Debian Dropping Support for Older 32-bit Hardware Architectures

Debian Development team announced on May 07, 2016. Stating that they are going to drop the older i386 architecture processor support on Debian 9 (stretch) release cycle. It was decided on last year to increase the minimum CPU features for the i386 architecture to 686-class. This means dropping support for 586-class and hybrid 586/686 processors.(Support for 486-class processors was dropped, somewhat accidentally, in squeeze.)

This was implemented in the Linux kernel packages starting with Linux 4.3, which was uploaded to unstable in December last year. gcc library of i386 has been changed recently to target 686-class processors which will crash other processors. Whoever running testing or unstable, they are advise to use jessie which will support until at least 2018, and until 2020 if i386 is included in jessie LTS.

The following processors, supported in jessie, are now unsupported.

  • AMD K5, K6, K6-2 (aka K6 3D), K6-3
  • DM&P/SiS Vortex86, Vortex86SX
  • Cyrix III, MediaGX, MediaGXm
  • IDT Winchip C6, Winchip 2
  • Intel Pentium, Pentium with MMX
  • Rise mP6
  • VIA C3 ‘Samuel 2’, C3 ‘Ezra’

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  • David

    The headline is completely incorrect. They are not dropping i386 architecture (aka 32-bit) support. They are only dropping support for *older* i386 CPUs that are not 686 (aka Pentium II)-class.

    • David,
      Thanks for your update. I have made the change according that.

    • victoria

      i686 aka “pentium pro” … pentium 2/3 were follow-ups more-or-less of the same architecture 🙂

      * pentium pro: 2nd level cache with full cpu clock on die
      * pentium2: slot-modules, 2nd level cache with half cpu clock on its own die
      * pentium3: back to sockets … cache again “on die”

  • tothaa

    oh, no!

    • Yes, Debian Dropping Support for Older 32-bit Hardware Architectures in Debian 9 and now requires a 686-class processor.

  • ManPau

    Who cares?
    “I think there is a world market for maybe five computers”, that still need a i386 capable CPU…

  • JFM

    A Raspberry PI has more horsepower than a 386/486 or even a plain Pentium, supports far more memory and it will come with a drastically lower power bill. Ir doesn’t make sense to use one of these old processors and still less to waste resources on supporting them.

    • @JFM,
      Yes, you are absolutely correct.

    • Ricardo

      While I agree 100% with you, I learned (somewhat recently, I believe it was precisely in LKML when i386 support was dropped) that there are still i386s and i486s being produced, mainly versions of those processors hardened to support high radiation levels (i.e to be sent to space).

      Maybe Intel & co are producing newer chips now, but there were certainly some users left who wanted Linux support for their ancient chips.