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multiarch status update

Hi debian-devel,

For a couple years now a few of us have been talking about an idea called 
"multiarch". This is a way to seamlessly allow support for multiple different 
binary targets on the same system, for example running both i386-linux-gnu and 
amd64-linux-gnu binaries on the same system (many other working combinations 
exist as well). I have created a new page in the wiki to track info and status


Recently HP and Canonical Ltd. have been looking into possible implementation 
strategies and this has resulted in the following report


One of the things that came out of that report is that implementing multiarch 
would be much easier if we had a few enhancements in the package manager. This 
prompted Scott James Remnant to start working on a "dpkg 2.0" design document. 
That has been sent to the debian-dpkg list and is available at


(please direct any followup about dpkg there)

Multiarch will allow Debian to

* better support systems that can run multiple binary targets, like
  i386 on amd64, i386 on ia64.
* better support MMX/SSE/Altivec/etc tuned packages
* allow for seamless large ABI transitions
* allow users to smoothly migrate from one arch to another
* do things like "partial architectures" so that we can add weird
  processor variants without needing to add an entire new port to the
* better assimilate the *BSD kernels and userspaces
* better support non-monopoly archs, since they may be able to run bits
  for other archs
* maybe even to do stuff like use non-native archs (with support for
  other binary targets) to build native bits (m68k emulator on
  superfast amd64?). 
* other cool stuff

We think multiarch can be implemented with minimal disruption to unstable, 
most changes won't effect "single-arch" type systems at all. We'd like to 
start working on implementing it, but before we do we wanted to get feedback, 
concerns, recommendations, volunteers :), etc. This is a big undertaking and 
we're going to need everyone's help to make it happen. Please reply.


Tollef Fog Heen <tfheen@canonical.com>
dann frazier <daniel_frazier@hp.com>
Lamont Jones <lamont.jones@hp.com>
Scott James Remnant <scott@canonical.com>
Matt Taggart <matt.taggart@hp.com>
Matt Zimmerman <mdz@canonical.com>

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