Fedora 27 Might Do Away With 32-Bit Kernel Builds
Written by Michael Larabel in Fedora on 12 July 2017 at 08:17 AM EDT. 26 Comments
FEDORA --
A controversial change being considered for Fedora 27 is doing away with the i686 kernel build thereby effectively dropping support for older x86 32-bit systems.

The x86 32-bit kernel support has basically been ill-maintained for years with almost all Intel/AMD hardware in the past decade supporting 64-bit (with the exception of some old Atoms, etc). The support is in rough shape and developers barely test the 32-bit support, so the proposal for Fedora 27 is to officiate that by stopping the i686 kernel builds. There would just be i686 kernel headers available and the 32-bit user-space packages for Fedora can continue to exist, but only a x86-64 kernel.


Fedora developers argue that upstreams are no longer interested in x86 32-bit problems and the bug reports basically go ignored. Fedora kernel developer Josh Boyer put it as, "Anyone with 32-bit hardware is going to be against this change. It is a known downside. It also doesn't change the fact that i686 kernels are in a zombie state, where the kernel team does not actively support them and the community has not significantly stepped up to do so. That approach was done quite a while ago, and explicitly communicated. The fact that i686 kernels continue to work in general is basically luck."

So unless there is magically a capable group of volunteers wishing to take i686 kernel maintenance more seriously, Fedora 27 could do away with its 32-bit kernel build. This will free up some development resources and also make it easier for QA/testing and quicker to push out updates when a i686 bug could delay the x86_64 update from being sent down.


More details via the change proposal as well as this heated discussion.
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Michael Larabel is the principal author of Phoronix.com and founded the site in 2004 with a focus on enriching the Linux hardware experience. Michael has written more than 10,000 articles covering the state of Linux hardware support, Linux performance, graphics drivers, and other topics. Michael is also the lead developer of the Phoronix Test Suite, Phoromatic, and OpenBenchmarking.org automated benchmarking software. He can be followed via Twitter or contacted via MichaelLarabel.com.

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