Selection of roadmap for i386 platform End-of-Life (EOL)

Just a Normal Person tails92 at
Wed May 1 10:50:11 PDT 2013

I don't think there is a really good reason to remove support for
32-bit x86 machines in my opinion. As it was pointed out before, it is
not like they are not capable of running DragonFly well; granted, for
the project running on machines with less than 256 megabytes of RAM
may not be a priority, but there are a lot of machines with >= 256 MB
of memory and they're 32-bit x86.
I have run the latest DragonFly release on a Pentium 4 machine from
2001 with 512 MB of RDRAM, and it ran perfectly. And we're talking
about a machine from 2001; newer ones are going to run it even faster.

I think that the thought of thinking that a machine is not useful just
because it is old is a naive and dangerous one: people do not usually
test lesser known operating systems such as DragonFly on new systems.
 And if they do not test it, they're not going to be introduced to
DragonFly, and the already small userbase will shrink even more.
Another thing to remember: not everyone in the world has access to the
greatest and latest machines!
Other points are that the maintenance burden is really small, and that
i386 machines are all over the place; there's like a huge supply of
them, every flea market one goes to, for instance, is bound to have at
least some.

At the end I think that the only wise choice for the DragonFly project
is to keep supporting the i386 architecture, at most what could be
done instead of removing support is moving the i386 architecture to a
"second tier" place. That way you would show that i386 support is not
your focus and that people better expect to make up for the lack of
focus themselves (like building the ports themselves, instead of using
premade precompiled packages).
You never see projects like NetBSD and OpenBSD removing support for
architectures, just because they think they're not as used as they
once were; when they discontinue architectures, it's because they
really have problems at maintenance.
In fact, the second tier approach I suggested is just like what NetBSD did.

Removing i386 support? For me it is a sure no-no and it can only hurt
DragonFly at the end.
In before I get replies like "go use another *BSD flavor": that's
pretty amusing.

Giuseppe Gatta

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