Months Ahead of Hardware, ARMv8 Gains Debian/Ubuntu Support
One of the coolest aspects of Linux is its ability to support hardware long before other OSes - and even well before consumers can even get their hands on the hardware. Take USB 3.0, for example, which hit the kernel months before the first products hit the market, in September of 2009. And then there's the SSD command TRIM, which was first launched to the kernel in December of 2008 - six months before Windows 7 introduced the same thing as standard.
Of course, supporting something and actually having people be able to use it are two entirely different things. In the case of TRIM, the file system tools had to catch up, and the same was probably true for USB 3.0. Overall, this is common, but what's great about it is: the kernel itself is rarely the lagging component.
A current example of this is with ARMv8, ARM's 64-bit processor architecture. Although there's no commercially-available hardware equipped with these processors yet, a port of Debian/Ubuntu has been released that supports it just fine. It's mentioned in the official list post that both 32-bit and 64-bit ARM software is supported in the same package, although we're not sure if that includes the kernel itself. It might just be possible to install this on a 32-bit platform without making use of its 64-bit properties. Why would you do this? To investigate changes made to the kernel and OS, namely.
This distro was produced by ARM and Linaro, and now that it's been done, it'll be up to the community to take over and build it up further. By the time we're able to get our hands on ARM64 devices, it looks like we should definitely have an option or two to take advantage of, at least on the Linux front. With ARM having just sold a handful of ARMv8 licenses, the next year for the platform is going to be an interesting one to watch.