The Gentoo Linux distribution has announced initial, experimental support for the free and open RISC-V instruction set architecture (ISA).

“After some preparations, we’re happy to announce (initially experimental) support for a new arch: riscv,” writes Andreas Huettel in the gentoo-dev mailing list. “The keyword is ‘~riscv’; no stable keyword will be used in the beginning.”

Details on the support, which has been confirmed as working using the QEMU emulator on non-RISC-V hardware, can be found on the project wiki. The overall goal is, the organisation explains, to bring first-class support for the RISC-V architecture to Gentoo, though initially the support will be entirely experimental with testing on RISC-V hardware scheduled for some time in the future.

Gentoo is only the latest in a string of platforms adding RISC-V support since the Linux kernel received an official port: Amazon’s FreeRTOS kernel, Fedora Linux, and a range of Buildroot-compatible platforms are all now available for RISC-V. Gentoo’s approach differs to most, however: packages are provided as source and compiled on the host device, rather than compiled on a remote build system and distributed in binary form, allowing for improved client-specific optimisations that can help boost performance on resource-constrained systems.

More information is available on the Gentoo wiki.