Roadmap update – Ubuntu support for the Raspberry Pi

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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 makes the latest and greatest free and open source software available on 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 will provide innovators – in their garage, in schools, in labs or in the enterprise – with a robust software infrastructure to create exciting solutions with 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 latest 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 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, Ubuntu is a channel of choice to introduce emerging digital technologies to Raspberry Pi users. 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 consume by educational audiences. Furthermore, we will increase educational content pertaining to these technologies. 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 well adopted by communities of digital makers and DIY hobbyists. With our upcoming services, we want to contribute in making the digital maker/DIY culture even more accessible.

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 harness 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 technology 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 for the Raspberry Pi in the cloud for personal use.

This service will make it trivial for any DIY enthusiasts 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. We will be focusing efforts on improving developers productivity on the Raspberry Pi. To this end, the following will be added to the next releases of Ubuntu. 

A new configuration tool

We will be releasing a tool that will improve the user experience associated with setting up the Raspberry Pi for use with Ubuntu. This tool will cover all the parameters susceptible to be configured on the Raspberry Pi.

Software utilities

We will also include software utilities to manage Raspberry Pi peripherals like displays, cameras, bluetooth and hat modules to upcoming releases of Ubuntu. Hardware debugging utilities will also be provided.

Accelerating enterprise innovation

We want to catalyse the adoption of the Raspberry Pi in the enterprise. The Raspberry Pi is a suitable 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 the early stages. We will be supporting enterprise innovation on Raspberry Pi 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. Besides support for the Compute Module, we anticipate that the next models of Raspberry Pi will be increasingly suitable for industrial use cases (Model 4 onwards), thanks to continuous capability upgrades. We will strive for day one support and LTS availability on these devices.

We also strive 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 the creation of enterprise-grade images of custom applications, over-the-air software management services, dedicated hosting services, technical support, as well as training and consulting.

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