Linux x86 Ready To Remove Its Old 32-bit a.out Support

Written by Michael Larabel in Linux Kernel on 12 March 2022 at 05:25 AM EST. 11 Comments
Going along with the recent patches to stop building a.out support for Linux's Alpha and m68k architecture ports as the last of the CPU architectures that were still building the kernel with the support enabled, developers are ready to remove the x86 a.out support outright.

As part of the a.out discussion around Alpha and Motorola 68000, the x86 a.out support is ready to go right now. This executable / object code / shared library file format was used prior to the dominance of ELF but has no real use in the modern world. The x86 a.out support has been deprecated now since Linux 5.1 and no one complained about losing support for these old binaries with ELF long being superior and more widely used. Now with the Linux 5.18 merge window imminent, developers are ready to delete that support for a.out binaries in the 32-bit emulation path. Removing this code frees up 334 lines from the kernel, not counting the benefits once a.out support is stripped out for other architectures.

Borislav Petkov queued up the patch on Friday into TIP's "x86/cleanups" branch ahead of Linux 5.18 for removing the x86 a.out support. It's ready to go and will not be missed.
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