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2021: Year of the Armbian Desktop!


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Armbian have historically been much more geared towards "server/headless" usage, for many different reasons.  It has taken a much longer time not only for upstream development of underlying graphical libraries / drivers to mature, but also for us (the Armbian project itself) to come up with a sensible implementation that would fit nicely into our existing build framework.


However, this work has been going on in the background for quite some time already. 




Finally, the time is right to announce we are publishing our initial implementation of these "desktop" features!



We are only announcing this here on our own forums for the time being, as this is still early days.  In fact, at this point we are still mainly looking for testers. You should consider this an alpha quality release at this time!


What works so far?

Features we plan to develop works, we are already hunting bugs for months, but they are certainly still present. Remember, we are not looking for bugs that are tied to specific hardware feature, but bugs that are linked to the build process, userland and basic desktop functionality. 


Report bugs in Armbian build framework section: https://forum.armbian.com/forum/12-armbian-build-framework/


Currently, the following Desktop Environments (DEs) are considered to have early "support":






In addition, there are more DEs which should be considered very much WIP, in other words, not really fully working (yet), but we designed a system that can have unlimited variants.


Help Wanted!


These changes are wide ranging and touch many parts of the code.  Therefore even if you don't plan on using any "desktop" features, your testing can help to find bugs, even in "server" versions (as eventually this code will be merged with master in matter of weeks).


If you have been looking for some opportunity to help the project by getting involved a bit more, this could be your chance!

When you notice a problem make a pull request: https://github.com/armbian/build/pulls ( currently sits on a branch "desktop" )


Going forward we will be looking for additional desktop maintainers.  Currently the plan is for the Armbian core team to maintain the framework and perhaps settle on 2-3 DE options.  Any which are to be considered in addition to that, will need to come with some commitment to ongoing maintenance by whoever is interested in those additional desktops.


Join #armbian-devel IRC channel for development level chat and strengthen the desktop team. Welcome!


Getting Started


If this is your very first time using the build scripts, start with general instructions. If you are already familiar with the basics of building, some additional detailed instructions pertaining to desktop features can be found here.  You will also need to add:


./compile.sh LIB_TAG=desktop EXPERT=yes


If you don't have option or desire to build from sources, you can also check if your board has nightly images - we are compiling them from this new development branch for a few weeks now - for the desktop you want to try / see:





For end users, if you just want to build image interactively and by choosing supported OS variants, things hasn't changed much and should just work while advanced documentation has changed significantly. Its pretty much WIP and is scattered around in those files:








During this change we also added most recent userland(s):



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5 minutes ago, Technicavolous said:

Will there be 'deskop type' additions to the awesome armbian-config?


If we managed to gather right ideas and people? :) If you have some know how, which technology and people that can help around this RFC, also perhaps developing X variant at the same time, to recommend, just add it here:

In theory all desktops should be installable on top of the CLI, but we haven't got to do much testing there. 

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