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FF4m3

@rr.com

Linux Pulls The Plug On i386

Good-Bye 386: Linux to drop support for i386 chips with next major release:

Ingo Molnár, a Red Hat engineer and Linux kernel developer, asked Linus Torvalds, Linux's founder on December 11th to "consider pulling the latest x86-nuke386-for-linus git tree. For those of us who haven't been Linux kernel enthusiasts since day one, Molnár explained, "This tree removes ancient-386-CPUs support and thus zaps quite a bit of complexity." He continued, "Unfortunately there's a nostalgic cost: your old original 386 DX33 system from early 1991 won't be able to boot modern Linux kernels anymore. Sniff."

Indeed, back in 1991, Torvalds sent out a Usenet posting saying, "I'm doing a (free) operating system. (just a hobby, won't be big and professional like gnu [Gnu] was, and is, the free software collection of programs originated by Richard M. Stallman) for 386(486) AT clones." From that modest beginning Linux began.

Torvalds responded the next day, December 12th. I'm not sentimental. Good riddance." And, so long as the kernel team was thinking about cleaning out the code garage, Torvalds added "I think we should probably at least consider taking this one step further, and remove the dear old FPU [Floating Point Unit] emulation support too." Torvalds wondered though "Or do people still use the 486SX?"

As it turns out, 486SX will run Linux without any special handling. So, Torvalds has decided "Ok. It sounds like the code actually works despite lack of testing,and it clearly hasn't been the same kind of maintenance pain and problem that the lack of cmpxchg [compare and exchange, an old and troublesome 386 instruction] and friends, so let's leave it alone."

So while the 486DX and SX will live on in Linux 3.8, the 386 has come to the end of the road in mainstream Linux.

Worry not, though, if you still have a 386 chugging along in your office. It will still be supported in older versions of the Linux kernel for years still to come. Just don't expect the latest and greatest Linux kernel, which will arrive sometime in early 2013, to run on it.



reub2000
Premium
join:2001-12-28
Evanston, IL

1 recommendation

Yeah, I saw this on slashdot. I can't believe linux supported this for this long. I don't think any distro even supported this.
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JohnInSJ
Premium
join:2003-09-22
Aptos, CA

1 recommendation

reply to FF4m3
heh, I used to run linux on a NEC Versa 6060. Guess no new kernel for that puppy!
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Black Box

join:2002-12-21
reply to FF4m3
Not so sure it's the best idea. There are still plenty of embedded 386 boards out there. Also, as Linux prides itself with the diversity of supported architectures I think that this is a blemish on the shiny armor

I've read the proposed patch and I didn't see anything earth shattering. Some complexity indeed, but everything is #ifdef'd out if the processor is not 386. I may loose the real scope as I did not trace the callers of teh affected functions.
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wmcbrine
213 251 145 96

join:2002-12-30
Laurel, MD
kudos:1
reply to FF4m3
For a minute there I thought they were going to drop the entire 32-bit x86 architecture. I never think of the actual 80386 anymore when I see "i386".
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AlphaOne
I see
Premium
join:2004-02-21
reply to FF4m3
Wow, DX and SX ... haven't heard of them for more than a decade. I thought they're as extinct as the 286 ATs and XTs.


GILXA1226
Premium,MVM
join:2000-12-29
Dayton, OH

1 recommendation

reply to Black Box
said by Black Box:

Not so sure it's the best idea. There are still plenty of embedded 386 boards out there.

I wonder how many of those embedded boards are running a kernel even at the 2.4 level, let along something considered 'modern' like a 2.6 or 3.x.
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JohnInSJ
Premium
join:2003-09-22
Aptos, CA
said by GILXA1226:

I wonder how many of those embedded boards are running a kernel even at the 2.4 level, let along something considered 'modern' like a 2.6 or 3.x.

what, and ruin their decade long uptime? NEVER!
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Kearnstd
Space Elf
Premium
join:2002-01-22
Mullica Hill, NJ
kudos:1
reply to Black Box
said by Black Box:

Not so sure it's the best idea. There are still plenty of embedded 386 boards out there.

It is all about forward progress is how I see things like this and the phasing out of 2g signals by the cell carriers.

That said linux is open source so the new kernels might still get 386 patching done by other people. It is just no longer part of official channels.
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dave
Premium,MVM
join:2000-05-04
not in ohio
kudos:8
Reviews:
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reply to Black Box
said by Black Box:

There are still plenty of embedded 386 boards out there.

Perhaps, but why would they want to trade a working kernel for the latest and greatest?

Rule 1: ~broke => ~fix

Rule 2: you don't want to be running very new software on very old hardware (because you'll be dissatisfied with speed/memory use/everything)


AVD
Respice, Adspice, Prospice
Premium
join:2003-02-06
Onion, NJ
kudos:1
said by dave:

said by Black Box:

There are still plenty of embedded 386 boards out there.

Perhaps, but why would they want to trade a working kernel for the latest and greatest?

Rule 1: ~broke => ~fix

Rule 2: you don't want to be running very new software on very old hardware (because you'll be dissatisfied with speed/memory use/everything)

exactly
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shdesigns
Powered By Infinite Improbabilty Drive
Premium
join:2000-12-01
Stone Mountain, GA
reply to Black Box
Not sure there are many embedded 386 boxes that would need updating. Probably something that old is in a stable state.