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    There are very few distros that are willing to abandon support for very unpopular and/or old systems. It’s good to know that Arch is among them.

    It makes sense for Debian and maybe Ubuntu to hold on to as many architectures as possible, but if you’re some scrappy upstart distro then I don’t see the point in appeasing the VAX market. If you’re bold enough then you could go with just AMD64 and/or ARM64.

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      There are very few distros that are willing to abandon support for very unpopular and/or old systems. It’s good to know that Arch is among them.

      As far as I remember, around the time of Arch’s creation it was the only sizeable distro targeting i686 instead of i486. Dropping support for hardware which isn’t very useful is something Arch did from the beginning. I should elaborate on “hardware which isn’t very useful”.

      Back when Arch was created, low and high end consumer CPUs would be Pentium 2s and 3s, AMD K6s and Durons. At that point, there didn’t exist an interesting quantity of CPUs supporting only the 486 instruction set that were fast enough to do useful things in bearable time. e.g. A real 486 would take entire seconds to negotiate an SSH connection with 1024 bit keys.

      There was an upside to dropping 486 support back in 2002: there was a noticeable performance difference running code compiled with -march=i486 and code with -march=i686 on any CPU from the Pentium Pro onward.

      Similarly, right now, the field of “widely used CPUs which implement x86 but not x86-64” is… pretty small? AFAIK the newest x86 CPUs which don’t implement x86-64 would be Intel Atoms from around 2010, which I’ve heard weren’t fast enough to decode widely used video codecs (maybe MPEG-4, might even have been MPEG-2!) in real time. Who on Earth wants to use a machine that can’t decode video as their desktop or laptop?

      There is an upside to dropping 686 support now in 2017: it saves maintainers work, allowing them to accomplish other things instead.

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        Who on Earth wants to use a machine that can’t decode video as their desktop or laptop?

        I know a few :)

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          Which is okay, because they’re probably well served by Debian or FreeBSD, so it isn’t necessary to them for Arch to support their antiques. ;)

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          BeOS 5, 16 years ago, only supported Pentiums or higher.

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            That reminded me - NeXTSTEP for Intel only supported 486 CPUs (in 1993 - 3.1 was the first to support the i386 architecture). In addition, it required 16MiB or more for colour (the minimum, 8MiB, gave you greyscale output). Pretty steep requirements for the time.

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              While that may be true, 0x2ba22e11 (side-note, what kind of username is that?) was only referring to “distros” which implies Linux.

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                what kind of username is that

                My name is Richard Barrell. If you kind of look at it squinting a 2 kind of kiiiind of looks like an R. Just missing the line on the left, and with the leg kicking out at the wrong angle.

                I stole the concept from Abby, who is wonderful.