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Intel: No Linux for You, Clover Trail

By - Source: Ars Technica | B 63 comments

How the times are changing: Clover Trail is ditching Linux.

At the Fall IDF, Intel told journalists that the Clover Trail Atom processor will not be supporting Linux. Clover Trail is a variant of Atom that is designed to compete with a wave of ARM processors for the sub-compact space and Windows RT devices. Clover Trail will be the x86's camp strongest proponent in this space and Intel is doing everything it can to build a compelling case.

Clover Trail will be supporting all Windows 8 features and enables Windows 8 to keep tight control over the CPU's power management features - and there are features that apparently are a concession to Microsoft and will only be opened to Windows 8, including an always-on functionality. With plenty of ARM processor designers entering Intel's home turf, it is probably a good idea for Intel to show Microsoft just how important the segment is for Intel.

That, of course, is a far cry from the beginnings of Atom. Some readers may remember that Atom was introduced as a processor that happened to run Windows as well, while the clear focus was on Linux. Back in early 2006, Intel heavily pitched Linux for Atom in the flavors of a version of Moblin Linux that Intel worked on itself, as well as Asianux, which included Red Flag Linux, Miracle Linux and HannSoft. Back then, Atom's focus was on mobile Internet devices and the expectation that the market would favor Linux over a Windows Vista with outrageous hardware requirements that were only met by the highest performing Atom at the time. Initial MID prototypes were also shown running with Ubuntu Linux.

On the bright side for Linux, most other Atom SoCs that are shown by Intel today are usually still focused on Linux and derivatives, such as Android.

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Top Comments
  • 24 Hide
    bourgeoisdude , September 17, 2012 1:41 PM
    Struggling to get your foot into a new market area? Piss off the Linux guys--yeah, that makes sense.
  • 14 Hide
    xenol , September 17, 2012 2:56 PM
    The Linux community will find a way to get it on the chip. Like they do with every other architecture.
  • 13 Hide
    Old_Fogie_Late_Bloomer , September 17, 2012 1:52 PM
    Okay, look, this sounds bad...but I've read several articles about this now and I still don't have a clear picture of exactly what the issue is. Is it that Linux will not work at all on these chips, or is it just a matter of the power-saving features not being available (at least, through official Intel support)?
Other Comments
    Display all 63 comments.
  • 24 Hide
    bourgeoisdude , September 17, 2012 1:41 PM
    Struggling to get your foot into a new market area? Piss off the Linux guys--yeah, that makes sense.
  • 7 Hide
    ddpruitt , September 17, 2012 1:51 PM
    Intel "We have this brand new chip! I know let's make sure it runs on the most expensive systems while at the same time locking out the market segment with greatest potential, Android!"

    Really Intel? Really?
  • 13 Hide
    Old_Fogie_Late_Bloomer , September 17, 2012 1:52 PM
    Okay, look, this sounds bad...but I've read several articles about this now and I still don't have a clear picture of exactly what the issue is. Is it that Linux will not work at all on these chips, or is it just a matter of the power-saving features not being available (at least, through official Intel support)?
  • 9 Hide
    master_chen , September 17, 2012 1:55 PM
    Seriously, Intel, what the hell?
  • -7 Hide
    memadmax , September 17, 2012 2:03 PM
    Apple did the same thing, why be surprised or even mad?
  • 8 Hide
    COLGeek , September 17, 2012 2:03 PM
    This is akin to cutting off your own nose to spite your face. I would assume that Intel wants to keep some features of this new CPU family proprietary and thus why they refuse to open up to the Linux community.

    Bad call for future progress IMHO.
  • 12 Hide
    weierstrass , September 17, 2012 2:13 PM
    Seems like MS is afraid of people buying its tablets just to install Linux on them.
  • 11 Hide
    blibba , September 17, 2012 2:18 PM
    EDVINASMGuys, relax. It's like Linux users are greedy ba$tards that don't want to upgrade to i3 and keep blaming Intel and calling them greedy for not including Linux? What the.. Linux will run on future CPUs from Intel, just not particular Atoms, enough said. You want Intel on Linux - there is Intel on Linux. You get free OS - use the money saved to upgrade the CPU. How about that? Just saying..


    When you do upgrade your smartphone or SoC tablet to an i3, please do let us know how you get on.
  • 3 Hide
    blazorthon , September 17, 2012 2:19 PM
    It's not a big deal for Intel to make a line of CPU specifically for MS if they're also making others that are still for Android and such. I don't see the problem here. They're basically making a chip that is optimized for MS and they don't want to bother writing drivers and such for other software platforms when they're already doing so with other CPU families.
  • 6 Hide
    Old_Fogie_Late_Bloomer , September 17, 2012 2:29 PM
    memadmaxApple did the same thing, why be surprised or even mad?

    lolwut?

    Seriously, you're making a comparison between a) Apple custom-designing their own SOC and having it fabbed by someone else to b) a chip-making company--the largest in the world--working hand-in-hand with a software manufacturer--with the lion's share of the world-wide laptop/desktop operating system market--to enable a specific hardware feature on a specific piece of software. That's not exactly a direct analogy.
  • 2 Hide
    shafe88 , September 17, 2012 2:51 PM
    So how much did Microsoft pay Intel to support windows 8 and not Linux. Hopefully AMD doesn't go the same rout, cause I find the windows 8 UI Ugly, and linux you get to choose the UI you want to use.
  • 14 Hide
    xenol , September 17, 2012 2:56 PM
    The Linux community will find a way to get it on the chip. Like they do with every other architecture.
  • 0 Hide
    shafe88 , September 17, 2012 3:03 PM
    weierstrassSeems like MS is afraid of people buying its tablets just to install Linux on them.
    Yea Microsoft is afraid of Linux, cause their afraid once people see all the free software and customization available for Linux, Win8 will go straight down the drain dragging their app store with it.
  • 0 Hide
    ojas , September 17, 2012 3:03 PM
    Well Medfield supports Android (and is in a few android phones)...so maybe this just means that either there won't be any non-MS x86 tablets, or that there will be android support but no general linux support (no Ubuntu, for example).
  • 1 Hide
    Anonymous , September 17, 2012 3:04 PM
    I don't see what the big deal is. That chip is 'specifically' for Windows 8 and Windows Phone. They have another chip just like it for Android and plenty of other Atoms for your everyday Linux. What IS stupid is that MS doesn't even use this chip in their own line of hardware. They, instead, will use ARM just to prove that they are ARM compatible. They opted for i5 and a more feature filled tablet for their other system. Intel made a concession for nothing really. Acer, HP, Dell and others would have made a CloverTrail tablet even without the feature.
  • 1 Hide
    zzz_b , September 17, 2012 3:29 PM
    I was looking for a x86 chip to enter this market, so I can install easily Linux.
    This anouncement is a slap in the face to Linux users. Thanks Intel!
  • 1 Hide
    Old_Fogie_Late_Bloomer , September 17, 2012 3:30 PM
    Here's the big deal:

    http://www.anandtech.com/show/5888/acer-introduces-windows-8-tablets-with-docks-iconia-w510-w700

    The W510 (and other devices like it; I just happened to remember the W510 model number) is the next generation version of a netbook. And it (and similar offerings from Asus, et al.) uses a Clover Trail processor. As far as I know, there are no plans to release a W510 equivalent that uses a processor optimized for Linux, rather than Windows 8.

    So either you won't get to run Linux on the W510 (and other Clover Trail machines), or you will get to run it, but because of proprietary nonsense, you won't get the same kind of battery life out of it. Clover Trail looks to be dominating the low end of the market, the "cheap and small" devices that often find favor amongst Linux users because they're cheap, portable, and run just fine with a less-demanding OS. Only now, Intel is choosing to play favorites.
  • -1 Hide
    EDVINASM , September 17, 2012 3:36 PM
    blibbaWhen you do upgrade your smartphone or SoC tablet to an i3, please do let us know how you get on.


    When I do get my hands on tablet worth my while I will :)  For now I haven't seen an affordable Windows based device from other than Acer with decent pen support. Will have to wait for Windows 8 and then we will see. Oh wait.. Linux does not interest me.
  • 3 Hide
    digiex , September 17, 2012 3:46 PM
    http://www.readwriteweb.com/hack/2012/06/linus-torvalds-obscene-rant-highlights-linuxs-hardware-woes.php

    Do it again Linus, this time with Intel.
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