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

Ben Hutchings ben at decadent.org.uk
Fri Nov 11 03:03:31 UTC 2011

On Wed, 2011-11-09 at 14:43 -0700, 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.

Assuming that '400Mhz Pentium M' means the 'Banias' models with a
400 MHz FSB, this agrees with my understanding of PAE support.

> 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.

I agree.  In Debian testing/unstable we replaced the '686' flavour with
'686-pae', with a check on installation to tell people if it won't work.
There's been very little complaint about this, though of course we do
maintain a non-PAE flavour.

> If there is sufficient community demand (and support), I would be 
> willing to sponsor the first non-PAE kernel upload to Universe.

Coincidentally, none of those non-PAE processors support SMP (at least
not in the standard way Linux supports).  So if you have a specifically
non-PAE flavour it's a useful optimisation to configure it as !SMP.


Ben Hutchings
The program is absolutely right; therefore, the computer must be wrong.
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