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Re: Re-evaluating architecture inclusion in unstable/experimental

On 03.10.2018 18:01, John Paul Adrian Glaubitz wrote:
>> For s390x I can say that the port was driven without any commercial
>> interest on both Aurelien's and my side
> The question is though: Is there quantifiable amount of users that is
> running Debian on such big iron instead of one of the Linux enterprise
> distributions on the market? If the argument is about maintenance burden,
> then does it justify to support Debian on s390x when the number of users
> is small? And, if yes, why does that not apply to ppc64, for example?
> (I would mention sparc64 here as well, but there is actually a valid
>  blocker which is the lack of supply of new hardware for DSA).

I cannot speak to ppc64. ppc64el is useful as I'm told POWER can be
competitive to Intel/AMD-based services. But I don't know how many users
would run Debian.

For s390x, IBM does not publicly admit that there are people running
Debian, but there are a few. Almost all of them turn popcon off - most
of the VMs can't talk to the internet. Of course I don't know if the
availability of Ubuntu significantly changed that. They were able to
invest much more time into polishing the port and most people just want
some kind of Debian derivative. Historically the base system has been
very well maintained by IBM, though. So the effort to keep it running
has been relatively small. This recently changed somewhat, given that
the primary focus is on enterprise distributions, in that stuff like
Javascript interpreters don't work well. Essentially it boils down to
server workloads that companies need to run, so as Docker and Go became
popular, IBM implemented support for it. The same happened for v8 as
used by Node. OpenJDK 9 finally comes with a JIT, so you don't have to
use IBM Java anymore.

And to IBM's credit, they even contributed some bits back to d-i.
Although some of those still await testing and merging. The Ubuntu
changes did not flow back / were not mergable as-is into Debian.

It's always a tradeoff between how much work is necessary to keep the
port alive and how many people use it. As long as the port keeps itself
working, that's sort of fine in my experience. Once you need to sheperd
a lot of things that all break (like the MIPSens historically had to,
even working around broken CPUs) or need to deal with 2 GB virtual
address space or don't have modern languages like Go or Rust around, it
quickly approaches the point where it's not worth it anymore.

Kind regards
Philipp Kern

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