[Mageia-dev] i686 must be Pentium II ?

Giuseppe Ghibò ghibomgx at gmail.com
Sat Sep 25 21:25:48 CEST 2010

2010/9/25 Tux99 <tux99-mga at uridium.org>

> On Sat, 25 Sep 2010, Giuseppe Ghibò wrote:
> > IMHO the problem is not finding an architecture to fit the i586 or i686
> rpm
> > flags, rather to find the minimum CPU and memory requirement worthwhile
> for
> > a decent usage. With KDE if we look at the Mandriva 2010.1, it's barely
> > usable on a P4-3000 with 1-2GB RAM, or a AMD Barton 2500. Barely means
> that
> > windows and applications are pretty slow to open, switching is slow,
> etc.;
> > since netbook are so popular we can consider the minimum requirements as
> > those of a typical 2010 netbook, which has ATOM 1.6Ghz processor and 1GB
> > memory. In other words we can consider as default the presence of the SSE
> > instruction set. ATOM has even the SSE2, which would be even better, but
> > that would left out some AMD CPU (some older AMD, like 1.2Ghz has only
> the
> > 3DNow and not SSE). I would drop compiling for old ISA drivers in kernel
> > (think to some old ISA 3com card, like 3C505, etc.).
> >
> You are not seeing the bigger picture. Mageia is not just for desktop or
> netbook users or modern powerful servers, there are people using
> embedded systems that often still have i586 compatible cpus, ISA cards
> are still very common in industrial uses, etc.
> Personally I have a VIA C3 based system that I use as home server, and
> the C3 is only i586 compatible, not i686.

Frankly IMHO such hardware is pretty unusable on a modern distro. I think
maintaining the compatibility for older legacy hardware is a duty for
OpenBSD. I tried such (i.e. Mandriva) on older hardware, and it's really
really slow, even without the graphical stuff. This is for instance a Dual
PII-450 with SCSI 10000RPM disks and 1GB RAM. At the time such hardware was
new it was the fastest machine you could assemble, and the distro you could
run was a lightning. Like if today you would assemble a Dual six-core i7
985X with 64GB of memory and 6TB RAID disks. And PII don't have the SSE2.
Every time you upgrade the distro, performance drop to half (it's not a
matter of optimization, it's because the X11 become bigger, the kernel
fatter because more and more stuff added, more and more checks, the
applications bigger, the toolkits slower, the number of libraries higher,

And furthermore the more older system you have the fewer memory you have
available. And you can't add more memory because the chipset doesn't support
more. In these days also counts the consume of energy, so the tendency is
also to replace old hardware which consumes too much power compared to newer
hardware and virtualize the old application|system. Unless of course you
wanna experiment some solar panels... ;-)

Often even doing the installation from scratch won't work anymore, because
the higher memory requirements. So I really want to know a REAL survey of
still old (oldest) hardware running and USING the latest distro (latest
means LATEST, not 1 or 2 years ago distro). I myself have seen even in
production (of course not on the internet so you don't need patches) systems
with MDK 7.2 with 128MB RAM and K6, but they wouldn't dare to upgrade it to
the latest.

That's why I said to drop things that nowadays NOBODY uses anymore. Then if
someone has such hardware, it wouldn't be a problem of adding a kernel
module to the kernel list for a certain card that still is used. Of course
you can argue, that certainly a newer system would have the 64bit
instruction set support (which has even the SSE2 as lowest common
denominator), so a user there would certainly install the 64bit system and
not the 32 one. Then I say this is right.

Regarding VIA C3, I wonder exactly which model you have, how much memory,
and which distro you are running on it. As at least 4-5 years old C3 core
Nehemiah models have support for SSE, SSE2, and even crypto hardware
optimization (that even Intel or AMD doesn't have).
I'm not saying such hardware is not common, but I wonder whether they would
install Mageia on it. It even exists slower hardware based on ARM
architecture, but there isn't any ARM port of the distro. Or is planned one?

> Also dropping kernel modules for old hardware does not bring any
> advantage (they are modules anyway so they don't get loaded on systems
> where they aren't needed), only disadvantages to those people who need
> them.

Only advantage is that you get kernel package thinner and building time
shorter :-)

> So please let's try to be as comprehensive as possible, not exclude
> potential users by creating needless limits and restrictions.
It's not a matter of excluding potential users, rather providing the real
requirements, not "it SHOULD work because we compiled with -march=i586...).

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