Linux 5.9 Dropping Soft Scrollback Support From FB + VGA Console Code

Written by Michael Larabel in Linux Kernel on 14 September 2020 at 08:46 PM EDT. 78 Comments
Linus Torvalds has decided to do away with the "soft scrollback" functionality found in the FBCON and VGACON kernel code as a sign of the times.

VGACON/FBCON for the basic Linux console has supported a software scrollback buffer with the Shift + PageUp keyboard sequence for scrolling up in the output for contents out of view. But with most people not making heavy use of the frame-buffer console these days and the code being unmaintained, it's being stripped out from Linux 5.9.

As a post-5.9-rc5 change, Linus dropped the FBCON code and the similar VGACON scrollback support.

Torvalds wrote, "This (and the VGA soft scrollback) turns out to have various nasty small special cases that nobody really is willing to fight. The soft scrollback code was really useful a few decades ago when you typically used the console interactively as the main way to interact with the machine, but that just isn't the case any more. So it's not worth dragging along."

Linus further added in the VGACON commit, "We don't really have anybody who maintains this code - probably because nobody actually _uses_ it any more. Sure, people still use both VGA and the framebuffer consoles, but they are no longer the main user interfaces to the kernel, and haven't been for decades, so these kinds of extra features end up bitrotting and not really being used. So rather than try to maintain a likely unused set of code, I'll just aggressively remove it, and see if anybody even notices. Maybe there are people who haven't jumped on the whole GUI bandwagon yet, and think it's just a fad. And maybe those people use the scrollback code. If that turns out to be the case, we can resurrect this again, once we've found the sucker^Wmaintainer for it who actually uses it."
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