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Re: 64-bit transition deadline (Re: Etch in the hands of the Stable Release Managers)

On Mon, Apr 09, 2007 at 10:12:54AM -0500, Manoj Srivastava wrote:
>         What are the concrete reasons, you think, for thinking that 2008
>  (and not earlier or later) is going to be the deadline? From the
>  article, it seems to be mostly hand waving and pretending that the past
>  is a perfect prologue, which is an argument I find difficulty lending
>  any credibility to.

I think we agree that Moore's law predicts the available amount of memory.
High-end application developers will always write software that accomodates
to that amount, so when this amount is 8 GiB, app developers will either:

<quote from previous mail in debian-release>
  - Use win32 + PAE.  This allows your program to run in the vast majority
  of computers, and provides the biggest profit in the short term.  I hope
  this approach will be the most common, and expect it'll sustained for long.

  - Use a 64-bit platform.  Which one?
    - win64 is so utterly broken that none of the former win32 users wanted
    to migrate.  As a consequence, there's practicaly no userbase.
    - x86_64-linux-gnu is a complete product.  It has drivers for everything
    and a consistent system that works out of the box without 32-bit hacks.
    Its userbase (much like i386-linux-gnu) is marginal but still bigger than

Those who go the PAE way are totaly irrelevant.  Someone (including microsoft)
is going to make a lot of profit exploiting the decadent 32-bit + pae market,
but sooner or later it'll collapse.

Those who go the "clean" 64-bit way will have to make a choice to determine
which will be the dominant OS on this new platform.  Their main concern will
be (as always has been) userbase.  If our userbase is bigger than win64's
(and that's not too hard), x86_64-linux-gnu will be stablished as the standard
system and the gradual replacement of 32-bit hardware will render microsoft

This date is easily predictable.  There won't be a "big" migration at that
time, but the decision of which will be the reference 64-bit platform will
be taken and set in stone.  After that, it doesn't matter how long it takes
this new platform to replace win32, if this platform is ours, we've already

>         The other part is, really, are we not supporting 64 bit
>  architectures? I might be out of the loop, but it does appear to me
>  that we have support for 64 bit stuff; so we have already met the
>  deadline as far as OS vendor responsibilities are concerned? What is it
>  that I am missing?

There are a few details [1], but the general idea is that lenny will bring lots
of improvements (both in 32 and 64 bit debian), and if it's released
post-deadline we will benefit from these improvements too late, since the
outcome of the 64-bit battle will have already been determined.

[1] not essential to this discussion, but basicaly:
    - wine (the biarch build didn't make it to etch)
    - flash (I expect swfdec will be ready to replace non-free 32bit-only
    - java (predictions say Sun will release a free plugin at Javacon)

Robert Millan

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