Dropping pre-i686 from the archive

Jeff Bailey jbailey at ubuntu.com
Tue Jan 3 15:13:06 GMT 2006


One of the last issues on the ToolchainRoadmapNg spec to be resolved is
whether or not we should keep support for older than i686 processors.
The issue arose during BOFs at both UDU and UBZ for two main reasons:

1) In practise almost everyone has one, so the libc6-i686 gets quite a
bit of exercise, and the plain libc does not.  libc6-i686 is installed
as part of ubuntu-minimal.

2) Upstream GCC authors primarily develop on and test for i686 rather
than i486.  GCC lists "i686-pc-linux-gnu" specifically as a Primary

Ubuntu has so far had support for the older architectures based partly
on our Debian heritage but more specifically because we wanted to make
sure that we are accessible in areas where modern hardware isn't
available and because Ubuntu should be usable on small systems like

With Dapper being supported for 3 years on the desktop on 5 years on the
server, the Dapper+1 release seems a logical place to revisit these
policies.  The counter arguments to each of these are:

1) The Pentium Pro (the first i686) was released in 1995[1].  At the
point when Dapper expires, it will have been around for 16 years.
Hardware older than that seems to be stretching the definition of
"Modern" slightly. =)  From a desktop point of view, OpenOffice2
performs extremely poorly on relatively recent hardware[2], so our
desktop target is generally not older hardware anyway.

2) i486 for small / embedded systems like routers is an ideal target for

Jeff Bailey & Matthias Klose

[0] http://gcc.gnu.org/gcc-4.0/criteria.html

[1] http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Pentium_Pro

[2] 37 seconds to load writer on a Pentium 3 750 with 192MB of RAM.

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