Update on Flint OS RPi v0.2 based on Chromium OS r55
I wanted to do a quick blog post to help set the scene and explain the work that has gone into v0.2 “Beetle” of Flint OS for Pi.
There have been two streams of work to v0.2; the Kernel upgrade and Chromium upgrade. Our goals were to reach at least Chromium version r53 and to move to the long term support 4.4 kernel, resulting in a vastly upgraded experience for Flint OS on the Pi.
Our older OS versions were based on the 4.2 kernel which is no longer supported and misses out on many performance and security patches. A core goal of moving to v0.2 was to set a new base for future releases and therefore we wanted to use the latest long term support kernel which happened to be 4.4.
In moving to 4.4 we have benefited from:
- Regular mainline security patches
- New options for performance tweaks
We have been battling upgrading from r49 to a more recent Chromium version and have spent the last few months ticking off a long list of items that could be breaking the upgrade. On Christmas day we had a break through and managed to get r53 of Chromium OS booting. A true Christmas miracle! Since then we have moved to r55 the current stable Chromium OS build which required a few more tweaks but nothing as drastic as with the move to r53.
Moving from r49 to r55 brings almost a year of improvements to the browser and OS, I have highlighted some of the improvements below:
- Material Design updates
- Updated Mesa drivers which should result in improved graphics performance
- Updated Files functionality such as image resizing
- Additional Kiosk mode functionality
- Reduced offscreen rendering overhead
- Site Preloading functionality
- Loads of security updates!
The changes above should result in a much faster more secure and stable release and we are looking forward to moving to r56 when that hits stable.
We are currently in the bug fixing and tuning stage of v0.2. Performance is currently similar to v0.1.5 but we haven’t had a chance to implement our performance patches yet , these will likely be included in v0.2.1+ releases.
We are hoping to release in the next couple of days once we have fixed a few of the more obvious bugs. This is our biggest release yet and we can’t wait to hear your feedback.