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Ubuntu snaps expand to Orange Pi SBCs and a QorIQ SoC

Mar 16, 2017 — by Eric Brown 2,541 views

Shenzhen Xunlong is launching an Ubuntu snap app store for its Orange Pi SBCs. Canonical also ported its snap-based Ubuntu Core distro to NXP’s LS1043A SoC.

Shenzhen Xunlong Software Co. Ltd has achieved considerable success with its Raspberry Pi compatible, open-spec Orange Pi SBCs. However, many buyers have avoided these amazingly low-cost boards due to spotty software support. Now, the company is partnering with Canonical to develop an Orange Pi App Store that packages Linux apps as Ubuntu “snaps,” the package technology used in Ubuntu Core. Canonical also announced that Ubuntu Core was now available on devices using NXP’s Cortex-A53 based QorIQ LS1043A SoC (see farther below).

Orange Pi gains snap-based app store


Most Orange Pi SBCs, such as the recent, $20 Orange Pi PC 2 or the tiny, $7 Orange Pi Zero, support Ubuntu or Lubuntu, as well as Linux-based distros like Android, Armbian, and Raspbian. Soon, customers will be able to download Ubuntu apps as snaps, which Canonical is promoting as a universal Linux package format, even if you don’t have Ubuntu Core or even regular Ubuntu. The container-like, transactionally enabled snaps allow developers to quickly create, package, test, and distribute self-contained applications based on the thousands of existing Ubuntu and Linux libraries, says Canonical.

Orange Pi PC 2 (left) and Orange Pi Zero
(click images to enlarge)

The Orange Pi App Store uses Canonical’s whitelabel app store offering, letting Shenzhen Xunlong distribute applications to the Orange Pi community under its own brand. The store also includes hundreds of snap-packaged Ubuntu applications available in the Ubuntu snap store designed for IoT, desktop, and server applications. Vertical IoT apps include apps designed for the openHAB smart home framework, as well as, NextCloud for SMEs, and WiFi access point apps.

In addition to providing apps, the store can be used to share projects and scripts within the wider Orange Pi community. Snaps offer “a secure, confined package bundled with all its dependencies, so users can install applications that could take half an hour to install in just a few seconds,” says Canonical.

“This new app store is much more than an easy way for Orange Pi owners to find and install great applications,” stated Steven Zhao, the CEO of Xunlong.

NXP’s LS1043A-based
gateway ref design

Ubuntu Core moves to NXP LS1043A

NXP and Canonical are porting Ubuntu Core to the QorIQ LS1043A, a quad-core, 1.6GHz, Cortex-A53 SoC targeted at IoT gateways and networking equipment. The news closely follows Canonical’s late February announcement that Ubuntu Core had been ported to Technologic’s i.MX6-based TS-4900 COM, Dell’s Edge Gateway 3000, and a LimeNET base station.

Ubuntu Core makes full use of the LS1043A’s network and I/O features, such as packet acceleration, to simultaneously support high bandwidth traffic to smart devices over 802.11ac, says Canonical. Ubuntu Core can also support IoT data collection through Bluetooth LE, Thread, Zigbee, and other low power wireless standards.

QorIQ LS1043A block diagram
(click image to enlarge)

With Ubuntu Core, developers can fully utilize the LS1043A’s edge compute capabilities to run advanced analytics and artificial intelligence models, says the company. Ubuntu Core’s snap packages include Linux networking applications such as Quagga or Sonic. Device manufacturers of LS1043A-based gateways and other devices can also launch their own branded app stores with snaps.

“We are pleased to be working with Canonical to demonstrate the full IoT capabilities of Ubuntu Core on the NXP LS1043A,” stated Richard House, VP software development, Digital Networking, at NXP. “Ubuntu Core will provide our customers with a great tool to go from development to production on the scalable Layerscape family of SoCs.”

Further information

More information about Canonical’s snap-based branded store offering may be found here. More on Ubuntu Core may be found on Canonical’s Ubuntu Core product page.


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