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

Calum McConnell <calumlikesapplepie@gmail.com> writes:

> As I showed in my (slightly over dramatic, very over-long) email this
> morning, there are more people with i386 kernels than there are total
> users of every other release architecture.  Even if you only look at
> non-pae kernels, its still about double the total installs for any two
> other release architectures.

The quantity of hardware is useful data, but I think this is also a place
where it's important to stress the specific problem that Debian has,
namely that we need people to do the work.  That's both packaging work
inside Debian and enough upstream work that the software we're packaging
remains supportable on i386.

> The point I'm making is that i386 processors are still incredibly
> common, and we shouldn't abandon their users.

Not abandoning users is a powerful motivating force, but it still has to
succeed in motivating people.  Debian can't make a decision on the basis
of not abandoning users.  We have to make a decision on the basis that
someone is volunteering to do the work.  Perhaps they're volunteering to
do that work so that we're not abandoning users, and that's great, but
that additional step is important.

I think it's therefore useful in this sort of thread to be very clear
whether your conclusion is "and therefore I am volunteering to do the work
to keep i386 alive" or whether your conclusion is "and therefore I am
asking other people to volunteer to keep i386 alive," and be aware that
the latter may not be successful because volunteer time is a limited
resource and there are many worthy things that we could all be working on
to make the lives of users better.

If we can confirm that the volunteer resources are there, we can ask what
they need from the rest of the project to be successful.

The reason why I'm focusing on the kernel is because the upstream kernel
developers have been signaling rather strongly for a while that i386 is a
semi-deprecated architecture that you should avoid running if you can, and
the amount of resources and attention that it is getting are steadily
dropping.  Maybe the resources and attention it gets are still something
we consider "good enough" (although we're already at the point where if
you care about kernel security, you should put serious effort into getting
onto the amd64 kernel even if you keep an i386 userspace), but at some
point it seems likely they will no longer be.  That means it may be time
to push our users a bit harder to switch to the amd64 kernel if they can.

Russ Allbery (rra@debian.org)              <https://www.eyrie.org/~eagle/>

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