Linux 5.15 Is Now Slightly Less Broken For The DEC Alpha "Jensen"

Written by Michael Larabel in Hardware on 18 September 2021 at 07:36 PM EDT. 13 Comments
One has to wonder how much longer the Linux kernel will keep around some very old and known to be borked hardware support but at least for now the DECpc AXP 150 "Jensen" platform support is sticking around and with Linux 5.15 is no longer marked as "broken" outright.

The past four years the Linux kernel Kconfig for the DEC Alpha Jensen platform has marked it as "BROKEN" since it was known to not even compile due to a build error... With Linux 5.15 that Jensen system code now has its four lines of moved around code so it can at least build correctly. So with a change merged on Saturday Linux 5.15 no longer calls Jensen as "BROKEN" outright.

But the code is still likely broken / unable to run on real hardware. Linus Torvalds conceded with the change, "Ok, it almost certainly is still broken on actual hardware, but the immediate reason for it having been marked BROKEN was a build error that is fixed by just making sure the low-level IO header file is included sufficiently early that the __EXTERN_INLINE hackery takes effect....There are lots of alpha configurations that do not build cleanly, but now it's no longer because Jensen wouldn't be buildable."

See this commit for the details.

The DECpc AXP 150 Jensen was DEC's workstation introduced in 1993 and the first Alpha-based system supporting Windows NT. It's almost as old as the Linux kernel itself and the kernel support has been broken for years while we'll see how much longer until this and other platform support from the early 90's is ultimately removed from the source tree.
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