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The oldest x86 processor still supported by a modern Linux kernel?
By Thom Holwerda, submitted by teco.sb on 2018-01-08 22:48:29

What is the oldest x86 processor that is still supported by a modern Linux kernel in present time?

I asked the above quiz question during the Geekcamp tech conference in Nov 2017 during my emcee role. The theoretical answer as you can glean from the title of this post is the 486 which was first released in 1989. I determined that fact from this article where support for the 386 was dropped in Dec 2012.

To get you interested, here is the result of my effort.

Cool project.

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Read Comments: 1-10 -- 11-15
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RE[3]: Not just the kernel
By tidux on 2018-01-09 23:28:34
And Windows 3.1 was crashy garbage.
Permalink - Score: 1
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RE[2]: Deja vu
By ameasures on 2018-01-10 00:31:56
> ... given that the changes from Cubieboard1 to Cubieboard2 are not that big you can most probably also run a modern linux in headless mode.
Am not sure how big the difference is between the A10 and A20 processors, but big enough that everywhere offers different images for each release. You might be right tho'.
Permalink - Score: 2
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RE[2]: Not just the kernel
By unclefester on 2018-01-10 01:52:06
> So what they ran on hardware which even beggar wouldn't want for free today ? They were:
* crappy compilers where even x++ and ++x made difference on generated code
* GUI with post stamp size resolutions
* no features whatsoever
* loading of anything slow as hell - applications took ages to start
* full of bugs which could destroy everything
* easily exploitable by a high school student
* one process could easily crash whole OS
* filesystems which died on hard reset
* no support for anything more complex that WAV, BMP and AVI
* error handling next to none
* opening file via network ? Never heard of
* no or poor encryption - anyone could access any data
* no serious multi user support
* no data isolation
* poor or no multithreading support
* poor or no multi-CPU support
* dependencies on chip timings
* people crying how Windows is bad because you can't install interrupt handler or access I/O ports directly from user space
* low speed bus interfaces such as ISA or PCI
... etc.

You can choose either features+security or running on ancient hardware.


Back in the 1990s they had CRT monitors up to QXGA (2048x1536) resolution. The software was quite snappy on decent hardware and NT, OS/2 and the unixes were all rock solid. Security wasn't really an issue because computers weren't normally exposed to external networks.

There were no MP3s or high-res videos in 1993 so playback wan't an issue.

Edited 2018-01-10 02:00 UTC
Permalink - Score: 3
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v7 sparc unfortunately removed
By rener on 2018-01-13 11:57:34
support for vintage v7 SPARC; with software assisted mmu and no integer hardware device (only divide-step) was removed from the linux kernel recently. last kernel just at the crossing of 3.0: https://www.instagram.com/p/BdKbX...
40 MHz, 16 MB RAM

Edited 2018-01-13 11:58 UTC
Permalink - Score: 1
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Thank goodness for the Linux ecosystem.
By slobu on 2018-01-13 15:28:03
I was able to install Linux Mint based on Debian on my EduBook. This thing has no PAE or cmov and only 512mb RAM. Still works!

Forced upgrades? Not on my watch!
Permalink - Score: 1

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