Debian shrinks

Debian is easily my favorite Linux distribution. It has its issues (horrific installer, tends to value ideology over technology, glacial release schedule), but its core is fantastic, and I’ve grown used to all of its quirks over the years. I think I installed my first Debian box in 1996 starting with either the buzz or rex release (Debian names all of its releases after characters from Toy Story) and I’ve been running at least one Debian system ever since.

One thing about Debian is that it has historically tried to support every platform under the sun. At last count, there are 11 supported Debian platforms, from PCs to PDA-like devices to IBM mainframes. According to The Register, this is going to change, with Debian dropping 7 of their 11 platforms, largely in an attempt to speed up the Debian release process. There are examples where security bugfixes have been delayed for months because the fix won’t build properly on an uncommon platform. In other cases, it appears that there just isn’t enough CPU power to keep up with the build load on older platforms, so the build just keeps falling further and further behind.

The plan isn’t really to totally discontinue support for these 7 architectures, but rather to move them to a new Debian “second-class citizen” support system and not include them new releases.

The platforms that will continue to be supported are:

  • i386
  • amd64 (Athlon64/Opteron/new Intel 64-bit x86)
  • powerpc
  • ia64 (Itanium)

Posted by Scott Laird Mon, 14 Mar 2005 19:17:29 GMT