Linux On The C64 & X86 Zima SBC With PCIe – LWDW 390

Canonical forgets to i386, shoving Linux onto a C64, kernel 5.6 brings the rumble, and the low-cost Zima SBC with bonus PCIe hole.


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00:00 Intro
08:56 Ubuntu i386 won’t die
14:58 Linux kernel 6.5
18:28 Linux on the C64
24:14 X86 Zimaboard with PCIe

Ubuntu i386

  • Wow, because of issues with Steam on Ubuntu I always install the Valve Steam .deb and not the one in the Ubuntu repositories.
  • There are issues with System76’s Pop!_OS Steam client in the Pop!_Shop also with the 32-bit drivers and they recommend installing Valve’s instead.
  • And everytime I install the Valve .deb the i386 drivers get installed.
  • Back in June of 2019 Ubuntu attempted to do something rather bold. 
  • That something was dropping all 32-bit support beginning with the upcoming Ubuntu 19.10 release.
  • RIP WINE & gaming.
  • Even though Canonical reversed course a few weeks later, Steam announced that it would not support future Ubuntu releases.
  • One of the many reasons the Steam Deck is running Arch. 
  • Someone forgot to add 32-bit support to the image on the new Flutter-based installer. 
  • Install the official Steam *.deb. 

Linux Kernel 6.5

  • Linux creator Linus Torvalds released Linux Kernel 6.5, and it has some very important new features.
  • states, “For users of high-core count Intel Xeon, AMD EPYC, and high end desktop processors, this release is bringing parallel CPU boot support aimed at significantly reducing kernel boot times.”
    • This feature will greatly benefit large core count servers, enabling faster boot times.
  • There is complete MIDI 2.0 support, the widely-used MIDI protocol for musical devices, in Linux Kernel 6.5.
    • Including notable enhancements such as higher resolution, improved articulation, and the Universal MIDI Packet for streamlined transmission of multiple MIDI messages.
  • The kernel now defaults to using the AMD P-State EPP driver, so users with AMD Ryzen Zen 2 or newer should expect performance gains and improved power efficiency with Kernel 6.5.
  • The EXT4 file-system gains faster parallel direct I/O overwrites, Btrfs gets various misc performance improvements, and there is an assortment of fixes to the Paragon NTFS3 driver.
  • And for Microsoft Xbox controller users on Linux, there are tactile enhancements here as more controllers support rumble in Linux kernel 6.5.
  • And for those who are using an ASUS ROG Ally, sound issues are resolved in 6.5.
  • Oooh, and one of my favorites, AMD FreeSync now enabled by default.
    • I use FreeSync enabled monitors for all my AMD GPUs.

Linux 64

  • The “can it run linux” joke used to apply to the C64. No longer. 
  • Onno Kortman has taken semu, a minimal RISC-V emulator, and cross-compiled it with llvm-mos, an LLVM port to the MOS 6502 processor, in order to run Linux on the Commodore 64.
  • My first thought was “surely this will not fit in 64k of ram!”. And it doesn’t. It requires a 16MB REU.
  • This isn’t Linux running on C64 per se. This is C64 emulating a RISC-V environment on which Linux runs.
  • Also, it would take about a  week to boot on real hardware. 
  • Yeah, 6502 is very poorly suited to C-style code.
  • Oh, now this is exciting news!
  • I bet it would run on my Commodore 128 as well.
  • LUnix, or “Little Unix”, is a Unix-like operating system developed for the C64 and C128.
  • That is the closest we have gotten to a Linux C64 port until now!
  • I was in Junior High when the C64 was introduced in early 1982.
  • My family bought it at Toys R Us, and I still have it in my vintage computer collection :-)

Slice of Pi

Zima board

  • Anyone want a glass of Zima?
  • If you do, you’re going to need an oddly shaped glass. 
  • The idea of ZimaBoard came from a robot character from the HBO TV episode “Love Death and Robots”.
  • X86 in dual and quad-core options with 2 to 8 GB of RAM. 
  • 2X LAN / 2X SATA. 
  • And the odd option, an external PCIe hole. 
  • At full tilt this critter only consumes 10 W. 
  • Really considering ordering a 2gig model for testing.
  • This is an awesome alternative to the Raspberry Pi, Zimaboard.
  • “The Zimaboard is a low-cost single board server for makers and geeks” states the manufacturer’s website.
  • But the big news here is that the Zimaboard is an Intel x86 quad-core single board computer instead of the RasPi’s ARM SBC.
  • It has a unique and stylish design, with its upper side consisting almost entirely of metal cooling fins for passive cooling.
  • And it has an PCIe slot that protrudes on its side.
  • At the bottom, there is a partially transparent plastic, or black tinted Plexiglas.
  • There are only 4 small black Phillips screws on the bottom, which also makes the board easy to open.
  • The Zimaboard has a gray design with orange accents, and the “Zimaboard” lettering is also in orange on the top and bottom of the unit.
  • Next to the PCIe slot is an I/O panel where there are contacts that can be soldered for further connections, such as power, switches and LEDs.
  • There are 3 Zimaboard models available ranging from $119-199 from dual-core to quad-core.

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