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Re: Release status of i386 for Bullseye and long term support for 3 years?

Hi all,
As someone who runs amd64/i386 multiarch, this statement from Adrian:

> i386 hardware is so numerous and widely spread, that every tiny fraction
> of i386 users might be more users than half of our release architectures
> combined. It is not even clear whether this is just an exaggeration or 
> might be literally true:

intrested me.  I wondered just how many there were.  Popcon lists 17281
people with i386 installations, but I bet that includes those who (like
me) installed multiarch.  So I grep'ed through the popcon output a bit,
looking for kernel packages.  I figure that, if you have an i386 kernel
pacakge, you don't belong in the first group of people.

Obviously you all can easily replicate this, and this only applies to
users with popularity-contest installed, but here are my results:

For a baseline, there are 181,863 amd64 users who are regularally sending
popcon reports.  Of those, 171,916 have the linux-image-amd64 package
installed.  I assume the remaining 5.4 percent are selecting what kernel
package they are running manually, or perhaps are in a VM.

The 13th most popular linux-image package is linux-image-686-pae, at
12,736 installs.  It places ahead of every single 5.x kernel, indicating
that there are more people running i386 (with some extensions) than there
are running Testing or Unstable.  

Continuing down the list, the standard linux-image-686 package (no PAE)
has 877 popcon installs.  None of the other release archetecures have
appeared yet: which isn't supprising, since every other popcon archetecure
has a combined total of 1636 installs, the largest being armhf at 636
installs.  I assume these people are the ones who would lose support:
while some of them may have PAE capable computers, I don't think it's a
significant fraction.

Clearly, I have already proved Adrian's point: I can say, with certainty,
that there are an order of magnitude more people with i386 kernels (and
thus presumably i386 hardware) than there are for every other non-amd64
release archetecture combined.  Further, there are more people with old
i386 hardware than there are for any other arch.  My point is that we
would lose less people if we dropped all ARM support than if we dropped
the oldest supported i386 kernel[1].

But lets keep going!  See, we haven't seen any arm kernal images yet, so
who knows if they even exist?  Remember, the ARM archectures are the
biggest ones after i386.

Next up, we hit linux-image-586, with 403 installs.  That means there are
403 people who were unable to upgrade to stretch, but are still running
Debian and popcon.  That's presumably the lower limit for the number
Adrian referenced as people who were upset with the increase in baseline,
since again, all of those 403 people have used their 586 machine in the
past month.

Continuing down, we see linux-image-486, 310 installs.  That's still more
installations than arm64's total popcon.  It's also been unsupported since
2014, but hey.   

Then we hit linux-image-marvell, which (as I understand it) is one of the
arm versions.  At 225 installs, its not terribly impressive.  Its also the
first non-amd64/i386 kernel that I hit on this list, and where I stop. 
This is supported as a first-class Debian citizen: and yet, the now
dropped 486 still has more installations.

Of course, the pace of technology marches on, and the 586 is an ancient
chip.  We were right to end support for it: it's not like any modern
software would run well on such a processor.  But there is still a large
section of the debian userbase using the older 686 versions.  Adrian is
right to say that ending support for them isn't right.

Wall of text meticulously analyzing the output of two commands aside, this
was a bit fun to make!  Now I'm off to bed in my bed: thanks for reading! 

Calum M

[1]: Okay, that's not strictly true: the total number of people reporting
packages from each of the arm architectures is 1256.  However, that
involves three seperate sub-archetecures, and I am willing to bet there
are a fair number of multi-arch arm users.  But for strict correctness,
pretend I said "all armhf and arm64 support", since those two total to
only 10 more than the subset of i386 in question.

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