The future of ARM and how Linux is handling it

Right now, ARM CPUs are mostly used on phones and tablets, and that's fine, Zorin and most other Linux distros are not designed nor intended to be competing with mobile OSs like Android, iOS or Ubuntu Touch.

However, due to how well ARM handles battery usage and the fact that they are cheaper than x86, it has started appearing on some laptops lately. The most recent MacBooks with the M1 and M2 chips, for example, but there are also some Windows laptops that use ARM, like this one

As of now, the majority of laptops are still being sold with x86. In fact, in my country not even a single online store has laptops with ARM available. However, with how well it handles battery usage and how silent it is, it sounds like the perfect fit for a laptop. And with Macs already saying goodbye to x86 and Windows adding x86 emulation to Windows on ARM out of the box, I'm predicting that it won't take too many years until ARM becomes very common on laptops.

As of Linux, I thought there wouldn't be many distros with ARM support, but after doing a bit of research, there seems to be quite a few, like Ubuntu, Debian, Fedora, Arch and some more. And thanks to box64 and box86 we have a translation layer for x86 programs, just like Windows on ARM does. But still, the two most friendly distros for users who come from Windows that I know (Zorin and Linux Mint) don't have ARM support. No idea if it wasn't planned, they are considering it for the future or if they are currently working on it, but, as unnecessary as it may sound today to have an ARM version, it may be quite necessary in the next years when we talk about Linux on laptops

Well, I don't think there's any rush for it just yet. It would be nice to have but supporting existing hardware as it is well into the next 5~10 years seems a better priority.


AZorin has posted previously on the (now archived old form) on this topic:

It’s increasingly looking like ARM will be the next logical step for computer processors thanks to some of its technical advantages over x86: it can be more powerful, more energy-efficient, and can make computers far more affordable.
The first ARM device we plan to officially support will be the Raspberry Pi 4. There’s been a lot of progress this year on getting Linux (and Ubuntu-based distros especially) working snappy and smoothly on the RPi 4 while supporting a full desktop workload. The best part is that the Raspberry Pi 4 (and many computers like it) cost as little as $35.
One of the main things that motivated us to focus on ARM devices – and especially low-cost ones like the RPi4 – is to make computers accessible and useful in the developing world. So far, the Raspberry Pi 4 (and the Linux distributions made for it) have generally been aimed at computer tinkerers and beginner programmers, and it’s become a tremendous platform for these use cases. By porting Zorin OS Lite and Education Lite to the Raspberry Pi 4, we’re aiming to make it into a great general-purpose computing platform and educational resource for people who never had access to a computer before.

Yes, the ZorinGroup is interested in supporting an ARM version.
There is no current planned release. ZorinGrid and ZorinDirectUpgrade have taken priority and ARM can be a more long term focus.


I have a strange feeling about ARM. I've used 32-bit, and 64-bit for my whole life (this statement sounds weird since I'm still very young, but that's it) and, trying to use ARM felt disappointing: nothing is in the same place. Another Learning Curve? No, I wouldn't switch to ARM, until it becomes necessary.

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I am looking to buy the next Thinkpad X13s with Snapdragon X Elite, it' s expected for mid 2k24, but I think Zorin is not looking forward for this market. AMD and NVIDIA are surrounded of rumors about launching ARM CPU processos in next 2~5 years.

Consindering that Ubuntu have an ARM release, couldn't Zorin release a version of it?

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ARM64 will be taking over more quickly than most people would predict - and not just on MacOS. The power/performance is hard to beat. Even on the extreme low end, the Pi 5 performs very well indeed.
As a Mac user I am very disappointed that I cannot use my ZorinOS Pro license on my main mchines in a VM. I am routinely using Ubuntu and Debian on my 8GB Pi 5 and again would prefer ZorinOS.

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