Linux Plans To Stop Building a.out Support On Alpha & M68k To See If Anyone Cares
Upstream Linux kernel developers see no legitimate reason for keeping the a.out format support around and it's now been deprecated for three years. Only the Alpha and m68k architecture targets within the Linux kernel are still building with a.out support enabled.
So going one stop short of removing the a.out code outright, the plan is now via the Kconfig selections to stop building it for m68k and Alpha. This easy change will allow for seeing if anyone notices/cares about a.out support being removed on those architectures but otherwise if no one is complaining it likely means a future kernel can go ahead and remove that support code outright.
This patch has been picked up for Kees Cook's for-next/execve branch ahead of the Linux 5.18 merge window.
There has also been a discussion around the a.out support and other code that can be cleaned-up/removed once eliminating the a.out support. It's worth reiterating as with past articles this is just regarding the a.out file format support itself and doesn't impact modern code compilers that use an "a.out" name when no output name is specified as that's in ELF or other formats.