This page documents what is required from hardware platform (and specifically the software interfaces used) to integrate well into Apertis.

For Apertis to easily support a variety of hardware platforms, it is important that a consistent set of user space components can be used across the range of supported devices.

To achieve this (in-line with its Upstream First strategy), Apertis relies on upstream interfaces and frameworks to access the hardware. Interfaces that aren’t supported upstream (or cannot go upstream for whatever reason) require extra effort to support, test and maintain. This makes such bespoke interfaces a very bad choice in both the short and the long-term.

Furthermore, to enable Apertis to meaningfully debug, fix and improve the hardware enablement if and when needed, the hardware support should be open source. Unfortunately on most ARM platforms this is not yet achievable, for example the EGL/GL stack for the 3D GPU on ARM platforms is typically not available as open source (although this seems to be improving). However even in that case, the components should be freely distributable (such that Apertis images can be distributed with them) and use standard APIs.

The following sections highlight for different types of hardware what software interface should be provided to enable it. As the list is not exhaustive with respect to all available types of hardware (e.g. new types of hardware that can not currently support by Apertis may not be listed here), please ask on the Apertis developers list for guidance when in doubt.

In general the overall guidance is simply if there are well-established kernel interfaces for a type of device, those should be used without further question and won’t be included in this list (e.g. Ethernet drivers, USB stack, block drivers etc).


The very first bit of hardware enablement required when booting a device, is the bootloader. In Apertis the bootloader doesn’t only play the role of doing the basic hardware setup but is also a fundamental part of the rollback design as it has to decide when to rollback/boot a previous version of the system. As such Apertis currently only supports two bootloaders:

  • systemd-boot: Used for Intel EFI systems. Work for supporting rollback with this bootloader is pending. (on the hardware side this mostly requires a valid EFI implementation)


Apertis uses a Linux kernel that is as close to upstream as possible and regularly updates its base kernel version. Therefore it’s recommended that any hardware enablement done for Apertis is also upstream, to both minimize the delta with upstream and make it easier to update to newer versions. The specific version of the Linux kernel currently being targeted by the Apertis release being used can be determined for the Apertis kernel git repository.

Specific Kernel Areas

The following guidance is provided for specific functionality that may need to be provided by the kernel.


The graphical subsystem on modern systems tends to be divided in various specific IP blocks. Typically there is a separate display subsystem (controller for the screen, overlays etc) and at least a separate 3D GPU. All these blocks should be exposed by the kernel to user space via the DRM and KMS interfaces.

Furthermore it is recommended that the Display subsystem support Atomic modesetting.

Directly Attached Cameras

Cameras directly attached to the system (e.g. via a MIPI-CSI interface) should be exposed via the standard Video for Linux 2 APIs (V4L2). To ensure efficient sharing of the captured frames with other hardware components (e.g. for displaying), the driver should support exporting the frame via dma buffers 1.


Apertis uses the standard Linux bluetooth stack (BlueZ). Any bluetooth device should support this stack.

Wireless LAN

Apertis uses the standard Linux interface for configuring wireless devices. On the driver side that means it should use the kernels cfg80211 framework (either directly or indirectly via mac80211 depending on whether it’s a full mac or a soft mac device).


Apertis uses PulseAudio on top of the standard ALSA framework. This should be supported by audio input and output devices. As Audio routing on a SOC is often quite complicated, it is recommended that a UCM policy is provided if the standard PulseAudio paths aren’t enough (this is typically not needed for Intel HDA or very simple codecs).

Input device

Apertis uses the standard Linux input event subsystem (evdev). For multitouch screens protocol type B should be used (which allows fingertracking2).

Hardware Video Decoding

Video decoding support in hardware exists in a few different forms, but at the two extremes there are:

  • Fix function decoders: These devices are specifically and only for decoding video, their input is a full or slightly pre-processed video frame.
  • Dynamic decoders: These device are typically part of the GPU and are mostly (like a GPU) programmed by user space for the decoding. They may either accelerate parts of the decoding or do the full decoding.

For the former category the standard Linux Video for Linux 2 (V4L2) decoder interface should be exposed 3 which is directly supported by GStreamer.

The latter category typically needs more support on the user space side, in which case a GStreamer plugin should be provided. E.g. GStreamer VAAPI as available for Intel systems.

Note that it’s typical for ARM platforms to implement the OpenMAX specification for video playback (as used by Android). However while there exists GStreamer plugins for using OpenMAX IL, the integration is generally poor as OpenMAX is a bad fit for GStreamer as it is intended more for application rather then media framework usage (and needs hardware specific extensions to integrate well).


Generic sensors should be exposed through the Linux Industrial I/O subsystem or Hardware Monitoring subsystem as appropriate.

User Space Components


Apertis uses Gstreamer throughout as it’s multimedia framework. As such, all platform Multimedia components (e.g. audio decoders, video capture device, etc), when not exposed via common kernel interfaces directly supported by GStreamer, should be supported in the form of Gstreamer plugins. These plugins should support at least GStreamer version 1.8.


Apart from the fore mentioned kernel support for graphics there are big hardware specific parts required to be provided in user space, specifically an EGL/GLES2 stack for the 3D GPU. The EGL/GLES2 stack should support the GBM platform (KHR_platform_gbm) for usage by Wayland compositors, the WL EGL platform and extensions for Wayland clients. Furthermore dmabuf importing (EXT_image_dma_buf_import) should be supported to allow for efficient importing of output from either the camera subsystems or the hardware video decoder.

Voice/3G Modems

Any modem hardware should be support via ofono plugins.