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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 07:16:12PM +0200, Robert Millan wrote:
> 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.

Limited to 2 or 3GB ram per application, even though the system itself can
have more than 4GB ram.  Hardly a solution for a lot of applications.

>   - 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.

Actually I wouldn't say win64 is broken, it just has a serious lack of
drivers, which of course will continue as long as nobody is using it.
If microsoft wanted to solve this they should mandate 64bit drivers
along with 32bit drivers in order to certify a driver for vista.  Until
they force drivers to exist, 64bit windows will be a niche market for
high end servers only.

>     - 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
>     win64's.

Works for me. :)

> 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
> obsolete.
> </quote>

Well just because hardware is 64bit capable doesn't make it not 32bit
capable, so obsolete may be too strong a word.

> 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
> won.

Except the win64 platform does run win32 software, and backwards
compatiblity has always won for some stupid reason.  Dos to windows to
win95, to NT/XP, etc.  OS/2 wasn't backwards compatible and died.
Linux at least has a price advantage as well as lots of software

> 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
>       implementation)
>     - java (predictions say Sun will release a free plugin at Javacon)

I just want a flash plugin that doesn't crash firefox all the time (so
that pretty much means it can't be written by adobe obviously).

Len Sorensen

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