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Re: i386 compatibility & libstdc++

On Sat, Apr 26, 2003 at 02:56:13AM -0500, Chris Cheney wrote:
> On Sat, Apr 26, 2003 at 06:38:34PM +1200, Nick Phillips wrote:
> > It may be relatively cheap and easy for *you* to buy a two-year-old
> > system, but I don't believe that in this case you are representative
> > of nearly enough of our users to be a useful example.

> I also find it hard to believe that the majority of our users do not
> have or can not purchase a system that is less than 7 years old.

Your non-sustainable Western consumerism is showing.

> Machines old enough to be before i686 are probably also old enough to
> be barely usable as a desktop, especially since ram prices back then
> were still quite high (~ $40/MB iirc), and disk sizes quite small (2GB
> HD was $300 in 1996). What are the theoretical binary-only apps that 
> these desktops would be using, whizbang 3d games, multimedia
> players, or something else? A reduced size 386-586 arch wouldn't be bad
> for a server, which imho is about all machines that old are really good
> for anyway. (And no Manoj I am not attempting to troll with this post...)

Though I don't think we have to worry about binary-only C++ apps for 486
and 586 machines, AIUI the whole reason there are two
binary-incompatible implementations is that one gives a performance gain
on newer systems.  Users of lower-end systems that are already limping
deserve a chance at seeing some of these performance benefits, the same
as users of newer systems.

As for using i486s and i586s as anything other than servers, I'm
currently involved in a project whose goal is to put surplus PC and Mac
hardware running free (as in beer) software into the hands of
disadvantaged members of the community.  I also know of a church locally
that was considering the adoption of Debian for the PCs they ship to
West Africa (just add electricity) as part of their mission work.  While
neither of these scenarios demands cutting-edge software or frequent
security updates, it would be nice to be able to provide such users with
an OS that can keep pace with the shifting protocol soup of the
Internet.  If it's a call between tossing updates and tossing the
donated 486s, though, the hardware stays.

Steve Langasek
postmodern programmer

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