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    386 Support Uncertain
    Submitted by robster on Friday, April 22, 2005 – 12:43
    SargeOfficial Debian support for the 80386 sub-architecture in Sarge is currently uncertain – it is currently unmaintained according to a recent release update. The kernels that ship with sarge will contain support for emulating the appropriate i486+ instructions needed to maintain C++ ABI compatibility with other distributions, although there are known root security holes with the patch, and nobody has stepped up to fix them. Unless a maintainer can be found for this sub-architecture the release managers will be forced to drop official support for the 80386 both for new installs and upgrades.

    There are plenty of reasonable reasons why it is no longer feasible to continue support for 80386 even if the security problems in the kernel are resolved.

    The need for the emulation of some i486 instructions comes from changes that have been made to the C++ binary interface in GCC 3.2 in order to improve locking by making use of CPU specific (i486 and later) instructions for atomic operations. Although the use of these instructions can be disabled and allow the binaries to function on 80386 processors, not using them has very poorer performance, as well as making Debian’s C++ ABI incompatible with other Linux distributions.

    Category: News

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    Subject: i386 debs optimized for 80486 and above?
    Author: lovelace
    Date: Monday, 2005/05/02 – 08:12
    Does this mean that the debs for i386 will be optimized for 80486 processors and above? If there is no support for 80386 processors, It seems strange to build debs for that architecture…
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    Subject: no difference
    Author: robot101
    Date: Thursday, 2005/05/05 – 09:02
    There aren’t many instructions in 486 that aren’t in 386 except these atomic swap instructions which are being spoken about. It makes sense to build 386 debs because everything that doesn’t use C++ still works fine, and it’s entirely possible someone will fix the kernel emulation for 386s. Things like floating point units or maths coprocessors are optional extras on 386s and 486s, but the C library can detect these at run-time and use faster methods when possible, I think.

    Robster is a monkey
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    Subject: April Fools?
    Author: bwoodacre
    Date: Thursday, 2005/04/28 – 20:10
    That first link is from April 1st…sounds like an April Fools Joke to me.
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    Subject: Uhm.
    Author: robster
    Date: Friday, 2005/04/29 – 15:31
    Sorry. No. Its not an April fool. Its a seriousl problem and since AFAIK no one has stepped in yet it looks like support for 80386 will be dropped.

    Cheers,

    Rob

    Rob ‘robster’ Bradford

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