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Debian Dropping A Number Of Old Linux Drivers Is Angering Vintage Hardware Users

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  • Debian Dropping A Number Of Old Linux Drivers Is Angering Vintage Hardware Users

    Phoronix: Debian Dropping A Number Of Old Linux Drivers Is Angering Vintage Hardware Users

    More than a few Phoronix readers have written in over the past few days expressing outrage that Debian GNU/Linux is dropping a number of old hardware drivers...

    http://www.phoronix.com/scan.php?pag...ng-Old-Drivers

  • #2
    I'm willing to bet that the majority of people complaining have made no contribution whatsoever. If they really want it, they can donate, or maintain those drivers themselves.

    Hardware still running these display cards likely perform far worse than Raspberry Pi's. Furthermore, you can buy super-cheap AMD laptops these days (even cheaper 2nd hand), with graphics cards that will destroy all of these.

    Pouring resources into vintage hardware is a cool project, and a good thing to show off.. But supporting it, is taking resources away from more commonly used devices. 3dfx does have benefits to support, because of Glide, but most of these cards (especially the ATI cards) probably don't have any functionality which isn't natively supported on new cards anyway.

    Don't forget, these graphics cards likely even predate Xorg, and were from Xfree86 days.

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    • #3
      My first graphics card the good old ATI rage 128...memories coming up

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      • #4
        People with an interest in older hardware could start their own vintage distribution where they could enjoy their museum pieces. The rest of the world moves on.

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        • #5
          Please keep these drivers. They work as just fine, and many people still use them. They have not been dropped by upstream X.org, and there is no reason to drop them from Debian. Without these drivers, it will make running Debian desktop on this hardware impossible. One of the things that makes Debian great is the backward compatibility. It's very sad to see destructive actions like this being taken. Please don't just throw away all the work that people have put into these drivers over the years, and please don't abandon their users!

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          • #6
            The not maintained doesn't seem a very good reason to me.
            If the drivers are not broken and they still do their job, who cares?
            Aren't these drivers just some files, properly separated from the rest?
            I bet there still devices out there for which there's absolutely no benefit to be upgraded.
            I don't see the age of the device a good reason either.

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            • #7
              the kernel and mesa3d team need dropping some old driver too

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              • #8
                I fully understand the feelings of these users. My current workhorse is a Phenom II 365 system - albeit with 16 GB - with a NVIDIA 9600GT card and it is still running strong. No, I don't play games, but do development, office work and video editing. It is still fast enough for all those daily work. There is no pressing need for ever faster hardware because it will not help me to complete my tasks faster and thus gives me more relaxation time.
                Whispers of dropping support for these class of CPU's are around for some time, but luckily this has not been done yet.

                I also understand that keeping a distributions integrity means you have to rely on software that is working and thus being maintained too. Software which is no longer maintained on a regular base, does not give a sufficient level of trust. Just as with old cars, one has to do the repairs by them self, chase for parts etc, or let it be serviced by a specialist.

                The general feeling is that as long as it works, you want to have the latest OS because of new features and/or security updates. When that falls away, your perfectly working device just - overnight - turns into a heap of scrap. Which does not feel right. The problem is mostly that the original maintainer has enough of it, cease to exist, or has other priorities. Most time the software they leave behind is readably only to the original owner and/or very large and therefore hard to understand by any potential maintainer.

                I hope that there will be some considerations on the part of the distribution maintainers and their technical co-workers.

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                • #9
                  Originally posted by Danny3 View Post
                  The not maintained doesn't seem a very good reason to me.
                  If the drivers are not broken and they still do their job, who cares?
                  Aren't these drivers just some files, properly separated from the rest?
                  I bet there still devices out there for which there's absolutely no benefit to be upgraded.
                  I don't see the age of the device a good reason either.
                  Because the larger the code base, the harder it is to maintained. It is an absolute rule: less code == easier to maintain.
                  While these drivers might be still working, the fact that there are no maintainers is problematic because the kernel and the compilers are still evolving. We don't want new kernel technologies to take years instead of months to be implemented because it would need to update these unmaintained drivers. Also we want to use the latest compiler technologies and unmaintained code often prevents that.

                  I'm, personally, all for removing unmaintained code, or simply old code (I mean.. 20 years old hardware.. I think it is old enough to let them rest in peace at last, most of these cards must have electronics failure anyway).

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                  • #10
                    Originally posted by fransdb View Post
                    My current workhorse is a Phenom II 365 system - albeit with 16 GB - with a NVIDIA 9600GT card and it is still running strong.
                    These are 12 years old hardware, not 20 years old (as mentioned in the article). I am unsure you will have the same argumentation in 8 years.

                    I hope that there will be some considerations on the part of the distribution maintainers and their technical co-workers.
                    I think Debian devs are not judging by the old age of the hardware but simply by the code activity. I'm pretty sure that as long as the code is officially maintained and active, they are not planning into removing it.

                    In the end, it is a simple case of technical debt management.
                    Last edited by Creak; 21 April 2020, 08:32 AM. Reason: adding more quotes

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