lowRISC is a daring attempt at creating a completely open-source, Linux capable, and multi-core system on a chip (SoC) to promote open hardware systems. The project was co-founded by Rob Mullins, Alex Bradbury (both of whom were actively involved with Raspberry Pi project) and Gavin Ferris of Dreamworks.

lowrisc SoC opensource hardware

lowRISC: Open hardware for the masses!
According to lowRISC co-founder Alex Bradbury, the project is a "not-for-profit effort to produce a completely open source, Linux capable, multi-core SoC." He believes that the "benefits of open source we enjoy in the software world can be applied to the hardware world which will have a huge positive effect on the hardware industry, academia, and wider society," much like the Raspberry Pi project he was earlier involved in.

lowRISC's open-source SoC designs will be based on the 64-bit RISC-V open-source instruction set architecture (ISA) which allows anyone to freely use, design, manufacture and sell RISC-V chips and software. Alex Bradbury of lowRISC is of the opinion that "lowRISC SoC can act something like the 'Linux of the hardware world' - that others can take it as a base for their own SoC designs (startups, academics, larger companies)". But he is pessimistic about hitting the ultra low-cost price-points of Raspberry Pi, given the expected lower volumes.

He goes on to add that "..open source silicon design has much more to offer than just lowering unit costs and increasing profit margins for the existing dominant players. This is why we are established as an independent not-for-profit - we want open source hardware to benefit everyone, and its design to be a truly collaborative process. We have a long way to go, but that's the direction we want to help move things in."

lowRISC is a not-for-profit organisation working closely with the University of Cambridge and the open-source community. You can follow the project here or join the discussion on hacker news here. For more free and opensource (FOSS) related news and articles, go through our open-source feed.

Recommended read: 3 relatively unknown open-source web-browsers for Linux

Enterprise Ubuntu users have more reasons to cheer about. Canonical has partnered with Docker Inc. to provide professional grade support of Docker software to Ubuntu's Enterprise customers. Docker is a premier software container solution renowned for its ease of use and scalability. Docker Inc. already has similar contracts signed with major vendors such as Microsoft and HP.

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What is Docker?

Docker is an open-source software that automates the deployment of various Linux applications inside software containers. Docker Inc. is generally considered as the company that brought software containers to the mainstream. Docker makes it easy to run a far greater number of apps on the same old servers without compromising on usability or security.

Unlike VM hypervisors, software containers are very lean on system requirements since they use shared operating systems. Instead of virtualizing entire hardware, containers sit on top of a single Linux instance, for example. As a result, you can have as many as four-to-six times the number of server application instances on the same hardware. Here's a really good article about Docker and software containers in general if you are interested.

The Announcement:

A week ago, Docker and Canonical announced an integrated Commercially Supported (CS) Docker Engine offering on Ubuntu, providing Canonical customers with a single path for support of the Ubuntu operating system and CS Docker Engine in enterprise Docker operations. Apparently, there is a "large, positive overlap" of enterprise users that use Ubuntu and Docker together.

As per the contract, Docker Inc. will provide Ubuntu users with stable, up-to-date Docker releases using Ubuntu's snap packages technology and Canonical in return will provide a two-tier technical support for Docker engine. Ubuntu is already one of the most popular Cloud Linux platforms out there and is now the first among Linux vendors to provide direct, official Docker support.

"Through our partnership, we provide users with more choice by bringing the agility, portability, and security benefits of the Docker CS engine to the larger Ubuntu community," said Nick Stinemates, Vice President, Business Development & Technical Alliances at Docker. "Additionally, Ubuntu customers will be able to take advantage of official Docker support -- a service that is not available from most Linux distributions. Together, we have aligned to make it even easier for organizations to create new efficiencies across the entire software supply chain."