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Re: debian architecture history question

On Friday 11 June 2010 11:42:16 Paul E Condon wrote:
> I'm in the process of working a bug on my desktop PC.  The CPU is a
> Semperon (32bit AMD).  I recall that I once used i686. But now I think
> I am using i386. When I make a bug report, reportbug includes the
> line:
> "Architecture: i386 (i686)"
> I guess that i686 has somehow been merged into i386,

They were never entirely separate architectures.  The i486, i586, and i686 
instruction sets were strict supersets of the i386 instruction set.

Mostly likely this line is reporting your dpkg architecture and your kernel 
architecture.  The dpkg architecture is still called i386, but I believe the 
libc requires the i486 instruction set, and there is no pre-compiled kernel 
image that does not require at least the i486 instruction set.

I think all the 32-bit processors on the market right now are i686 or better, 
but there might be some i586 embedded processors on the market still.  Debian 
provides a pre-compiled kernel images that depends on the i686 architecture, 
and can therefore take advantage of the extra (faster) instructions in i686 

I'm not exactly sure what the policy is for packages in the i386 archives in 
general, but I believe they are supposed to have -586 or -686 in their package 
name is they require those instruction sets.  Some of the A/V codec libraries 
had stuff like that for a while, IIRC.  I believe currently they auto-probe 
for the processor features and use what is available at runtime.
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