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Re: lenny+1 and the future of the alpha port?

Well, personally, I can say that my Alpha is almost never on anymore.
There was a time when using it to render stuff from Blender as part of
a renderfarm made sense.  At this point, the other machines on the
network are enough faster that I just don't bother with the loud old

That said, some of my programmer friends know I have a bit of a
software testing menagerie.  So, when they have code that is
performing strangely, they can send it to me, and I'll build on
various platforms for them and compare behavior so they can see if
they are running into a compiler bug, or just some consistent but
unintuitive behavior, etc.  So, being able to build the occasional bit
of C or C++ will likely be useful to me for a very long time on my
Alpha. (And, my SPARC hardware, MIPS, etc.)  In addition, my Alpha
(like many others, I'm sure) is built like a tank, with redundant
power supplies, etc.  So, replacing it with a faster machine would be
a trivial cost, but replacing it with an all around better machine in
every sense would be quite expensive.

IMO, it probably makes sense to sunset Alpha support, but I would see
it ideal if there was a sort of skeleton crew to do security triage
work past three years out.  Stopping full support for Alpha won't make
old machines stop working.  (And, It's not like people will complain
about their new Alphas made after today not being supported...)  But,
if there continued to be security updates for a few key packages, that
would be best.  If, for example, somebody finds out that openssh is
completely vulnerable, and will grant full remote root to anybody who
asks politely on any architecture, then the fix should be deployed for
Alpha.  But, minor fixes, new features, etc., are probably not worth
the trouble on Alpha three years out.

(Obviously, my opinion is subject to change in the unlikely event that
new Alpha hardware suddenly becomes unexpectedly common from multiple
vendors, or something equally implausible.)

On Thu, Aug 21, 2008 at 11:36 PM, Steve Langasek <vorlon@debian.org> wrote:
> Hi folks,
> With lenny just around the corner, I think it's time to start thinking about
> the future of the Debian alpha port for lenny+1 and beyond.
> I've noticed some time before, early in the lenny cycle, that the alpha port
> is no longer useful to me personally.  It's still been fun to hack on from
> time to time, but my alpha is so far underpowered compared to all the other
> machines I have on-line that it's no longer useful to me.
> It's also by far the loudest machine in the house and dissipates the most
> heat.
> So I'm committed to following through on the alpha port through the release
> of lenny, but once lenny is out I intend to discontinue my work on it; my
> alpha is only powered on in order to do daily builds of the installer, and
> I'm looking forward to powering it off.
> Are there other developers still actively using alpha who are willing to do
> the work to maintain it?  Or perhaps a more important question:  does anyone
> foresee themselves still using alpha three years from now (1.5 years of
> lenny as stable, + 1 year of security support as oldstable)?
> If not, I think it's time to look at retiring the alpha port gracefully as a
> release architecture.  Alpha has had a long, proud run in Debian, but if
> alpha/lenny+1 isn't actually going to be useful to anyone, and no one is
> really maintaining it (we've been mostly coasting for lenny already on the
> porting front), it would be better to drop the port now rather than continue
> to take up project resources and become a source of resentment.
> Thoughts?
> Cheers,
> --
> Steve Langasek                   Give me a lever long enough and a Free OS
> Debian Developer                   to set it on, and I can move the world.
> Ubuntu Developer                                    http://www.debian.org/
> slangasek@ubuntu.com                                     vorlon@debian.org
> --
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