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Upgrades Linux

Linux Nukes 386 Support 464

sfcrazy writes with news that Linus pulled a patch by Ingo Molnar to remove support for the 386 from the kernel. From Ingo's commit log: "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." Linus adds: "I'm not sentimental. Good riddance."
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Linux Nukes 386 Support

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  • by Ynot_82 (1023749) on Wednesday December 12, 2012 @10:30AM (#42260885)

    No point supporting i386 anyway
    As far as I'm aware, GNU binutils won't work on anything less than a 486

    I guess you could be affected if you're using some other toolchain, but realistically is pointless keeping support for 386

  • Re:Time to fork (Score:5, Informative)

    by Trevelyan (535381) on Wednesday December 12, 2012 @10:35AM (#42260919)
    See: []

    Debian dropped i386 kernel images a very long time ago; the lowest you can go is 486.
    Annoying for me is, that they also dropped i686 without pae. Meaning for my AMD Geodes I either have to roll my own or install 486.
  • by FreonTrip (694097) <> on Wednesday December 12, 2012 @10:43AM (#42261015)
    Ack, I was wrong: according to this handy timeline, [] the last release was 2.4.37 at the very beginning of 2011. Were one to roll his own distribution and cross-compile, you could still make a surprisingly modern Linux run on a 386...
  • Re:Dammit (Score:4, Informative)

    by TheRealMindChild (743925) on Wednesday December 12, 2012 @10:52AM (#42261121) Homepage Journal
    You would have a really hard time maintaining it. The stuff that was removed allows them to change a whole mess of things that will become incompatible to backport from
  • by TheRealMindChild (743925) on Wednesday December 12, 2012 @11:03AM (#42261269) Homepage Journal
    I'm pretty sure there will be no one affected. When I tried getting linux running on a real 486, it was pretty close to impossible with every distribution that claimed 486 support. I'm guessing they test on qemu (486 emulation seems to emulate something more than a real 486). Not one of the maintainers seemed to care. I might add, Debian was the only actual linux to work.
  • Re:Just 386? (Score:2, Informative)

    by Anonymous Coward on Wednesday December 12, 2012 @11:20AM (#42261449)

    Wrong: there are more differences between 386 and 486 than between 486 and first Pentium (not MMX).
    The most serious differences are, no WP bit in 386, which introduces security holes in any multithreaded program, only global TLB flush on 386 (vs. INVLPG instruction), no byte swap on 386 (bswap, heavily used in networking code).

    The Pentium is basically two 486 in parallel wit a beefier FPU. The big architectural change was then the PPro, which is not that different from the latest core-i7 actualy (there are differences but the instruction flow is not that different, the only very different x86 processor from Intel has been the toaster, I mean the P4).

  • Re:Dammit (Score:5, Informative)

    by fuzzyfuzzyfungus (1223518) on Wednesday December 12, 2012 @11:31AM (#42261573) Journal

    I'm honestly surprised that it held on this long.

    Intel EOLed even their embedded 386s sufficiently long ago that I had to go to to find the discontinuation notice []. The last 386 rolled out the door in 2007.

    There still seem to be some other outfits I've never heard of making x86s for embedded applications, but the specs on those boards are sufficiently primitive that they generally seem to be aiming for DOS, not the leading edge of the 3.X kernel tree.

  • WTF? English fail (Score:5, Informative)

    by Mr_Silver (213637) on Wednesday December 12, 2012 @11:37AM (#42261671)

    sfcrazy writes with news that Linus pulled a patch by Igno Molnar to remove support for the 386 from the kernel.

    At first I thought I was going crazy. If Linux "pulled a patch by Igno" to remove 386 support, then that would mean that he prevented the patch going in. So why does he add "Good riddance" at the bottom?

    So then I read the second link [] and it actually says:

    Linus Torvalds, the father of Linux kernel, (actually Ingo Molnar) has pulled the plugs on Intel's 386 processors.

    I've been here a while and this is the first time I can remember that I've seen a story on Slashdot state the complete opposite of what actually happened. Geeeeesh.

  • Re:Dammit (Score:5, Informative)

    by the_humeister (922869) on Wednesday December 12, 2012 @11:39AM (#42261699)

    Debian dropped 386 support way back when 3.1 came out. Here are the reasons. []

  • Re:WTF? English fail (Score:5, Informative)

    by Microlith (54737) on Wednesday December 12, 2012 @11:45AM (#42261785)

    To "pull" a patch is a git-ism because you use the command "git pull" to bring in changes from remote repositories.

  • Re:WTF? English fail (Score:5, Informative)

    by H0p313ss (811249) on Wednesday December 12, 2012 @11:46AM (#42261799)

    In kernel speak, "pulling a patch" means he accepted someone's patch.

    I love how every profession or hobby introduces it's own jargon.

  • Re:So... (Score:5, Informative)

    by hpa (7948) on Wednesday December 12, 2012 @12:05PM (#42262147) Homepage
    Neither. It was by me, but Ingo pushed it to Linus.
  • by hpa (7948) on Wednesday December 12, 2012 @12:15PM (#42262295) Homepage
    Two major things: the WP bit doesn't work in supervisor mode on 386, which makes copy on write *very* painful to implement, and the CMPXCHG and XADD instructions which are extremely important to SMP primitives are missing. That has meant needing separate code that only works on 386, and it has not been well maintained and always gets in the way.
  • Re:Fond Memories (Score:5, Informative)

    by ajs (35943) <ajs @ a j s .com> on Wednesday December 12, 2012 @12:29PM (#42262539) Homepage Journal

    I never knew anyone who regularly made the distinction between "line printer" and "dot matrix printer" when talking about "line printer ASCII art". Sure, line printers were their own thing, but when used as an adjective, it was always synonymous with DMP. Now get off my lawn, or I'll rant about how ttys are actual teletype machines, and not just a damned serial port!

  • Re:Dammit (Score:5, Informative)

    by hairyfeet (841228) <{moc.liamg} {ta} {8691tsaebssab}> on Wednesday December 12, 2012 @01:03PM (#42262979) Journal

    I don't know about him but I have run Win 7 on a first gen P4 with 512Mb of RAM, not great but it ran. Sadly if you really want to play "How low can you go?" with Windows then you just have to run the pirate version, specifically the "Tiny Windows" versions. They were made by gamers trying to strip down the lowest they could go and still have at least 90% program compatibility and frankly it makes Windows Embedded and WinFLP look like bad jokes, we're talking WinXP full patched running less than 80Mb of RAM and Win 7 running great on less than 200Mb. Of course Vista Tiny uses the most of all at 480Mb, they're hackers, not miracle workers.

    As for TFA I never understood why they kept it as long as they did. I mean is anybody here wanting to run the latest version on a 386? That seems to me to be just as dumb an idea as slapping Win 8 on a P3, why would you want to torture yourself like that?

  • Re:Dammit (Score:5, Informative)

    by jpvlsmv (583001) on Wednesday December 12, 2012 @01:23PM (#42263191) Homepage Journal

    And if you don't require 386 support frankly a $25 ARM thumbstick will give you much more work per watt while being even lower powered than the Bobcat or Atom.

    Even if you do, your ARM thumbstick can probably emulate the 386 instruction set at a faster rate than the original chips, via Bochs or QEMU.


  • Re:Dammit (Score:3, Informative)

    by bmk67 (971394) on Wednesday December 12, 2012 @02:03PM (#42263671)

    Yes. Sequent Symmetry S81, up to 384MB of RAM, and up to 30 80386 processors.

    No, it won't fit under your desk.

  • Re:Dammit (Score:2, Informative)

    by Obfuscant (592200) on Wednesday December 12, 2012 @02:23PM (#42263959)

    So there really isn't a point to keeping any of these old junkers except for the case of nostalgia

    Or you already have one that is working and don't feel you should be forced to upgrade hardware just to keep up with the latest versions of an operating system. Which used to be a point in favor of Linux and a point against MS.

    The fact is, the defacto Linux universe had already shut out 386s because the standard install ISOs used a boot kernel that woudn't run on them anyway.

It is contrary to reasoning to say that there is a vacuum or space in which there is absolutely nothing. -- Descartes