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Re: Q for all candidates: (Old) Architecture Support

On Wed, Mar 17, 2010 at 10:49 AM, Yavor Doganov <yavor@gnu.org> wrote:
> Debian has been known through the years for its excellent support for
> many architectures.  In theory, a released arch should be as stable as
> the common/popular archs.  (In practice, it is/was pretty close, which
> is good enough.)

Yes, this has always been something that makes me be proud of about
Debian, and I'd definitely like for it to continue that way.

(... skipping the bulk of the analysis ...)

> What do you think the project should do (with or without or regardless
> of your help as potential DPL) to preserve this goodness (maximum
> supported architectures) for as long as possible?  Do you think it is
> "goodness" or you're in the "good riddance" camp?

I would like to support as many architectures as possible.  We cannot
deny the passage of time, however, and so we must accept that some
architectures are bound to stop being supported.  This even happened
some years ago with 386.  We still call the "common" architecture
i386, but a real 386 computer wouldn't be able to run the current
systems, since the kernel requires at least 486.

The only way for an architecture to be supported is to have enough
people interested in it, enough porters working on the toolchain, the
kernel, and helping the maintainers with the arch specific bugs.  If
there's enough interest in the arch, then it's probably going to
survive, if too many people lose interest, then it becomes impossible
to maintain the port.

The root of the problem then comes back to lack of enough
contributors, which is one of the problems I plan to tackle if I'm
elected.  I'm not really sure on how to attract more people to
contribute as porters, since that usually requires having access and
interest in a particular platform, but with the use of porting tools,
like using QEMU to emulate a particular architecture where a bug needs
debugging, we could try to encourage more external contributors to
help fix porting bugs, and thus help keeping the overall health of the

Also, we could try to improve motivation on bug fixing, by reminding
developers that each time they fix an arch specific bug they are
improving the overall quality of the software and that we really
appreciate having high quality software.


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