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

John Arbash Meinel john at arbash-meinel.com
Fri Nov 11 14:44:15 UTC 2011

On 11/11/2011 1:15 PM, Barry Warsaw wrote:
> On Nov 10, 2011, at 06:08 PM, Dotan Cohen wrote:
>> Most people that I know are using 3-5 year old hardware, and I would
>> say that the 5-8 year hardware is more common than 0-3 year old
>> hardware. Maybe we have less of a wasteful culture than those who
>> replace their entire desktops every<5 years, but even in instances
>> where a user _does_ replace his hardware so often, what becomes of
>> that hardware? I'll tell you: it becomes some relative's computer. Or
>> some neighbour's.
> I've used this fact very effectively to migrate people to Ubuntu.  Many times,
> they have an older computer that just starts dogging under Windows, maybe
> because of bloatware, malware, or whatever.  Instead of spending $$$ on a new
> computer, I'll give them a CD and tell them to give Ubuntu a try.  I've had
> more than one friend/relative become very happy Ubuntu users because it
> breathed new life into old hardware.  How awesome is it that you just saved a
> friend several hundred to a thousand dollars *and* stealthily gave them some
> freedom too?
> (The servers in my closet are both at least a decade old, and happily run
> 10.04 LTS.  I hope to be able to upgrade them to 12.04 LTS.)

PAE was first added in Pentium Pro in 1995. So your servers have to be 
~16 years old to not support it.

So yes "a decade old" is still new enough, 2 decades old is not. Looking 

I'm trying to correlate that with:

And it looks like there is a 400MHz processor introduced around 1999. So 
you're still looking at 1 decade being new enough, but slightly more 
than that not.

I certainly ran a 450MHz dual-celeron A server for many years before I 
finally upgraded it to PIII 700 (fastest I could find that could fit in 
the slot).

 From what I can tell, the PIII version should have PAE.

> If you do end up dropping non-PAE, I think you need to do two important
> things:
> * Provide a very easy way for folks to determine whether their hardware is
>    affected or not.
> * Absolutely, positively, refuse to begin to upgrade such machines.  There's
>    nothing worse than bricking their working hardware.
> I'll note with a little sadness my inability to upgrade my first gen MacBook
> Pro 1,1 to Lion because it doesn't support the Core Duo chip in that old
> machine.  Hey wait, I know a good free operating system that *does* run on it!
> -Barry


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