Port-i386 archive

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On Sat, 12 Jan 2008, Douglas A. Tutty wrote:

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.

I had the same idea - create a new port for really old i386 systems, so that legacy things wouldn't slow down development for modern machines. If this port get's broken, it won't be a big deal and it wouldn't affect i386.

As for removing support for PCI etc - I would be cautious about it, I do have some 486 motherboards with PCI, and I'm pretty sure they can tak SX as well. But yes, the GENERIC kernel for this port could be stripped down a fair bit (no ACPI, AGP, USB and probably other stuff).

It would be nice to put back the code removed when 386 support was dropped for 4.0 too. What's the main problem with 386? If I remember correctly, it's something about its broken memory protection while in ring 0 but correct me if I'm wrong.

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.

I'm willing to do testing - a lot of it - if it helps even the smallest bit. Probably more if needed :)

Vit Herman

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