This update is relatively small - but it does contain something huge: Lima now renders hildon-desktop!
As we documented in our November 2018 update November 2018 update, we were making progress trying to get the Lima driver to run on some Allwinner devices.
This is important, as a lot of ARM devices have a Mali GPU. Not all of them have a Mali-400 or Mali-450, but a big chunk of them does - especially the Allwinner single board computers and tablets. However, ARM does not provide a free (as in freedom) driver for their GPUs. Back in 2014, Luc Verhaegen presented his (and others) work on freeing the Mali - a talk that I also personally attended and got me excited about the possibility of using a free driver on my Allwinner devices. Some time later, he documented why he had stopped working on the driver - but eventually others (in particular Qiang Yu) have picked up the work, and the current code can be found here - the kernel side of this work has also been submitted for review to the Linux kernel.
Excited (once again) at the prospect of having a FOSS Mali driver, we set up (semi) automatic builds and added it to the lima component of our Maemo Leste Devuan/Debian repository of lima-mesa, the mesa code that supports lima. In our latest update, we stated that, unfortunately, lima cannot render hildon-desktop yet (and that we ran into (and fixed) an apitrace issue), but this is no longer true, with the last few commits to lima/mesa, it is possible to run hildon-desktop (albeit some render artifacts remain), and we have made a video showing it in action on our A33 "TurboX Twister" tablet:
This is also great news for the Pine64 project, who are developing a Pine64 phone and Pine64 tablet (and have been so kind to send us a "Project Anakit" development kit as well) - because now their phone will have a free software driver!
To be clear, the experience is not entirely smooth, and we've had the driver crash on us a few times - but it's FOSS, so anyone can attempt to fix it (as people are doing already). Onwards!
If you're interested in specifics, or helping out, or wish to have a specific package ported, please see our bugtracker.
If you like our work and want to see it continue, join us!