• time to ditch 486

    From Retrograde@fungus@amongus.com.invalid to comp.misc on Tue Oct 25 12:33:56 2022
    From Newsgroup: comp.misc

    From the «says Linux» department:
    Feed: The Register
    Title: Linus Torvalds suggests the 80486 architecture belongs in a museum, not the Linux kernel
    Author: Simon Sharwood
    Date: Tue, 25 Oct 2022 02:56:25 -0400
    Link: https://go.theregister.com/feed/www.theregister.com/2022/10/25/486_support_linux_kernel_ending/

    Ancient hardware deserves ancient kernels, but cannot justify consuming developers' valuable time

    Linux boss Linus Torvalds has contemplated ending support for the i486 processor
    architecture in the Linux kernel.…
    --
    Usenet: antisocial media
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  • From Marco Moock@mo01@posteo.de to comp.misc on Tue Oct 25 15:15:43 2022
    From Newsgroup: comp.misc

    Am 25.10.2022 um 12:33:56 Uhr schrieb Retrograde:
    Ancient hardware deserves ancient kernels, but cannot justify
    consuming developers' valuable time

    Linux boss Linus Torvalds has contemplated ending support for the
    i486 processor architecture in the Linux kernel.…
    Most Linux distributions provide only support for i686, that was the
    Pentium Pro. I cannot even imagine how it is possible to run a 486 with
    enough RAM (256 MB) to boot the current kernel.
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  • From Rich@rich@example.invalid to comp.misc on Tue Oct 25 14:17:06 2022
    From Newsgroup: comp.misc

    Marco Moock <mo01@posteo.de> wrote:
    Am 25.10.2022 um 12:33:56 Uhr schrieb Retrograde:

    Ancient hardware deserves ancient kernels, but cannot justify
    consuming developers' valuable time

    Linux boss Linus Torvalds has contemplated ending support for the
    i486 processor architecture in the Linux kernel.?

    Most Linux distributions provide only support for i686, that was the
    Pentium Pro. I cannot even imagine how it is possible to run a 486
    with enough RAM (256 MB) to boot the current kernel.

    The i486 chip family supported 32 bit physical addresses (which allow
    for 4G of RAM per process) and 46 bit logical virtual addresses (which
    would allow for a lot more than 4G of RAM for the system) [1].

    Granted, nearly all boards containing a 486 would not allow insertion
    of enough physical ram chips to get anywhere near 4G of physical RAM,
    much less 2^46 bytes of ram, but I'd bet there were some i486 boards
    back in the day (more likely to be server class than desktop class)
    that did allow for a lot more than 256MB of RAM.






    [1] https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/I486
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  • From not@not@telling.you.invalid (Computer Nerd Kev) to comp.misc on Wed Oct 26 07:46:18 2022
    From Newsgroup: comp.misc

    Rich <rich@example.invalid> wrote:
    Marco Moock <mo01@posteo.de> wrote:
    Am 25.10.2022 um 12:33:56 Uhr schrieb Retrograde:

    Ancient hardware deserves ancient kernels, but cannot justify
    consuming developers' valuable time

    Linux boss Linus Torvalds has contemplated ending support for the
    i486 processor architecture in the Linux kernel.?

    Most Linux distributions provide only support for i686, that was the
    Pentium Pro. I cannot even imagine how it is possible to run a 486
    with enough RAM (256 MB) to boot the current kernel.

    The i486 chip family supported 32 bit physical addresses (which allow
    for 4G of RAM per process) and 46 bit logical virtual addresses (which
    would allow for a lot more than 4G of RAM for the system) [1].

    Granted, nearly all boards containing a 486 would not allow insertion
    of enough physical ram chips to get anywhere near 4G of physical RAM,
    much less 2^46 bytes of ram, but I'd bet there were some i486 boards
    back in the day (more likely to be server class than desktop class)
    that did allow for a lot more than 256MB of RAM.

    There's also at least one DIY board which supports up to 4GB of
    RAM, the Full Size S100 80486 Board: http://www.s100computers.com/My%20System%20Pages/80486%20Board/80486%20CPU%20Board.htm
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  • From not@not@telling.you.invalid (Computer Nerd Kev) to comp.misc on Wed Oct 26 07:58:20 2022
    From Newsgroup: comp.misc

    Marco Moock <mo01@posteo.de> wrote:
    Am 25.10.2022 um 12:33:56 Uhr schrieb Retrograde:

    Ancient hardware deserves ancient kernels, but cannot justify
    consuming developers' valuable time

    Linux boss Linus Torvalds has contemplated ending support for the
    i486 processor architecture in the Linux kernel....

    Most Linux distributions provide only support for i686, that was the
    Pentium Pro. I cannot even imagine how it is possible to run a 486 with enough RAM (256 MB) to boot the current kernel.

    Where did you get 256MB from? I've booted a current Linux kernel
    with much less. Indeed the router that I'm connecting through for
    posting this only has 32MB of RAM and "uname -a" tells me:

    Linux OpenWrt 5.10.138 #0 SMP Sat Sep 3 02:55:34 2022 mips GNU/Linux

    (yes I know 32MB RAM isn't officially supported by OpenWRT
    anymore, but it works anyway)

    I believe the limit might be around the 16MB area, though maybe 8MB
    is still possible with an extremely small initrd image.
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  • From not@not@telling.you.invalid (Computer Nerd Kev) to comp.misc on Wed Oct 26 08:14:48 2022
    From Newsgroup: comp.misc

    Retrograde <fungus@amongus.com.invalid> wrote:
    Link: https://go.theregister.com/feed/www.theregister.com/2022/10/25/486_support_linux_kernel_ending/

    Ancient hardware deserves ancient kernels, but cannot justify consuming developers' valuable time

    Linux boss Linus Torvalds has contemplated ending support for the i486 processor
    architecture in the Linux kernel....

    All this attention over one branch of a mailing-list discussion
    might be a bit much.

    Anyway, I believe the 486 is also the only x86 CPU that has a
    fully-functional open-source FPGA implementation available, so it's
    still potentially useful for people who want to implement hardware
    that's as open-source as physically possible. If they don't want to
    use RISC-V.

    The original project is here, though development seems to be dead.
    It runs a modified version of Tiny Core Linux, which still supports
    the 486:
    https://github.com/alfikpl/ao486

    This seems to be where current development is happening: https://github.com/MiSTer-devel/ao486_MiSTer

    Also, the Vortex86 SoCs are still being manufactured, though it's
    noted in the mailing list that the current models are fully i586
    compatible.

    https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Vortex86

    Odds are that 99% of the people buying those are actually planning
    to run an old OS on them though.
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  • From Marco Moock@mo01@posteo.de to comp.misc on Wed Oct 26 07:39:18 2022
    From Newsgroup: comp.misc

    Am Tue, 25 Oct 2022 14:17:06 -0000 (UTC)
    schrieb Rich <rich@example.invalid>:

    Granted, nearly all boards containing a 486 would not allow insertion
    of enough physical ram chips to get anywhere near 4G of physical RAM,
    much less 2^46 bytes of ram, but I'd bet there were some i486 boards
    back in the day (more likely to be server class than desktop class)
    that did allow for a lot more than 256MB of RAM.

    Do you have some examples that support more?
    I can of course believe that for i686 (Pentium Pro), but for i486 it
    sounds uncommon.
    486 came out in 1989, but was manufactured until 2007 (I assume as a replacement or for embedded systems).
    I know that Heidelberg printing systems had some boards for i486 to
    show it to their visitors, but I dunno if their new machines still use
    them.

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  • From Marco Moock@mo01@posteo.de to comp.misc on Wed Oct 26 07:43:03 2022
    From Newsgroup: comp.misc

    Am 26 Oct 2022 07:58:20 +1000
    schrieb not@telling.you.invalid (Computer Nerd Kev):

    Where did you get 256MB from?

    My own experiments with Linux distributions like Debian. 386 MiB works
    pretty fine.

    I've booted a current Linux kernel with much less. Indeed the router
    that I'm connecting through for posting this only has 32MB of RAM and
    "uname -a" tells me:

    Linux OpenWrt 5.10.138 #0 SMP Sat Sep 3 02:55:34 2022 mips GNU/Linux

    Is that the normal kernel or did they removed all features a router
    doesn't need?
    Then it sounds normal, but I cannot believe that it is possible to boot
    a distribution with additional software like systemd or daemon services
    with 32 MiB.

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  • From Computer Nerd Kev@not@telling.you.invalid to comp.misc on Wed Oct 26 20:17:53 2022
    From Newsgroup: comp.misc

    Marco Moock <mo01@posteo.de> wrote:
    Am 26 Oct 2022 07:58:20 +1000
    schrieb not@telling.you.invalid (Computer Nerd Kev):

    Where did you get 256MB from?

    My own experiments with Linux distributions like Debian. 386 MiB works
    pretty fine.

    Distros like Debian aren't really targeting the low end, or at
    least not this deep into it. Besides OpenWrt, Tiny Core is another
    example that caters to the very low-end, but with a more
    general-purpose scope (though it specifies 46MB minimum RAM). Then
    there's the recent Floppinux disk, though it's not a full distro.

    I've booted a current Linux kernel with much less. Indeed the router
    that I'm connecting through for posting this only has 32MB of RAM and
    "uname -a" tells me:

    Linux OpenWrt 5.10.138 #0 SMP Sat Sep 3 02:55:34 2022 mips GNU/Linux

    Is that the normal kernel or did they removed all features a router
    doesn't need?

    It's the Linux kernel, but as with all distros they select which
    features are enabled when the kernel is compiled. Many features
    that a distro like Debian has enabled are likely to be disabled,
    and this may cause things like /dev interfaces used by specific
    software to be unavailable.

    But in general it would run the vast majority of software.
    There are packages for big programs like Apache, Dovecot, and
    ffmpeg, though I'm sure they wouldn't run very well on my router
    hardware.

    Then it sounds normal, but I cannot believe that it is possible to boot
    a distribution with additional software like systemd or daemon services
    with 32 MiB.

    OpenWrt doesn't use Systemd, but it has dbus (though they also have
    their own more lightweight alternative (ubus) that they use in the
    base system) so you could build pretty much whatever daemon-type
    program you want. Besides the default daemons I just run pppd for
    my USB mobile broaband modem, and vsftpd for FTP/SFTP.

    It all works fine, except that as kernels get bigger it takes
    longer to boot with each upgrade (likely much more to do with the
    speed of the CPU and onboard flash than the RAM).
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  • From Rich@rich@example.invalid to comp.misc on Wed Oct 26 13:02:31 2022
    From Newsgroup: comp.misc

    Marco Moock <mo01@posteo.de> wrote:
    Am Tue, 25 Oct 2022 14:17:06 -0000 (UTC)
    schrieb Rich <rich@example.invalid>:

    Granted, nearly all boards containing a 486 would not allow
    insertion of enough physical ram chips to get anywhere near 4G of
    physical RAM, much less 2^46 bytes of ram, but I'd bet there were
    some i486 boards back in the day (more likely to be server class
    than desktop class) that did allow for a lot more than 256MB of RAM.

    Do you have some examples that support more?
    I can of course believe that for i686 (Pentium Pro), but for i486 it
    sounds uncommon.

    Larger total RAM size was likely limited to only servers (as it is even
    still today), which would make it very uncommon for the rest of us who
    would have been buying garden variety clone motherboards, not servers,
    at the time.

    486 came out in 1989, but was manufactured until 2007 (I assume as a replacement or for embedded systems). I know that Heidelberg
    printing systems had some boards for i486 to show it to their
    visitors, but I dunno if their new machines still use them.


    Do I know of a board that supported more than 256MB? -- no. Does it
    seem reasonable that a **server** class board very well might have
    supported more than 256MB of installed RAM, yes.

    Also, in Message-ID: <63585929@news.ausics.net> Computer Nerd Kev
    offered an example of a 486 board that supports 4GB of RAM (providing
    someone wanted to add enough RAM boards to the system to supply 4GB of
    RAM):

    There's also at least one DIY board which supports up to 4GB of
    RAM, the Full Size S100 80486 Board: http://www.s100computers.com/My%20System%20Pages/80486%20Board/80486%20CPU%20Board.htm

    Here is one that claims support for up to 128MB of RAM (half way to
    256MB):
    https://theretroweb.com/motherboards/s/intel-classic-pci-i486-alfredo

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  • From Rich@rich@example.invalid to comp.misc on Wed Oct 26 13:08:32 2022
    From Newsgroup: comp.misc

    Computer Nerd Kev <not@telling.you.invalid> wrote:
    Marco Moock <mo01@posteo.de> wrote:
    Is that the normal kernel or did they removed all features a router
    doesn't need?

    It's the Linux kernel, but as with all distros they select which
    features are enabled when the kernel is compiled. Many features that
    a distro like Debian has enabled are likely to be disabled, and this
    may cause things like /dev interfaces used by specific software to be unavailable.

    Also keep in mind that the core of the kernel is actually rather small. Compiling almost everything as a module (instead of directly into the
    kernel) and using an initrd to load the initial modules to get booted
    will allow booting/operation in quite memory constrained environments.

    Standard distros often compile the kernel with a majority of common
    drivers directly compiled in, leaving the remainder of uncommon ones as modules, every "compiled in" driver that could have been a module adds
    to the minimum ram the kernel needs to boot and get started.

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  • From songbird@songbird@anthive.com to comp.misc on Wed Oct 26 19:18:05 2022
    From Newsgroup: comp.misc

    Rich wrote:
    ...
    Do I know of a board that supported more than 256MB? -- no. Does it
    seem reasonable that a **server** class board very well might have
    supported more than 256MB of installed RAM, yes.

    i know of at least one database oriented machine that had more
    than 256MB:

    Sequent Computer Systems (in the mid 90s)

    "Symmetry 2000/700
    The S2000/700 ran either DYNIX/ptx or DYNIX 3. It featured up to 30 25 MHz Intel 80486 processors, each with a 512 KB cache. It also supported up to 384 MB of RAM, up to 85.4 GB of disk storage, and up to 256 direct-connected serial ports."


    songbird
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  • From Marco Moock@mo01@posteo.de to comp.misc on Thu Oct 27 08:38:08 2022
    From Newsgroup: comp.misc

    Am 26.10.2022 um 13:08:32 Uhr schrieb Rich:

    Standard distros often compile the kernel with a majority of common
    drivers directly compiled in, leaving the remainder of uncommon ones
    as modules, every "compiled in" driver that could have been a module
    adds to the minimum ram the kernel needs to boot and get started.

    Thanks, that explains why special operating systems like OpenWRT work
    on much less RAM.

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  • From Computer Nerd Kev@not@telling.you.invalid to comp.misc on Thu Oct 27 22:04:08 2022
    From Newsgroup: comp.misc

    Marco Moock <mo01@posteo.de> wrote:
    Am 26.10.2022 um 13:08:32 Uhr schrieb Rich:

    Standard distros often compile the kernel with a majority of common
    drivers directly compiled in, leaving the remainder of uncommon ones
    as modules, every "compiled in" driver that could have been a module
    adds to the minimum ram the kernel needs to boot and get started.

    Thanks, that explains why special operating systems like OpenWRT work
    on much less RAM.

    The uncompressed size of the MIPS32 Linux kernel 5.10.138 ELF
    (vmlinux file (not compressed vmlinuz)) from OpenWrt 22.03.0 is
    8.5MB.

    The uncompressed size of the x86_64 Linux kernel 4.19.260-1 ELF
    from Debian 10 (Buster) is 27MB.

    The Debian kernel has 134 modules built-in, but I can't find a copy
    of the modules.builtin file for OpenWrt so I can't compare that.
    Though there are sure to be fewer modules built into OpenWrt, as
    well as fewer other optional features like multi-processor support, contributing to the smaller size.

    It clearly doesn't make the difference that would alone stop Debian
    running on a system with 256MB RAM though. Nor would the size of the
    compressed initrd image which is 87.5MB uncompressed (only required
    to be held in RAM at the initial stage of booting). I'm guessing
    that the limit lies with the particulars of init process
    (Systemd-based in Debian's case), which of course is an area of
    great variation between distros.

    Hint: The extract-vmlinux script in the Linux sources is very
    helpful for getting an uncompressed kernel out of the vmlinuz
    file used at boot.
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  • From =?UTF-8?Q?Sabrina_Almod=c3=b3var?=@salmodovar@ligumu.com to comp.misc on Sat Dec 3 00:14:19 2022
    From Newsgroup: comp.misc

    On 26/10/2022 02:39, Marco Moock wrote:

    [...]

    486 came out in 1989, but was manufactured until 2007 (I assume as a replacement or for embedded systems).

    I bought one in 1994. It was the fastest machine I ever had.
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  • From Marco Moock@mo01@posteo.de to comp.misc on Sat Dec 3 09:48:57 2022
    From Newsgroup: comp.misc

    Am 03.12.2022 um 00:14:19 Uhr schrieb Sabrina Almodóvar:
    On 26/10/2022 02:39, Marco Moock wrote:

    [...]

    486 came out in 1989, but was manufactured until 2007 (I assume as a replacement or for embedded systems).

    I bought one in 1994. It was the fastest machine I ever had.
    Do you still use it?
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  • From =?UTF-8?Q?Sabrina_Almod=c3=b3var?=@salmodovar@ligumu.com to comp.misc on Sat Dec 3 09:59:13 2022
    From Newsgroup: comp.misc

    On 03/12/2022 05:48, Marco Moock wrote:
    Am 03.12.2022 um 00:14:19 Uhr schrieb Sabrina Almodóvar:

    On 26/10/2022 02:39, Marco Moock wrote:

    [...]

    486 came out in 1989, but was manufactured until 2007 (I assume as a
    replacement or for embedded systems).

    I bought one in 1994. It was the fastest machine I ever had.

    Do you still use it?

    No.

    I'd believe that (unless you can preserve it properly) it doesn't last
    very long. I used it mostly for communication as I still do with my whatever-it-is-I-have-today (--- a desktop computer for me is like a
    super typewriter). Because of the communicative-nature of this tool, it
    is inconvenient to diverge from the mainstream.

    For example, recently I went to a website that archives old-version
    software and tried to run some Netscape browser. It works like it used
    to --- thanks to Microsoft's backward compatibility concerns, I guess.
    However, it took a lot of trying to find a random website that did not
    redirect me to an https protocol, which the browser I tried would not
    accept.

    Surely I could still be using it with some GNU EMACS and a TeX compiler
    for producing pretty documents --- but it's not practical. I may be
    just mostly typing words, but in that process we want to quickly load a
    website and check a dictionary, don't we? It seems I would have to
    really go out of ``my way'' to go in that direction. It would not be practical.

    A computer seems to be a tool that is dependent-enough on social
    matters. Society would likely force me to use certain document layouts
    made for compilers such as TeX or LaTeX that I could not compile in
    older versions of the necessary software. I bet I'd have to give up so
    I would not become a specialist in using old software in old hardware.
    People would mail me PDFs I would not be able to read. And so on.
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