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Linux Kernel: "Drop Support For x86-32"

Linux Kernel

Published on 23 August 2012 10:11 PM EDT
Written by Michael Larabel in Linux Kernel
34 Comments

An alleged Linux user-space developer has called for dropping x86 32-bit support from the Linux kernel.

If you need a good laugh to start or end the day, there's the Drop support for x86-32 thread on the Linux kernel mailing list. Microsoft is planning to drop their 32-bit flavor of Windows beginning with the next release, Windows 9. Microsoft has already shared that Windows 8 will be their last 32-bit release and then Windows 9 will only support "x64" when it comes to the x86 architecture. The user initiating this thread is proposing that Linux drops support for 32-bit support too at the same time as the release of Windows 9 x64.

In a follow-up to the serious message, this person's reasoning for wanting x86-32 deprecated is that Linux now supports x32 (even though this is for 64-bit hardware, not something for 32-bit hardware...), it will slow down the adoption of x32 as "if new ABI was added, old one should be removed" (but again this is coming from some ignorant troll), wastes time of developers to support x86-32, and that the support can be dropped when Windows 9 is released around the year 2015. This isn't a kernel contributor making the proposal.

Of course, no other Linux kernel developers have yet to agree with this person regarding dropping the x86 32-bit support and just continue feeding the troll (this LKML thread was just too entertaining to pass up writing about and certain to spark a lively forum discussion). Linux kernel developers have no plans to abandon x86-32 support anytime in the near future. Seeing as the mainline Linux kernel is still supporting hardware like the Motorola 68000 (m68k), IBM S390, SPARC, and other older CPU architectures, it will likely be another decade at least before Linux kernel developers consider dropping x86-32 support. With x86-32 having much common code to x86-64 within the Linux kernel, even a decade will probably be too short before the code enters an unmaintained and abandoned state within Linux. (Though one change I would like to see is for Canonical is to finally recommend 64-bit Ubuntu by default.)

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