The Alt operating system developed by Moscow, Russia-based Basalt SPO has been recompiled to support Chinese Loongson processors based on the LoongArch architecture. Blacklisted Loongson has actively supported the porting process. The OS is available as a distro with a basic set of programs (Firefox, GIMP, LibreOffice) that can be installed on desktops, workstations, and servers. The company says the product is offered ‘as is,’ and its commercial distributives will be available later.
Alt is now the first Russian operating system capable of running on Loongson’s processors based on the 64-bit LoongArch architecture, such as LS5000 and LS6000 series, which some in Russia consider alternatives to x86 CPUs from AMD and Intel. Recently, China lifted the export ban on Loongson’s latest CPUs to Russia, which opened doors to using these processors in desktops, laptops, servers, storage equipment, and other applications.
The distro is based on the unstable, experimental branch of the Sisyphus project repository, which developers use to test new ideas and developments, including support for various processor architectures, reports CNews. The distro is available for download, but a stable release with LoongArch support is set for Q1 2024.
“In early 2024, Basalt SPO will release a new stable branch of the Sisyphus project repository — the Eleventh platform,” said Alexei Novodvorsky, an advisor to the CEO of Basalt SPO. “We plan to release Alt OS p11 distributions, including distributions for the LoongArch platform in Q1 2024.”
The Alt OS is only the first step towards broader support of LoongArch-based CPUs in Russia, but it is undoubtedly essential.
“Basalt SPO is presenting a unique technology — the first Russian operating system for the Loongarch64 architecture,” said Sergey Trandin, CEO of Basalt SPO. “Loongarch64-based processors have recently entered the Russian market, which means organizations and enterprises face a large-scale task of adapting software to work with the Chinese architecture. The Alt operating systems can become a platform for testing such products.”
Basalt SPO developers adapted the Alt OS for full-fledged work with Loongarch64 in just nine months. This quick result was possible thanks to the automation of the assembly process using its unique process flow called catch-up package assembly.
“The catch-up assembly technology significantly accelerates the process of adapting the OS for new architectures,” said Trandin. “Originally, packages for Loongarch64 were assembled ‘manually’ — the assembly of the first thousand took about half a year. In July, an assembly line was set up for this platform, and the process proceeded much faster. Today, more than 16,000 software packages for the Chinese architecture have been compiled in the Sisyphus project repository, and their base is constantly replenished. The source codes of the Loongarch64 storage packages are also published and are developed as part of the Sisyphus project.”
Software specialists from Loongson actively supported Basalt SPO by providing detailed documentation and modern Loongson-based servers for testing the OS.
Russia’s adaptation of the Linux-based Alt to support the LoongArch architecture from China’s Loongson company is a crucial development. On the one hand, by mating the Alt OS with Loongarch64 processors, Russia is moving towards greater technological independence from Western technologies and diversifying its use of processor technology. On the other hand, it introduces a dependency on Chinese technology.