Debian Adds RISC-V as an Official Architecture

RISC V Summit 2019 WD OmniXtend Demo
RISC V Summit 2019 WD OmniXtend Demo

A really great one came out on the Debian mailing list this week. RISC-V is becoming a first-class citizen on Debian. RISC-V has now been accepted as an official architecture. This is huge news for the RISC-V community.

Debian Adds RISC-V as an Official Architecture

For the big news is this key one-liner:

riscv64 is now an official Debian architecture” (Source: Debian Mailing List)

Taking a look, the official archive is a bit bare at the moment. We expect that will change over time. It is fair to say this is the early days of support, but being named an official architecture is a prelude to a lot more work being done in the future.

Final Words

It is hard to underestimate how big of a deal Debian accepting RISC-V is. Debian is upstream of many popular operating systems. Also, the tightly coupled Debian/ Ubuntu ecosystem we project is going to gain a lot of momentum over the coming years. As Red Hat has focused on pushing out downstream RHEL OSes, and the Broadcom VMware acquisition is happening, the Debian/ Ubuntu ecosystem is set to gain an influx of users. Ubuntu has supported development boards for RISC-V for some time and with Debian adding RISC-V as an official architecture, it is going to increase this growing ecosystem’s access to RISC-V packages.

RISC-V is the new-hot alternative architecture. With Arm becoming old-hat and seeing quibbles between Arm and its licensees, RISC-V is getting a lot of interest as the alternative. It will take some time, as we have seen working with Arm servers on Ubuntu since even before the official Ubuntu 16.04 LTS release supported Arm. Our sense is that this could garner faster adoption as geopolitical forces, license forces, and ecosystem forces will positively impact the riscv64 adoption both in hardware and software. After the community just went through a transition from x86 to x86 and Arm, there is a lot more tooling for a multi-architecture world than there was seven years ago. There are challenges with pushing a new architecture, but there is also a lot of investment in RISC-V.


  1. My understanding is the work to the Linux toolchain–gcc, llvm, the kernel and much else has been in place for some time. For me adding RISC-V as an official Debian architecture means they have figured out a suitable build farm for RISC-V packages. It would be nice to know what hardware they are using for that.


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