Dropping i386 non-PAE as a supported kernel flavour in Precise Pangolin

St├ęphane Graber stgraber at ubuntu.com
Wed Nov 9 22:12:14 UTC 2011

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On 11/09/2011 04:43 PM, Tim Gardner wrote:
> Per discussion at UDS the kernel team is proposing to drop the
> non-PAE i386 flavour. The upgrade path for non-PAE users will be
> the PAE kernel. Those CPUs that do not have i686 and PAE support
> will be orphaned. To the best of my knowledge, these include Intel
> CPUs prior to Pentium II, 400Mhz Pentium M, VIA C3, and Geode LX.
> As far as I know, there are no laptop or desktop class CPUs being
> produced that do not meet these minimum requirements.
> Before I do something that is difficult to revert, I would like to
> hear from the development community why we should continue to
> maintain a kernel flavour that is (in my opinion) getting
> increasingly low utilization. It is my feeling that an extremely
> high percentage of users of the non-PAE kernel have a CPU that is
> PAE capable.

While it doesn't affect me personally, I've noticed that quite a few
friends of mine still have Pentium M hardware that don't support PAE.

These are mostly older Thinkapds and DELL laptops made in the last
decade and that can still run Oneiric pretty decently with no possible
fallback once the PAE kernel is dropped.
The only other thing that's not working with stock Oneiric on these is
Unity 3D because of some missing OpenGL extensions, Unity 2D works
fine though, AFAIK everything else is currently working as expected.

I'm sure that maintaining a separate non-PAE kernel must cost you
quite a lot of time, but I think it'd be great if we could have 12.04
as the last release supporting these.
As it's an LTS, that's going to give these users an extra 5 years of
support for their hardware which should be plenty enough for that
relatively old hardware.

> If there is sufficient community demand (and support), I would be 
> willing to sponsor the first non-PAE kernel upload to Universe.
> https://wiki.ubuntu.com/KernelTeam/Specs/PreciseKernelConfigReview
> We'll be conducting a similar survey for powerpc.
> rtg
> P.S. For those of you that are totally confused by this email, PAE 
> (Physical Address Extension) was an addition to 32 bit x86 CPUs
> that allowed them to address more then 4GB physical memory.
> http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Physical_Address_Extension

- -- 
St├ęphane Graber
Ubuntu developer
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