, and finally accelerating enterprise innovation.

Advancing computing education

Through our support, we will strengthen the role of the Raspberry Pi as a vehicle for introducing digital technologies. Our focus will be university students and technology professionals.

Ubuntu is a leading platform for innovation in the cloud and at the edge. As such, it is a channel of choice to introduce emerging digital technologies. We will make following key technologies more accessible to educational audiences through the Raspberry Pi:

  • Cloud native technologies like Kubernetes, containers, and microservices
  • Edge computing frameworks that interface with public and private clouds
  • IoT platforms for creating and managing sensing applications

We will leverage the convenience of snaps to make these technologies easy to discover, deploy and experiment with. Furthermore, we will increase educational content pertaining to these technologies. We will  also ramp-up collaboration with educators and training platforms around open digital training resources.

Fostering digital maker culture

Canonical will be launching two new services intended for makers and hobbyists by the second half of this year. Digital makers and do-it-yourself (DIY) hobbyists value solving problems themselves and sharing knowledge in communities. Ubuntu and the Raspberry Pi are already popular in communities of digital makers and DIY hobbyists. With our upcoming services, we want to contribute in catalysing the digital maker/DIY culture.

A catalog of open source appliances

We are collaborating with developers of popular open source applications to create an online catalog of appliance images for the Raspberry Pi. These appliance images will be optimised to harness the full capabilities of the Raspberry Pi.

The catalog will offer open source appliance images in popular categories like smart home, smart speakers, network security, storage, desktop, gaming, media servers, robotics, 3d printing and more.

This catalog will enable makers and DIY enthusiasts to build Raspberry Pi based tech appliances on their own, for use at home, at work or to offer to friends and family. Being built on Ubuntu Core, these appliances will benefit from strong security and automatic over the air software updates. 

An online image composition service

We will also deploy an online service for composing and remotely building custom images of Ubuntu Core for the Raspberry Pi. The service will allow makers to select any application from the snap store to build a custom Ubuntu Core image in the cloud for personal use.

This service will make it trivial for any DIY enthusiast to compose and build custom operating system images for the Raspberry Pi. This will be particularly useful to those with modest or no coding experience.

Improving developer’s productivity

We want to allow developers to get things done on the Raspberry Pi. Therefore we are working to improve developers productivity on the Raspberry Pi. To this end, the following tools will be added to the next releases of Ubuntu.

A new configuration tool

A tool that will improve the user experience associated with setting up the Raspberry Pi for use with Ubuntu is in development. This tool will cover all the parameters susceptible to be configured on the Raspberry Pi.

Software utilities

Software utilities for managing Raspberry Pi peripherals like displays, cameras, bluetooth and hat modules will be included into upcoming releases of Ubuntu. Hardware debugging utilities will also be provided.

Accelerating enterprise innovation

We aim to boost the adoption of the Raspberry Pi in the enterprise. The Raspberry Pi is a platform suitable for introducing the internet of things revolution to the enterprise in an agile manner. 

Requirements for innovation in the enterprise differ in that security and reliability are indispensable even in early stages. Our support for enterprise innovation on the Raspberry Pi will be articulated in two main ways.

Ubuntu support for the industrial-grade Raspberry Pis

The Compute Modules are already supported by Ubuntu, and this support will continue. We anticipate that the next models of Raspberry Pi will be ever more fit for industrial use cases (Model 4 onwards), thanks to continuous capability upgrades. We strive for day one support and LTS availability on these devices.

We also intend to partner with hardware vendors of custom industrial-grade Raspberry Pi boards to make Ubuntu Core and Ubuntu Server LTS available for distribution on custom Raspberry Pi boards.

Supporting agile innovation in the enterprise

Within the next few months, we will be introducing a commercial package that will allow enterprises to launch and scale IoT projects in an agile way, based on industrial-grade Raspberry Pis. The offering will include engineering support for custom enterprise-grade images, over-the-air software management services, dedicated hosting services, technical support, as well as training and consulting.

About: Blog