The Debian Linux distribution’s Manuel Montezelo has written of the progress in porting the distribution to the 64-bit RISC-V architecture, boasting of around a 90 percent package compatibility milestone.

Announced back in April 2018, the Debian Linux RISC-V port had a long road ahead of it. At launch, around 70 percent of the packages available in the Debian software repositories – which includes everything from core operating system software to third-party applications and even games – had been successfully built for the 64-bit ‘riscv64’ architecture. By mid-2018, that figure had risen to around 80 percent; now, Montezelo reveals, it’s at around 90 percent.

“Sometimes things look very quiet from outside even if the people on the backstage never stop working,” Montezelo explains in a blog post on the topic. “So this is an update on the status of this port before the release of buster, which should happen in a few weeks and which it will open the way for more changes that will benefit the port.

“There are people working on ports at all times, keeping things working behind the scenes, and that’s why from a high level view it seems that things ‘just work.'”

There is work still to be done, however, and not only in getting the last 10 percent of the packages built for the architecture. “Due to several reasons, among them the limited availability of hardware able to run this Debian port and the limited options to use bootloaders during all this time, the instructions to get Debian running on RISC-V are not the best, easiest, more elegant or very up to date,” Montezelo admits. “This is an area to improve in the next months.

“Additionally, it would be nice to have images publicly available and ready to use, for both Qemu and hardware available like the HiFive Unleashed (or others that might show up in time), but although there’s been some progress on that, it’s still not ready and available for end users.”

Full details of the port’s progress can be found in Montezelo’s blog post.