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Re: debootstrapping m68k-coldfire

On Tue, 4 Mar 2008, Michael Casadevall wrote:

> I suspose the question needs to be asked; what are people doing with 
> their old m68ks.

That's almost a FAQ on this list...

This is what I do with my old m68ks, and why I think it might be useful:

- I write code for them. In a small way that helps other ports. Having 
  many ports is good because it tends to improve the common code and that 
  benefits all users.

- I learn from them. Writing code for the kernel teaches me a lot about 
  computer architecture fundamentals, the code base and development 
  process (as Brad mentioned).

- I find problems by using them. Code bloat, churn and bit rot for 
  example.  Linux is supposed to be scalable and flexible. Using 
  abstraction layers means that complexity shouldn't impact where isn't 
  needed. Our port is a bell wether in that it reveals such problems early 
  (e.g. the overhead in the "Completely Fair Scheduler". I think there is 
  an open question as to the need for multiple algorithms with different 
  time/space tradeoffs.)

- I fix them. Linus said in a recent interview, "I want [Linux] to be the 
  best." Well, I want the 2.6 kernel to work better than the older 
  versions. A lot of effort from a lot people went into the pre-2.6 mac 
  kernels only to lie abandoned in a CVS repo somewhere while the "latest 
  and greatest" mainline kernel was left completely broken. That bothered 

- I preserve them. Some people like to restore antique furniture, cars, 
  steam engines, whatever -- for me it is computers. Anyone who 
  appreciates a museum or a period movie would perhaps appreciate that 

- I help repurpose them. Buying a fast GPU only to have it serve as a 
  frame buffer is quite ludicrous. I'm not happy throwing away working 
  equipment in the interests of questionable business models.

- I do this stuff because I can! Open source is supposed to permit exactly 
  what we are doing with it -- that is, it should cater to special 
  interests. Moreover, a viral open source license has to deal with this 
  somehow because every architecture faces obsolescence sooner or later. I 
  think part of the solution is disintermediation (which begs Ingo's 
  question, "perhaps m68k should drop debian").

It would be difficult to place a value on some of these uses and weigh 
them against the cost of serving a package archive or maintaining a port 
etc. I'm not going to try. There are other pursuits (like art or service 
to community) that can't be justified by that kind of analysis.

As a teenager I learned structured programming on 68k macs and perhaps 
because of that I have a sentimental attachment to these machines -- call 
it nostalgia.

All that may sound more like Frequently Questioned Answers (FQA) than a 
FAQ. That's fine, I like FQA's :-)


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