Linux 5.16 to bring mainline support to Raspberry Pi 4 Compute Module – and the nifty devices built around it

Plus further step toward a full desktop on Apple M1 Arm Macs


While folks straddling the worlds of both Windows and Linux will appreciate the shiny NTFS support in version 5.15 of the open-source kernel, Arm device users may find more to appreciate in the following release.

Linux kernel 5.16 will include mainline support for the Raspberry Pi 4 Compute Module, as well as the Apple M1 chip's PCI Express controller as Linux inches its way towards a full Linux desktop on M1 Macs.

This means it should be possible to run a mainline 5.16 kernel on a Raspberry Pi 4 Compute Module without any extra build steps or patches.

The Raspberry Pi 4 Compute Module is targeted more at system integrators than end-users. Even tinier than the credit-card sized Pi 4, the Compute Modules are designed to plug into larger IO boards, enabling the Pi to power specialist gadgets. The Raspberry Pi Foundation naturally offers one of these boards, and third parties are free to design and flog their own.

As an example, your humble scribe's Pi 4 drives a handful of desktop USB 3 hard disks and runs as a fileserver. It's not ideal, though – even with a USB 3 hub powering the Pi, the cable spaghetti is quite considerable.

Enter the Wiretrustee SATA Pi Board. This custom IO board uses the Pi Compute Module 4's single 1x PCIe lane to drive a SATA controller, turning it into the main board for a dedicated NAS server.

Arm-SBC-powered NAS boxes already exist, of course, such as the Kobol Helios64, though the advantage of using a Pi is the number of OSes the device supports… and given that Pis sell in the millions, how long they are likely to continue supporting it.

Another interesting use of a Pi Compute Module (although currently only the older, slower Pi 3 version, alongside Clockwork's own, faster boards) is the ClockworkPi DevTerm. This is a single-piece, hingeless laptop computer with a letterbox 1280×480 display – albeit a bit smaller, but nonetheless very much the sort of thing this hack has wanted for a decade. ®

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