Qualcomm details Linux on Snapdragon X Elite, and it’s looking surprisingly good

With Qualcomm and Microsoft about to flood the market with devices using the new Snapdragon X Elite, those of us who don’t want to use Windows felt a bit uneasy – what’s Linux support going to look like for this new generation of ARM devices? Well, it seems Qualcomm’s been busy, and they’ve published a blog post detailing their work on Linux support for the X Elite.

It’s been our priority not only to support Linux on our premium-tier SoCs, but to support it pronto. In fact, within one or two days of publicly announcing each generation of Snapdragon 8, we’ve posted the initial patchset for Linux kernel support. Snapdragon X Elite was no exception: we announced on October 23 of last year and posted the patchset the next day. That was the result of a lot of pre-announcement work to get everything up and running on Linux and Debian.

↫ Qualcomm’s developer blog

In the blog post, the company details exactly which X Elite features have already been merged into mainline with Linux 6.8 and 6.9, as well as which features will be merged into mainline in Linux 6.10 and 6.11, and to be quite frank – it’s looking really solid, especially considering this is Qualcomm we’re talking about. Over the coming six months, they’re going to focus on getting end-to-end hardware video decoding working, including in Firefox and Chrome, as well as various CPU and GPU optimisations, adding the required firmware to the linux-firmware package, and providing access to easy installers.

All in all, it’s looking like the X Elite will be exceptionally well supported by Linux before the year’s over.

The blog post also details the boot path for Linux on the X Elite, and that, too, is looking good. It’s using a standard UEFI boot process, and supports GRUB and systemd-boot out of the box. Linux boots up using devicetrees, though, and apparently, there’s a known problem with using those that Qualcomm and the community are working on.

We’re working closely with upstream communities on an open problem with the UEFI-based BIOS while booting with devicetrees. The problem is that, when you have more than one devicetree blob (DTB) packed into the firmware package flashed on the device, there is no standard way of selecting a devicetree to pass on to the kernel. OEMs commonly put multiple DTBs into the firmware package so it will support devices with slightly different SKUs, so we’re keen to solve this problem.

↫ Qualcomm’s developer blog

I am pleasantly surprised by the openness and straightforwardness Qualcomm is showing the Linux community here, and I really hope this is a sign of how the company will keep supporting its laptop and possibly desktop-oriented SoCs from here on out. It seems like next year we will finally be getting competitive ARM laptops that can run Linux in a fully supported fashion.


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