Why is it so difficult to install an OS on an ARM system, and when do you think ARM will "take over" x86

Greetings fellow humans, human fellas.

With the introduction of Apple Silicone M1, the new Snapdragon 888(all hail China), and all the other major companies seemingly hopping on the ARM Bandwagon, I wanted to ask about the state of OS installation of ARM systems.

From my current limited knowledge, The main reason for difficulties with OS installation is the boot process and driver support. Unlike x86, the ARM boot process is not standardized. While it can use UEFI boot, it seems like each manufacturer is doing their own thing. To add that, these systems most often use nonmodular SOC designs, with custom drivers not available to most Distro maintainers.

Are these assessments true? What other issues do we face when developing ARM operating systems? When do you think some of the issues will be resolved? And when do you think the supposed ARM take over will happen?


This pretty much sums it up. :slight_smile:


I think ARM is just really hitting it’s mainstage now. There’s never been any massive development for outside of phones and SBC. I do think that ARM installs will start becoming more like “normal” installs sooner than later. I would even speculate there will end up whole distros dedicated to ARM and purely just focus on ARM products in the future.

For now, it’s still pretty small compared to everything else. But as all things, if the market is there, the market will be served.


Will standardization become a thing? Honestly, it seems like Microsoft is the only company capable to make such standards and push the with Windows 10X(terrible name and OS). We linux people having to just follow… Sigh.

Edit: Unless some of the Linux oriented brands can turn it around. I can how see SUSE or RedHat to lead the way.

That’s the future outcome we all want. Hopefully, install are just a single ARM64 iso burned to a USB.

If it’s not “easy” people won’t use it. Well, I mean, most people won’t. I’m sure some of us will.

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Take it for what it is worth. The ARM, originally Acorn RISC Machine, platform, not the processor, is licensed to various companies. Those companies are then allowed to do what they want with it. That is why standardization will probably not happen anytime soon.


Relax, Nvidia will kill ARM in a few years and there will be nothing to worry about :rofl:


It will. At some point someone will become better at it, or offer something others won’t.

For instance, HD-DVD and Blu-ray videos. At first we had both, and there was competition. At some point, HD-DVD lost, and that’s the way things work. There will eventually be a standard. I just don’t know if that is in a year, or 5.

And no, it does not have to be set by Microsoft. It may be set by Apple though, since they are the big company going all in on ARM.

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Yes, people move on. But not us! XD

Ah yes.

“F you Nvidia”

-Linus Torvald-

Seeing how Apple is mostly concerned with working their machines with macOS, and not with other OSes, I don’t see them making the move towards standardization.

Another possibility will be AMD and Intel when they decide to switch to ARM(if they ever do). Just like they standardized x86 and AMD64.

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Do you think they bought ARM because they mistook it for AMD and they thought they were getting a bargain?



Sure, sounds like a reasonable mistake :joy:

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Dude, I swear to God, that was my first thought when I heard the news back when it happened. That’s awesome.


They have four different licenses:

  1. Core license - This is the license companies use to built SOC’s. Examples of this are chips in smart phones, and SBC’s such as the Raspberry Pi.

  2. Built on the Arm Cortex license - This allows companies to make modifications to the base SOC. This is still just an ARM Core, but with custom crap added on.

  3. License of the architecture itself - This allows companies to make custom versions of the ARM chip. This is what Apple has done with the M1 series of processors.

  4. ARM Flexible Access - This is the newest license that ARM offers. it give companies access to the ARM companies IP. What many companies like about this license, they do not have to pay any fees until they are creating a working prototype.

Because of these licenses, I do not see a standard coming anytime soon for ARM.


Right, but others will ride on what they do. Obviously, they don’t care about Linux, or even HP, but the point being is that we Linux folk will find ways to work with their hardware, and since we’re open source, we can bring that work to other areas.

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Hmmm yes. I do love all the hacks people do to jailbreak their iPhones.


Bit of trivia: ARM is an abbreviation. Originally it stood for Acorn RISC Machine. The Acorn in the abbreviation is from Acorn computers who produced the BBC Micro computers during the 8-bit micro computer days (think Apple II in US schools). They ended up developing a RISC (Reduced Instruction Set Computer) processor for their Archimedes. They called the chip ARM. The rest is history.

Apple is going back to their roots so to speak. The PowerPC CPU that they were using for years was a RISC CPU just like ARM is.


Have to admit I’m more interested in the future of RISC - V

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Who isn’t? RISC-V > ARM CMM

I doubt it! ARM will be the cash cow Nvidia wants.

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