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[crosspost] dropping support for ia64

(cross posted to several ia64 related mailing list)

Hello all,

As the maintainer of the EFI subsystem in Linux, I am one of the
people that have to deal with the impact that code refactoring for
current platforms has on legacy use of such code, in this particular
case, the use of shared EFI code in the Itanium Linux port.

I am sending this message to gauge the remaining interest in ia64
support across the OS/distro landscape, and whether people feel that
the effort required to keep it alive is worth it or not.

As a maintainer, I feel uncomfortable asking contributors to build
test their changes for Itanium, and boot testing is infeasible for
most, even if some people are volunteering access to infrastructure
for this purpose. In general, hacking on kernels or bootloaders (which
is where the EFI pieces live) is tricky using remote access.

The bottom line is that, while I know of at least 2 people (on cc)
that test stuff on itanium, and package software for it, I don't think
there are any actual users remaining, and so it is doubtful whether it
is justified to ask people to spend time and effort on this.

And for GRUB in particular (which is what triggered this message), it
is unclear to me why any machines still running would not be better
served by sticking with their current bootloader build, rather than
upgrading to a new build with a refactored EFI layer where the best
case scenario is that it boots the kernel in exactly the same way,
while there is a substantial risk of regressions.

For the Linux kernel itself, the situation is quite similar. There is
a non-zero effort involved in keeping things working, and if anyone
still needs to run their programs on Itanium, it is not clear to me
why that would require a recent version of the OS.

So bottom line: I am proposing we drop support for Itanium across the
board. Would anyone have any problems with that?

Kind regards,

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