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Debian Software Hardware Linux

Debian Release Mgr. Proposes Dropping Some Archs 377

Posted by timothy
from the notion-that-could-become-an-idea-and-maybe-a-concept dept.
smerdyakov writes "In this story posted by Andrew Orlowski of the Register Debian Release manager Steve Langasek has announced that support will be dropped for all but four computer architectures. Among the reasons cited for doing this are improving testing coordination, 'a more limber release process' and ultimately a ('hopefully') shorter release cyle. The main architectures to survive will be Intel x86, AMD64, PowerPC and IA-64." Actually, the story says clearly that this is only a proposal at this point, but it's definitely something to watch.
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Debian Release Mgr. Proposes Dropping Some Archs

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  • by thepotoo (829391) <[thepotoospam] [at] [yahoo.com]> on Monday March 14, 2005 @06:11PM (#11937344)
    Seeing as they're the major systems out there. But IA-64? I've barely heard of that, and TFA says Microsoft dropped XP for that. Can anyone elaborate as to why this one was kept?
  • About time (Score:4, Interesting)

    by Anonymous Coward on Monday March 14, 2005 @06:12PM (#11937362)
    Thanks a lot! This was about time, or else we would never get a new stable release. Lets just hope thats it gets further then just beeing an proposal...
  • Older Hardware (Score:4, Interesting)

    by nairnr (314138) on Monday March 14, 2005 @06:17PM (#11937420)
    My basement has become a repository for some older machines. I had chosen debian for a couple, noticeably a HP-PA machine, and my I had a few Sparc 2, IPX boxes. Debian was my distro of choice because they still supported these machines. My Alpha is running an older version of RedHat when it was still supported.

    So the question becomes, who will bother supporting non-mainstream hardware? They are still functional machines for me...

  • Debian.. PFHT.. (Score:3, Interesting)

    by Anonymous Coward on Monday March 14, 2005 @06:19PM (#11937457)
    Well, I'm sure Debian has their reasons, but I suspect they're suffering due to some of their fans dropping it for other distros. Late releases, stupid politics and aged packages isn't doing this distro any justice.

    As for their decision to drop SPARC, good.. I ran Debian on my SPARC boxes for a few years, and it was garbage. Slow, clumsy and at times a few bad packages got in causing problems. Debian for SPARC made Solaris look like a rocket ship.

    For all you SPARC users, switch to Gentoo (Running it and loving it) or support one of the other SPARC distros like Splack (Slackware-based SPARC distro).
  • by Anonymous Coward on Monday March 14, 2005 @06:21PM (#11937478)
    It's called Ubuntu.
  • drop me too! (Score:3, Interesting)

    by r00t (33219) on Monday March 14, 2005 @06:21PM (#11937485) Journal
    PowerPC is stuck with a crappy old pre-NPTL glibc
    because of the feature freeze. Making PowerPC be
    unofficial would allow this to get fixed.

    Heck, drop every port but x86. It's not nice how
    the x86 port drags around the others by the
    release cycle.
  • What about ARM ? (Score:5, Interesting)

    by EmbeddedJanitor (597831) on Monday March 14, 2005 @06:24PM (#11937528)
    By the end of this year, the majority of Linux systems will be cell phones and settop boxes/ digital TV etc running on ARM and PowerPC architectures .... not x86. I would have thought that keeping ARM would be a GoodThing.

    Perhaps Debian isn't trying to address the embedded segment.

  • Like Gentoo? (Score:1, Interesting)

    by amightywind (691887) on Monday March 14, 2005 @06:24PM (#11937536) Journal

    'a more limber release process' and ultimately a ('hopefully') shorter release cyle.

    You mean like Gentoo? And they still support Sparc.

  • by Florian Weimer (88405) <fw@deneb.enyo.de> on Monday March 14, 2005 @06:29PM (#11937593) Homepage
    If this is the case, though, I wonder why Sparc is being dropped.

    SPARC has barely any upstream support in the kernel. kernel.org kernels are frequently broken. What's worse, Debian hasn't got a SPARC maintainer right now.
  • Re:IA-64 vs AMD64 (Score:4, Interesting)

    by geneing (756949) on Monday March 14, 2005 @06:31PM (#11937614)
    I wouldn't say that IA-64 is similar to RISC chips. If anything the VLIW paradigm is exactly the opposite of RISC.
  • by Look KG486 (867105) on Monday March 14, 2005 @06:38PM (#11937688) Homepage Journal
    Wow, I was almost certain Debian stable was up to 2.4 by now. I'm sure it's a well-maintained 2.2 kernel with backports aplenty, but I'm stunned my wisecrack was actually true. I see some 2.4.x kernel-images in the list for Woody though.

    Last release was 19 July, 2002. While one can apt-get his way to modern times, I have to believe an annual release (or more frequent) will only help bring in fresh users.

    FWIW, I run Gentoo with a 2.6 kernel. I have issues from time to time, but they get ironed out with a little patience. There's always someone in the community that has an answer and very often, a solution.

    It seems Linux and its distributions are at a minor crossroads where stable releases and unstable, bleeding edge releases meet. On one hand you want to get new features out to users so they can test them and the software can be refined, but now that Linux is finding its way into production environments and a few desktops, bugs can be real backbreakers.

  • by Cramer (69040) on Monday March 14, 2005 @06:39PM (#11937711) Homepage
    I beg to differ. As a sparc/linux user and kernel hacker, the linux kernel is supported on sparc (sparc64 at least, sparc32 really is some dead-end hardware.) Granted, there aren't 10,000 developers maintaining it -- there doesn't need to be -- but it is maintained. The live development kernel (bitkeeper) has been usable for a very long time on sparc. So, either you aren't using sparc/linux, you're on sparc32 hardware, or you're just very unlucky. For the record, there are many x86 users that are frequently broken, too.

    The lack of a SPARC maintainer is a concern, but one that can easily be addressed. (politics aside.)
  • Re:drop me too! (Score:4, Interesting)

    by r00t (33219) on Monday March 14, 2005 @06:39PM (#11937716) Journal
    It's not a joke. Dropping a port from "official"
    status means that the port is free to ignore the
    normal release cycle. The normal release cycle is,
    predictably, controlled by the x86 majority.

    Once free of such tyranny, the non-x86 ports can
    fix things without concern for x86 releases.

    I'm a Debian user with PowerPC, and I'd love to
    have a modern glibc. The upcoming release isn't
    worth much on PowerPC right now, because it's still
    using the old pre-NPTL LinuxThreads hack.
  • Re:What about ARM ? (Score:4, Interesting)

    by misleb (129952) on Monday March 14, 2005 @06:41PM (#11937732)
    Perhaps Debian isn't trying to address the embedded segment.

    Consider that a minimum Debian installation is over 100MB. Debian is definitly not aimed at embedded systems. Never was.

    -matthew

  • Re:This is not final (Score:3, Interesting)

    by Psiren (6145) on Monday March 14, 2005 @06:41PM (#11937733)
    In the long run, Debian may well have to concentrate more on some architectures than others, but a radical step such as the one proposed will probably not fly well with the community. Since our users are our top priority, you can expect many more emails on the topic before anything will happen.

    As a long time Debian user, I'm all for it, but that's probably because I'm only interested in x86 and AMD64. I think having multiple arch's is a great idea in principle, and I'm not overly keen on the idea of stomping on the minority, but it's been pretty obvious for a long while that Debian is struggling get all this stuff together into a stable release. No other distribution seems to have anywhere near the long release cycle that Debian has. Interestingly none of the others have anywhere near the number of arch's to support either. The correlation seems fairly obvious to me.
  • Re:Dropping ARM??? (Score:3, Interesting)

    by LWATCDR (28044) on Monday March 14, 2005 @06:42PM (#11937745) Homepage Journal
    A lot of ebedded users start with deb and then modify it.
    I think the nslu2 hackers start with deb.
  • by vandrad (853436) on Monday March 14, 2005 @07:01PM (#11937945) Homepage
    I've always felt that one _major_ factor in Debian's ridiculously long release cycles was supporting lesser-used architectures. Glad someone up the food chain feels the same way.
  • by illumin8 (148082) on Monday March 14, 2005 @07:28PM (#11938262) Journal
    Seeing as they're the major systems out there. But IA-64? I've barely heard of that, and TFA says Microsoft dropped XP for that. Can anyone elaborate as to why this one was kept?

    It's because of HP. HP and Intel together are both flogging the dead horse that is IA64 and trying to get people to switch to their lame platform. I would imagine that HP contributes enough development time to keep the IA64 port of Debian viable.

    What's really funny is that HP and Intel can't even give IA64 servers away. [theregister.co.uk]
  • Embed Me (Score:3, Interesting)

    by Doc Ruby (173196) on Monday March 14, 2005 @07:35PM (#11938324) Homepage Journal
    Debian runs pretty well as the Familiar distro for iPaqs, on the ARM platform. It's that kind of cross-platform support that makes Linux so interesting, and keeps the embedded platforms such exciting targets for development: recompile apps developed by such a large, general-purpose community. Embedded apps are a much more exciting platform for developers, because of the huger market and wide-open opportunities as it gets started. Debian, don't blow it!
  • by Anonymous Coward on Monday March 14, 2005 @07:35PM (#11938332)
    But you are not using the "great quality duarantee Debian's development process (tm)". If you go to Sid or anything that doesn't came in a .deb package for the stable tree you are using untested or not fully tested software, for that go to Gentoo or something like that, with more ports and more testing that Sid.
    Debian, like anything in the Matrix is a choose, stability and testing or this century software.
  • Debian Sparc (Score:2, Interesting)

    by micker (668555) on Monday March 14, 2005 @07:41PM (#11938399) Homepage
    This has been floating around the debian-sparc mailing list all day... there seems to be quite a few pissed off users...

    I suppose that if the Debian devels are pig headed enough to have a meeting like this without inviting anyone from the sparc community, it really says something about what users they care about.

    I've been saying for years that Debian/GNU is _the_ Server OS. A look at the proposed Arch support would leave one to believe that they want to re-vector themselves as _the_ desktop os.

    The slow and steady release schedule that debian has stuck to is great for server and other enterprise uses but does leave a bit to be desired for the desktop, look at the void being filled by ubuntu, progeny and mepis on the desktop.

    I suppose I knew this day was coming, #gentoo-sparc currently is a better source of tech support than #debian-sparc is on freenode....

    I really didnt want to switch to gentoo, but unless I want to go the BSD route that seems to be the only viable option.

    Can someone send me a 4x5" gentoo sticker that I can use to cover the red swirl sticker on my truck?

  • well... (Score:4, Interesting)

    by Cryptnotic (154382) * on Monday March 14, 2005 @07:54PM (#11938538) Homepage
    As an embedded linux developer (who has worked on both ARM and MIPS), I can tell you that for a production, shipping system, it doesn't matter. You'll almost always end up rolling together your own thing. However, when a vendor (e.g. Cirrus Logic) has an evaluation board (e.g., EDB9315) that comes with a hard drive with Debian loaded on it and you can see that X11 works with the framebuffer driver and USB keyboards and mice work and network apps work, it's very impressive. Most imporantly though it verifies that the drivers (framebuffer, usb, ide, serial, network, pcmcia, CF, et cetera) are implemented in a standard way and will work with "off the shelf" linux apps. This makes things amazingly easier than with other companies whose linux ports are not as complete or functional. And if you're a small company doing an embedded Linux project, it's much better to go with a System-on-Chip processor from a vendor that provides a good Linux port and good Linux drivers than it is to either do your own or write your own drivers.

    However, it is sometimes very useful to use a full system like this to do native compiles of your applications (instead of cross-compiling) and native debugging. Of course, when you move to your custom hardware, you usually have to drop all that nice stuff.

    (By the way, I am really a big fan of the Cirrus Logic 93xx series system-on-chip processors. After working on two other ARM SoC systems and one MIPS system, the Cirrus 9315 was by far the best supported.)
  • Re:Embed Me (Score:3, Interesting)

    by Maljin Jolt (746064) on Monday March 14, 2005 @08:17PM (#11938755) Journal
    Latest Familiar 0.8.1 [handhelds.org] is based on OpenEmbedded [openembedded.org]. No more need for Debian/Arm.
  • Re:IA-64 vs AMD64 (Score:4, Interesting)

    by flaming-opus (8186) on Monday March 14, 2005 @08:20PM (#11938782)
    That's not exactly true either.

    The real paradigm shift of commercially released risc processors wasn't a simplified instruction set (they may have once been simple, but that's definately no longer true). The real difference is a consistent addressing schema and a load/store architecture. EPIC, the instruction set architecture of the itanium, does this also.

    In fact, if you read each instruction sequentially out of ia64 bundles, each could be an instruction on a hypothetical risc processor. This defeats some of the purpose of the ISA, but is technically valid. I have to agree with the previous poster who suggested that the itanium is risc-like. It is. It's a rather-wide risc processor whose pipe-line control logic is part of the compiler, rather than embeded in hardware. Everything else in the itanium could be added to a risc processor except for the back-wards compatibility thing. (rolling register window, predicated execution, speculative loads, etc)

  • by Anne Honime (828246) on Monday March 14, 2005 @08:58PM (#11939114)
    However, sparc far better supported in NetBSD and OpenBSD then it is in Linux.

    Why use linux on sparc 32 in 3 letters : SMP.

    Fine hardware, dead cheap, and NO bsd was up to it (until recently, if it happens to work now).

    Debian back out in that area is a stab in the back for any user.

  • Re:Debian.. PFHT.. (Score:2, Interesting)

    by dahlek (861921) on Monday March 14, 2005 @10:32PM (#11939860) Homepage
    Late releases, stupid politics and aged packages isn't doing this distro any justice.

    Come on, man, what myths you spew about Debian in general! You may wish to revise your statement and relegate it to SPARC specificaly...

    I'm writing this on a Kanotix install of Debian-unstable - there is nothing "old" about it, or slow for that matter. Replace "politics" with "principles". It's not as if it's a handicap! Debian separates that software which fits into with their principles from that which doesn't, but, honestly, as a user of a modern Debian-based distro, in practical terms as to what I want to install and use, I hardly notice. Further, at least Debian has some principles as far as companies go...

    What Debian means to me is simply the absolute best package system in the sense that they take extreme care and I won't break something when I upgrade. I'm using the same brand-spanking new version of Firefox as you, you Gentoo-zealot, and I got it via apt.

    Most distros presume to do what Gentoo and Debian can do these days, but, have you ever used Mandrake's URPMI for example!? I honestly can't say how good or bad the Gentoo package system is, but I can say this, in terms of avoiding dependency-hell, Debian is the best I've used, by leaps and bounds. Yes, I'm sure that compiling everything results in tighter and faster code, but there are many ways to judge the value of something and on my old hardware, Debian feels quite nice, even in full KDE/OpenOffice heavy-GUI glory.

  • by demon (1039) on Monday March 14, 2005 @10:50PM (#11939997)
    You're kidding, right? Pretty much everyone involved in IA-64 is pulling out; all the IA-64 workstation vendors have stopped making workstations, Windows for IA-64 has been officially put out to pasture. The hardware (what there is) is still so expensive, it's ridiculous. No one's developing for it - everyone's using x86_64 ("x64", as Sun and MS are calling it). I really would have to agree that SPARC support would be more worthwhile.
  • Re:Debian Sparc (Score:3, Interesting)

    by Cheerio Boy (82178) on Monday March 14, 2005 @11:19PM (#11940157) Homepage Journal
    The question you should ask yourself, and Debian should be (and probably already has) asking themselves, is "Will you still be using Sparc in two years?"

    According to this proposal, Sarge would still support Sparc, but the next release wouldn't. I'd bet dollars to donuts that you'd get at least two years of use out of Sarge before wanting or needing to upgrade.


    Seeing as I have currenlty used Debian on Sparc for about 6 years now or more I can easily see it remaining in use for another two years at least.

    Also with the mad discard of "not Windows" boxes by Suits I find more and more useful Sparc hardware cheaply available. Several of my friends now have E3000 boxes that they paid little or nothing for. A good portion of those run Debian. I myself am working on getting an E450 from my workplace as soon as it is retired.

    So, please tell Debian why Sparc will still be important to you in two years.

    I think I'll do just that.
  • by nick-less (307628) on Tuesday March 15, 2005 @06:03AM (#11941703)
    I'd like to install it too?

    I didn't get around, I just installed an mtec 500/030 board, they're not fast (3 bogomips ;-) but fit into an A1000 and can be bought cheap at ebay..
  • by rbanffy (584143) on Tuesday March 15, 2005 @06:55AM (#11941868) Homepage Journal
    Maybe it would make sense to have different types of Debian GNU/Linux for tiny devices, desktops and servers.

    After all, it makes as little sense to have KDevelop running on m68k as having a Gaim package for s390.

  • by Crass Spektakel (4597) on Tuesday March 15, 2005 @06:56AM (#11941875) Homepage
    I would be a victim of that decision - I run Debian on my Amiga3000 just for the fun - but I still say "go for it".

    That proposal aims for stable releases. I see no problem seeing an unstable m68k debian popping up after some time. Right now even the stable m68k-Debian is a rotting piece of shit not working at all so why bother with stable at all?
  • by Anonymous Coward on Tuesday March 15, 2005 @03:37PM (#11945867)
    So all I have to do is use an installer for Debian that's not on the Debian download/install page, and not mentioned in the Debian install guide, and then I'm all set?

    If I wanted to do that, why wouldn't I just use Ubuntu?

    (And if it's easier for people who've been using Debian for close to 10 years, like me, to switch to Ubuntu when installing, you've got a problem.)

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