Installing Fedora or Debian

William Wilson’s (jawn-smith]
wrote very complete instruction to install Ubuntu on Unmatched
(Installing Ubuntu 21.04 on the HiFive Unmatched - Tutorials - Ubuntu Community Hub).

Where can I found something similar to this tutorial but for Fedora or Debian ?

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I haven’t seen any official images for Fedora or Debian yet. I think that they are waiting for a few more things to get upstream so that their regular builds will work. For distros that do have images, like Ubuntu and OpenSuse, I think that they are building stuff by hand which is expensive and time consuming.

But with a little work you can build your own Fedora or Debian system by taking an existing system (like freedom-u-sdk) and then overwriting the rootfs with the Fedora/Debian rootfs. Then you just need a RISC-V rootfs which are available for Fedora and Debian.

These are Debian unleashed instructions, but unmatched is similar, just make sure to get the right parition number which is 4 now, and you should probably use nvme instead of sdcard.

I don’t know if you can get a Fedora rootfs directly. You might have to download an unleashed or qemu image, and then copy the rootfs from that overtop a freedom-u-sdk unmatched image rootfs.

Debian is for a couple of reasons:

  1. Its primary focus is providing installer images, not images you dd to a disk and use as-is. Live images exist but they’re focused around giving you an environment to test in, they’re not something you’d use as your actual OS image. There are also VM images but they’re really focused solely on VMs, not general-purpose hardware. Installer images can’t be created because:
    i. Its installer doesn’t yet support RISC-V. There was work done to add support to some of it a while ago, but that was targeting the Unleashed and predated U-Boot being widely used, so it only installed the base system and required you to deal with the kernel yourself.
    ii. Even with U-Boot being supported, there is likely a desire to just wait until grub-efi supports RISC-V rather than investing time and effort with extlinux only to have to throw it away later.
  2. It’s still a ports architecture, not in the main archive nor a release architecture, as until the Unmatched there was not suitable hardware for use as build servers, which is a blocker (as a ports architecture it is allowed to use QEMU instead, though this is less desirable).

Now that the Unmatched exists people have shown an interest in starting the process of migrating it to the main archive, but as far as I know that’s just been talk so far. With the recent bullseye release out the way this may well start to happen once the post-release influx of new packages has calmed down. We shall see.