Re: "obsolete" hardware

Martin Mares (
Wed, 11 Jun 1997 11:28:59 +0200


> Of course there is another way of looking at this. There are lots
> of current and upcoming applications that do require lots of horsepower.
> By the same token there are fewer and fewer (if any) applications being
> written that target a 486 (let alone a 386) as a minimum requirement. Try
> running anything X/Motif based and you'll see what I mean. If Linux
> developers concentrate their attention on trying to be compatible with
> obsolete hardware as opposed to taking advantage of cutting edge features
> other operating systems will overtake Linux by running slower on faster
> hardware - not exactly a pretty picture.
> Bottom line is I'd rather say "Linux runs faster on a quad P7" than
> "Linux still runs on my 2mb 386" a year from now. A well executed design
> means nothing unless it performs. Nothing PERFORMS on a 386. Lets not
> loose sight of our goals here for the sake of keeping backward
> compatibility.
> Take as a warning the longevity of the PC bus architecture. Would you
> care to guess why we're still stuck with it? Backward compatibility. Its a
> dirty word.

(1) The first problem is that if you want to remove dirty hacks for broken
hardware by removing support for the _old_ hardware, you won't win as lots of
new hardware are broken as well.

(2) Linux is certainly meant to offer much more than running CPU-eating
X applications. Those other capabilities (including network routing and
bridging) require only little CPU power and a quad P7 won't noticeably
improve their performance, so why buy it instead of using an old 386 and
saving $6000. Well written applications seldom need lots of CPU time.

(3) We were talking about things like FPU emulation which don't need much
time to maintain -- just to keep them consistent with the rest of the kernel.
And using FP in the kernel is of a small value, it would also mean saving
and restoring them on every syscall or take care of saving/restoring at every

=> The answer is "No."
Have a nice fortnight