Supported hardware

Adélie Linux runs on most computers that support the Linux kernel. One of our primary goals is to make a Linux distribution that can be used on older hardware. After all, that was a major use of Linux in times past — revitalising old computers and giving them a new life. That isn't to say we make any sacrifices; we also support the latest and greatest hardware including CPUs based on the Intel® Skylake® and IBM POWER9 microarchitectures, and some of the newest graphics cards from AMD and nVidia.

Official support vs community support

We officially support the x86 (32-bit and 64-bit), PowerPC (32-bit and 64-bit), and ARM (32-bit) architectures. That means the latest releases are always tested on these architectures and we prioritise any issues found on these platforms. However, we also offer limited community support for more extravagant architectures, such as the 64-bit ARM platform. We are also always happy to help with porting our code to other platforms. Just ask!

List of Tier 1 (officially supported) platforms

Intel x86
Subarchitectures supported:
  • 32-bit
    • i486 (generic, slow but works anywhere)
    • pmmx (Pentium MMX, including Pentium II, Pentium III, and Celeron)
    • Pentium 4
  • 64-bit
    • All 64-bit x86 CPUs (generic)
Subarchitectures supported:
  • 32-bit
    • G3/G4
  • 64-bit
    • G5/POWER4+ and higher, including POWER8 and POWER9 (in big endian mode only)
ARMv7 (Cortex) cores are supported. Other cores will be supported in a later release.

List of community supported platforms

The Cell BEA (PS3) is an eventual target, and an ISO exists, but it remains highly unstable.
As the architecture itself is in an early stage, we cannot yet provide a stable user experience for 64-bit ARM users. We are continuing to evaluate the platform, and hope announce a stable version soon.

In-depth technical Q&A

These are some of the most common questions we are asked.

How did Adélie start? (or: What is the history of Adélie?)

The core Adélie Linux team are all Linux users and sysadmins that wanted to have the power of Gentoo, combined with the APK binary package manager. Portage's binpkg format doesn't solve everything, and keeping similar configurations across multiple systems and multiple architectures becomes quickly overwhelming.

A. Wilcox (awilfox), Elizabeth Myers (Bureaucat), and Horst Burkhardt (mc680x0) started Foxtoo, a short-lived project bringing musl and APK to Gentoo. Part of this work was derived from blueness' gentoo-musl overlay, and some of that early work is still visible. The work on creating a full fork of Gentoo was called Adélie, after the closest living cousin of the Gentoo penguin, the Adélie penguin (both members of the Pygoscelis genus of penguins).

While it was indeed possible to integrate Portage with APK, long-standing integration bugs combined with friction within the Gentoo community caused the Adélie distribution to move from a Gentoo Portage based build system to an Alpine abuild based build system.

Moving to the abuild system allowed the project to iterate faster, which allowed us to support more types of computers. Contributors found APKBUILD files to be easier to write than ebuild files, which also helped the community grow to where it is today.

How is Adélie related to Alpine? (or: Is Adélie a fork of Alpine? Why fork Alpine? When will Adélie be merged into Alpine?)

We are vaguely related to the Alpine Linux distribution, as we are using the APK package manager. We also try to submit package changes to them that we feel would be useful to their goals. However, we have a focus on POSIX conformance, desktop software, and long-term support that Alpine does not.

Alpine, as a distribution, is focused primarily on containers and server systems. While Adélie should be fully usable on such systems, it is not a core focus of Adélie, and therefore we naturally need to make different choices on how we build our software packages. In addition, Alpine releases are made twice yearly and supported for two years. Adélie releases are made every 9 months, and are supported for three years. This influences what versions of software we ship compared to Alpine.

For just a few differences between Alpine and Adélie:

  • We ship coreutils instead of BusyBox by default, as user experience is our absolute highest goal.
  • We ship OpenSSL instead of LibreSSL, so that we remain compatible with upstreams such as Qt and OpenLDAP, in addition to providing a more stable experience on 32-bit architectures.
  • We ship Qt 5.9 LTS and Firefox ESR instead of the newer, less stable releases.

As such, we are a different distribution from Alpine. We do contribute regularly to abuild and apk-tools. When we find bug-fixes, musl incompatibilities, or patches before Alpine, we also contribute these to Alpine. As time goes on and we continue to grow and evolve, we hope to maintain a relationship with the Alpine community. Adélie and Alpine both wish to continue to share our collective expertise to make the best tools available.

Why APK?

The APK package manager was chosen because it is very fast, and its dependency resolver is one of the best available for Linux. It is also more compact and easier to manipulate than RPMs. APK fits very well with the goals of Adélie; lightweight, libre, and easy-to-follow source code.

Why support non-x86_64?

This is actually asked with an alarming frequency. The world is not built entirely on x86. Plus, as stated above, one of our tenets is bringing new life to machines that are not the latest and greatest. Most of these systems are still entirely useable under Linux; the only thing preventing them from running modern software is the lack of anyone stepping up and packaging for them.

When will SPARC64 be supported? (or: Is SPARC64 on the roadmap? Will you accept SPARC64 contributions?)

We are very interested in a port of Adélie to the SPARC processor. We are currently porting the musl libc to SPARC. Assistance with this porting effort is gladly accepted; you can contact the porting mailing list or our IRC channel for more information. We hope to have a SPARC64 release available for Adélie Linux 2.0.

What about (RISC-V, Alpha AXP, Motorola 68k, other CPUs that the Linux kernel supports)?

We would be interested in almost any CPU type that Linux supports. Before we can run on such a CPU, though, the musl libc must be ported to it. Once the musl libc is ported, you can follow our official Porting Guide, which will help you add your CPU of choice as a Tier 3 port of the Adélie Linux system. Once a functional, self-hosting system exists that can itself build (at least) the system repository, the port can be evaluated and may be upgraded to Tier 2. For more information about tiers and ports, see the Platform Group's project page.