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On Sat, Jan 12, 2008 at 11:54:47PM +0100, Vit Herman wrote:
> NetBSD's motto is "Of course it runs NetBSD", right? NetBSD still 
> supports (and is proud to - or at least says so) a wide spectrum of, by 
> today standards, seriously underpowered hardware. The decision to 
> support it was (I believe) in some cases purely enthusiastic - probably 
> nobody uses ports like hp300, atari or amiga for serious production 
> purposes. Yet they're still supported.
> I have few 486SX machines I would like to have supported. No, I don't 
> want to put them into serious production use. But I don't want to throw 
> them away either, and NetBSD seemed (until now) as a logical choice for 
> them. I know I'm a nerd - but I like them, and I would like to see them 
> supported, OK?
> The fact that nobody steps forward on the mailing list, protesting 
> against removal of support for this or that, doesn't mean that there's 
> nobody out there who would like to see the hardware supported. A friend 
> of mine has a 386 running NetBSD and uses it on a regular basis - and he 
> surely was disappointed by the fact that NetBSD dropped support for 386. 
> But he doesn't read the mailing lists => he didn't knew anything about 
> it until the support was removed. I know it's not anyone's fault that he 
> didn't know - I just think that this "nobody protests, nobody uses it" 
> logic is kinda faulty.
> I'm more than aware that removing support for 386 and (eventually) 486SX 
> simplifies a lot of things. But NetBSD boasts of portability, and 
> portability brings some issues - issues like this one. Either support 
> for 486sx should be dropped along with many other things which "just 
> complicate the matters and nobody uses them" (and the number of ports 
> could be reduced to a third or quarter), or it could be fixed (which is 
> the right way to do things IMHO), so that I (and nerds like me) can run 
> NetBSD on their ancient-and-unusable machines.

I wonder if it would simplify things for the developers if i386 dropped
emulation but a new port was started perhaps called something like
i386-legacy.  Ideally, i386 would be called i486 but that would throw
everyone off.  The goal of i386-legacy would be to allow NetBSD to run
on really ancient i386 hardware.  While they're at it, they could remove
support for devices that could never connect to an i385-legacy box.
I.e., did any non-FPU box ever have PCI?  If not, remove all PCI
devices.  IOW, slim down the kernel to use less precious memory for the
old boxes.  If it became too much to keep X working on the old boxes it
wouldn't be too great a loss.

However, I agree, that there should be an OS to use on old boxes.

Then again that's easy for me to say since I can't do any of the work to
make it so.  So I'll shut up and not code.


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