Long-Obsolete DECnet Networking Code In The Linux Kernel Expected To Finally Be Removed

Written by Michael Larabel in Linux Networking on 1 August 2022 at 06:44 PM EDT. 26 Comments
DECnet as a set of networking protocols from Digital Equipment Corporation (DEC) that date back to 1975 are expected to be finally removed from the Linux kernel. The DECnet protocols have long been obsolete, the Linux kernel implementation has been orphaned for more than one decade, and is code that belongs more in a history museum than the mainline kernel.

DEC developed DECnet for hardware/software networking products implementing the DIGITAL Network Architecture. DECnet was good in the 80's as one of the early peer-to-peer network architectures and built into DEC's VMS, but it's long been obsolete with not much use since the early 90's. But since then the DECnet code has continued to be part of the Linux kernel.

Stephen Hemminger submitted a "request for comments" to remove DECnet from the kernel:
Decnet is an obsolete network protocol that receives more attention from kernel janitors than users. It belongs in computer protocol history museum not in Linux kernel.

It has been Orphaned in kernel since 2010. And the documentation link on Sourceforge says it is abandoned there.

Leave the UAPI alone to keep userspace programs compiling.

Linux developer David Laight added, "It was pretty much obsolete when I was writing ethernet drivers in the early 1990's. Sort of surprising support ever got into Linux in the first place!"

For now the RFC removal patch is still floating on the mailing list but given the support for its removal, it's likely a safe bet this long ago orphaned code will finally be stripped from the tree soon. Removing the DECnet code is around twelve thousand lines of code.
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Michael Larabel is the principal author of Phoronix.com and founded the site in 2004 with a focus on enriching the Linux hardware experience. Michael has written more than 20,000 articles covering the state of Linux hardware support, Linux performance, graphics drivers, and other topics. Michael is also the lead developer of the Phoronix Test Suite, Phoromatic, and OpenBenchmarking.org automated benchmarking software. He can be followed via Twitter, LinkedIn, or contacted via MichaelLarabel.com.

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