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Linux Plans To Stop Building a.out Support On Alpha & M68k To See If Anyone Cares

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  • Linux Plans To Stop Building a.out Support On Alpha & M68k To See If Anyone Cares

    Phoronix: Linux Plans To Stop Building a.out Support On Alpha & M68k To See If Anyone Cares

    Back in 2019 that seems like an eternity ago with all that's gone on in the world, the Linux kernel deprecated a.out support. This executable / object code / shared library file format was used prior to the dominance of ELF but is seldom if ever used today. There have been pending patches to finally remove a.out from the kernel while the plan now is to stop building it on Alpha and Motorola 68000 targets to see if anyone notices/cares...

    https://www.phoronix.com/scan.php?pa...out-M68k-Alpha

  • #2
    I like these honest headlines.

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    • #3
      Ah, the good old scream test.

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      • #4
        As the maintainer of Gentoo on m68k, I really don't care!

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        • #5
          Originally posted by Chewi View Post
          As the maintainer of Gentoo on m68k, I really don't care!
          What do you actually run it on?

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          • #6
            Originally posted by LinuxID10T View Post

            What do you actually run it on?
            A slightly beefed-up Amiga 1200, but I don't build on there. I used to do a lot of cross-compiling, but I've already made heavy use of QEMU lately.

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            • #7
              One wonders whether anyone cares about Alpha anymore? At some point I believe the kernel developers had some interest in it has it had the loosest craziest memory consistency model imaginable, so they used it as a sort of lowest common denominator when designing their own memory barrier etc. abstractions. But if nobody actually runs anything on Alpha anymore, why bother?

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              • #8
                Can an a.out be linked into an ELF?

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                • #9
                  Originally posted by jabl View Post
                  One wonders whether anyone cares about Alpha anymore? At some point I believe the kernel developers had some interest in it has it had the loosest craziest memory consistency model imaginable, so they used it as a sort of lowest common denominator when designing their own memory barrier etc. abstractions. But if nobody actually runs anything on Alpha anymore, why bother?
                  There's probably some rare Alpha systems here and there, but they really are becoming rare beasts. I knew a man whose main business was supporting legacy Alpha systems up in and around Dayton, OH some years ago. This was somewhere around 2010. He had to cannibalize dying systems for parts to keep critical ones running. It seems many of his clients were banks using VMS.

                  My personal experience were the AlphaStations that were basically PCs but used Alpha CPUs bought by the principle investigator for the particle physics lab I worked for at university. Everything else was PC industry standard including RAM and PCI slots - a huge departure for DEC, but it wouldn't save them as a business. These ran OSF/1. The chemistry dept got their first AlphaStation 3100, more of a DEC traditional layout if I'm remembering the model number correctly. It came with the first useful Alpha Linux distribution direct from DEC. There was a lot of back and forth interest between physics and chemistry over operating and how fast the new Alphas were in simulations versus the older MIPS DECStations even without major optimization efforts. Mathematics had SGI Indigos and outside of the pretty UI, they didn't perform as well, nor did the Sun workstations in the engineering school. We had to beat the engineering students off with sticks because the Alphas weren't school owned, they were mostly dedicated to running particle interaction simulations (think CERN, Los Alamos, and Fermi Lab particle beam experiments) - and porn of course for the student lab workers at night.

                  These days most PCs can easily out perform an AlphaStation, so outside of keeping old critical systems going, they're merely a curiosity of what might-have-been. I doubt there's going to be too many Alpha owners that care about a.out still out there that also run Linux. There's so few left that FreeBSD moved Alpha to the unsupported tier for lack of functional hardware. It used to be the only other tier supported besides x86 (many years ago).
                  Last edited by stormcrow; 11 March 2022, 01:15 PM.

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                  • #10
                    Originally posted by Chewi View Post

                    A slightly beefed-up Amiga 1200, but I don't build on there. I used to do a lot of cross-compiling, but I've already made heavy use of QEMU lately.
                    Question for you, would Gentoo m68k work on the Vampire m68K FPGA accelerators? is their "68080" implementation decent enough?

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