DragonFly kernel List (threaded) for 2013-04
Selection of roadmap for i386 platform End-of-Life (EOL)
The topic of how to cease i386 platform support has been discussed ad
nauseam on the #dragonflybsd IRC channel. I promised to post something
on the mail lists as we got closer to 3.4 release. I hope that we reach
a conclusion rather than devolve into a never-ending and frustrating
For the purposes of discussion, assume that the EOL of the i386 platform
will happen. It's a question of "when" and "how", not "if". Also, for
the initial discussion's sake, let assume that EOL is defined as 31
December, 2014, approximately 19 months from now.
There are two schools of thought on the method of achieving the dropping
of support for i386:
1) Continue supporting i386 as usual for 3 more releases (e.g. 3.6, 3.8,
3.10) and then drop support completely (e.g. no new bug reports
accepted). One day it's fully supported, the next day it's not
supported at all.
2) Declare Release 3.4 as the last release for i386 but pledge to fix
serious bugs and panics until the end of 2014. Currently a release is
only supported for about 6 months, so this would make Release 3.4 a kind
of "Long-Term Support" release. It would also receive periodic package
updates until EOL.
My bias is towards approach #2. From the perspective of a user, if
their (older) box cpu is limited to the i386 architecture, then having
extended support is probably more attractive than having the latest
DragonFly technology. From a developer point of view, it means a 50%
decrease of support in some areas, including the architecture specific
algorithms in the kernel. Personally I'm also thinking about package
building, non-base compiler bootstrapping, image building and mirroring,
etc. This can free up time to make the x86_64 platform better faster.
The main benefit to approach #1 is that Long Term Support can be
avoided, which is primarily a benefit to (some) developers. That is,
it's easier to maintain a status quo than to fix bugs in a 1.5 year old
release. The benefit to users is that the last release of DragonFly for
i386 would be more advanced than DragonFly 3.4, with the downside that
it would also be unsupported (aka completely as-is, use at your own risk)
I believe that Release 3.4 will be a very good, stable release, and a
worthy release to serve as a send-off for i386. It's easily been the
most stable version of DragonFly I've run, so I can imagine that serious
bug-fix support won't be that taxing.
Anyway, the Project decisions I'd like to get out of this discussion
with relatively little bloodshed is:
1) Agreement on the EOL date (or Release if it's pegged to a release)
2) A declaration of which road map will be used (method #1 or #2)
I know some people might be tempted to argue to try to "save" the
platform, but I think it's inevitable that it will be contracted.
Again, I think it's merely a question of when and how base on these IRC