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Re: Debian on a 386? Unlikely. (was: ramblings about old hardware, gzip, bz2, and pentium opts)

On Tue, 7 Dec 1999, Franklin Belew wrote:
> My main concern is that the optimizations are going to be too intel centric
> I know for a fact that if you compile a program with -mpentium-pro
> it faults in nasty ways on an AMD k6. Are you proposing that 
> Intel P2, Celeron, and PIII are the only worthwhile propcessors, or just that
> anyone besides Intel is unimportant?

I certainly didn't mean to limit the approach to specific processors.
It seems the limiting factors are:

1. alternate processors would need to have binaries automatically
   built for them in a trouble-free (or low-maintenance) way
   - if this is not acheivable, it is not worthwhile, and we
     should stick with 386 as the lowest common denominator

2. we need web space for each new processor for which binaries
   are optimized

3. we need to consider how much space the mirrors have for all this stuff

I think the last of these three is the most problematic.

I may have headed off on a wrong tangent when I said:
> If Debian ever goes with Pentium as the minimum supported ix86
> architecture for the main distro, I think there needs to be a i386 tree
> split off for these old systems.

I came in late on this discussion, so I do not know what was actually
proposed.  I was careful to say "If Debian ever goes ...".  I did not mean
to endorse this as the only, or even best possible solution.

This is probably not a new suggestion, but perhaps this should be solved
totally outside of the official Debian release as has been done with
RedHat/Mandrake.  The "Vanilla" Debian release would continue to support
as far back as 386, and as the time/resources of other outside groups
allow, there can be different "optimized" distros based on Debian for the
niche market of consumers wishing to take full advantage of their

For the time being, however, I think it's just the wrong focus altogether
for the core Debian development effort to be even *considering*

    nSLUG       http://www.nslug.ns.ca      synrg@sanctuary.nslug.ns.ca
    Debian      http://www.debian.org       synrg@debian.org
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